Stephania Bell: Trent Edwards



There was a collective sense of mourning among fantasy owners of Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels when he went down Sunday with a season-ending knee injury. Daniels, who had been having a tremendous season, tore his right ACL when his foot reportedly caught in the Ralph Wilson Stadium turf during the Texans' win over the Bills. As is typical, Daniels will have surgery in approximately two weeks once the swelling has had a chance to subside and he approaches full range of motion. In the meantime, Daniels' owners will hit the waiver wire and work the trade market this week to seek a replacement. It will be tough to replace Daniels' production, but forge ahead we must, as a lot of time remains to jostle for fantasy playoff spots.

So whom else must fantasy owners be concerned about when it comes to injuries? We take a look at what we know so far in the wake of Week 8 ...

Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Boldin started Sunday's game as expected, but an aggravation of his right ankle injury forced him to leave midway through the third quarter. This was the second week in a row when Boldin's ankle impaired his ability to contribute in the second half, and the Cardinals must decide whether to hold him back for a week to allow the ankle to heal further. For Boldin's part, he says as long as he can run and cut, he expects to be on the field whether he's 100 percent healthy or not. Remember, this guy returned undaunted after suffering multiple facial fractures last season, so we should not expect any less. The Cardinals, while no doubt admiring Boldin's eagerness to be on the field, need to evaluate whether continued setbacks such as this one are worth it in the big scheme of things.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt told The Arizona Republic that sitting Boldin a week and allowing him some additional recovery time would be an option. Whisenhunt indicated that Boldin's performance would be evaluated as the week progresses, which seems to be a familiar tune. Earlier this season his status was questionable for a couple of weeks because of a hamstring injury. Although he has not yet missed a game this year, he clearly has not been at full capacity on several occasions.

It was Boldin who indicated in the days after his ankle injury that he had suffered a high ankle sprain, which typically takes longer to heal than a standard lateral ankle sprain as it is. Even if, as Coach Whisenhunt suggested, the degree of injury has not increased, the ongoing setbacks ultimately may prevent Boldin from returning to full performance as quickly as he otherwise might.

It's definitely a challenging question: Do you play an athlete who is still recovering in the hope that he can contribute some and maybe last the majority of the game? Or do you rest him for a week and hope that the value of the performance goes up in subsequent weeks and the risk of setback goes down? This is perhaps what the Cardinals will be considering this week when it comes to Boldin's status. Fantasy owners are just hoping for an answer before game time, although thankfully the Cards play the Bears in the early slate of Sunday's games. Stay tuned.

Brian Westbrook
Cliff Welch/Icon SMIBrian Westbrook has already missed two games this season, and has seen fewer than 10 touches in two of his past contests.
Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook missed Week 8 as he recovered from a concussion suffered the previous Monday night. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Westbrook will return to full practice Wednesday after undergoing some exercise testing.

Once Westbrook rejoins practice, he will continue to be monitored for any return of symptoms. Only after Westbrook has met all the targets of no symptoms at rest, no symptoms with activity and normal cognitive function (these tests are compared to preseason baseline tests) and medical clearance has been granted, would he be available to play in a game. That quite possibly could be this weekend, but there is no true predictive measure for a return from a concussion. Fantasy owners will have to wait patiently for updates from the team, but based on Westbrook's progress thus far, the signs are encouraging.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions: Johnson did not play Sunday, and based on his limited activity during the week (after a bye), it really did not come as a huge surprise. All fantasy owners want to know is, will it be this weekend that he returns? The Lions are still calling him day-to-day, and all coach Jim Schwartz would reveal is that "he's getting closer," according to the Detroit Free Press. Without divulging the specifics of Johnson's injury, it's nearly impossible to predict what his time line for return normally would be. So we consider his activity as our best indicator.

Johnson did return to limited practice Thursday and Friday (although reportedly less Friday than Thursday), which was an improvement over the previous weeks. That said, the nature of what Johnson needs to do on the field and his athletic and acrobatic style demands that he be close to full strength. A receiver trying to play cautiously could be a recipe for further injury. When Johnson shows he can run full speed and participate in a significant portion of practice, it will at least provide a clue that he is nearing return.

Jake Delhomme, QB, Carolina Panthers: On Sunday, Delhomme took quite a hit to the chest, which ended up sending him to the hospital for tests. According to The Charlotte Observer, Delhomme said about the hit, "I couldn't catch my breath, and I felt like it was my sternum." Indeed, his sternum (breastbone) and everything underneath it underwent a CT scan during the fourth quarter of Sunday's game, but Delhomme said afterward that everything was fine and he expects to play Sunday in New Orleans. Sternal injuries are much like rib injuries in terms of the intensity of pain as well as the motions that tend to aggravate them. It likely will be uncomfortable for Delhomme to take deep breaths for a while and may be difficult to make deep throws. The Panthers will have to see how he tolerates activity to determine his readiness to play, but the absence of a fracture and no internal organ damage (lung, spleen) are certainly positive signs. So was an interception-free performance.

Trent Edwards, QB, Buffalo Bills: The Buffalo News is reporting that Edwards is expected to return as quarterback for the Bills in Week 10. Naturally, projections of his return are accompanied by the standard caveat, "barring any setbacks," as Edwards increases his activity after his recent concussion. Buffalo is on bye this week, so fantasy owners should be sure to fill in their rosters accordingly, but it appears that Fitzpatrick becomes (even more) droppable.

Other quick hits: Willie Parker missed practice Monday because of illness. The Steelers won't play until Monday night, so this does not appear to be a major concern.

Indianapolis Colts running back Donald Brown missed Week 8 because of his shoulder injury and is no lock to be available for Week 9.

New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss told the Newark Star-Ledger that his ankle (which caused him to miss a week earlier in the season) was "tender" after Sunday's game but not nearly as bad as the original injury. He expects to play this week. We'll see what he does in practice.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has two sore feet after Sunday's loss to the Vikings, but coach Mike McCarthy indicated that he is expected to play this week, even if his practice is limited.

Indianapolis Colts receiver Anthony Gonzalez does not appear to be be making a return to the field this week. He has yet to return to practice. Even if he does begin to practice with the team this week, it seems unlikely he would get back in a game situation after only a few days.

The Raiders have a bye in Week 9 but are hoping to get running back Darren McFadden back in Week 10. McFadden began doing some side work with one of the team's athletic trainers, according to the Oakland Tribune. McFadden says he was working on cuts, and that his target is a Nov. 15 return. He still must clear a number of hurdles before playing in a game situation, including consecutive workouts and practice sessions without swelling. Stay tuned.

New England Patriots running back Sammy Morris did not practice Tuesday, nor did he practice the entire bye week. Although the Patriots have not provided any details about the nature of Morris' injury, the fact that he is not practicing at all yet suggests Laurence Maroney is likely to remain the starter this week.

More to come in Thursday's blog ...

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pregame 10-10:30 a.m.), and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 9 in the Saturday morning blog!



We're just about halfway through the season and it's a key time for fantasy football teams to rally. Almost every team, no matter how poor the performance has been so far, has a shot to make the playoffs. So for those of you struggling out there, don't give up! Go make some trades, hit the waiver wire, dodge the injured players (and right now this may be the biggest challenge) and get your team back in it!

