Stephania Bell: Vince Young



My sympathies are with my fellow San Francisco 49ers fans this morning as everyone tries to resolve conflicted feelings of joy over a big Monday night win and sadness from the loss of running back Frank Gore to injury. Gore suffered an apparent right hip fracture and looks to be done for the season. It's an unusual injury to be sure and the details are lacking (such as where exactly the break is), but any fracture is serious and typically requires more than a month to heal, which is about all that is left to the season. Gore, as most people know, is more than just a running back for the 49ers; he represents a significant portion of the offense. Matt Maiocco of Comcast Sports Net Bay Area provided a telling statistic last night: Gore has accounted for 37 percent of the 49ers' total offensive yardage. Think he'll be missed? More than a little, I'd say.

[+] EnlargeFrank Gore
AP Photo/Paul ConnorsFrank Gore finishes the season with 1,305 total yards, five total TDs and 147 fantasy points in standard leagues.
It's worth noting, however, that the fresh legs of Brian Westbrook handled the bulk of the running workload after Gore's injury, making him look like a far more critical acquisition now. Anthony Dixon still found his way into the end zone, but the 49ers saw that Westbrook can provide a spark. Westbrook is no stranger to injury himself, with a history of chronic knee and ankle problems, not to mention the concussion issues that cut his 2009 season short. But the time off -- from fewer games played last season to the paltry five carries he had heading into Monday night's game -- may be a huge benefit now. Westbrook showed that he can still make big plays; whether he can do it for 16 games remains in question. Luckily, the 49ers need Westbrook's productivity for only five more weeks unless, of course, they make the playoffs. After all, they are only one game out of first place in the, ahem, less competitive NFC West. Maybe Westbrook is in your fantasy future after all?

And on that note, here's who else we're talking about in the injury department as we count down to Week 13:

• What would the injury blog be without a section dedicated to the San Diego Chargers? They have dealt with a myriad of injuries on the offensive front, and there appears to be no end in sight. Most notably this week, wide receiver Vincent Jackson was limited to two plays in his 2010 debut before being forced out with a calf injury. And then the conspiracy theories began. Ultimately the questions are just how injured Jackson was and why no one saw it coming. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chargers confirm that Jackson's injury, a strain of his right calf, is legitimate. The chronology of Jackson's injury began in Friday practice when Jackson reportedly hurt his left calf but did not leave the field. The injury was decidedly not serious, with some suggesting it was more soreness from overdoing it in practice than a true injury. According to the Union-Tribune, Jackson then injured his right calf in pregame warm-ups but attempted to play, obviously unsuccessfully.



With regard to Jackson's status, Coach Norv Turner told the Union-Tribune, "I would think it would probably be hard for him to play this week. Then, after that, it would be on a week-to-week basis." Good thing Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee appear to have emerged relatively unscathed from Sunday's game. Both wide receivers are recovering from hamstring strains.

Perhaps the best news for the Chargers coming out of the Sunday night game was the return of tight end Antonio Gates to the playing field, and the fact that he felt pretty good afterward. According to Turner, Gates felt "better than anticipated," welcome news after his first big test since he tore the plantar fascia in his right foot. Gates did not appear to be moving particularly well early in the game but managed to contribute nonetheless. Considering he was still struggling in practice Thursday, his performance was impressive. While he's not 100 percent, he looks to be able to move forward.

Last but not least, Chargers running back Ryan Mathews has been out for two weeks since aggravating his high ankle sprain. While the Chargers indicate Mathews could be available this week, it remains to be seen whether he can return to practice, a likely precursor to game play.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Peterson
Rafael Suanes/US PresswireAdrian Peterson still had 70 total yards and a touchdown before leaving Sunday's game with an ankle injury.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has an injured right ankle, which forced him to leave the Week 12 contest early. Interim head coach Leslie Frazier told reporters Monday that Peterson had an MRI which revealed "only" a sprain. Peterson's availability will largely depend on what he is able to do this week. Severe sprains can significantly hamper a running back's mobility, especially laterally, so while there has to be relief that nothing is broken, this injury can still present a challenge for Peterson.



Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young has taken to the social media airwaves again, tweeting that his thumb surgery was a success. Since he's on injured reserve, we'll wait until next year to see how his thumb is faring. Of more immediate concern is who will run the Titans' offense in Week 13. Kerry Collins has been sidelined with a calf strain but appears to be approaching a return. Coach Jeff Fisher indicates that the team will have a better idea of Collins' status late in the week.

• The Pittsburgh Steelers saw their quarterback suffer an injury in Week 12 as well, as Ben Roethlisberger suffered what is being called a foot sprain. ESPN is reporting that Roethlisberger expects to play in Week 13 but likely will wear a protective boot to rest his foot during the week. Coach Mike Tomlin told reporters that they will "see where the week takes us." Roethlisberger has already shown he can perform with limited practice and he never was the most mobile quarterback. So far there is reason to be encouraged about his status.

• The usually quiet Indianapolis Colts have given us a clue about the status of one of their key players for Week 13. According to Phillip Wilson of the Indianapolis Star, general manager Bill Polian said that running back Joseph Addai will need more time before returning. Addai returned to limited practice (noncontact drills only) last week, but his recovery from a nerve injury affecting his left shoulder continues to be slow. Donald Brown likely will be the starter again this week.

[+] EnlargeMike Williams
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesMike Williams had two straight 100-yard games before sitting out Week 12 with a foot injury.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Mike Williams sat out Week 12 because of a foot injury. Williams, who was injured in Week 11, was originally believed to have a serious foot injury that might threaten his season. By late last week, however, the Seahawks were comfortable that the injury was not nearly as bad as feared, but Williams was still not able to be on the field. His status for this week remains uncertain. Coach Pete Carroll told the Tacoma News-Tribune that the medical staff examined Williams "and there wasn't a lot of improvement." The team would like to have him practice by the end of the week if he is to play Sunday.

• Wide receiver Greg Jennings suffered a foot strain in Week 12. The Green Bay Packers' website reports Jennings could miss some practice time this week, but he does not appear in danger of missing playing time. Foot injuries can be problematic for receivers when trying to push off and cut, so the test will come when Jennings tries those maneuvers. Fantasy owners should keep an eye on this one just in case it turns into something bigger.

• The Dallas Cowboys initially sounded as if they expected to be without running back Marion Barber for a couple of weeks because of a calf strain suffered on Thanksgiving. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting, however, that Barber's calf improved significantly over the weekend. While he still appears likely to miss this week's contest, the Cowboys are calling him day-to-day. Calf strains tend to linger a bit, though, and if Tashard Choice is available, fantasy owners may want to go and get him. He'll be the beneficiary if Barber is down.



We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses. Check back for the latest injury updates affecting Week 13 on Thursday and Saturday!

Week 12 Tuesday injury update

November, 23, 2010
11/23/10
6:17
PM ET


San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers continues to show that he can get the job done no matter who steps in to take his handoffs or catch his passes. In front of millions on "Monday Night Football," Rivers delivered a star performance with running back Ryan Mathews, wide receiver Legedu Naanee and tight end Antonio Gates all watching from the sidelines. Mike Tolbert handled the bulk of the running game (and likely will again in Week 12) and fresh-off-the-injury-report Malcom Floyd did his part to contribute to the passing game with a couple of catches and a score (although according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Floyd tweaked his hamstring again, so stay tuned).



[+] EnlargePatrick Crayton
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesPatrick Crayton's left wrist was injured as he scored this touchdown.
But the Chargers couldn't get through the game without suffering yet another loss of a key player. Wide receiver Patrick Crayton landed awkwardly in the end zone while finishing off an impressive catch-and-run touchdown. He came up holding his forearm bent 90 degrees, and didn't let any of his teammates touch that left hand for congratulatory high-fives. Often when a person instinctively cradles his arm that way, it suggests a serious wrist or forearm injury. ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that Crayton suffered a dislocated wrist and is undergoing further testing Tuesday to determine the course of action. Since the wrist joint consists of two forearm bones (radius and ulna) interfacing with eight small wrist (carpal) bones, which in turn interface with the bones of the hand, there are many possible injury presentations. In other words, rather than speculate as to the specifics, we will wait to see what the Chargers reveal after Crayton's follow-up tests. Suffice it to say, this is not exactly good news. One might say that the timing of Vincent Jackson's return, scheduled for this week, couldn't be better. Something tells me Rivers will adjust just fine.



But how will Eli Manning adjust to the loss of another star wide receiver in the span of a week? The New York Giants, who recently saw Steve Smith go down with a partially torn pectoral muscle, have now lost Hakeem Nicks to a case of compartment syndrome in his right leg. Compartment syndrome is typically something that develops over time (chronic) but it can be brought on suddenly (acute), as was the case with Nicks, by trauma. Nicks reportedly was hit in the leg at some point during Sunday's game, according to ESPN New York, but was able to play into the fourth quarter. When Nicks arrived at the team facility on Monday, coach Tom Coughlin said the medical staff felt the need to "take immediate action." Nicks then went to the hospital and underwent a fasciotomy, a procedure whereby tissue is released surgically to alleviate pressure on blood vessels and nerves in the area.

[+] EnlargeNicks
AP Photo/Rob CarrHakeem Nicks has scored the sixth-most fantasy points among wide receivers in ESPN standard leagues.
The lower leg is divided into regional compartments, each of which contains muscles, blood vessels and nerves, and the compartments are separated by connective tissue called fascia. Each compartment functions like a container of sorts. In the presence of swelling, the contents within each compartment are subject to increased pressure, which can constrict the blood vessels and nerves and prevent normal function (picture a blood pressure cuff squeezing around the leg and cutting off circulation). The individual can feel pain and tingling as a result of the compromise to the nerves and blood vessels. More importantly, if the blood supply to muscle is compromised for any length of time, the muscle tissue will die, hence the emergency nature of the procedure. Relieving pressure on the compartment by cutting the fascia is the immediate treatment. The next steps are waiting for the wound to heal, then gradually restoring the motion and strength in the lower leg.

The Giants have indicated that Nicks will miss the next three weeks following his fasciotomy. Time to recover from such a procedure can vary from several weeks to a couple of months, depending on the extent of the procedure, how well the wound heals, and whether there are any complications along the way. It should be noted that most acute compartment syndromes are associated with significant trauma, such as fractures or crush injuries. Sometimes in sports, however, there can be a direct blow that results in a hematoma (collection of blood), which in turn creates significant localized swelling and pressure. This may be the origin of Nicks' injury. Assuming no prior history of compartment issues for Nicks, the three-week timetable would seem reasonable, assuming no setbacks. During the first week, Nicks will do very little, but as he is able to increase his activity, we should get a better idea of whether he will meet the projected timetable.

Plenty of other teams continue to adjust to injury situations and this week some have only a few days to do so. With the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be three NFL games Thursday. The Detroit Lions host the New England Patriots for the early game. Then the New Orleans Saints visit the Dallas Cowboys followed by the New York Jets welcoming the Cincinnati Bengals. Given the short week for those teams, their initial practice injury reports were issued Monday (usually they do not come out until Wednesday). For key fantasy players in Thanksgiving Day games, here's what we know about their early-week activity.

Detroit Lions: The Lions had only a walk-through Monday but still provided practice report "estimates." Among those who would not have practiced were running back Jahvid Best, quarterback Matthew Stafford, tight end Tony Scheffler and kicker Jason Hanson.



Jahvid Best
Kellen Michah/Icon SMIEven if Jahvid Best plays on Thanksgiving, remember that he hasn't had a double-digit fantasy game in ESPN standard leagues since Week 2.
Fantasy owners are probably most concerned about Best and rightfully so. Best has been limited to some degree by his toe injuries since early in the season. He reportedly suffered a setback Sunday and was seen getting one of his toes re-taped during the game. Ultimately, the toe situation was problematic enough to keep him from returning to the field. While he may continue to have some good days, the condition is going to persist and be a risk factor until he has lengthy time off.



The Lions' dire situation at running back has been compounded by the loss of Kevin Smith to injured reserve. Smith, who had just started to emerge following his ACL reconstruction of last year, is now recovering from thumb surgery. Nonetheless, it's hard to imagine Best being even close to ready for a full game Thursday when his pattern has been one of not practicing until late in the week. And as we saw last week, that schedule still was not enough to allow him to perform on Sunday. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports that Best was in practice Tuesday, yet he still expects Maurice Morris to be the No.1 back this week.



As far as the other injured Lions, no one really expects to see Stafford anytime soon, if at all, this season, so his absence comes as no surprise. Scheffler injured his ribs in the second quarter of Sunday's game, according to the Detroit News, and is anything but certain to play. Hanson is recovering from an MCL sprain and his status for Thursday is still up in the air.

New England Patriots:The Patriots also conducted only a walk-through Monday but reported several players as limited, including quarterback Tom Brady and running back Fred Taylor. Brady, who is still listed on the report because of his foot along with his shoulder, will continue to play as anticipated. Based on his recent performances, it's hard to see the foot as a limitation. As far as Taylor, he returned to limited practice with his team a couple of weeks ago and is awaiting the green light to see playing time. Taylor seems to be as in the dark about when that will be as anyone else. The Patriots' running game appears to be in good hands so the team may elect to guard Taylor's use, even once he has been activated for game day.

[+] EnlargeReggie Bush
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireReggie Bush nearly returned to action in Week 11 before becoming a late scratch, but he might finally be able to play for the first time since Week 2.
New Orleans Saints: Despite the encouraging sight of Reggie Bush in team practice last week, he was deemed not quite ready for prime time and was held out of Sunday's game. Maybe not such a bad idea given that the team's next game is coming just four days later. Bush was listed as a full participant in the Saints' Monday walk-through practice report and is expected to play Thursday, barring a setback. Of course, the team expressed optimism that he would play last Sunday and he didn't, but keep in mind that Bush was only a limited participant in practice throughout the week. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, that's exactly what it came down to for the coaching staff, which did not want Bush's first full test to come in a game. Coach Sean Payton told the Picayune, "[Bush's] pregame workout was good. And yet I just felt like what I didn't want to do was err on the side of bringing him, just because you're wanting to bring him up."