Once again there are six teams on bye this week -- Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins -- so fantasy owners continue to scramble to find worthy replacements.



Here are some status updates to help you shape your roster as we look ahead to Week 8.

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: Last time we were discussing Stafford, there was some question as to whether he was getting a second opinion on his ailing right knee. No matter what happened in the background, Stafford has continued with a conservative treatment approach and returned to practice on a limited basis with his team this week. The good news here is that he has been able to practice three days in a row. When Stafford tested his knee in light practice two weeks ago, his knee did not respond favorably and he could not practice the following day. If Stafford continues to practice daily and is able to increase his activity through the remainder of the week, there is a good chance that he will return as the starter when the Lions host the St. Louis Rams this weekend.



The biggest challenge following a patellar subluxation (Stafford's reported injury) is regaining adequate quadriceps strength to allow normal mobility while minimizing swelling. The two go hand in hand as swelling around the kneecap will effectively shut down the function of the quadriceps muscle. Stafford, even if he plays, may not yet be at full strength, which may be reflected in his overall mobility. As long as he is mobile enough to protect himself and make plays and as long as he is not regressing in response to activity, it seems likely that he will be back under center.

Trent Edwards, Buffalo Bills: Edwards is still on the mend from his concussion, although he did make a return to some limited practice Wednesday. The Bills are planning to have Ryan Fitzpatrick start and have indicated that Edwards will not even dress as the emergency quarterback. The Bills have a bye in Week 9, so this will extend Edwards' opportunity to recover. Whether he returns as the starter after that point remains uncertain.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: Rodgers again appears on the injury practice report this week because of a sprained foot that continues to cause him some discomfort with certain movements. Obviously the foot did not limit him in last week's contest and the expectation is that he will start against the Minnesota Vikings this week. The team is no doubt limiting his practice time to ensure that the condition does not worsen in advance of the game. Fantasy owners can count on him playing on Sunday, as if there were really ever any doubt.

Eli Manning, New York Giants: Manning is worth including here simply for the fact he has been removed from the Giants' injury report and he has returned to full practice with the team. Manning, despite some offensive struggles, has maintained that his foot has been improving over the past few weeks, which is a credit to how the team's medical staff has helped him manage his plantar fasciitis. While it is perhaps too optimistic to say the condition is entirely behind him (there is always the possibility that it can flare up again at some point), this is certainly encouraging news. It also removes any questions about his status as a starter for this week.

Running backs

Brian Westbrook
Geoff Burke/US PresswireThe Eagles will take great caution with Brian Westbrook's concussion.
Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook has not practiced this week since suffering a concussion Monday night and is looking doubtful to rejoin the team for Sunday's big divisional matchup against the New York Giants. While Westbrook's status is being evaluated daily and the team has not yet ruled him out, they are certainly going to use every precaution when determining his availability. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Westbrook still reported headache symptoms Wednesday, and as is protocol, will not be cleared to exercise until all of his symptoms resolve. Once he resumes aerobic exercise, he will continue to be monitored for any return of symptoms. If all goes well, his activity will be progressed accordingly.

Philadelphia head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder serves on the NFL concussion committee and provided some excellent insight as to how players are managed following a concussion. Burkholder told the Daily News that once Westbrook's symptoms clear, his response to exercise will be monitored and his cognitive testing scores will need to return to baseline levels. Perhaps most importantly, Burkholder reiterated a couple of very important points. First, the loss of consciousness that Westbrook suffered is not the determinant of whether or not he will play this week, but, as Burkholder points out, his status is "really based on the symptoms." Concussions can occur without loss of consciousness and that factor alone does not provide an estimate as to how significant the injury actually is. It is truly in retrospect, based on how the athlete recovers from such an incident, that a level of seriousness can be established.

This serves as an important reminder that all concussions are brain injuries and, as such, warrant serious treatment. There is no "toughness" meter on an athlete when it comes to return to play following such an injury; it is a medical decision based on a collective measure of the aforementioned factors. While Westbrook has shown time and again that he can perform well despite the presence of various joint ailments, this injury simply does not fall into the same category. At this point fantasy owners should prepare for LeSean McCoy to see the majority of the action against the Giants.



Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants: By now fantasy owners have noticed a pattern with Bradshaw, limited practice early in the week followed by showing up and playing well on Sunday. In this column, we have talked about Bradshaw's ongoing management of an ankle injury that he has dealt with since his college days, but that ankle injury has been compounded by a foot injury he sustained earlier this year.

This week that foot injury resulted in a visit to North Carolina to consult with Dr. Robert Anderson, one of the country's leading foot and ankle specialists and a team physician for the Carolina Panthers. The Newark Star-Ledger reports that Bradshaw announced that he has a crack in the fifth metatarsal (the long bone of the forefoot that connects to the base of the pinkie toe) of his right foot. The crack was not a new discovery (Bradshaw indicates that X-rays about a month ago revealed the crack, which he reportedly injured in March); the important result of the consultation was support of Bradshaw's current treatment plan. Bradshaw has been in a walking boot during much of the week, then sheds the boot for Friday practice and game time.



There is always the risk that the crack becomes a complete fracture (where the bone breaks all the way through), but that risk is no greater now than it has been since the injury occurred. That no doubt was a consideration in determining that Bradshaw could continue to play. If it takes a turn for the worse, then Bradshaw will require immediate surgery. If it continues as is, then Bradshaw can continue with the current routine and will likely face the prospect of surgery at the end of the season. Fifth metatarsal fractures are not uncommon in athletes, given all the stress placed on the outside of the foot with running, pivoting and cutting. Many athletes have surgery and go on to a complete and uneventful recovery, so ultimately this should not be a huge issue for Bradshaw. Based on how he has managed so far, fantasy owners should continue to expect the same production out of Bradshaw and hope that he is able to proceed without a setback.

Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts: At this point, Brown's shoulder appears as if it will keep him sidelined this weekend when the Colts host the San Francisco 49ers. Team president Bill Polian has already said that he does not expect Brown to play this week. Brown suffered what the team called a very painful left shoulder contusion and has since been referred to as a sprain. Brown told the Indianapolis Star earlier in the week that he had dealt with this injury previously in college. Despite Brown's optimism that he would return to practice Wednesday, that clearly did not happen and it does not seem that he will be ready to take the field. Early in the week, Polian hinted at this when he spoke on his radio show about running back Mike Hart "playing a big role" if Brown were to be out. As of now, fantasy owners should expect the Colts' running back one-two punch to be Joseph Addai and Hart.

Wide receivers

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: Johnson's right knee has benefited from an additional week of rest and the early murmurings are that he will return this weekend. Johnson did not practice early in the week, which suggests that he is not fully healed from his injury (the specifics of which have not been disclosed by the team). He did, however, do some side work on those days and was then able to return to at least some level of practice Thursday. Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com reported that Johnson was participating in some drills during the portion of practice open to the media Thursday and did not appear "hobbled" by his knee while running routes and catching passes. As always, the next step is assessing his response to activity. If Johnson is back in practice Friday, it is a good sign that the Lions plan to have him on the field Sunday against the struggling St. Louis Rams' pass defense.



Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts: Despite suffering a strained groin in Week 7, Wayne hopes to be able to play this week against the San Francisco 49ers. He did not practice Wednesday, but that was expected. If he does practice this week, it may be on a limited basis so as not to risk exacerbating the strain, in the hopes that he can run full speed when Sunday comes. There is a good chance that his availability will not be determined until Saturday.



As far as Gonzalez goes, he has yet to return to team practice and is not expected to play this weekend. It is worth watching to see if Gonzalez can get some light practice in before the week is through and if he responds well, it may signal that a return is possible in Week 9. It is too early to count on that by any means, so fantasy owners should continue to plan accordingly.

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans: Johnson is not lacking confidence in his ability to return this week, telling the Houston Chronicle, "I feel like I'll be out there unless they cut my leg off." Johnson was held out of practice Wednesday but was able to do some running, telling reporters that his breathing felt normal. Johnson then returned to practice Thursday, and coach Gary Kubiak told the Texans' official Web site that he took "probably pretty close to almost all the reps he normally takes and didn't seem to have any problems." Johnson will have some follow-up tests to ensure that his bruised lung is healing and potentially he may have to wear some extra padding if he does suit up Sunday. Johnson summed up the primary concern when he told the Chronicle, "I think they're scared of me taking another hit in that spot." The fact Johnson is not having pain and is already practicing at a high level is certainly encouraging and if all continues well, it looks as if he could be available Sunday.

DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles: After an outstanding first-half performance Monday night, Jackson was limited in the second half with a foot sprain. He did not practice Wednesday but did return to some level of practice Thursday. The fact Jackson was able to continue to play Monday night after the injury, even on a limited basis, was a good sign. Returning to practice Thursday is an even better one. Fantasy owners should expect that he will be in the lineup to face the New York Giants this weekend.

Jerricho Cotchery, Brad Smith and David Clowney, New York Jets: Wow. Three of four primary receivers for the Jets are on the practice injury report this week. So who will be out there Sunday when the Jets host the Miami Dolphins? For starters, Cotchery's strained hamstring that caused him to miss Weeks 6 and 7 looks as if it will not keep him out in Week 8. Cotchery returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis and looked "sharp" in the portion of practice open to the media, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. We know from past experience that return to full speed is a gradual progression following a significant muscle strain, but there are good early signs that Cotchery will be available this weekend.



Teammate Brad Smith, who has been nursing a strained quad, was also back in practice on a limited basis this week. The team has not given many hints as to Smith's status, but we should have a better idea after Friday's practice. Meanwhile Clowney, who has had the opportunity to start opposite Braylon Edwards while Cotchery and Smith have been hurt, came out of Week 7 with his own ankle injury. Clowney did not practice Wednesday but did return Thursday, making it appear as if he will be available Sunday.

Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings: Berrian strained his left hamstring in Week 7 and did not practice Wednesday. Berrian missed some preseason time with a right hamstring injury and it seemed to hamper his development as a target for Brett Favre. Sidney Rice was the beneficiary and has been clearly the more productive deep receiver for the Vikings. Even if Berrian proves well enough to play this weekend, it's hard to imagine those roles changing much.

Harvin has been challenged by a shoulder injury but it hasn't seemed to affect his ability to have an impact on the field. The good news for the Vikings is that Harvin is off the injury report this week meaning there is no doubt he will be on the field when the Vikings visit the Green Bay Packers.

Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals: Boldin was limping by the second half of last week's game as his right ankle sprain clearly became problematic. Boldin was limited in practice Wednesday but if he played last week there's no reason to think he'll be out this week, unless his ankle takes a turn for the worse.

Be sure to check back on Saturday for post-Friday NFL injury report updates on all your fantasy players heading into the weekend.

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11:00 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pre-game (10:00-10:30 a.m.). And check out Fantasy Football Now on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. ET to kickoff for last minute inactives, rankings and more!



There may have been as many big injuries on Monday night as there were in the rest of the Week 7 contests. Without further ado, we take a look at some of the bumps, bruises and breaks that will be impacting fantasy owners in Week 8.

Brian Westbrook
Geoff Burke/US PresswireOnce again, Brian Westbrook is a question mark for a game, except this time it's for a concussion.
Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: It wasn't his ankle and it wasn't his knee. Actually, it was far scarier. Westbrook took a London Fletcher knee to the head Monday night and lay motionless on the field for a few moments. Eventually he was able to walk off the field, which led everyone to breathe a sigh of relief, including his brother Byron, a player for the Washington Redskins, who was standing close by while the medical staff tended to Brian. The early word on Brian Westbrook, according to the Philadelphia Daily News, is that he could very well miss Week 8. Although there is no official status listing for the team, fantasy owners should prepare for LeSean McCoy to start.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Jackson suffered a foot injury in the first half of Monday night's game and underwent X-rays at halftime. The good news is that Jackson was obviously cleared to play in the second half and did return, although he was limited. It remains to be seen whether the injury will limit him in practice this week. Coach Andy Reid indicated after the game that Jackson suffered a foot sprain. Keep an eye on Jackson's status, but for now the early news is good.

Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans: Johnson suffered a lung contusion, according to coach Gary Kubiak, who referred to Johnson's status as day-to-day. It's no secret that Johnson is a tough player who does everything he can to stay on the field. On Sunday, he remained in the game after taking a knee to the back that made it difficult for him to catch his breath, according to the Houston Chronicle. In fact, it wasn't until Johnson was spitting up blood when it became obvious there was something more serious going on. The medical staff removed him ... but still had to hide his helmet to keep him from trying to get back on the playing field. Now Johnson will be forced to rest to allow the lung to heal itself. Kubiak has said that Johnson does not need to practice this week in order to play Sunday. He does, however, need to be fully healed so as not to risk more serious injury. There will no doubt be ongoing tests throughout the week, including blood tests to ensure that Johnson is not continuing to bleed internally. Stay tuned for late-week updates. This may come down to the wire.

Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Wayne injured his groin last week and the question, naturally, is how severe is the strain and will Wayne be able to play Sunday? At this point it's unclear how serious the injury is, and the Colts are calling Wayne day-to-day. According to the Indianapolis Star, the team plans to see how Wayne responds to treatment this week and will gauge his status accordingly. Muscle strains are always tricky when trying to predict how long the healing time will be, and by now everyone knows the risks of trying to return too soon. With Anthony Gonzalez just (maybe) returning to practice this week, the Colts' receiving corps could be featuring more of Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie.

Bernard Berrian, WR, Minnesota Vikings: Berrian has struggled to be a significant member of the receiving corps for the Vikings this season. Early in the season he was dealing with a hamstring strain, which prevented him from practicing and developing a rapport with new quarterback Brett Favre. Just when it appeared that Berrian was regaining his speed, he suffered another hamstring strain, this time to his opposite (left) leg. With Sidney Rice seemingly the favorite target for Favre, this has to be a disappointment for fantasy owners. Berrian says that he expects to play this week, but fantasy owners may want to go ahead and plan for a replacement anyway.