It will be interesting to see how the Saints utilize him in his return outing. But with Bush champing at the bit to return, and the Saints feeling as if they're getting him back in good shape, he could provide a spark to the offense. Meanwhile, Pierre Thomas is not looking as if he'll play Thursday. There are conflicting reports about the exact nature of his ankle injury but the Picayune reports that Payton maintains Thomas' injury is a sprain. Either way, it appears that his return will not come before December.

Tight end Jeremy Shockey sat out Week 11 because of a rib injury and has been a limited participant in practice so far this week. Whether he will play on Thursday or not is not yet determined.

Dallas Cowboys: It's interesting that there has been so much chatter about the recent X-rays taken of Tony Romo's left clavicle fracture, as if there were some hope of a full recovery. Most bones require six weeks for fracture healing, with actual remodeling of bone continuing well beyond that point. Add to that the fact that the clavicle is notoriously slow to heal, and four weeks -- which is how much time has passed since Romo's injury -- would not likely be enough to demonstrate full bone repair. It's certainly possible that the clavicle showed some progression in healing and that's often why X-rays are taken at an interim stage, to assess how the bone is shaping up. The bottom line is if anyone was expecting Romo to return to the lineup sooner than the original minimum six-week projection, it's not going to happen. Eight to 10 weeks has been the more reasonable healing timetable estimate all along, but it is not guaranteed, and the team may decide it is not worth risk of reinjury to have him appear again this season.

Of more immediate concern, running back Felix Jones is still dealing with a hip ailment and spent Tuesday working with the rehab staff, according to The Dallas Morning News. Jones, who injured his hip Sunday yet returned to the game, did not practice Monday but said he was "doing better," according to the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram. We'll see how the team designates him for Thursday's game, but resting early in a short week may give him the best chance to play on Thanksgiving.

Cincinnati Bengals: Running back Cedric Benson came into Week 11 with a foot injury but it did not appear to hamper him during the game. At one point, Benson was forced out with an eye injury but he was able to return. He should be available Thursday.

New York Jets: Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery had a groin strain that kept him sidelined in Week 11. ESPN New York's Rich Cimini reports that Cotchery is doing light positional drills Tuesday but is still "iffy" for Thursday's game. As we've seen in the past, groin injuries are not only difficult to overcome, they are easy to aggravate. It would not be surprising if Cotchery is out again this week.

Here's who else we're talking about heading into the rest of the Week 12 contests:

Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, who injured his knee in Week 10, practiced Monday after serving as the emergency quarterback last Thursday. While the Dolphins have not yielded any information as to the specifics of the injury, the fact that Henne is participating in some level of practice is encouraging, but we'll have to see how the team designates him later in the week. Tyler Thigpen may still be at the helm.

• The Tennessee Titans had a bizarre weekend but we'll stick to the injuries. Vince Young has now been placed on injured reserve as he is expected to undergo thumb surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon. Kerry Collins is still recovering from a calf strain, which was initially projected to keep him out for several weeks, and is not expected to be ready for this Sunday. Thus, Rusty Smith is likely to start at quarterback in Week 12 after stepping in last week when Young was injured. The Titans have signed Chris Simms as insurance.

[+] EnlargePortis
Grant Halverson/Getty ImagesClinton Portis had a short-lived return to the Redskins' lineup after missing five games with a groin injury.
• Running back Ryan Torain of the Washington Redskins sat out Sunday with his hamstring injury, with Clinton Portis getting the start. Portis didn't last long though, aggravating his groin injury after just five plays. Considering that Portis had not been cleared to play Monday night, it's hard to imagine that he was suddenly 100 percent healthy. That said, as an athlete is recovering from a muscle strain, the only way to truly test his health once he's fully practicing is to put him in a game situation. No one ever wants or expects a setback to come so quickly, but that is the nature of this type of injury. Portis underwent a subsequent MRI and the results, according to Jason Reid of The Washington Post, "revealed nothing new. Just swelling." Unfortunately, just swelling is enough to indicate there is still some inflammatory response taking place around that healing tissue, making it less likely we will see Portis in Week 12. Meanwhile, the Redskins lost running back Chad Simpson to a foot injury and have added running back James Davis to their active roster. With Torain still recovering from his hamstring injury, it appears Keiland Williams will be the starting back for the Redskins.



Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie left the Week 11 game early for what the Colts called "precautionary reasons." Collie, who was returning to play two weeks after suffering a concussion, took some big hits in last week's game. He is not expected to play in Week 12. Running back Joseph Addai is still considered day to day, as he has been essentially since the injury occurred. In other words, fantasy owners can't plan for a scheduled return.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen says he expects to be available in Week 12. Both he and running back Jonathan Stewart will need to receive medical clearance to return to practice, and their status will not be known until later this week.

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses. Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no chats on Friday. But check back for the latest injury updates affecting Week 12 in the Saturday morning blog! Happy and healthy Thanksgiving everyone!



Week 11 kicks off with another Thursday night game, and the effect of injury is obvious in the Miami Dolphins' starting lineup. This past Sunday, the Dolphins lost quarterback Chad Pennington, who started ahead of a benched Chad Henne, in the first offensive series to another season-ending shoulder injury. Henne then stepped into the game only to leave with a knee injury that had him on crutches afterward. While the Dolphins have left the door open for Henne to return, it doesn't appear that will be anytime soon ... and it certainly won't be tonight. Tyler Thigpen will be the starting quarterback as the Dolphins host the Chicago Bears.

Meanwhile, there also is some question as to who will be protecting Thigpen's blind side. Offensive tackle Jake Long injured his shoulder in Week 10, reportedly dislocating it and suffering significant tissue damage, including a torn labrum (the ring of cartilage that adds stability to the shoulder joint), in the process. Not only is this a painful injury, but it means Long's shoulder will be significantly less stable, and that instability will make it difficult to block effectively. An unstable shoulder will feel like it slips out of place, especially when weight is forced through the arm. Long is expected to try wearing a shoulder harness for support, which offers some stability but also, out of necessity, limits motion, making it tough for Long to use his arm as he normally would. He is listed as questionable, so it will come down to game time to see whether Long can function well enough to play.

This week marks the first non-bye week since Week 3, so theoretically there are more players available for last-minute fantasy pickups. Unfortunately, at this point in the season, there also are far more injuries of significance, so the pickings might be a little slimmer.



Here's who you might be concerned about heading toward the Week 11 showdowns:

Austin Collie
Geoff Burke/US PresswireAustin Collie's return to the lineup would help Peyton Manning's numbers.
Joseph Addai, RB; Mike Hart, RB; Austin Collie, WR; Jacob Tamme, TE, Indianapolis Colts: The exciting news here is that Collie is back in the conversation. Regardless of his status for this Sunday, hearing he was back at the Colts' practice facility this week is good news indeed, especially after seeing him unconscious on the field in Week 9, then removed on a spine board and stretcher. At this time last week, Collie already had been ruled out. This week, Collie was able to put in some limited work Wednesday and he issued a statement expressing his thanks for all the well wishes following his injury. Collie, who practiced fully again Thursday, said, "Every day I feel like I am improving. And it was great to get back on the field in some capacity Wednesday." He also thanked the entire medical staff for its efforts. It still is one day at a time for Collie, but it appears possible he could return this Sunday.

Addai was said to be feeling better last week but was not in Wednesday practice. However, he did return to limited practice Thursday. Addai suffered a neck injury several weeks ago, which he described as leaving his arm feeling "dead," suggesting nerve involvement. Nerve tissue generally is slow to heal, as clearly has been the case for Addai. Hart, who injured his ankle in Week 9, has been essentially invisible since then and was still not at practice Wednesday. It appears Donald Brown could be in line for another start at running back this week.

Tamme, who was dealing with a back injury last week and reportedly was in major discomfort after Week 10, was not only a full participant in practice Wednesday, but he was not on the team's injury report. If he holds up well through the remainder of the week, he should be on the field Sunday when the Colts face the New England Patriots.

Reggie Bush, RB; Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans Saints: Bush is expected to return at long last after missing all but the first two games of the season due to a broken fibula (the long skinny bone on the outer aspect of the lower leg). Fractures typically take about six weeks to heal, but regaining football shape, especially for an explosive, directional runner such as Bush, takes much longer, as he and his fantasy owners found out. The bye in Week 10 allowed Bush the extra time to build toward returning to practice in advance of this Sunday's game.



Thomas is not yet practicing with the team. The Saints continue to hold out hope he will recover enough from his ankle injury to contribute late in the season. Along those lines, coach Sean Payton issued the first positive words with regard to Thomas' recovery on Thursday, telling the New Orleans Times-Picayune, "I think we've turned a corner." Although Thomas is not doing team practice, he is working out on the field in pads, meaning he is putting his ankle through some of the necessary paces, just in the absence of traffic where it would be easier to aggravate it. While it doesn't appear that Thomas will bridge the gap to being ready for this week, it's starting to sound like he could be a late-season contributor for the Saints and for needy fantasy owners.



Ryan Mathews, RB; Malcom Floyd, WR; Legedu Naanee, WR; Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers: We start with the good news in San Diego that Floyd's return is imminent. Floyd, who suffered a hamstring injury a few weeks ago, has been back at practice and has been running full speed since last week. Assuming there are no setbacks, Floyd is expected to play Sunday.

And then there is the not so good news. Rookie running back Mathews suffered a setback to his right ankle in Week 10, and it appears he might be forced to take some time off. Not a bad idea, given that Mathews has struggled intermittently since the initial injury to get his ankle back to full strength. Meanwhile, Naanee had not improved enough from his hamstring injury to rejoin his teammates in practice, although he did do some individual drills, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Gates, who recently assessed his chances of playing Monday night at 50-50, did not practice with the team Wednesday, not altogether surprising given his injury, a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. He has made some progress, though, as he has begun light running, a big step considering how much load that places on his injured arch. Gates admits being frustrated by this injury, which has sidelined him for the first time in his professional career, but he might not have much choice other than to wait for more healing.

Matt Schaub
Brett Davis/US PresswireMatt Schaub has three 20-point fantasy games this season but also five games with fewer than 10 points.
Matt Schaub, QB; Andre Johnson, WR; Owen Daniels, TE, Houston Texans: Schaub spent some time in the hospital this week, which undoubtedly caused some alarm among fantasy owners. Not to panic yet; it might not be as dire as you think. Schaub was being treated in the hospital for a "bursa sac issue" in his knee, according to coach Gary Kubiak. An inflamed bursa sac is known as bursitis, but one usually lands in the hospital when there is an infection. The idea is to treat the individual with IV antibiotics in the hope that the infection will resolve and no surgery will be required. (You might recall when Peyton Manning underwent surgery to address a bursa sac infection a couple of years ago.) Presumably Schaub was dealing with an early infection. He now has been discharged from the hospital and participated in light practice Thursday. Depending on how he feels and how well his knee is responding, Schaub is expected to be on the field for the Texans this week.

Johnson is expected to continue his routine of resting his sore ankle early in the week and playing Sunday. Daniels, who sat out last week after aggravating his hamstring injury, did not practice Wednesday.

Brett Favre, QB; Percy Harvin, WR; Sidney Rice, WR, Minnesota Vikings: By now, everyone knows Favre's ailments are too numerous to all be included on the Vikings' weekly injury report. By now, everyone also expects Favre to play, regardless of what's ailing him. After the Week 10 contest, Favre told ESPN's Ed Werder that he had concerns about the health of his right (throwing) shoulder and acknowledged having increased pain that might have affected his performance. Within a couple of days and amid some confusion as to whether this was a serious issue, Favre's own level of concern seemed to subside. After all, his is not a pristine shoulder, despite surgery last year to address a partially torn biceps tendon. It's going to be painful and problematic from time to time. No doubt Favre has recently increased the strain on his shoulder, whether as a function of compensating for the elbow pain he's been experiencing, the limitations in his ankle or both, and the pain is a natural secondary effect. The temporary solution will continue to be limited work early in the week with the goal of playing Sundays.



Harvin continues to play through pain and discomfort, even when his practice reps are limited during the week. Harvin put in limited reps Wednesday and is again expected to play this week.

Sidney Rice
AP Photo/Andy KingSidney Rice has to be activated by next Wednesday or he'll miss the rest of the season.
When Rice did not play this past Sunday after his practice activity during the week suggested he might, questions about whether he would play at all this season began to emerge. Rice addressed those questions Wednesday, saying that the sole issue for him is confidence in his surgical hip. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Rice wrote on his blog that the reason he did not play last Sunday was because he was "feeling significant discomfort Friday and Saturday." Rice also referred to undergoing a "very serious" procedure in August, although no one has specified what exactly Rice had done, making his timeline thus far hard to assess.

This reluctance to return before feeling fully healthy is not surprising and is a common issue for athletes coming off major surgery. It's an interesting quandary for an athlete in Rice's situation, and he already has said he does not want to return in a limited capacity. Rice knows what type of statistics he put up last season. He doesn't want to come back and be a lesser player after surgery or risk reinjury. And there's no denying his future is at stake. If Rice comes back a step slow or a bit hesitant because of lack of confidence in his leg or, worse yet, suffers even a minor setback, he potentially hurts the team now and himself down the road.

Even with those considerations, it's hard to imagine Rice not playing at all unless he truly believes he is not fully healthy. But the deadline for him to be activated in order to be eligible to play this season is next Wednesday. Whether he will meet that target is unclear.

DeAngelo Williams, RB; Jonathan Stewart, RB; Jimmy Clausen QB, Carolina Panthers: The Panthers lost Williams to injured reserve this week because of a foot injury. According to coach John Fox, Williams would have needed another couple of weeks to get healthy and the team needed the roster spot. No doubt, since the Panthers have dealt with a multitude of injuries, especially at the running back and quarterback position.

Stewart, who suffered a concussion in Week 9 that kept him out of the Week 10 lineup, has not practiced this week and is unlikely to play. It appears Mike Goodson will make another start. At the quarterback position, Clausen, starting for the injured Matt Moore, suffered a concussion in Week 10 and has not practiced. In what some considered a bit of a surprise move, Fox indicated that Brian St. Pierre, who has just one week of practice with the Panthers, will be the starter this week as opposed to rookie Tony Pike.



Vince Young, QB; Kerry Collins, QB, Tennessee Titans: Collins suffered a calf strain in Week 10 when he started in place of the less-than-100 percent-healthy Young. Collins is expected to miss several weeks, so the question becomes: Will Young be healthy enough to effectively lead the team this Sunday? Apparently, the answer is yes. Young, who has been trying to get past an ankle injury, was not on Wednesday's injury report, so expect him to be the starter in Week 11.



Tom Brady, QB, Fred Taylor, RB, New England Patriots: Brady had a foot sprain that caused him to miss practice one day last week. You knew it had to be bothering him because Brady rarely sits out. But it sure didn't look like it bothered him Sunday when he was tearing apart the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense. Assume that Brady will be at the helm when his team faces the Indianapolis Colts this week.

As for Taylor, he seems to be making gains in his recovery from toe injuries, as he increased his practice activity last week. Keep an eye on him, as he just might be available to help out in the next couple of weeks.

And elsewhere ...

• The Detroit Lions got wide receiver Calvin Johnson back in practice Thursday after a day of rest. Running back Jahvid Best skipped both Wednesday and Thursday practices, a reminder that his turf toe injuries are not completely behind him. Best likely will continue to play but has not shown his early-season form since the toe problems came about.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been in practice this week despite cracking a bone in his left (non-throwing) wrist. There seems to be little doubt that he will be running the offense Sunday.

Beanie Wells
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireBeanie Wells has just 34 fantasy points this season.
Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells returned to practice this week. Both Wells and coach Ken Whisenhunt said at the start of the week that they expected him to practice every day and play Sunday. But what can fantasy owners count on? Not much, based on the season so far. It isn't to say that Wells can't be productive; it's just that he hasn't been. His knee has been an issue since Week 1, and the resulting missed practice time has contributed to his limited productivity on game days. And there's no guarantee that the recurring swelling is behind him. Wells says he feels the best he has since surgery, which is great news, but will it last? Even if he's on the field, it's hard to have confidence in what Wells will bring until we actually see him deliver it.

Washington Redskins running back Ryan Torain has not practiced since his hamstring tightened up Monday night, preventing him from taking the field despite being active. It certainly does not look good for Sunday. Clinton Portis continues to be limited in practice with the groin injury. All signs are pointing to another Keiland Williams start.

New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith suffered a pectoral (chest) strain a week ago and missed this past Sunday's contest as a result. Reports have varied on the amount of time he's expected to miss, but he is not practicing yet and should not be in fantasy lineups this week.

Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy did not practice Wednesday due to a shoulder injury. He was back Thursday, however, a good sign for fantasy owners that he expects to play.



• On the concussion front, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward suffered one in Week 10, as did Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Moeaki. Ward was cleared to return to practice and participated fully Wednesday. Barring a setback, he should play this week. Moeaki did not practice Wednesday, and his status remains questionable.

Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini said early in the week that he was hopeful receiver Josh Cribbs could play Sunday despite dislocating four toes last week. Apparently Mangini has not had four toes dislocate simultaneously. And then tried to run. Fast. It sounded a bit optimistic at the time, and Cribbs has not been in practice this week. It's not looking great for his return as of now.

See you at Friday's injury chat (3-4 p.m. ET), and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 10 in the Saturday morning blog.

Dolphins QBs among Week 10 injuries

November, 16, 2010
11/16/10
6:11
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This seems like as good a time as any to remind everyone that medicine is not black and white. Sometimes, even when a player is improving in his recovery from an injury, there can be last-minute setbacks. Exhibit A: Washington Redskins running back Ryan Torain, who was active (yes, active!) Monday night but did not play due to his hamstring tightening up during warm-ups. It was just late enough to burn every fantasy owner who expected him to play. (Remember, he was listed as questionable, and until a questionable player is actually playing, he remains just that.)



Other times, a player does not return within the projected timetable originally issued by medical personnel. Exhibit B: New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush, initially projected to miss four to six weeks with a broken fibula (and you might recall Bush suggesting early on that he could beat that timeline). Bush, who is expected to return this Sunday, will be nine weeks post-injury if he plays in Week 11. While his fracture has healed, the issue has been his readiness to return to competition given the high physical demands of his position.

How do these things happen? Fantasy owners would prefer absolutes, definitive answers and zero risk. Let's tell the truth. The injured players and their teams would prefer that as well. But medicine is an imprecise science. And as much as it would be nice to provide guarantees and certainties when it comes to healing, that simply is not possible, whether it refers to a professional athlete or a weekend warrior. For one thing, individuals heal at different rates. Beyond that, timetables are estimates based on the average healing time associated with a particular injury. Timetables presume no setbacks and no complications, which, as we all know, are more likely to occur than not. And then there are the vagaries of injury classification. A "partial tear" can be 25 percent, 40 percent or 75 percent tissue damage, or anything else not considered a complete tear. The amount of damage likely will correlate to healing time, albeit in an imprecise way (refer to exhibits A and B above).

And so, as we continue in the gray zone of injuries, here's what we're hearing heading into Week 11 ...

Chad Henne
Jonathan Brownfield/US PresswireChad Henne had a busy week, as he was benched, returned to the Dolphins' lineup, then injured his knee.
• To date, the Miami Dolphins' injury reports have been among the leanest in the league. Not so any longer. The Dolphins lost two quarterbacks within the span of minutes this past Sunday, one of whom is done for the season. Chad Pennington injured his oft-operated-on shoulder and was done in the span of two plays. Chad Henne, who had been benched in favor of Pennington, stepped in only to suffer what appeared to be a serious injury to his left knee. Henne was on crutches after the game but has not been ruled out for any particular period of time. While the Dolphins have not offered details as to the nature of Henne's injury, coach Tony Sparano has left the door open for Henne. Needless to say, it does not appear likely he will be in any shape to play in this Thursday night's game. Expect Tyler Thigpen to get the start.

• The Tennessee Titans also have two banged up quarterbacks. Vince Young did not get the start Sunday, as his left ankle was still causing him some problems. Kerry Collins, who started in place of Young, was forced out early with a calf injury, and it now appears that will keep him out for several weeks. Young was thus forced into the game but was not at his best.



Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford consulted with Dr. James Andrews and will not be having surgery, at least not yet. Stafford will resume the rehab process he initiated after his shoulder separation at the start of the season. There is still a possibility surgery will become an option, but the team will try more conservative treatment first, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. Undertaking surgery on a throwing athlete's shoulder is not a light consideration. Unless there is a clear-cut need for surgery, rehabilitation is often chosen as a first step. There's really no downside here. Any gains in range of motion and strength that Stafford makes will help him on the other side of surgery, if that becomes the plan. While it's not likely we will see him again this season, the Lions are not moving him to injured reserve, either.

San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews injured his right ankle in Week 2 and, despite his efforts to return, has struggled. After he aggravated the ankle injury in Week 10, there appears to be greater doubt about his availability for Week 11. At this point, it seems he would benefit from additional downtime to really allow his ankle to heal and avoid risking further problems. Mike Tolbert was back at Monday's practice and could be starting in Week 11. On the receiver front, Malcom Floyd returned to practice also and was running well. The Chargers expect to have him this Sunday. Not as encouraging news for Legedu Naanee, who did not practice Monday and remains limited by his hamstring. Tight end Antonio Gates did not practice Monday, either, not unexpected given the seriousness of his injury (torn plantar fascia). While Gates has indicated that he will do all he can to return for the Chargers' big Monday night contest, it bears repeating that this injury was exceptionally painful. Even Gates, who has played through significant pain in the past, told us this was unlike anything he'd ever experienced, to the point where he just couldn't function. It's too soon to count him out, but it's not too soon to seek insurance if he's on your team.

Ryan Torain
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireRyan Torain was on the active roster Monday night, but hamstring injuries kept him from playing.
• Running back Ryan Torain of the Washington Redskins was expected to start Monday but didn't. Tightness in his ailing hamstring during pregame warm-ups kept him off the field Monday night. Clearly the injury is not altogether behind him, and fantasy owners should consider that Keiland Williams might get the next Redskins start. Clinton Portis was never really under serious consideration for Monday night after midweek swelling in his injured groin, and he might not be ready for Week 11, either. He will need to get through a week of practice without setbacks and show he is at full speed before being eligible to return.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck came back from a concussion only to sustain a crack in a bone in his left wrist. The Seahawks have expressed optimism that Hasselbeck will be able to play through the injury to his non-throwing wrist, no doubt with some sort of protective wrap. It appears he will avoid missing more time.

• The Indianapolis Colts continue to deal with multiple injuries, many of which are to fantasy stars. Tight end Jacob Tamme had a back injury in Week 10 that caused him to miss Wednesday's practice. After full late-week practices, he was able to start. Despite a solid performance, Tamme struggled at times and, according to the Indianapolis Star, was having trouble walking after the game. Expect him to be limited in practice this week. Running back Joseph Addai sat out again in Week 10 but reportedly is making improvements. It is too early to know much about the status of Addai or teammate Mike Hart, who also missed Week 10 with an ankle injury.



Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward was determined to have a concussion after Sunday night's game. Ward appears to be doing well and has indicated that he expects to play this week. He still needs to be fully cleared to return, but this is encouraging news.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen also suffered a concussion on a hit late in the game. As the week unfolds, we'll find out whether Clausen is able to go Sunday. We also should learn more about the running back situation. Both DeAngelo Williams (foot sprain) and Jonathan Stewart (concussion) were out in Week 10.

New York Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery pulled a groin muscle Sunday yet still made an amazing catch while hobbling on one leg. He limped off the field just afterward and underwent an MRI on Monday, revealing a slight tear. This will be a tough injury to recover from in a week.

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Cribbs dislocated four toes Sunday. How does that happen? There are some thing I just can't answer, but I do know this: It could not have felt good. Amazingly, the Browns do hope he will play in Week 11.

• The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that wide receiver Donald Driver missed Monday practice for personal reasons. Coach Mike McCarthy will update Driver's status Wednesday. Tight end Andrew Quarless, meanwhile, says his shoulder feels better after the bye week. He could return this week if all continues well.

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses with much more to come Thursday.



Not getting enough football? Of course you aren't! To help remedy that situation, you get another night of NFL competition starting ... now. Tonight marks this season's first night of Thursday night football, as the Baltimore Ravens face the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.



Naturally, there is a fantasy football injury concern heading into the game. Falcons wide receiver Roddy White is listed as questionable coming off a knee bruise from Sunday's contest. It's worth noting that White ultimately finished the game Sunday, and his status for Thursday night never really appeared to be in doubt, even as he was held out of practice early in the week. White returned to a light limited practice Wednesday, and all indications are that he will play against the Ravens. Whether the knee will affect his performance at all is hard to gauge, given that he has not truly tested it since Sunday. Still, there's not enough evidence to suggest White will be significantly impaired unless he suffers an in-game setback. It's pretty hard to bench Matt Ryan's top target on the basis of a what-if scenario. Fantasy owners should check pregame inactives, but it would be very surprising if White did not take the field.



In the rest of the NFL world, four teams are enjoying a respite from competition in Week 10. The San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers get a week off during this final bye week of the NFL season.

With so many teams dealing with multiple player injuries, it made sense to lump the biggest collections of injuries together as team units in this blog entry. With that said, here's who else we're talking about in the world of injuries heading into Week 10:

Andre Johnson
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesAt this point, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Andre Johnson misses a midweek practice to nurse his ankle.
Houston Texans (Andre Johnson, WR; Owen Daniels, TE; Matt Schaub, QB): Neither Johnson nor Daniels practiced with the team Wednesday or Thursday. Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com reported that Johnson underwent another MRI on Monday as a follow-up measure for his right ankle. Johnson's high ankle sprain has continued to nag at him intermittently, and his explanation for that was perfectly reasonable. "I still have a little swelling in my joint, so that's what's causing the little pain I have at times," Johnson said. "The biggest thing now is just trying to just get that swelling out of there." This explains why the team is limiting his activity during the week. Less running and less pounding means a better chance of getting the swelling down. Less swelling translates to better joint mobility and less pain. Johnson said his ankle was "feeling pretty good" Wednesday. This cycle is likely to continue throughout the remainder of the season.

Although Johnson's nonpractice routine to protect his ankle is somewhat expected by now, Daniels has yet to get past a recent aggravation of a hamstring injury. Head coach Gary Kubiak says that Daniels is improving but will be a game-time decision, according to the Texans' official Twitter page. Daniels has had only one solid performance this season.

Schaub was limited Wednesday because of a rib injury but will play Sunday when the Texans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Minnesota Vikings (Brett Favre, QB; Percy Harvin, WR; Sidney Rice, WR): Favre did not practice Wednesday, and in what has become an ever-changing injury report for him, the notes following his name Wednesday said, "ankle, foot, calf." For those keeping score at home, "chin," which appeared last week after Favre's laceration requiring stitches in the Week 8 game, and "elbow," which made the list weeks ago, are now both absent. Which led me to wonder: What are the most body parts to appear for a player on a single injury report? Will Favre hold that record along with the consecutive-starts streak? But I digress ...

Favre was back in practice Thursday, and we all know he will start this week. Harvin might be a different story. Harvin, who limped into Week 9 with a left ankle sprain, has not practiced Wednesday or Thursday because of a migraine flare. He has developed a pattern where he typically shows up and plays well on Sunday even if he is unable to do much during the week. Although migraines are clearly far less predictable than a typical musculoskeletal injury, one has to believe that if he is functional Sunday, he will play. Still, fantasy owners should prepare for another possible game-time decision.

And everyone is wondering when we will see the return of Rice, who is back doing some work with the team following August hip surgery. Coach Brad Childress has not yet committed to a return date, stressing that he wants to be sure that Rice can handle the rigors of competition, both in terms of endurance and being able to absorb physical contact, before he participates in games. Rice has not yet been moved to the active roster, which has to happen for him to play. Although that is a possibility for Week 10, there has not been any definitive indication that it will take place. Even if it does, Childress already has indicated that Rice is likely to return to limited action initially.

Indianapolis Colts (Joseph Addai, RB; Mike Hart, RB; Jacob Tamme, TE; Austin Collie, WR): Addai is still not practicing with the team and is not expected to play in Week 10. Hart has shown no signs of returning yet, either. Expect Donald Brown to get the start at running back again for the Colts this week.