Chris Cooley, TE, Washington Redskins: Cooley suffered a break in his ankle Monday night, which may well signal the end of his season. Coach Jim Zorn indicated that the fracture is on the inner side of the tibia (the large shinbone whose endpoint forms the inside of the ankle joint). Although Zorn would only say that Cooley would be out for a while, the Washington Post's Jason Reid reports that a source indicated Cooley's season is done. Meanwhile, ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that Cooley will undergo surgery later this week. With that fracture and surgery, followed by a period of immobilization for healing and rehab to regain range of motion and strength of the ankle, the timeframe for recovery is lengthier than the season allows. Time for fantasy owners to start searching the wires.

Other quick hits:

• Indianapolis Colts running back Donald Brown suffered what the team is calling a painful shoulder contusion. His status for Sunday could be in jeopardy.



Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards has already been ruled out for Week 8 as he continues to recover from his concussion. It's not clear that his job is secure even when he does recover well enough to return, so fantasy owners should move to clear him from their bench.

New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss says he has soreness in his neck and shoulder but maintains that he did not suffer a concussion following a big hit on Sunday. According to the New York Times, Boss said that "anytime you get hit that hard, definitely the lights turn off for a second ... but I came to pretty quick." Interesting. His remarks make his injury sound suspiciously concussion-like. The good news? His ankle (which caused him to miss a week earlier in the season) is fine.

New York Jets running back Leon Washington has been placed on injured reserve after undergoing surgery to repair his compound leg fracture (Washington fractured both lower leg bones -- the tibia and fibula -- and compound means the bone pierced the skin). This is a tough injury with a lengthy rehab to follow. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, the Jets are encouraged that Washington is in good spirits post-surgery and they hope to have him back for mini-camps.

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pregame 10-10:30 a.m.) and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 5 in the Saturday morning blog!



Lots of teams are getting some rest this week, and they have to be looking forward to it. The Detroit Lions have ailing quarterbacks and receivers, the Seattle Seahawks have hurt offensive and defensive linemen, and the Tennessee Titans ... well, they just need a break.

This week six teams are on bye -- the Lions, Seahawks, Titans, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens -- so fantasy owners need to hustle to fill those empty roster spots.



Here are some status updates as we look ahead to Week 7.

Quarterbacks

Trent Edwards, Buffalo Bills: I know that not many fantasy owners were looking at Edwards as a bye-week replacement anyway, given the season he's had so far. But just in case you were contemplating it, don't. Edwards suffered a concussion in Week 6 and was not at practice Wednesday. This is his second concussion in just more than a year and he will be monitored for his recovery in terms of both symptoms and cognition (brain processing). It sounds as if the Bills are preparing Ryan Fitzpatrick for a likely Sunday start against the Carolina Panthers.

Running backs

Willie Parker
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesWillie Parker's toe is getting better, but now he's lost his starting job.
Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers: This week, coach Mike Tomlin indicated that Mendenhall has passed Parker on the running back depth chart. Parker has been dealing with a case of turf toe, and although he sported some supportive new shoes when he played last week, he has not done enough to maintain the starting position. As far as his toe goes, Parker did not appear to emerge from Sunday's contest any worse for wear, and he is back in practice to start the week. Meanwhile, newly anointed starter Mendenhall sustained a knee bruise in Sunday's game that relegated him to limited work Wednesday. The good news for Mendenhall fantasy owners is that this is not expected to keep him out of this week's matchup.



Marion Barber and Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys: Barber has no doubt benefited from the bye week to further the healing of his strained quadriceps muscle. He did not, however, benefit from the hit he took against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6. Barber thought he had just jammed his left thumb, but upon further review, it turns out he suffered a fracture. He has been outfitted with a cast, according to the Cowboys' official Web site. However, the injury has not affected his ability to practice, nor will it affect his availability for Sunday. Barber carries the ball predominantly with his right hand, so it should not affect his ball control on the run. It may be more challenging to catch a pass out of the backfield, however, so that option may be diminished.

Jones has been on the mend from a PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) sprain and until this week has not practiced. He was back in limited work Monday and in full practice Wednesday, wearing a knee brace for support. According to the Cowboys' official Web site, Jones credited the team's athletic training staff with helping him get back to practice and reported only soreness after his return. PCL injuries can often be challenging to recover from, but the difficulty varies depending on the degree of damage to the ligament. The athlete is often left with some residual instability, which often shows up for a running back during sharp deceleration or change in direction. The brace provides additional support behind the knee to help control motion of the lower leg (tibia) relative to the thigh (femur). Jones has indicated that he likely will wear the brace if he plays Sunday (which he currently expects to do). It will be important to see how Jones' knee holds up after a full week of practice to gauge just how much action he's likely to see. After all, team owner Jerry Jones already announced on his weekly radio show that Tashard Choice is "going to get a big part of the load."

The good news for Dallas is bad news for fantasy owners. They have three backs who are likely to see playing time, but the division of labor is unclear at this point. At this point it seems to be shaping up as predominantly Barber and Choice with a sprinkling of Jones. Stay tuned for Saturday's update.

Wide receivers

Roy E. Williams, Dallas Cowboys: Williams has been back in practice this week after missing Week 5 (and resting during the bye week) because of bruised ribs. Williams also reportedly suffered cartilage damage in the area, which can be slow to heal. The good news is that it appears that Williams is responding well to practice and plans to play Sunday. The unknown factor is how he will feel absorbing contact, especially if he takes a shot to the previously injured area.

Anquan Boldin
Rick Scuteri/US PresswireAnquan Boldin has already called himself a gametime decision for Sunday, not a great sign.
Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals: Boldin is already referring to himself as a game-time decision, which is not great news for fantasy owners. Boldin, who suffered an ankle sprain in Week 6, did not practice Wednesday and told the Arizona Republic that his status is "up in the air." Boldin has been limited by soft-tissue injuries in the past, and teammate Steve Breaston has shown that he is capable of stepping up. Arizona does not play until Sunday night, so barring any major turnaround by Friday, fantasy owners should make plans to have a substitute for Boldin.

Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings: Harvin was limited in practice Wednesday as a result of his sore shoulder, which he aggravated during Sunday's game. Last week Harvin was limited throughout the week, played, but then suffered a setback which clearly caused him a great deal of pain. His availability for this week is unclear.

Jerricho Cotchery, New York Jets: Cotchery's strained hamstring kept him out of Week 6 action and may keep him sidelined again. On Wednesday, Cotchery did not participate in practice (only individual drills) and was non-committal about his potential availability for Sunday. If he is not running full speed by the end of the week, fantasy owners should be concerned.

Donnie Avery, St. Louis Rams: Avery has a bruised hip that kept him out of Wednesday practice. According to the Belleville News-Democrat, the hip tightened up on him, so the team limited him to conditioning work on the side. The hope is that he will be able to return to practice late in the week and be available for Sunday. At this point, his status is day-to-day.

Be sure to check back on Saturday for post-Friday NFL injury-report updates on all your fantasy players heading into the weekend.

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pregame 10:00-10:30 a.m.). And check out "Fantasy Football Now" on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. EST to kickoff for last-minute inactives, rankings and more!