And what's this we're hearing about Tamme? The Colts already lost their starting tight end, Dallas Clark, for the season to a wrist injury. Tamme, who has been outstanding filling in, was not in practice Wednesday because of a back injury. Even more ominous was coach Jim Caldwell's acknowledgment of a "level of concern" about Tamme's status, as reported by Phillip Wilson of The Indianapolis Star. It appears that fantasy owners can breathe a little easier, as Tamme was back in practice Thursday. Friday will be telling to see whether Tamme can go on two consecutive days. Fantasy owners need to keep an eye on this one.



Collie already has been ruled out as he recovers from a concussion.

New England Patriots (Tom Brady, QB; Fred Taylor, RB): Could the face of the Patriots franchise be sidelined this week with an injury (and not the one to his throwing shoulder that appears on practice reports week in and week out)? No is the simple answer. Brady missed Wednesday's practice, an occurrence that raised eyebrows frankly because it is such a rare event. He is reportedly dealing with a foot sprain, but he was back in practice Thursday and by all accounts will be under center Sunday night.



Meanwhile, welcome back to practice (albeit limited), Fred Taylor! He has been hampered by toe injuries, but the Patriots had to believe he could contribute eventually, as they kept him on the active roster. Maybe that time is nearing. This will no doubt progress slowly and depend on how Taylor responds to any increased activity. But it's something fantasy players in very deep leagues should at least monitor.

And elsewhere ...

Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young did not practice Wednesday because of his ankle, a bit of a concern coming out of a bye week. He returned to limited practice Thursday and is expected to play this weekend. Nonetheless, if Young's mobility is at issue, it certainly impacts his style of play.



Carson Palmer
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesCarson Palmer got an extra day to rest his shoulder, and it looks as though he'll be fine for Sunday's game.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer has not practiced this week because of soreness in his throwing shoulder. However, Palmer said he plans to return to throwing Friday and, more importantly, plans to play Sunday. According to the Bengals' official website, Palmer says he's "not worried at all," indicating that the short week warranted an extra day of rest. Meanwhile, teammate Chad Ochocinco was back in Thursday's practice after sitting out Wednesday to rest his ankle. He got his leg rolled Monday night and looked uncomfortable afterward, but apparently the injury was not serious. His relative lack of targets may be the more serious issue both for him and his fantasy owners.

• The Detroit Lions expect to have Shaun Hill at quarterback this week as long as there are no setbacks. Hill is recovering from a fracture in his nonthrowing forearm, and the main concern will be protecting that forearm from reinjury. Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith had a custom-designed shell created to protect his forearm; perhaps Hill will wear something similar. In the meantime, there is no official word as to the long-term plan for Matthew Stafford. But clearly no one expects him back any time soon. Running back Jahvid Best continues to be listed on the injury report because of his toe but is expected to play.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been back in practice this week after sitting Week 9 out with a concussion. ESPN's NFC West blogger Mike Sando reports that Hasselbeck is expected to play against the Arizona Cardinals this week. As is the case following all concussions, there must be no recurrence of symptoms between now and Sunday, but given Hasselbeck's strong early week, fantasy owners can feel positive.

• As for the Carolina Panthers, Darin Gantt of the Rock Hill Herald reported Wednesday that Mike Goodson will start at running back this week. So much for DeAngelo Williams aiming for a Week 10 return. He has not yet returned to practice, and neither has teammate Jonathan Stewart, who suffered a concussion in Week 9. It's worth noting that offensive tackle Jeff Otah, who had not played this season following August knee surgery (his absence is certainly believed to be a contributing factor to the struggles of Carolina's running game) has now been placed on injured reserve. Translation: No help on that front anytime soon. Quarterback Matt Moore joins Otah on the injured reserve list, and Jimmy Clausen will start in his place for the Panthers.



• Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday, again because of swelling in his surgically repaired knee, according to Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic. According to Somers, Wells will try to practice Friday. Not exactly a resounding vote of confidence. Wells has been a question mark most weeks and has been limited even when he has played, primarily because of issues with his knee. It's not looking much more promising for him in Week 10.

New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith suffered a pectoral (chest) strain in practice Thursday and, according to the New York Daily News, could miss this week's game. Apparently Smith was injured when extending his arm to reach for a ball and was not able to complete practice as a result.

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis is back in practice this week following the bye. Davis was forced to leave the game early in Week 8 after aggravating an ankle injury, but it doesn't appear to be an issue at the moment.

See you at Friday's 3 p.m. injury chat, and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 10 in the Saturday morning blog.



As many had predicted, Brett Favre started for the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. He didn't finish, but it wasn't his ankle that took him out of the game. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans announced last week that wide receiver Kenny Britt would not miss any more playing time for disciplinary reasons. Unfortunately, he likely will miss significant playing time as a result of injury. And the Indianapolis Colts, well, they still found a way to win despite the overwhelming number of injuries to their skill position players that continued Monday night.

With six teams on bye again Sunday, fantasy owners need to get a jump on their waiver-wire competition. Here are some names to keep an eye on after Week 8.

Kenny Britt
AP Photo/Gregory BullAfter going off for 225 yards and three scores in Week 7, Kenny Britt had no catches in Week 8 before leaving with a hamstring injury.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans: Britt did not start the Week 7 contest after his alleged involvement in a bar fight but was electrifying for two-and-a-half quarters nonetheless. Fantasy owners were happy to hear that Britt would not miss any more playing time for disciplinary reasons and looked forward to an even more productive Week 8. But it didn't happen. Britt was forced out of the game in the first quarter by a right hamstring injury that looked to be serious when it happened. Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean reported that Britt was seen "grabbing his hamstring" during practice throughout the week. Perhaps it was a sign of something bigger lurking under the surface, but it was not enough to keep Britt from practicing full speed all week leading up to Sunday's game.

Although Titans coach Jeff Fisher has indicated that Britt is expected to miss some time with the injury, he does anticipate his return. According to The Tennessean, Fisher said, If it was a season-ending injury, I would tell you right now it is season-ending. No, it is not." Fisher went on to say that there would be more information after the Titans' Week 9 bye and that until then, the plan would be to treat Britt's injury "very aggressively."

Fantasy owners know from experience that serious hamstring injuries require time, above all else, to heal and should seek a replacement now.

Zach Miller, TE, Oakland Raiders: Miller has been such a fantasy star at the tight end position that his numbers from Sunday -- or lack thereof -- came as a bit of a shock. Miller was limited last week by a foot injury that obviously compromised him during the game. The day after the game, Miller was seen on crutches, clearly a measure to take pressure off his painful arch.

Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that coach Tom Cable expects Miller to play against the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend. So what are fantasy owners to expect? It's hard to imagine that a painful arch will be significantly improved within a week, although the early unloading (not putting weight on the arch in order to alleviate stress on the area) may help. It would not be surprising to see Miller held out of practice early in the week. Late-week practices would go a long way toward inspiring confidence that the pain will not severely restrict Miller again in Week 9. Stay tuned.

Ryan Torain, RB, Washington Redskins: Despite his early success while filling in for the injured Clinton Portis, one of the concerns about Torain has been whether he could stay on the field. Not that his talent was ever in question, just his durability, given his history of serious injury. Fantasy owners can now be legitimately nervous, as Torain was forced to exit Sunday's game early with a left hamstring strain.

According to The Washington Post, Torain felt the hamstring pull on the final running play of the second quarter. After the game when Torain was asked whether the injury was serious, he responded with "hard to say." The Post reported that an MRI revealed no structural damage, and head coach Mike Shanahan is hopeful that Torain will be ready for the team's next game after the bye week. In the event he is not able to go, it likely would be Keiland Williams, who stepped in when Torain went out Sunday, to get the Monday night start.



Portis, who suffered a Grade III groin tear in Week 4, "took a couple plays in practice" Tuesday, according to Rich Campbell of the Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star. Although his new activity is encouraging, there is still a lot of work to be done before Portis is ready to return. Increased speed and agility work as well as tolerance of full practice will all have to come before he returns to play. The Post notes that Shanahan does not expect Portis in the lineup the week after the bye, although a definitive timetable has not been laid out.

Other injury notes heading into Week 9:


• In addition to losing Britt in Week 8, the Titans saw quarterback Vince Young leave the field early with an aggravation of his previous ankle injury. The Tennessean reports that Young is likely to rest most of this week while the team is on bye but could return to practice next week. It's much too soon to write Young out of the mix for Week 10, but fantasy owners will want to keep an eye on whether he's back in practice to start the week.



• Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin caught his left foot in the turf and had to be assisted off the field in the first quarter. He ended up returning to the game shortly afterward but was clearly limping in pain following the game. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Harvin said of his ability to last the entire game, "It probably was adrenaline that got me through." Now that the adrenaline has worn off, it will be a matter of seeing just what Harvin can do on that ankle as the week goes on to determine whether he can play.



Favre
Greg M. Cooper/US PresswireEven though Brett Favre did not finish Sunday's game after a chin laceration, it appears he will keep his consecutive-games streak alive this week.
• Favre was able to move well enough to start Sunday but ended up leaving the game after suffering a chin laceration that required eight stitches to close. Initially it looked as though the injury could have been much worse, but there were reportedly no broken bones. As for his ability to go in Week 9, Favre offered this: I'm ready to play next week," Favre said. "Nobody knows my body like me. I think I'll be all right, ready to play next week." He was right last time. Whom Favre will throw to with Randy Moss gone and Harvin ailing might be the bigger question this week.

• The Colts saw yet another running back leave a game due to injury. Mike Hart, who got the start Monday night in place of the injured Joseph Addai, left the game with an ankle injury. Hart was expected to undergo an MRI on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Donald Brown saw his first game action in a month, but his playing time was limited. It will probably come close to game time again before we know who will run the ball for the Colts in Week 9.

Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson showed his toughness Monday night as he continued to play despite aggravating his right ankle late in the game. As we've been saying all along, this ankle injury is a perpetual source of pain for Johnson based on the demands of his position and the physical way he plays the game. In the absence of taking multiple weeks off to let it fully heal -- which Johnson is not going to do -- the ankle has the potential to flare up during a game. As long as he can play and fight through it, he will. So expect Johnson to continue to tough it out unless or until it becomes physically impossible for him to run.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was harassed all day Sunday, and it finally caught up to him. He suffered a concussion in Week 8, but although coach Pete Carroll sounds very optimistic about his return, Hasselbeck will have to meet all postconcussion medical criteria to be cleared to play. It doesn't help matters that tackle Russell Okung suffered another high ankle sprain, this time to his left side. The Seahawks have indicated that this injury appears less serious than the right ankle injury that sidelined Okung earlier in the season, and they hope to have him back in practice this week. We shall see.

• In other Raiders news, Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that coach Tom Cable expects wide receiver Louis Murphy to miss another game to continue healing from his chest contusion. Although Murphy told the San Jose Mercury News he felt fine Sunday, he understood why the team held him out of contact. Said Murphy, "... with me coughing up blood and having internal bleeding, they didn't want to take any chances with that." Understood. Meanwhile, quarterback Bruce Gradkowski says his injured throwing shoulder (AC sprain) is now feeling better. Cable has maintained all along that Gradkowski is the starter when healthy.

Donald Driver
Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireAfter 133 consecutive games with at least one catch, Donald Driver has now been held without a reception in two straight games.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver aggravated the quadriceps injury that has been nagging him the past few weeks. Driver limped off the field Sunday, and after two consecutive weeks with no receptions, it is no surprise to hear that he will not play in Week 9, according to Bill Michaels of WTMJ radio in Milwaukee.



• The San Francisco 49ers managed to eke out a victory in London but lost tight end Vernon Davis in the process, as he aggravated the ankle injury that had deemed him questionable entering the week. No official word on how serious this setback is, but according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Davis doesn't seem to think it's serious. The team is on bye in Week 9, so he could get some extra rest, but the Chronicle reports Davis plans to "run some routes" this week. Let's see what he actually does first, but the early news sounds encouraging for Davis' availability in Week 10.

Michael Vick is expected to start at quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Vick has returned to practice and, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, said he experienced "no soreness at all" with throwing. That's good news, but it's a far cry from taking contact. Vick's rib cartilage injury has the potential to cause him discomfort at the very least and severe pain at the worst, depending on the amount and type of contact he absorbs in any given game. So although the plan is for Vick to start, fantasy owners should keep insurance handy in the event there is a setback. Meanwhile, teammate DeSean Jackson has returned to limited practice after his concussion. His response to activity will be taken into account daily, and his status could come down to the wire.

New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush was not able to return to the amount of activity he predicted last week, placing his status for this week in that much more jeopardy. Bush still has many hurdles to cross before returning to game play. Teammate Pierre Thomas appears to be even further from returning, as he was placed back on crutches last week and is doing no football activity. Thomas' situation appears murkier than it did a few weeks ago. It is worth keeping a close eye on their activity as the week progresses.

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses with much more to come on Thursday.



Since most of Tuesday's blog was dedicated to two star players with significant injuries, quarterbacks Brett Favre and Tony Romo, today's blog will be a series of quick hits to get you caught up on your other fantasy players from around the league. Six teams are on bye this week -- Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants -- so get those replacements early as the pickings may be slim by the weekend.

Brett Favre
AP Photo/Andy KingBrett Favre was wearing a walking boot on Wednesday but it was gone by Thursday.
Before jumping into the variety of injuries across the league, here's the latest on Favre: He did not practice Wednesday and may not practice the rest of the week. Favre is resting his ankle and getting regular treatment in the hope that he will play Sunday against the New England Patriots. Head coach Brad Childress told reporters that Favre would not have to practice but would have to prove that he is mobile enough to play effectively. In the meantime, Favre has now been spotted without a walking boot, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The Star-Tribune reports that Favre, who may wear a shoe larger than his usual size to play, was not expected to practice Thursday but his Sunday status has yet to be determined. Favre, who certainly has not ruled himself out because of the injury, perhaps summed it up best saying, "I wouldn't put anything past me to be honest with you." Nor would his offensive coordinator apparently. Darrell Bevell, who was with Favre in Green Bay when he played through a broken thumb, told the Star-Tribune, "It would surprise me if he wasn't able to be out there." Friday should yield more clues but it's looking more and more like Favre will attempt to play.