This past weekend was tough for linemen. Several teams suffered big losses up front on defense, perhaps most notably those in Cincinnati and New York. The Cincinnati Bengals lost defensive end Antwan Odom to a ruptured right Achilles tendon. Odom had had some problems with the Achilles during the preseason, and it appears those symptoms were a precursor to the tendon's ultimate failure. He had surgery Monday to repair the Achilles and faces a long rehabilitation process but should be ready for next season. The New York Jets' vaunted defense may have gone down several notches when its star defensive tackle, Kris Jenkins, went down with a left ACL tear. Jenkins also faces surgery and a lengthy rehab, but he, too, should be ready for next season. Jenkins has been through this process before with his right knee, so he knows exactly what to expect.

But what are fantasy owners to expect from their injured players? Here's what we're looking at so far after Week 6:

Anquan Boldin
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesAnquan Boldin was held to just 54 yards receiving on Sunday, partly due to his ankle injury.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Boldin suffered a right ankle sprain Sunday that forced him out of the game early. The Cardinals' official Web site reports that Boldin left the game early only to help his chances of being available for Week 7, not because he couldn't continue, according to coach Ken Whisenhunt.



That's an interesting slant, especially when it's unclear whether Boldin will indeed be ready to play Sunday. In any case, Boldin had X-rays taken of the ankle, which showed no fracture, so it will come down to just how well he can perform throughout the week. Boldin certainly has dealt with his share of soft tissue injuries. At least so far, this latest ailment does not appear particularly serious.



Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings: Harvin already was dealing with a sore shoulder heading into Week 6, and let's just say it's not feeling any better. Harvin, who suffered a shoulder injury in Week 5, did not practice Wednesday but was able to increase his activity Thursday and Friday. His questionable designation heading into Sunday's contest reflected the fact that he was not yet fully recovered.



The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports Harvin then suffered a setback during a fourth-quarter kickoff return on Sunday. Although Vikings coach Brad Childress later told reporters that X-rays revealed "nothing extra in there," the sight of Harvin sporting a sling on his left arm after the game was not a positive. The Vikings have not offered any specifics as to the nature of Harvin's injury, but there is some early concern about his potential availability for this week's matchup against Pittsburgh.

Donnie Avery, WR, St. Louis Rams: Injuries have not been kind to Avery. He suffered a stress fracture in his foot in August, causing him to miss a couple of weeks of preseason action. Avery was able to recover more quickly than expected and managed to play in the Rams' season opener. A series of minor ailments (bruised ribs, hamstring strain) nagged at him, although nothing kept him off the field on Sundays. In Week 5, Avery was at his best for the season and looked to have put the injuries behind him. Then came Week 6.

Avery left Sunday's game with a left hip injury and had to be concerned based on past experience. Last season, Avery had a stress fracture in the same hip that forced him to miss most of training camp. The good news is that an MRI on Avery's hip reportedly turned out normal, and he is dealing with a bruise. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo is calling Avery's status day-to-day and adds that Avery is eager to get back out on the practice field. We will see what he's able to do as the week goes on.

Sammy Morris, RB, New England Patriots: There has not been much in the way of specifics out of New England about Morris' health. We do know he left Sunday's snowy contest in the first quarter with a leg injury. The Boston Globe reports that Patriots coach Bill Belichick says the team will do "like we normally do, and assess his availability for practice and ultimately at the end of the week for the following game." That translates into a daily practice situation, meaning fantasy owners likely will not have anything definitive until late in the week.



Trent Edwards, QB, Buffalo Bills: Edwards suffered his second concussion in two years on Sunday and was forced out of the game against the Jets in the second quarter. According to the Bills' official Web site, coach Dick Jauron did not offer a prognosis on Edwards, but based on what we know about concussions, that is a virtually impossible task. Concussion recovery is assessed on a daily basis, and until Edwards improves enough to return to physical activity, the team cannot even begin to consider his availability for Week 7. Fantasy owners should make alternate plans.

Other quick hits:

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson feels good after tweaking his ankle. Coach Brad Childress told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Peterson is dealing with "overall body soreness," so it doesn't appear that anyone in the Vikings' organization is terribly concerned.

New York Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham hurt his back during Sunday's game, and that led to Hakeem Nicks seeing more playing time. Manningham told the Newark Star-Ledger that the injury is not serious.

Tennessee Titans running back LenDale White was carted off with a knee injury but was seen leaving the facility without crutches, according to the Nashville Tennessean.



Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones and wide receiver Roy E. Williams were back in practice Monday after sitting out during the team's bye week. Both expect to play this week, but it is worth keeping an eye on them in practice to see just how much they can do.



See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pregame 10-10:30 a.m.), and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 7 in the Saturday morning blog.

Things are heating up for most fantasy league playoffs. Every player counts, as each week could be your last if you do not set your lineup wisely. Naturally, injuries play a big role. Just how banged up does a player have to be before he becomes a risk to your fantasy team? There are new faces on the "done for the year" list, and not all of them are there because of injury. At least you know you need to replace these guys. But other players are on the fringe as to whether they will be available for you this weekend.

So what do we know about Week 14? Based on early practice reports, here's what we're hearing on the injury front so far.

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers:
Grant sprained his thumb Sunday and was kept out of the second half of the game. Grant and his coaches were concerned about his ability to protect the football with pain, inflammation and stiffness in the thumb. So will that thumb be ready to guard the ball safely in Week 14?

According to the Packers' official Web site, Grant may need to wear a protective splint on his thumb, and the decision as to whether he'll play may hinge on how well he can handle the ball with extra hand gear. Brandon Jackson played well on Sunday in Grant's absence, and that may make it easier for coach Mike McCarthy to play him this week. McCarthy indicated that he had "no qualms about playing with Brandon in all of the situations." If Jackson is available in your league, you may want to pick him up in the event that Grant can't go.

Matt Schaub
Bruce Kluckhohn/US PresswireMatt Schaub is set to return to his starting role Sunday in Green Bay.
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans:
Although Sage Rosenfels has led the Texans to victory in their past two games, it looks as if Schaub will resume his starting role this weekend, barring any setbacks in practice. Schaub has missed the past four games with a sprained left medial collateral ligament, an injury that early on in his recovery had seemed as if it might sideline him for the remainder of the season. But Schaub is nothing if not determined, and his efforts in rehab and practice have convinced the medical staff and the coaches that he is prepared to return to play.

Schaub was active as the second quarterback for Monday night's game, but Rosenfels played the entire game. According to ESPN.com reports, coach Gary Kubiak said that although everyone felt Schaub could play and play well if needed, they were "very fortunate" that he did not have to play Monday. This allows Schaub another week of practice under his belt before returning to a game situation, and Kubiak added that "the extra rest will help him." Schaub is tough. His perseverance showed just that last season, as he was knocked around and banged up regularly. He likely will wear a protective brace on his knee to help minimize stress on the MCL should he take a hit on the outer part of his leg. His mobility may be hampered a bit, but he is not one to play tentatively. The Texans will play in unfamiliar cold when they travel to Green Bay, but that won't stop Schaub from looking for his favorite receiving target, Andre Johnson. Be sure to check after Friday practice reports, but as of now, it looks as if Schaub will get the nod.