Favre isn't the only injured quarterback in the spotlight this week. Many teams have seen rotations under center this season, more often as a result of injury than performance.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will rejoin his team on the field after missing six weeks with a separated throwing shoulder. Stafford has been working his way back gradually and the entire team is coming off a bye. While Stafford's shoulder has been rehabilitating, the rest of his body has enjoyed over a month free from contact, so he should be particularly fresh.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard is expected to return this week after sitting out Week 7 with a concussion. The Dallas Morning News reports that Garrard passed post-concussion tests Tuesday, then worked out at the team facility. The Dallas Cowboys will be hosting the Jaguars this week.

• The Tennessee Titans' Vince Young, who sprained his left knee and ankle in the Week 6 Monday night game, was back in full practice Wednesday and Thursday. According to the Tennessean, Young says he is getting better each day. Coach Jeff Fisher says, "If he is able to move around in the pocket and be effective under center, then he'll have a chance to play." Backup Kerry Collins, who started in Week 7 despite a torn flexor tendon in his right (throwing) middle finger, did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He should be available this week, but it appears that Young is indeed on track to face the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable continues to state that Bruce Gradkowski will resume the starting role as his team's quarterback once he's healthy. It's not looking as though that will happen this week, however. Gradkowski, who suffered a right shoulder injury that caused him to miss the past two games, was still not in practice Wednesday. Jason Campbell, who took all the first-team reps in his absence, appears in line for another start.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Max Hall says he's feeling better after taking a blow to the head in Week 7 that forced him to exit the game. Hall passed his concussion tests Tuesday and was a full participant in Wednesday practice. He has been named the starter for this week's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.



• And across the pond, where the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos have traveled for their Week 8 contest at London's Wembley Stadium, it will be a different Smith taking the snaps for the 49ers. Troy Smith, who came to San Francisco from the Baltimore Ravens, has been chosen to start this week. Alex Smith suffered an AC (acromioclavicular) sprain to his left (nonthrowing) shoulder in Week 7 and is expected to miss two to three weeks. Backup quarterback David Carr, who stepped in to finish the game after Smith was hurt last Sunday, wasn't injured. He just wasn't good. The 49ers are hoping for some kind of spark from Troy Smith, who, incidentally, had never taken a snap with the first team until this week.

Beyond the injuries to those who throw the ball in the NFL, there are numerous ailments among those who run and catch the ball as well. Midseason is that difficult time of year when no one is expected to be fully healthy, simply by virtue of playing the sport of football, but the question is who is healthy enough. Just what is healthy enough? Fantasy owners have seen players who are healthy enough to take the field but have little impact (Antonio Gates in Week 7) and those not fully healthy yet but amazingly productive (Steven Jackson in Week 4). Here are the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends we're talking about this week:

• The San Diego Chargers continue to nurse a multitude of players back from injury. Wide receiver Malcom Floyd is expected out in Week 8 and is not an automatic for Week 9, either. Teammate Legedu Naanee appears to be improving from his hamstring injury and did take part in some practice Wednesday. His late-week activity will be telling.



New Orleans Saints running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are not likely to be available for your fantasy rosters this week. Bush, who indicated earlier this week that he was medically cleared to return to practice, has not done so. While he has increased his activity to include outdoor running, he is not yet doing the activities that would suggest he is ready to resume his role. Bush needs to clear some more hurdles before he is thrown to the wolves, also known as the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense. Meanwhile it's no secret that Thomas has been somewhat "stuck" in his progression and reports Thursday are not especially encouraging. Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported via Twitter that coach Sean Payton announced that Thomas consulted with a foot and ankle specialist, who advised reducing his workload. That's enough for fantasy owners to know not to expect Thomas to return this week. It does raise more concern going forward. We will be following this closely to see if more details emerge.

• On Tuesday, we noted that St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson underwent surgery on his finger. Jackson did not practice Wednesday, which is not surprising given his surgery was just two days prior. So far there is no indication that he will be limited for this Sunday's contest against the Carolina Panthers.



• That might not be the case for his counterpart on the opposing team, however. DeAngelo Williams left Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers with a foot injury that was not considered serious. He sure looked uncomfortable when he left the field and he was not in practice Wednesday or Thursday. Williams owners need to be prepared with a replacement if Williams does not show he can run on that foot by Friday.

Knowshon Moreno
Brian Spurlock/US PresswireFormer Bulldog Knowshon Moreno would have to be considered the best running back of the Mark Richt era.
• Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno gave folks a scare when he grabbed his right hamstring near the end of practice Wednesday and was then seen talking it over with the medical staff, according to the Denver Post. On Thursday, coach Josh McDaniels told the Post he believes that Moreno will be ready to go "for at least some duty in Sunday's game." Not exactly completely reassuring. This is the same hamstring that Moreno injured this season, causing him to miss three games. Moreno appeared strong in his performance the past two games, but there's always concern for reinjury with the hamstring. Let's see what Moreno does Friday. Teammate Eddie Royal seems to be in worse shape with his groin injury, although the Broncos have him on the trip to London. According to the Post, they want to see his progress before Sunday. Given his limitations last week, it's hard to imagine Royal being in top form by game time.

• Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy looked to be in great pain after a big collision in Sunday's game and the immediate thought was that he aggravated a previously bruised collarbone. Murphy apparently has a chest contusion and according to the San Francisco Chronicle, coach Tom Cable says the deep bruise is "in the lung area," and Murphy is doubtful for Sunday. Depending on the severity of Murphy's injury, he could miss extended time. That means more targets for Zach Miller.

• Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Steve Breaston was kept out of last week's game partly due to wet field conditions, according to coach Ken Whisenhunt. Breaston was involved on a limited basis in Wednesday practice and appears to have a good shot at playing this week.

• San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis has not practiced for two days over in London because of an ankle injury. Although details about the injury itself have been limited, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports that Davis is not limping and his status should be apparent by the end of Friday's practice.



• And then there's the banged-up Indianapolis Colts. First off, wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez insisted earlier this week that his ankle was fine and that he expected to play Monday night. It's a good thing, too, since fantasy rock star Austin Collie is expected to be sidelined for several weeks following thumb surgery. Blair White is in the receiver mix as well. Gonzalez missed the majority of last season and most of this season with injury, so fantasy owners have little confidence. But the Colts, while fairly secretive when it comes to injury information, seem skilled at decision-making when it comes to returning players to activity. Their solid depth helps, but typically when their players return, they return strong. Pierre Garcon is proof of that already this season. And Gonzalez has been a full participant in practice both days this week.

Joseph Addai
Win McNamee/Getty ImagesJoseph Addai's shoulder could keep him out this week, and with the Monday night game, fantasy owners may need to look elsewhere.
• Meanwhile, in the running game things appear even less certain for the Colts. Joseph Addai, who injured his left shoulder in Week 6 and described his arm as "dead," has been slow to recover. Since the Colts play Monday night, they did not issue a Wednesday injury report, but Addai did not practice Thursday. Coach Jim Caldwell told reporters that Addai's status is day-to-day and that he has an "unusual" pain tolerance. Meanwhile, Donald Brown has been nursing a hamstring injury for weeks and it's unclear whether he'll be ready to take the field by Monday night. In fact, according to Tom James of the Terre Haute Star-Tribune, Brown did not practice Thursday, raising questions as to how healthy he truly is. According to the Indianapolis Star, Caldwell showered praise recently on Mike Hart (who had a hip issue of his own a couple of weeks ago), suggesting he would have to "be the guy to step it up a little bit" if Addai is unable to go. Friday's practice is even more important for the Colts this week with the game coming on Monday night.

See you at Friday's 3 p.m. injury chat and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 8 in the Saturday morning blog!



It is at this midweek point that we fantasy owners typically agonize over whether the injured players on our rosters will be available this week. With only one day of formal injury reports under our belt (at least that's the case for most teams at the time this blog is written), there is a big question as to whether many of the players appearing on these reports will be well enough to play in their games. Occasionally we find out early in the week that a player's injury is significant enough to sideline him. Disappointing as that news is, at least we can start searching for ways to make roster adjustments. Unfortunately, that early news is rare. However, this week, for better or for worse, we already know of several players who are projected to be out Sunday so we might as well get to those names straight away.



Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson is still dealing with the effects of the concussion he sustained Sunday following a collision with Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson. Jackson did not practice Wednesday and head coach Andy Reid has already indicated that he does not expect the wide receiver to play this week. It also appears quarterback Michael Vick will be out another week, despite putting in limited practice Wednesday. Vick, still healing from his rib cartilage injury, has already spoken about targeting Week 9 (the Eagles have a bye in Week 8), so expect Kevin Kolb to get another start.



The San Diego Chargers have already indicated that two of their players will be out this weekend. According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, kicker Nate Kaeding will be out for Week 7 because of a groin injury. Meanwhile, wide receiver Malcom Floyd injured his hamstring in the Week 6 contest, which was severe enough that the Chargers are already preparing for his absence. The question will be whether he can return in time for the following week and whether Legedu Naanee can step back into the lineup this week. Naanee missed last week with a hamstring strain of his own and didn't practice Wednesday, but did do some side running and hopes to return to practice Thursday.

This is an off week for the Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts, so that extra time off is most welcome. However, even with the bye week, there's already a lot of bad news with the Colts.

Dallas Clark
AP Photo/John RaouxFantasy owners were already going to have to do without Dallas Clark this week, but the absence may be much longer.
First off, there's tight end Dallas Clark, as he's facing an "indefinite" absence as a result of a wrist/hand injury. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that in the wake of the injury, Clark would be seeking multiple opinions as to the optimum course of treatment. On Thursday, Colts general manager Bill Polian confirmed Clark's indefinite absence. According to the Indianapolis Star, Clark is seeing a specialist in Cleveland on Thursday for what is a "relatively rare" injury and the team is awaiting word on the course of treatment before providing any more details, including a timetable. Said Polian, "This is not the kind of injury that is very common where our doctors can say, 'Hey, look, this is a four-week injury or this is a six-week injury.' So we'll know more later tonight."

Clark was apparently injured late in Sunday night's game when he put his left hand down to break his fall. He was then seen sporting a cast on his forearm and hand while at a fundraiser earlier in the week, hinting at the seriousness of the injury. Fantasy owners obviously need to make lineup adjustments in preparation for the possibility that Clark's absence is extensive.



And if you thought it couldn't get any worse for the Colts, Polian also revealed Thursday that wide receiver Austin Collie has an undisclosed injury that is being further evaluated. Adam Schefter reports that Collie has already undergone hand surgery and is expected to be sidelined for several weeks. No word as to the specifics of the injury and subsequent surgery, but suffice it to say fantasy owners will need a fill-in if he is out a few weeks.

Fantasy owners who own both Clark and Collie in their leagues (including this writer) may need to be restrained from acting out in frustration, but fortunately they were already going to be out this week anyway. More details as they emerge.



Meanwhile, there are also questions at the running back position. Joseph Addai, who suffered an injury to his neck and shoulder area in Week 5 but played in Week 6, was forced out of last Sunday's game after injuring his left shoulder. The Indianapolis Star reports that Addai says he is dealing with a "nerve" injury that could take up to five weeks to heal. Without knowing more about his diagnosis, it's hard to tell how accurate Addai's own prognosis about his condition is. NFL.com reports he is currently seeking a second opinion. The good news is that the Colts are on a bye this week and Donald Brown is getting healthier. Fantasy owners will want to be sure they target Brown in the event Addai misses some extended time.

As for the rest of the Week 7 injury concerns, read on ...

Quarterbacks

Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: Favre's elbow is reportedly feeling better than it did a week ago and he should be fine to take the reins for Sunday. Although he was listed as a limited participant in practice, he did do some throwing Wednesday. This is likely to be a condition that will have its ups and downs as the season continues, but with careful management, Favre could manage to play through it.

David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars: Garrard rested at home Wednesday and Thursday rather than participate in activity at the team's facility as he recovers from a concussion sustained Monday night. As is often the case with these injuries, Garrard is resting from cognitively demanding activities, such as meetings and film review, while also laying off physical activity. The evidence would suggest that Garrard will not be ready to play in Week 7.



The question then becomes who will be under center for the Jaguars? Trent Edwards injured his thumb Monday night and was not at Wednesday practice either. At issue will be how much pain and swelling interfere with Edwards' ability to grip and control the ball. The Jaguars may rely on Todd Bouman to face the Kansas City Chiefs.

Vince Young, Tennessee Titans: Young, who sprained his left knee and ankle Monday night, did not practice Wednesday and was seen "limping on the sideline," according to the Tennessean. Backup Kerry Collins did not practice Wednesday either as he rested a sore right middle finger, but it appears he was set to return to practice Thursday. Young relies on his mobility so if he cannot maneuver well by Friday, expect Collins to get the start.

Running Backs

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: He split reps Wednesday with Michael Bush. The Oakland Tribune specifically noted that the plays did not seem to be testing the "burst" of McFadden, something he suggested he would do earlier in the week to evaluate the progress of his injured hamstring. Whether McFadden can practice on successive days and work up to full speed by the end of the week will give a better clue as to his status for Sunday. There's a possibility that the team could head into the game against the Denver Broncos with a load-share situation.

Wide Receivers

Steve Smith
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireThe return of Steve Smith would be most welcome for his fantasy owners and the Panthers' struggling offense.
Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers: When possible, we like to bring good news to fantasy owners in this column and the sight of Smith putting in back-to-back full practices this week is indeed good news. Last week at this time, it seemed as though Smith might be headed for a more prolonged absence, but the prognosis has since improved.

The Gaston Gazette reported Wednesday that Smith said he felt "healthy," adding "I'm out of the boot and I don't have much pain so I'm able to move around. So I feel good." Smith reportedly has been recovering from a high-ankle sprain and it has only been three weeks since the injury. While his practice activity is certainly encouraging and indicates his likely availability against the San Francisco 49ers, it will be more encouraging long-term if he gets through that game without a setback.

Quick Hits


• Chargers tight end Antonio Gates did not practice Wednesday, as expected, to rest his sore toe. Coach Norv Turner has indicated that this injury does not appear serious and the team hopes to have him back in practice Thursday. At this point, it does not appear that his Sunday status is in doubt, although fantasy owners will want to see what Gates is able to do as the week progresses.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver strained his quadriceps late last week but still managed to play in Sunday's game. Nonetheless, the quad did seem to hamper him and he was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. Friday's practice should give a better clue as to his availability but it is possible, even if he plays, that he will not be at full health.

• Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic expects both Steve Breaston (knee surgery) and Early Doucet (sports hernia surgery) to be back in the mix this week for the Arizona Cardinals. Both players participated in limited practice Wednesday.

• Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Mike Sims-Walker was limited in Wednesday's practice because of a shoulder ailment. There is no word of a major injury, but it is worth keeping an eye on his activity the remainder of the week.

• Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy did not practice Wednesday, but expect him to be in the action again this week. Every week that goes by is another week of the rib fracture healing itself, so there appears to be no cause for concern here.

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis continues to slog it out through his thigh injury. He was kept to a limited practice Wednesday but based on his prior performance, expect him to suit up this week.

New Orleans Saints running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush were not in practice Wednesday. According to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Bush is targeting next week for a return to practice, hoping to return to play in Week 8 or 9. Thomas was hoping to resume running this week, suggesting that he is more than a few days away from returning. As of Thursday, expect Chris Ivory and Ladell Betts to be in at running back.



Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap did not practice Wednesday because of a sore neck. Heap, who was on the receiving end of a big -- and much discussed -- hit from the New England Patriots' Brandon Merriweather, remained in Sunday's game after the hit but apparently the soreness lingered. The good news is that Heap returned to practice Thursday and appears to be on track to play in Week 7.

• At this point, Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini is suggesting that Colt McCoy could get his second start of the season, barring dramatic improvement in the ankle health of Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace. Given their injuries, McCoy is likely to be running the offense this week.

• Oakland Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski only watched practice while Jason Campbell and Kyle Boller split reps, according to the Oakland Tribune. When asked by Denver reporters during a conference call who would start for the Raiders this weekend coach Tom Cable responded, "We have no idea at this point."

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday, Friday 3-4 p.m.), when we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 7 in the Saturday morning blog!



The standout topic from Week 6 was the incidence of head injuries. There certainly has been much discussion around the injuries, the hits that led to those injuries and the position the league is taking as far as enforcing penalties on flagrant hits.

Fantasy owners saw a number of their players leave the game Sunday (and Monday!) with head injuries. It is important to remember that concussions are like snowflakes; no two are alike and they are therefore unpredictable in terms of recovery. What we can say is that each player will be carefully evaluated and will be subject to the league guidelines before he is permitted to return to play.



DeSean Jackson
Barbara Johnston/US PresswireDeSean Jackson had scored two touchdowns Sunday before suffering that huge hit from Dunta Robinson.
The following key players suffered a head injury in Week 6:

DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: In what may have been one of the biggest hits of the weekend, Jackson's head snapped back upon impact with the Atlanta Falcons' Dunta Robinson before he hit the ground in a heap. Robinson suffered a head injury of his own from the hit he delivered. A clearly dazed Jackson was ultimately escorted off the field by medical personnel. NFL.com reports that Jackson suffered memory loss, and head coach Andy Reid told reporters Monday that Jackson also has a sore shoulder. Expect him to be out for Week 7.

Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Cleveland Browns: Massaquoi left Sunday's game in the second quarter with a concussion following a hit by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison.

Josh Cribbs, WR, Cleveland Browns: Cribbs took a hit on the side of his helmet Sunday (also from Harrison) and crumpled to the ground. Cribbs was eventually able to walk off the field and even seemed to be making a case for a return to the game, but the medical staff stood firm.



Chris Cooley, TE, Washington Redskins: Cooley apparently suffered his concussive hit in the second quarter but did not develop symptoms until later, which is not altogether unusual. According to The Associated Press, Cooley began to develop a headache and felt that he was "a little bit slow." He then came out of the game. Cooley, who has had several concussions in the past, was scheduled to undergo a CT scan Tuesday.



David Garrard, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars: The Monday night game yielded another concussion, this time from the Jaguars' signal-caller, who left the contest early and was replaced by former Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards.



In the non-concussion injury department, here's what we're talking about after Week 6.

• In what many have agreed was the most egregious hit of the weekend, Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap was the recipient of a helmet-to-helmet hit by the New England Patriots' Brandon Meriweather. The safety clearly led with his head on the hit to Heap, prompting an angry reaction from his own coach, Bill Belichick. Heap returned to the game after sitting out briefly, but don't be surprised if he shows up on the injury report this week.

Indianapolis Colts running back Joseph Addai made another early exit after taking a hard hit to his shoulder in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the Redskins. According to Tom James of the Terre Haute Star-Tribune, Addai was seen in the locker room Monday with his left arm in a sling. The extent of Addai's shoulder injury has not been diagnosed. "It did not appear to be a separated shoulder or anything like that," team president Bill Polian said during his weekly radio show. "That's kind of the good news. We'll know more later in the week." The Colts are on a bye this week, but there is no indication yet as to whether Addai will be available for his next game, which isn't until Nov. 1.

Antonio Gates
Icon SMIAntonio Gates' streak of scoring a TD in every game this season was stopped because of his toe injury.
• The San Diego Chargers' reliable tight end Antonio Gates has been having an amazing start to his season. In Week 6, his numbers dropped as he was forced out of the game in the first half due to injury. Initially, it appeared as if Gates had injured his ankle and he was spotted in a walking boot after the game. But the news got better by Monday. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that coach Norv Turner said Gates had sprained his left toe but remained optimistic he could play this week. Despite the fact this injury is to the same foot on which Gates underwent surgery two years ago, Turner told the Union-Tribune that the two injuries are unrelated (no word on whether the injury specifically is to the same toe or not). Gates' teammate, wide receiver Malcom Floyd, may not fare as well this week. He strained his hamstring in the third quarter of Sunday's game and early indications are that he will be out this week.

Oakland Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell started in Week 6 in place of the injured Bruce Gradkowski but injured his own knee in the process. Campbell underwent an MRI on Monday on his sore left knee. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the diagnosis is a "sprained knee" and it remains to be seen who will be under center for the Raiders this week. ESPN's Bill Williamson thinks it could be Kyle Boller. Meanwhile, teammate Darren McFadden yielded the running back duties to Michael Bush in Week 6 while he rested his injured hamstring. McFadden plans to test the hamstring in practice this week. He told the Mercury News, "That's my goal for Wednesday, to go out there and try to see what I can do, see if I can burst." As the weekend approaches, fantasy owners will find out whether they will need to agonize over whether McFadden or Bush is in line to get the work.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Eddie Royal suffered a groin injury in Sunday's game against the New York Jets, but the extent of the injury is unclear. The Denver Post reports that coach Josh McDaniels is uncertain whether Royal will be able to practice this week.

• Washington Redskins running back Ryan Torain made fantasy owners happy Sunday night. And then he disappeared early in the fourth quarter, leading many to wonder if he was hurt. The Washington Post reported that Torain was spotted in the locker room after the game with his knee heavily wrapped but responded to questions about it by smiling and saying, "I'm great." We will have to wait and see what he does in practice this week, but don't be surprised if he appears on the Wednesday injury report, even if only for taking limited reps to rest his knee. Tight end Chris Cooley, who suffered a concussion, will undoubtedly land on the injury report. Concussions always require ongoing evaluation, so it is too soon to tell what his status for Week 7 will be.

Detroit Lions quarterback Shaun Hill fractured his left (nonthrowing) forearm Sunday and underwent surgery Monday to repair it. Hill will be unavailable for at least several weeks. The good news for the Lions is that Matthew Stafford was already on track to return after the Week 7 bye. If all continues well, Stafford will be ready to return from his AC sprain when the Lions resume play in Week 8.



San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis contributed to his team's first win with a score on Sunday but injured his knee in the process. Davis underwent an MRI on Monday, but according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, the 49ers do not expect him to miss any significant time. He is being called day-to-day.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo suffered a bruised left (nonthrowing) thumb. The Dallas Morning News reports that Romo did not undergo X-rays and is not expected to miss any practice time.

• Monday night saw both quarterbacks exit early due to injury. The Jacksonville Jaguars saw David Garrard added to the concussion roster from Week 6. The Tennessee Titans lost Vince Young after his leg got bent awkwardly during a pileup. Young was seen in a brace on the sideline with what was later called a sprained knee. After the game Young told reporters he will take it "day by day."

• Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is not expected to play in Week 7. Although he is making some progress, Vick acknowledged on his weekly radio appearance on ESPN 94.1 FM in Virginia Beach, Va., that it made no sense to rush back. He hopes to be ready by Week 9 (the Eagles have a bye in Week 8).

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses.



See you at the injury chats (Tuesday and Friday 3-4 p.m.) and we'll have the latest injury updates in the blogs on Thursday and Saturday.

The Cincinnati Bengals practiced with heavy hearts today after learning of the death of teammate Chris Henry, who had been placed on injured reserve in November after suffering a left forearm fracture. Our thoughts are with Henry's family and the Bengals at this difficult time.

As challenging as it can be to forge ahead through difficult circumstances such as this, it is what humans do. The Bengals will do just that when they take the field Sunday. In terms of game preparation, the Bengals are otherwise fortunate in that they do not have an extensive injury report, and their key players are healthy. Some other teams around the league are dealing with lengthy injury reports, however, and face the potential absence of several key players as they approach the playoffs.

So who will be on the field for your fantasy playoff roster heading into Week 15? Here's what we're hearing so far this week ...

Quarterbacks

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: Ryan suffered a turf-toe injury in Week 12 that has sidelined him the past two weeks. Ryan did not practice Wednesday, which was not a surprise. But his return to practice Thursday was a surprise. Although the extent of his practice work is unclear, the fact that Ryan was present at least raises the possibility that he'll play Sunday. Stay tuned.

Vince Young, Tennessee Titans: I outlined Young's latest injury setback Tuesday. By Wednesday, Young was strongly suggesting to reporters that he would be back on the field with the team in Week 15, telling the Nashville Tennessean that his hamstring was feeling "way better," and adding, "I definitely want to play. I am taking it easy just to be on the safe side." Taking it easy refers to the fact that Young didn't practice Wednesday. Since rest is the best medicine for hamstring injuries, this is not a big surprise. Expect Young to try to increase his activity late in the week in preparation for this week's game. He likely won't be 100 percent healthy, meaning his ability to make big plays on the run could be affected, but it sounds as if the Titans expect him to perform.

Tom Brady
Elsa/Getty Images Tom Brady is battling three injuries, but they shouldn't keep him from playing this week.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots: Brady caught our attention last week when he missed practice for the first time all season. Brady was (and still is) nursing three injuries: He has ongoing issues with his throwing shoulder (which was aggravated in the preseason); he recently injured the ring finger on his throwing hand (which, though noticeably bruised, did not appear to affect his accuracy in Week 14); and, most significantly perhaps, he suffered a rib injury, which might be affecting his performance to some degree.

Rib injuries for quarterbacks are not easy to play through. Just ask Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb or Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, both of whom have missed time this year because of broken ribs. The location of the rib injury, though, might have much to do with why Brady is able to persevere. A lower left-sided rib injury such as the one McNabb suffered is particularly problematic for a thrower because of the attachment there of the large abdominal oblique muscles. Contraction of those muscles, which are responsible for trunk rotation, can pull at the injured rib, aggravating it with each effort. Although all rib injuries are painful, a same-sided rib injury for Brady (on the right side for a right-handed thrower) could allow him to function a bit better.

Of course, this takes nothing away from his toughness. Brady's successful rehabilitation and return from a challenging knee injury has already proved his mettle. For the record, let's be clear that his knee is not one of his injury concerns at this point. He has already demonstrated that the knee issue is well behind him. In fact, Brady's leg strength is one of the variables likely helping him endure his current upper-body injuries. Brady will continue to play with these injuries and, after resting Wednesday, was back in practice Thursday to prepare for Week 15. Fantasy owners should expect Brady on the field Sunday to face the Bills.

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets: Sanchez missed Week 14 after suffering a posterior cruciate ligament injury the week before. Sanchez returned to limited practice on Wednesday, and he worked with the first team on Thursday, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. Although Sanchez has not officially been named the Week 15 starter, all signs are currently pointing in that direction. Coach Rex Ryan said that Sanchez "looked good" and "moved well" and that the team will see how his knee responds to the workout. The Jets likely will announce their starter decision Friday. It is worth noting that Sanchez likely will have braces on both knees, which could slow him a bit. But as long as he can escape defenders, it looks as if he will play.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Stafford is not expected to play in Week 15 as he continues to nurse a separated left (non-throwing) shoulder. Coach Jim Schwartz indicated that Stafford is "still a ways away," according to the Detroit News. Although Stafford says surgery is not currently an option, it normally takes several weeks before scar tissue can settle in and provide stability to the AC joint after this type of injury. Given that Stafford has already had one setback, it sounds as if the Lions are being more cautious now. And why not? Stafford is a long-term player for a franchise that is not headed into the postseason this year. Expect Daunte Culpepper to start again. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson's value might take a hit here, not only because of the switch at quarterback but also because Johnson is again facing injury issues of his own.

Running backs

Michael Turner, Falcons: Turner did not practice Wednesday, which seems to be par for the course of late. Turner's right ankle has kept him out of action since Week 12, when he suffered a setback, although he has not been fantasy productive since Week 10. In the past week, Turner has maintained that he has been making progress, and to that end, he did return to practice Thursday. Although it's unknown at this time just how much Turner actually participated, this is clearly a good sign in terms of his recovery. Fantasy owners should not get too excited just yet; there is still no definitive indication that Turner will be ready to play in Week 15. Naturally, what Turner does in practice toward the end of the week will dictate our level of confidence in him if he does return.

Brian Westbrook, Eagles: The good news is that Westbrook has been able to progress his activity as he recovers from his second concussion, including returning to practice with the scout team last week. The not-so-good news is that Westbrook still has not met the targets that would allow him to receive medical clearance to return to play. Coach Andy Reid told the Philadelphia Daily News that Westbrook is, "better, but not all the way completely cleared. We're still doing [testing] as his exercise increases. They'll keep testing him until they're comfortable with where he's at." Reid reminded everyone that despite eagerness on the part of Westbrook and the team to have him back, the Eagles will continue to do what's in the best interest of the athlete, which is as it should be. It sounds as if Westbrook will not be available in Week 15.

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers: After Stewart suffered an injury to his toe in Week 14, his routine nonparticipation in Wednesday practice raised a bit more concern. That concern was alleviated, though, with the news that Stewart was a full participant in Thursday's practice. It will be important to see how Stewart responds to Thursday's activity before determining his Sunday availability, but the situation is looking good so far.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams: Jackson has been pressing through a back injury for the past few weeks, and it has now been revealed to be a herniated disk, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The diagnosis does not change anything, though; much of what determines whether Jackson can play is simply how his back feels.

In the case of a herniated disk, as long as the symptoms remain localized to Jackson's low back, there is not necessarily a huge level of concern. Many people are quite functional despite the presence of disk problems, although when the disk is inflamed, the pain itself can be debilitating. The concern grows, however, if the disk is causing associated neurological problems, such as numbness or weakness in the leg. This was the case last season for the aforementioned Matt Hasselbeck, who was having weakness in his leg as the result of a herniated disk in his back. Hasselbeck's season came to an early end, but he recovered nicely in the offseason and, after undergoing a rigorous rehabilitation and conditioning program, has been able to return strong this year.

This week likely will be a repeat of the past few weeks, with Jackson's availability to be determined at game time.

Wide receivers

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald's owners can breathe a bit easier now that tests have revealed that Fitzgerald did not suffer a season-threatening injury Monday night. He did sustain a bone bruise, though, along with a mildly sprained medial collateral ligament. Bone bruises, which often occur in conjunction with major ligament injuries, can be painful, and Fitzgerald clearly is experiencing some discomfort. Nonetheless, he was back in practice Wednesday on a limited basis, and the Cardinals were sure to keep him from overdoing it. As coach Ken Whisenhunt told the Arizona Republic, "We're going to be as conservative as we can early in the week with hopes that he will be able to do more on Friday and obviously play on Sunday." For his part, Fitzgerald insists he will play Sunday, but the Cardinals will monitor his progress throughout the week before making their final decision.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: Johnson didn't practice Thursday, causing the red flags surrounding his knee injury to reappear. Although there have not been many details provided, there must be some concern about Johnson's Sunday availability, given this midweek downgrade. Fantasy owners should have a backup plan in place.

Percy Harvin
Tom Dahlin/Getty ImagesPercy Harvin has been evaluated closely this week.
Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings are understandably getting a bit nervous about the status of their star rookie receiver, who missed Week 14 because of ongoing issues with migraine headaches. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Harvin is continuing to be medically evaluated related to the migraines to ensure that the headaches do not represent another more serious underlying issue. As the Star-Tribune outlines, one of the concerns is that although Harvin has been dealing with headaches since childhood, the frequency of their occurrence seems to be increasing. Although migraines are often unpredictable in nature, many patients learn to identify (and therefore avoid, to the extent possible) the triggers that can set them off. When the triggers are hard to identify, the problem becomes even more challenging. The hope is that the expert consultation will help here.

Although Harvin participated in elements of Wednesday's walkthrough, he became ill and did not take part in practice. Any plan for his return to physical activity is unclear, and this appears to be a day-to-day issue. Harvin's fantasy owners should make alternate plans for this weekend because his status appears to be in jeopardy.

Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers: Ward is still recovering from a hamstring strain and did not take part in team practice Wednesday. Ward usually has Wednesdays off anyway, so this is not a major development. Ward played last Thursday despite clearly not being able to run at full speed. Nonetheless, Ward told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review he is "getting better every day," and the team expects him back on the field Sunday. He might not be completely recovered, but he should look better than he did last week.

Jeremy Maclin, Eagles: Just as DeSean Jackson was returning to the field for the Eagles after an injury, Maclin exited the field with an injury of his own. Actually, Maclin suffered a setback of a left foot injury he was already nursing when he partially tore the plantar fascia.

Originally coach Andy Reid suggested that Maclin would miss one or two weeks, but on Wednesday, Reid refrained from ruling Maclin out for this week's contest against the San Francisco 49ers. The Philly News reports that Maclin, despite missing practice Wednesday, was not seen in his protective boot in the locker room. Although that's an encouraging sign, it's a far cry from running, planting and pivoting. It's hard to envision Maclin's suiting up this week. Teammate Kevin Curtis might well be back on the field to add depth to the receiver corps; a return from Curtis would mark his first appearance since Week 2. Curtis has been on the mend from knee surgery, and although he has been practicing on a limited basis, he likely isn't ready to take on a full load. Thus, Maclin and Curtis should not be in fantasy lineups in Week 15.

Mike Sims-Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars: Sims-Walker is listed as probable and is expected to play Thursday night against the Colts, but don't expect him to be at full health just yet. Remember, Sims-Walker was downgraded midway through last week because of a left calf injury that eventually kept him out of Thursday and Friday practice. Despite being listed as doubtful, he managed to persuade the team in pregame warm-ups that he was capable of playing, but he did not post great numbers. Sims-Walker has been playing despite a knee ailment that was then complicated by the calf strain and has not been especially productive of late. Although the news that Sims-Walker is expected to play this week is encouraging, it would not be surprising if he is not yet 100 percent. Fantasy owners should temper expectations as a result.

Tight ends

Brent Celek, Eagles: Despite a drop here and there in the past two weeks because of an ongoing thumb injury, Celek has consistently put up fantasy points each week. But now Celek is also dealing with a back issue that kept him out of Wednesday practice. Apparently, the back began bothering him before Sunday. According to the Philly News, coach Andy Reid said, "They worked on him and were able to get him ready for the game." True, Celek was ready, and again he put points on the board, but he was seen walking gingerly after the game and is still dealing with stiffness. Nonetheless, Reid says that Celek "should be ready to go this weekend," so barring a downturn, fantasy owners can plan on his availability.

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

Also, see you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11 a.m.-noon ET, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pregame (10-10:30 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!

Larry likely Fitz for Sunday

December, 15, 2009
12/15/09
5:45
PM ET


So I'm in San Francisco, still glowing from the 49ers' performance on Monday night (which helps minimize the disorientation from the time change) and hustling to get the injury blog up on the board. Without further ado, let's take a look at what might have fantasy owners concerned during their do-or-die playoff matchups ...

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald had his right knee bent in an awkward direction when San Francisco 49ers defensive back Michael Lewis fell on him. The tough Fitzgerald was clearly uncomfortable as he exited the field, then stretched out on the sideline to be examined. The positive sign was that Fitzgerald returned to the game, something he likely could not have managed if this had been a season-threatening injury. For now, the team simply is terming the injury a knee sprain. Nonetheless, Fitzgerald is expected to have an MRI on Tuesday to see what his knee looks like on the inside, according to the Cardinals' official Web site. For what it's worth, Fitzgerald tweeted that his knee was "sore, but OK." Barring something unforeseen, expect Fitzgerald to be ready to play come Sunday.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Sunday's game taught us a few things about the Eagles' star young wide receivers. DeSean Jackson is healthy to the tune of 178 receiving yards and a couple of touchdowns, including one beauty on a punt return. There is no question about his status going forward. Unfortunately, his teammate did not fare so well. Maclin, whose left foot seemingly had been bothering him a bit more of late, had to be carted off the field after tearing his plantar fascia, the thick fibrous tissue that supports the arch of the foot. Inflammation of the plantar fascia is very painful; tearing that tissue can be excruciating. Eagles coach Andy Reid told The Philadelphia Inquirer that this would be a "week-or-two injury," but there's no guarantee Maclin will rebound that quickly. Fantasy owners should make alternate plans. Although it's true that Kevin Curtis (who has been sidelined since October knee surgery) may be on the verge of returning, it's likely that he would be eased back into game plans.

Vince Young
AP Photo/Wade PayneAfter injuring his leg in Week 14, Vince Young isn't guaranteed to be 100 percent come Sunday.
Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans: Young was questionable heading into Sunday's contest after aggravating his right knee during last week's practice. He was moving around well enough to start the game but certainly wasn't moving that well to finish things off. Young strained his right hamstring while making a big running play Sunday, and that ended his day early. Young later told reporters that he could have returned if it were a playoff situation (Doesn't he know that it was a playoff situation, at least for fantasy owners?) but did not want it to get worse. According to the Tennessean, coach Jeff Fisher is calling Young day-to-day. Although that is encouraging, it's quite possible that Young will not be at his best by Sunday. For someone who counts on making plays with his feet, this could present a challenge for Young.

Correll Buckhalter, RB, Denver Broncos: This is the second time we have seen Buckhalter on crutches after a game this season. Earlier this year it was an injury to his left ankle, this time Buckhalter suffered a right ankle sprain. In fact, Buckhalter told the Colorado Springs-Gazette that this injury was the same injury that forced him to miss a game earlier this year, just on the other side. If we take our cues from that comment, expect Buckhalter to be sidelined in Week 15 but hopefully return the next week.

Other quick hits:

Detroit Lions running back Kevin Smith is done for the season after suffering a major knee injury that will require surgery. The extent of damage will not be known until after surgery, at which point it will be easier to project whether Smith will be ready for the start of the 2010 season.

Eagles running back Brian Westbrook returned to practice with the scout team last week and could be activated for Week 15. The Delaware County Times is reporting that Westbrook could return to action this week, and that certainly seems to be a reasonable possibility. Keep in mind that this decision-making process is fluid and ultimately will come down to not only medical clearance but also Westbrook's comfort with returning to the field of play. Stay tuned.

Fantasy owners of Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart should make contingency plans just in case. Although Stewart has navigated the season quite well despite an ongoing Achilles issue, he suffered a new injury Sunday. According to the Rock Hill Herald, Stewart sustained a big toe injury, but it is not yet known how severe the injury is or whether it's to the same toe on which he underwent surgery before his rookie season. Because Stewart routinely takes every Wednesday off to rest his Achilles, it may not become clear until Thursday just how serious this injury is. Fantasy owners would be wise to assume the worst and hope for the best.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Nate Burleson is in a boot after injuring his ankle on Sunday. Burleson underwent an MRI Monday, then told KJR radio in Seattle that he had a high ankle sprain. By now everyone knows that these sprains are more challenging than most to recover from. Although he has not been ruled out, expect Burleson to sit in Week 15.

The Oakland Raiders suffered a major setback after showing sparks of life in recent weeks. Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who seemingly had lifted the whole team's level of play, exited Sunday's game with not one, but two knee injuries. As in, both knees are now compromised. Gradkowski reportedly injured the medial collateral ligament in both knees and, according to The Oakland Tribune, already declared himself out for Week 15. Frankly, it would be surprising if he returned at all this season, although it's not completely out of the realm of possibility, depending on the extent of damage and the level of pain he is experiencing. To add further insult to injury, tight end Zach Miller, who has been a top receiving target for the Raiders, suffered his second concussion of the season this past week. There is a very good chance that Miller will not be available in Week 15.

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 15 in the Saturday morning blog!

Roethlisberger should play

September, 13, 2008
9/13/08
1:29
PM ET
Here's a fun fact: The Miami Dolphins have a clean injury report. That's right. Nobody, no one, not a single player is on their injury report this week. I'm not sure I've ever seen this before, but how happy must a team be when they can submit their injury report to the league office Friday afternoon and it's a blank sheet? Is there anyone out there in fantasy league-land who has every player on their roster healthy? I didn't think so. That's why we bring you the injury updates heading into Week 2. Set your injury-adjusted lineups and hope for a healthy week.

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
George Gojkovich/Getty ImagesRoethlisberger should be out on the field leading the Steelers, but if a blowout occurs, he could get pulled.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: Although he didn't practice Wednesday due to the sore throwing shoulder, he did some work Thursday and managed a full practice Friday. Roethlisberger is listed as probable, meaning he is expected to play, but if the shoulder starts to give him trouble as the game goes on, or if he shows signs of fatigue in the arm, expect his playing time to be limited. Roethlisberger has a history of playing through various ailments, and this should be no different, but the team will make every effort to preserve him for the long haul.

Marion Barber, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Barber was already looking like someone who expected to play Monday night despite a rib injury in that he fully practiced Wednesday and Thursday. Friday did nothing to dispel that as he practiced fully yet again. He is officially listed as probable, and with the extra day of rest, it appears he will see a regular workload. Perhaps even more significant is the idea that he has been doing so well already, he may not need to wear the protective gear that could make ballhandling a little more challenging. For someone who relies on speed and ball control, carrying no extra weight and minimizing interference is a bonus. Barber looks to be in good shape for Monday night.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, and Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers: Who knew that big-toe problems could be contagious? The Chargers have another star plagued by a big-toe injury, as Tomlinson jammed it in last week's contest. The good news is that X-rays were negative, but the toe was painful enough that Tomlinson did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Tomlinson was able to practice fully Friday, but he is only listed as questionable on the Chargers' injury report. According to ESPN reports, Tomlinson believes that based on what he was able to do in Friday's practice and how he felt afterward that he is closer to probable to play Sunday.

The role of the big toe in every aspect of running, pivoting, cutting and jumping cannot be overemphasized, as it has to bear the weight of the entire body with any pushing off. If the ligaments around the toe are injured, repeated stress not only causes pain but can make it difficult to heal. It appears that Tomlinson will play Sunday, but if the toe becomes a limiting factor, he may see decreased time on the field.

Meanwhile, teammate Antonio Gates put up a decent performance in Week 1 in his first outing since undergoing surgery on his big toe. He appeared to suffer no major setbacks, although he did come out of Week 1 with a sore hip to add to the toe discomfort, and as a result was limited in practice early in the week. Gates, however, was a full go in practice Friday and is listed as probable, which bodes well for his Sunday status. He acknowledges that his toe is not 100 percent, but told the San Diego Union-Tribune earlier in the week that the more he does, the better it becomes. Clearly his confidence in the foot is coming back.

Dallas Clark, TE, Indianapolis Colts: Clark is listed as questionable and, although he was able to do some practice activity Friday, is far from certain to be on the field Sunday. Clark injured his knee last Sunday, and despite the negative MRI had enough discomfort to keep him from doing anything in practice until Friday. It does not sound like we should expect much, if anything, from him this week.

There is good news elsewhere on the Colts' offensive front, however. Center Jeff Saturday, who just a couple of weeks ago was considering surgery on his torn medial collateral ligament (MCL), chose to undergo conservative treatment and is well ahead of schedule. Saturday was able to participate fully in practice all week and has a shot to play this weekend. Even if he doesn't take the field this week, the progress he is making has to make the Colts, and Peyton Manning in particular, very happy. If not this week, expect to see Saturday back next week in tandem with his quarterback.