Some other players to keep an eye on as the week progresses:

&#8226 According to a report on the Cowboys' official Web site, coach Wade Phillips announced during his Wednesday morning radio segment that Marion Barber would play Sunday. All along, it has looked as if Barber would give it a go, even though he dislocated his toe on Thanksgiving. Barber may not practice much and may require some adaptive footwear, but it is looking more and more like the Cowboys expect him in their lineup.

Wes Welker
Stew Milne/US PresswireThis hit from the Steelers' Ryan Clark has placed Wes Welker's status for Week 14 in doubt.
&#8226 Patriots receiver and resident tough guy Wes Welker took a big hit in last week's game from Steelers safety Ryan Clark, which forced him out of the game. From the looks of the hit, it could have been Welker's chest, neck or head (or some combination of the three) that suffered the most. Because the Patriots are the Patriots, no specific information was provided as to a possible injury to Welker, but there are some good early signs. The Boston Globe reports that Welker was present for at least the early portion of practice Wednesday. Stay tuned as the week progresses to see what the Patriots report.

&#8226 Fast Willie Parker looks as if he'll play this weekend, but don't be surprised if a time-share between him and teammate Mewelde Moore continues. Parker's knee has proven to be easily inflamed, and sharing time may be a way of helping off-load some of the strain.

&#8226 Whether Bills quarterback Trent Edwards plays may well come down to a game-time decision Sunday. Edwards injured his groin last week, and it looks to be a fairly significant injury. Coach Dick Jauron told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that he hoped Edwards would be well enough to return to practice Wednesday. Despite Edwards' declarations that he wants to play, if he is unable to practice much this week, it is likely that J.P. Losman would get the start against the Dolphins.

Players you need to replace

Plaxico Burress, WR, Giants: OK, hopefully you already had an idea this was coming. But now it's official: Burress has been suspended for the remainder of the season, so he will not be available for any of your fantasy playoffs. Look for Domenik Hixon or Amani Toomer.

Derek Anderson, QB, Browns: He probably wasn't on your roster, but if he was, you have a chance to replace him with someone who can help you down the stretch. And I don't mean Ken Dorsey, who becomes the starter in Cleveland. Consider Jeff Garcia, Shaun Hill or Joe Flacco, all still available in a number of leagues.

Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints: The terms of the suspension have been issued, and McAllister, along with five others, has been suspended for four games without pay. Translation: McAllister is not available for your fantasy playoffs. Consider Fred Jackson, who has quietly made some nice contributions in Buffalo, or, dare I say it, Cedric Benson, who faces a decent matchup against a weak Colts run defense this weekend.

Don't forget that the Raiders face the Chargers on Thursday, so get your lineups in early! We'll have the latest injury updates affecting the remaining Week 14 contests and any postmortem on Thursday injuries in the Saturday blog.

Quarterbacks are falling like flies

October, 15, 2008
10/15/08
2:15
PM ET


Is there a healthy starting quarterback in the NFL? It sure doesn't appear that way. In a game where everyone starts to look banged up as the halfway mark of the season approaches, the list of injuries to quarterbacks seems to be the most significant. In some cases, such as Eli Manning's, it's primarily bumps and bruises. In others (Tony Romo, Matt Hasselbeck, Carson Palmer) the injuries threaten to linger. And in the case of the Detroit Lions, it has even ended their starting quarterback's season, as Jon Kitna was placed on injured reserve due to his back problems.

So who do you need to be concerned about insuring on your fantasy roster this week? We take a look at how things are shaping up in preparation for Week 7.

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: By now everyone has heard about the importance of Romo's broken pinkie finger and the early projections that he could miss a month of playing time as a result. But according to the Dallas Morning News, coach Wade Phillips implied during a local radio appearance Wednesday that Romo would try testing his throwing in practice and his status could be re-evaluated.

Hmmmm. It would be a big surprise to see that much of a turnabout, from an initial four-week projected absence to no missed time. Certainly there is more at stake here than appearing tough. It is not just a matter of playing through pain, it is a matter of performance. It is also a matter of proper healing to ensure the longevity of a career, not just a starting streak. So let's hope that Romo comes to the best long-term decision for his throwing hand. Fantasy owners should plan on securing a backup quarterback no matter what that decision may be.

[+] EnlargeMatt Hasselbeck
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesSeahawk fans will have to hope Hasselbeck can return versus the Niners.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks: Hasselbeck has already been ruled out of this Sunday's game against Tampa Bay, so fantasy owners should plan on a replacement, but for how long?

Hasselbeck went for further testing this week after the Seahawks reported that he was not responding as expected following the bone bruise he incurred after hyperextending his knee in Week 5. No wonder. Turns out that the specific symptoms Hasselbeck was experiencing were related to his preseason back problems. You may recall the report that Hasselbeck had a bulging disc in his back during the preseason and was experiencing back tightness and spasms that kept him off the field for the majority of that time. It is worth noting that the bulging disc was reportedly not new, and it is often the case that a bulging disc can exist and be asymptomatic, so there was no immediate cause for alarm. Hasselbeck seemed to recover from that episode and went on to start the season and play the first four games.

If there is an injury or event, however, that results in inflammation in the area, a spinal disc can then become symptomatic. The presence of inflammation or the deformity of the disc bulge itself can create pressure and irritation on nearby nerves. In the lower back, the most commonly affected nerve is the sciatic nerve, which is responsible for strength and feeling in the back of the thigh and leg.

In Hasselbeck's case, the Seattle Times reports that the sciatic nerve is being affected to the degree that it is now causing weakness in his knee. Coach Mike Holmgren said it is actually more an issue of weakness than pain, which is of concern since this suggests greater compromise of the nerve. The Tacoma News-Tribune reports that Hasselbeck is going to focus on rehabilitation this week that hopefully will allow him to return for the game against division rival San Francisco on Oct. 26. Knowing the time frame usually required for neurological symptoms to resolve, this seems optimistic. On the plus side, it appears that the appropriate source of the symptoms is being addressed. Nerve tissue can be very slow to recover, though, once it has been compromised. These problems rarely require surgery, however, and conservative treatment (epidural injections, mobilization, strengthening) can be very effective. But the time frame can be highly variable from one individual to another, so this will be a day-to-day situation for Hasselbeck and the Seahawks.

Backup quarterback Seneca Wallace is trying to recover from a recently aggravated calf strain, and it is uncertain whether he will be well enough to start Sunday. If he is unable, then the Seahawks will have Charlie Frye under center for another week.

[+] EnlargeCarson Palmer
Matt Sullivan/Getty ImagesCould Palmer be on the same path as Jake Delhomme?
Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: One outcome of Palmer's visit with New York Mets team physician Dr. David Altchek is certain; Palmer will not start Sunday against the Steelers. Instead he will rest his inflamed throwing elbow. How long will he rest, though? Will he return in two weeks? After the Nov. 9 bye? Or have we seen the last of Palmer for the 2008 season? According to the Bengals' official Web site, these seem to be the options that the quarterback is considering after his second-opinion visit. As of late Monday, coach Marvin Lewis said, "I don't think anything has been ruled out."

Palmer indicated that he had been told his injury was the type that baseball pitchers have, which led him to consult with an orthopedist who frequently deals with these types of scenarios. The statement by Palmer lent further credence to speculation that his elbow ailment involved the ulnar collateral (Tommy John) ligament, the reconstruction of which has become almost commonplace amongst elite throwers in baseball. It is a far less frequent injury in football, partially due to the fact that the throwing mechanics in football are less stressful on the elbow than in baseball. A direct impact to the arm, however, similar to what Palmer reportedly suffered in the Week 3 contest against the Giants, could result in an injury to the ligament and nearby tissues that could then be further impacted by throwing. It should be noted that original reports suggested there was no evidence of structural damage to Palmer's elbow. It is also worth noting, however, that even microtrauma in the area, not visible on an MRI, can still result in inflammation, pain and difficulty throwing. In the presence of those symptoms, it is conceivable that a minor injury could turn into a more significant one if there is repeated strain placed on the tissue. It is for that reason that, in baseball, the typical response to an initial episode of elbow pain, even in the absence of definitive findings, is to shut down a thrower for a period of several weeks. The first goal is to eliminate all pain and soreness with rest and then gradually reintroduce throwing, progressing distance and velocity as tolerated.

For all the above reasons, it would not come as a surprise if Palmer's plan follows the path that has him returning after the November bye. This will be his second week of straight rest (after he returned to play in the Dallas game in Week 5) and it is conceivable that if he is pain-free, he could resume throwing next week and return. But if he has any swelling, any soreness or any weakness still lingering, or if his return to throwing requires a series of smaller steps, the middle time frame provides the best option. If he fails to respond to conservative treatment in the near future, the option remains for him to be shut down for the remainder of the season, which seems less likely, at least at this stage. The overriding concern would be that if Palmer tries to force it and returns too soon, he could end up with an injury that would require surgery, and the timetable on a return from reconstructive surgery is long. Just ask Jake Delhomme.

Some other players to keep an eye on as the week progresses

&#8226 The Buffalo Bills expect quarterback Trent Edwards to return to action against San Diego Sunday. Edwards returned to practice Monday after suffering a concussion October 5.

&#8226 Adding to the Cowboys' misery this week is the news that running back Felix Jones sustained a left hamstring injury that could cause him to miss several weeks. ESPN sources indicate that the injury is closer to the knee, which typically means longer healing time, so fantasy owners need to plan accordingly.

&#8226 A source close to the team reports that Indianapolis Colts' running back Joseph Addai, who left Sunday's game early with a strained right hamstring, will probably miss this week's game, but no formal decision has been made just yet. We do know that rookie running back Mike Hart suffered what the Colts are calling a "significant" knee injury and he has been placed on injured reserve. Dominic Rhodes becomes ever more valuable.

&#8226 Kansas City Chiefs' quarterback Brodie Croyle is expected to resume his position as quarterback this Sunday when the Chiefs face the Tennessee Titans. Croyle suffered a separated shoulder in Week 1 but was able to practice during the bye week. No doubt that this is a tough team for him to face in his first week back, but from a healing perspective, his shoulder should be fine.

&#8226 San Diego Chargers running back Darren Sproles has a sprained ankle which could certainly result in him seeing limited practice time. The Chargers will no doubt want to protect him to try to ensure his availability this week, especially with teammate LaDainian Tomlinson still at less than 100 percent. Meanwhile wide receiver Chris Chambers, also with a sprained ankle, is "making progress" and could be available Week 7 according to the San Diego North County Times. Much will depend on how he practices later in the week.

&#8226 New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning suffered a bruised chest in the Monday night game this week, which may have contributed to his performance. According to Newsday, Manning's X-rays and MRI came back negative and he should be available this Sunday.

As usual, practice throughout the week will give us a better hint as to what the final status of these players will be heading into Week 7. Remember there are bye weeks for Arizona, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Jacksonville so we will not get much information on player injury updates for those teams until next week.

See you Friday at the injury chat and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 7 in the Saturday morning blog!

Westbrook suffers a new injury

October, 6, 2008
10/06/08
2:40
PM ET
Now that we're a month into the season, we have begun to see the effects of guys playing when they are less than 100 percent healthy. Most football players will tell you that after a week or two of the regular season, nobody on the roster is 100 percent, simply because of the physical nature of the game. Bumps, bruises, sprains and strains are all part of the job, and many times players are practicing and playing through these minor ailments, with no formal mention on the team injury report.

Sometimes, however, as evidenced by the injury reports, players will experience injuries that are serious enough to keep them out for a week or longer but are not enough to sideline them for the remainder of the season. Nonetheless, these are often the types of injuries that might require an offseason of rest to fully heal. Although an athlete might be cleared to play, the possibility remains that the still-recovering tissue might be more easily re-injured. For example, a mild ankle sprain might heal enough to allow a player to play, even at a high level, but one wrong move or one awkward landing can send the athlete back to the training room for the week, and perhaps cost him even more recovery time.

This week we saw several instances of players aggravating prior injuries, now rendering their status uncertain. And, of course, there are always a few new injuries to add to the list. Unfortunately, as you'll see, the list of disabled quarterbacks continues to grow.

Here's a first look at Week 5 injuries as we begin to focus on Week 6:

Brian Westbrook
AP Photo/Tom MihalekBrian Westbrook missed time in Week 5 because of an injury not related to his Week 3 injury.
Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles:

Westbrook's fantasy owners have reason to be concerned -- and not because of his ankle. Westbrook, who played Sunday despite being listed as questionable, left the game early and went to the locker room, prompting speculation that he had aggravated the ankle injury he sustained in Week 3. It turns out Westbrook had taken a shot to the ribs, although he was cleared to return later in the game.

In his Monday news conference, coach Andy Reid indicated Westbrook suffered fractured ribs, although he did not include any more details (how many ribs, which ones, projected time out, etc). There are a number of variables that will factor into whether Westbrook can play and whether he will require protection, such as rib padding, if he does play. Although Westbrook shows up on the injury report regularly, he also manages to play through a great deal of ailments, so it's important not to count him out just yet. After all, he did finish the game and even made some nice plays after sustaining the injury. That definitely gets him my vote in the toughness category. That said, a wise Westbrook owner will secure a backup for Week 6.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers:

Unfortunately for Tomlinson, he is the case study this week for aggravating a previous injury. Tomlinson, who injured his big toe in the season opener, has not been himself in the early going, which is no surprise given the nature of his injury and the relevance of the big toe for pivoting, cutting and pushing off. Each week, though, Tomlinson had maintained that he was improving, that the toe was finally feeling better, particularly while running straight ahead. As such, he rushed for more than 100 yards against Oakland in Week 4 and looked to be on the upswing.

That all changed in Week 5, when Tomlinson exacerbated his toe injury against the Dolphins. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Tomlinson had his toe "twisted into the ground" when he was stepped on by a member of the Dolphins' defense. These big toe problems occur primarily where the big toe meets the ball of the foot, and any excessive force across that joint -- either from hyperextension, torsion (twisting) or impact -- will potentially injure the ligaments and the capsule around the joint. The risk is that if the tissue does not completely heal, the joint can become arthritic down the line -- a very painful scenario.

It would not be surprising to see Tomlinson limited this week in practice, and his return to top form might now require an extended timeline as well.

Antonio Gates, TE and Chris Chambers, WR, Chargers:

Gates is another Charger who has been playing while recovering from injury. Gates' offseason toe surgery has been well-documented, and he was very upfront about the toe limiting him throughout the preseason and early into the regular season. But even as his toe has improved, Gates also has been dealing with a hip injury that he sustained early in the season. Although it has not kept him out of any games, the hip injury has limited him in practice, and this week it also limited him on the field. Gates was held to only one reception and seemed to have limited mobility Sunday. Gates' comment to the San Diego Union-Tribune reflects the mentality of tough athletes trying to play through pain, knowing their bodies are not fully cooperating but not letting that be the rationale for subpar performance: "Obviously there are some things I need to do physically ... But once you decide to get on the field, you have to put everything else behind you." It's an admirable stance, but it does not hide that being at less than full health impacts his performance. It will be interesting to see if Gates has a lighter work week in advance of Game 6.

Meanwhile, Gates' teammate, Chris Chambers, injured his leg on the last play of the fourth quarter Sunday. The Union-Tribune is calling Chambers' injury an ankle sprain, and there is no word yet as to the severity of the injury. The Chargers have to be hoping this injury is not a long-term concern.

Trent Edwards, QB, Bills:

Edwards took a shot from Arizona Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson, who flew in untouched and sent Edwards reeling. Edwards was on the ground for several minutes after the hit and was eventually helped off the field. Later seen on the sidelines, and even later as he was carted into the locker room, Edwards still appeared dazed. According to Associated Press reports, after visiting with his injured quarterback after the game, coach Dick Jauron said Edwards was "responding, but he was still a little groggy." Jauron added, "It's a good time to have a bye." That might be the ultimate understatement. Edwards will have an extra week to recover from his concussion, but as is typical of head injuries, it is impossible to predict a recovery time frame -- it will simply be measured by how Edwards feels from day to day.

Brian Griese, QB, Buccaneers:

Griese took a big hit from Champ Bailey on Sunday, and it was anyone's guess as to which body part was injured. It looked as if it could have been his head, his neck or a shoulder. But the St. Petersburg Times is reporting Griese said he sustained an "elbow bruise" as a result of the hit. He also reported immediate swelling, which is not surprising but perhaps very limiting as far as the function of the elbow. The elbow might just have been the body part that got the worst of it. At this point there are no further specifics, but we will keep an eye on Griese's status this week.

Matt Hasselbeck
Jarrett Baker/Getty ImagesThe Seahawks' injury woes continue. … This week Matt Hasselbeck got hurt.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, and Deion Branch, WR, Seahawks:

Hasselbeck was hit on the first drive of Sunday's game and sustained what the Tacoma News-Tribune is reporting as a hyperextended knee. Hasselbeck said he was initially in a great deal of pain, which subsided to some degree over the next few minutes. He is scheduled for an MRI on Monday.

After the near depletion of their receiving corps, the Seahawks were very excited about the return of their two injured stars, Bobby Engram and Deion Branch. Engram's season debut was quite successful; Branch's was not. Branch, approximately eight months removed from left ACL reconstruction, suffered an injury to his right heel, according to the Seattle Times. Coach Mike Holmgren implied that Branch's injury could cause him to miss time, but there are no further specifics as of yet. Nonetheless, Branch's fantasy owners may want to make other plans.

Eddie Royal, WR and Tony Scheffler, TE, Broncos:

Rookie Eddie Royal, who was initially projected to be primarily a special teams player, had quite a welcome to the NFL as a wide receiver in Week 1 when he put up 146 receiving yards and a touchdown versus the Raiders. That was also the week Royal initially injured his ankle. Royal has been listed on the injury report since that time, because of the ankle, but has been able to practice and play with the injury, which appeared to be minor.

That minor injury might have become more significant in Week 5 -- Royal aggravated the ankle on a punt return in the third quarter. The Denver Post reports that although X-rays were negative, Royal left the locker room on crutches and limping well after the game was over.

Teammate Tony Scheffler left the locker room in the same condition as Royal -- on crutches and limping -- but for a different reason. The Post is reporting that Scheffler suffered a left groin injury. After initially experiencing some discomfort in the first half, Scheffler continued to play, but the problem seemed to worsen on his final catch of the game. As Scheffler put it, "You go through the game, and there's some soreness and tightness in there, and then something happens at the end that kind of puts it over the edge."

You never like to see athletes on crutches, since it implies a degree of seriousness to the injury, but crutches also permit unloading (non-weight bearing) of the injured part, which can go a long way in the early stages to improve tissue healing. It certainly helps prevent worsening of the injury, and it also helps keep an athlete from compensating by limping, which can lead to problems in another area. As a result, it is important not to read too much into these injuries just yet. We will hear more from the teams as the week progresses, and we will see what Scheffler and Royal are able to do in practice (if they are able to practice). Meanwhile, receiver Darrell Jackson, sidelined since Week 1 because of a calf strain, can help fill a potential void if he is ready to go in Week 6. As Mike Shanahan told the Denver Post, "That's why you have to have depth." Yes, Mike, fantasy owners know all about that.

Other noteworthy injuries:

Aaron Rodgers
Chris Livingston/Icon SMIAaron Rodgers admitted to having pain Sunday, but he was able to play well despite it.

On a positive note for Week 5, Aaron Rodgers was able to throw for his first 300-yard game at Lambeau Field, despite his sprained shoulder. Rodgers was a game-time decision to start because he had not been able to throw much during the week and had to prove to the coaches Sunday morning that he had the strength in his arm to get the job done. Rodgers was able to deliver some nice sharp passes in the Packers' loss, although he acknowledged to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that his shoulder was painful throughout the game. Don't be surprised if he is allowed to rest his shoulder in practice this week in preparation for Week 6.

Jon Kitna was removed as the Lions' quarterback because of back spasms. Although some speculated his removal was due to poor performance, coach Rod Marinelli said in his postgame news conference that the switch was made as a result of Kitna's back problems. Kitna has dealt with back spasms before, so this is nothing new. How limiting this episode will be remains to be seen. Backup Dan Orlovsky sustained a high ankle sprain late in the game, so it is unclear who will get the start for the ailing Lions this week.

New York Giants receiver Domenik Hixon, taking advantage of the absence of Plaxico Burress (suspension), suffered a concussion that kept him out of the second half, or his numbers might have been even better. The Newark Star-Ledger is reporting that Hixon wanted to return, suggesting his injury might not be too serious, but the team declined his request, choosing to err on the side of caution. Never a questionable call when it comes to head injuries.

Patriots running back LaMont Jordan left Sunday's game with an undisclosed injury on a non-contact play in the first half. He did not return to the game, and his status for Week 6 is uncertain. We may not hear much more as to the nature of his injury from the Patriots, but as always, we will stay tuned to the practice and injury reports.

Be sure to check back here throughout the week as we update these and other injuries. Also, stop by my injury chat (11 a.m. ET on Tuesdays and Fridays) to discuss the status of your injured players. Hope to see you there!

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