[+] EnlargeRyan Grant
Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireGrant is clearly not 100 percent, but he'll make a go of it this weekend.
Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson, RB, Green Bay Packers: Grant had a nice first week, even while operating at less than top speed. But Grant was reportedly very sore at halftime of Monday night's contest, a sign that the hamstring was clearly not fully healed. The Packers have helped Grant manage this injury well, as they are no doubt acutely aware of the risk of this turning into a season-long problem. Consequently Grant was kept to limited practice reps early in the week to allow his leg some more rest.

Grant did practice fully Friday and expects to play, but he is listed as questionable, and the Packers will want to see how he feels Saturday morning before they make a final decision on his status. Coach Mike McCarthy told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "He looked good. Really the question for Ryan will be tomorrow, same thing we went through last week. How does the hamstring feel in the morning? They worked it. They pushed him as far as he probably could go today, and we'll see how he is tomorrow." If Grant feels good Saturday, his chances of playing go way up.

Teammate Brandon Jackson is listed as probable and is expected to play after suffering a concussion Monday night that kept him out of practice Wednesday and limited Thursday. In fact, Jackson will likely be used more to balance Grant's playing time, given that Grant is still not 100 percent.

Reggie Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Brown did not play last week after aggravating his injured hamstring mid-week. This week did not exactly provide encouragement that he is ready to return. Brown is listed as questionable, but did not practice Wednesday and practiced only on a limited basis Thursday and Friday. Brown told the Philadelphia Daily News that he was "very limited" after Thursday's practice. I trust the words of the athlete, and this does not sound like he is confident in his recovery just yet. Of course there is the extra day, given that the Eagles play Monday night, but Brown will likely be a game-time decision, something fantasy owners should shy away from. Besides, given the fact that Brown spent most of the preseason and the first week of the season injured (first the Achilles', now the hamstring), it would be worth watching his first-game performance to see how he fares before expecting big things.

Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore Ravens: McGahee was active last week, but you wouldn't know it. He spent the entire game on the sidelines, pacing a bit, hoping to get into the game. But the Ravens' coaching staff decided it would be best to wait. McGahee is now listed as probable in Week 2 and is expected to take the field Monday night (the game was moved to Monday because of Hurricane Ike in Texas).

As far as how the knee feels, the Ravens' official Web site quoted McGahee as saying "It gets better every day, so I can't complain." In addition to having the extra week to rest his knee, McGahee had additional time to work with a new offensive system and get into game shape. Expect McGahee to see action Monday, although he may not appear as the "feature" back. The Baltimore Sun reports that a full workload may not be in the game plan for McGahee, as he will likely split carries with Ray Rice and Le'Ron McClain. McGahee will need to prove his commitment to working hard as a team player, while demonstrating that he can physically handle the workload before he is allowed to assume a major role. Fantasy owners should keep that in mind.

And a couple of IDP tidbits ...


OK, Carly. This section is introduced this week per your request.

Derrick Brooks, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brooks is still dealing with a lingering hamstring injury. He has not been able to practice all week and is listed as questionable. Unfortunately, his 193-consecutive-game streak is at risk of being broken this week, but ultimately the team needs to make the best decision for his long-term health. Expect Brooks to be a game-time decision.

Albert Haynesworth, DT, Tennessee Titans: Haynesworth suffered a concussion during last week's contest, and as a result was held out of practice all week. Haynesworth says he expects to play, but the team will not likely make a final decision until Sunday morning before the game. He is officially listed as questionable. Concussions are not something teams take lightly, and Haynesworth will have a series of tests he will need to pass before he is cleared to play.

Antonio Cromartie, CB, San Diego Chargers: Cromartie has a sore hip that kept him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. He was able to practice on a limited basis Friday and is listed as questionable, so he has a chance of being on the field. He is also likely to be a game-time decision. The Chargers have to hope they will have him available to match up against Denver's double threats, Brandon Marshall (returning this week after a suspension) and impressive rookie Eddie Royal.

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to injured-reserve status, who are officially listed as "Out" for Week 2.

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Aaron Stecker, RB, New Orleans Saints: You knew Colston was out with a surgically repaired thumb. Stecker now joins him with a hamstring injury. Reggie Bush looked good last week, and Pierre Thomas showed he was a factor. Expect Deuce McAllister to get back into the game this week as well, although how much he will be utilized remains a question.

Drew Bennett, WR, St. Louis Rams: He has a foot fracture. He will appear in this section for at least a month.

Brodie Croyle, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: Croyle has a separated shoulder and will likely miss two weeks, minimum.

Bobby Engram, WR and Maurice Morris, RB, Seattle Seahawks: Seattle's poor offense and their string of bad luck continue. Expect these two to be here for a few more weeks.

Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans: The knee, the hamstring, and everything else. His timetable is very hard to predict right now.

Kevin Curtis, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Still recovering from sports-hernia surgery but coming along nicely. The Eagles hope to have him back in the first half of October.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at 12 p.m. EST. Good luck in Week 2!

In the course of 48 hours, we have learned of three key players whose 2008 season ended almost as quickly as it began. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is going to have season-ending surgery on his left knee. The Patriots have yet to specify the exact nature of his injury, but it likely involves at least one major ligament if surgery is involved. The Seattle Seahawks, who were thin at wide receiver to begin with, lost Nate Burleson to a torn ACL, and he too will undergo reconstructive surgery. Lastly, San Diego Chargers All-Pro linebacker Shawne Merriman had a significant knee injury that was well-documented before his start of the season. Merriman played substantially in Week 1, but apparently the knee issues proved too daunting to overcome. Merriman has now been placed on injured reserve as he too prepares to undergo reconstructive knee surgery.



For all the fantasy owners in mourning over this latest turn of events, don't despair; that's why there's the waiver wire. At least you know these players are done. On the other hand, there are plenty of players who got nicked up this weekend whose status is a little less than certain. Here's what we know so far.

Vince Young
AP Photo/John RussellVince Young likely will miss at least a couple of games with a knee injury.
Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans: Tests have confirmed the initial diagnosis of a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain, according to The Tennessean. Early reports suggested that Young could miss two to four weeks, which, for a mild sprain, represents a feasible time frame for a quarterback. Since the lateral mobility demands for a quarterback are less than that for a running back, a quarterback can often return to action a little sooner, wearing a brace for reinforcement. Young plays a physical game, though, and it would be surprising to see him back early, especially considering how much pain he looked to be in at the time of the injury. He was also nursing a sore hamstring heading into Week 1, so he may benefit from extra time to ensure that he is truly healthy before he attempts to return.



The other issues surrounding Young's overall well-being cannot be ignored. Nashville police were searching for Young on Monday night when his family did not know where he was and he did not have his cell phone with him. All ended well, and it turned out that Young was with a friend, but the incident raised the specter of how adversity might be affecting the young quarterback. Young's mother, Felicia Young, told The Tennessean, "It is hard, all he is going through right now. He's hurting inside and out."



If Young is your quarterback, be sure to get a replacement this week. It looks as if the reins have been turned over to Kerry Collins for the immediate future, and there is no guarantee, particularly if Collins does well, that Young automatically assumes his role when he returns.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: There does not appear to be any major cause for concern here. After all, what sort of football season would it be in Pittsburgh if Big Ben were not getting a bit banged up? Roethlisberger appeared to suffer a leg injury (later called a knee bruise) in the first half and looked to be limping, but returned in the second half, proving it was not serious. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger said his knee was hyperextended on a tackle by Amobi Okoye.



Turns out Roethlisberger also suffered a bruised shoulder in the season opener, thanks to a Mario Williams sack. That injury seemed to be a bigger concern to coach Mike Tomlin, who told the Post-Gazette that he expects Roethlisberger to be limited in practice with the sore shoulder. Other than calling it sore, there has been no particular diagnosis on Roethlisberger's shoulder, which is a good sign. A hard fall on the turf, when it doesn't result in a separated shoulder, can impact the rotator cuff tendons. Any swelling or bruising in the area could affect a thrower's ability to deliver the ball accurately. Rest, ice and some treatment in the training room are no doubt a big part of Roethlisberger's schedule over the next few days. Stay tuned.

Marion Barber
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireMarion Barber had two scores in Week 1, but his hard rushing style has already resulted in an injury.
Marion Barber, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Team owner Jerry Jones told the (Fort Worth) Star-Telegram that Barber likely will have to play in some pain for a while. I wonder if he's ever had a rib cartilage injury. Hmmm. It hurts just to take a deep breath, much less take a hit from a large human moving at breakneck speed.

That aside, it does sound as if the Cowboys expect Barber to return to practice Wednesday and be ready for Monday night. Despite the optimism, keep an eye on practice reports throughout the week, as this is the type of injury that can linger. It's also possible that Barber may wear added protection for his ribs. The bulkiness of the extra gear can make ballhandling a bit more difficult, so players often prefer not to use it. After Barber practices this week, we should have a better picture of his Monday status.

Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints: Wow, this one was a surprise! Colston apparently suffered a ligament injury to his left thumb during Sunday's game, which ultimately required surgery. The surgery was performed Tuesday, according to The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, and Colston is projected to be out at least a month. Depending on the healing process, the time frame could extend upwards to six to eight weeks. No specifics have been given as to which ligament was damaged, but in all cases, the role of the thumb for a receiver is critical in terms of ballhandling. This is not exactly a position where it would be easy to return wearing a splint or a cast, so expect him to be out closer to six to eight weeks. More catches could be in line for David Patten, Devery Henderson and tight end Jeremy Shockey as a result.

Dallas Clark, TE, Indianapolis Colts: Clark underwent an MRI on his injured right knee, but the specifics have not been made public. According to The Indianapolis Star, general manager Bill Polian said team physicians were "fairly optimistic" about Clark's knee. This is another situation where Clark's practice activity this week should give a better hint as to whether he will be available this weekend. Coach Tony Dungy told the Star that he hopes Clark will be OK, but "if it is going to be a couple of weeks, we'll adjust." It sounds like contingency plans should be made if you're a Clark owner.

Drew Bennett
Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty ImagesAs if the Rams offense needed any more bad news, Drew Bennett has a fractured foot.
Drew Bennett, WR, St. Louis Rams: Bennett suffered a foot fracture in Sunday's opener and is expected to miss at least a month and probably longer. Fractures take four to six weeks to heal, and then there's the issue of actually being able to run, turn, jump and land on the foot effectively enough to play the receiver position. If Bennett is on your fantasy team, it's probably worth going in a new direction as it will be quite some time before he could potentially contribute. Not to mention the Rams' offense didn't exactly light it up in Week 1. Bennett is likely to be replaced by rookie Keenan Burton, and the Rams just signed veteran Eddie Kennison.

Maurice Morris, RB, Seattle Seahawks: It wasn't enough for the Seahawks to lose a receiver to injury. They also saw one of their running backs exit the game with a knee sprain. Fortunately, Morris' injury was not as serious as Burleson's, but nonetheless he is expected to miss at least two weeks. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Seahawks are hopeful that Morris, Deion Branch (still recovering from a reconstructed left ACL) and Bobby Engram (healing from a fractured shoulder) will all return after Seattle's Week 4 bye. Former Cowboy Julius Jones will get the starting nod at running back in Seattle, at least for the time being.

Jeff Garcia, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Garcia sprained his ankle Sunday but managed to finish the game, tough guy that he is. It does appear that the ankle injury could be problematic, though, since coach Jon Gruden told The Tampa Tribune that Garcia had swelling, and he has been labeled as questionable this week. Garcia was already nursing a calf injury during camp as well as a jammed pinkie finger on his throwing hand. Garcia is known to play through pain, but wasn't altogether effective last Sunday, which may factor into the overall decision on whether to start him.

Fantasy owners beware. We've been down a similar road before. Late last season, Garcia took a shot to the back and was stiff, sat out part of practice, but by the end of the week was assuring everyone that he could play. At the last minute, Gruden scratched him from his start, much to the dismay of Garcia fantasy owners. For his part, Gruden told The Tampa Tribune that he wants to decide who will be under center by Wednesday. (Brian Griese is the backup in Tampa Bay).

Let's see what Garcia actually does in practice this week, but if you own him in your league, secure a replacement just in case.



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Ahman Green, RB, Houston Texans: Did you really think Green would stay healthy the entire season? He has had a tough time of it over the past year or so. Last year, he was continually challenged with inflammation in his knee that effectively ended his season prematurely. This year he was limited in camp with a groin injury but had recovered enough to suit up for Week 1. The clean bill of health did not last long, however, as Green was forced to the sideline early with an ankle injury. Other than listing him as day-to-day on their official Web site, the Texans have not released the specifics as to the nature of Green's ankle problem.

Rookie Steve Slaton saw increased action as a result and likely will continue along that path. However, according to the Texans' official Web site, they plan to bring in some other running backs for workouts and may also consider bringing up Darius Walker from the practice squad. Could Shaun Alexander show up here? He's certainly made it known that he's available. This could get interesting.

That should get your waiver wires going for the week. Be sure to tune in to my chat Friday at 11 a.m. ET here on ESPN.com as we discuss all things injury-related. Also, my injury blog will update Saturday with the latest injury-report information headed into the Sunday games.

All is not well in Kansas City

November, 21, 2007
11/21/07
8:25
AM ET


Things are really starting to shake up. Real football now takes place on Thursdays, in addition to Sundays and Mondays. Fantasy football playoff qualifiers are being determined and every week means potential elimination for some unlucky owners. In other news, the sun continues to rise and set every day and the Patriots are still winning.

With regards to the injuries, here's what we know so far heading into Week 12.

Due to the upcoming Thanksgiving Day games, the layout is a bit different this week. Key players involved in Thursday's games are listed first, followed by the Sunday/Monday crowd.

Thanksgiving Day


Green Bay at Detroit

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers Grant reportedly has a mild ankle sprain (likely Grade I, which means minimal structural damage). He is being held out of practice early in the week to rest the ankle with the expectation that he will play this Thursday.

Kevin Jones, RB, Lions: Jones is dealing with some soreness in his surgically repaired foot, and the thought was that he would be limited somewhat in his activity Sunday, in anticipation of a short week. According to coach Rod Marinelli, Jones emerged from Sunday's game "fine" and is expected to play Thursday.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Johnson will also play, although the Lions acknowledge that his action has been somewhat limited due to his still ailing back. Marinelli told The Detroit News that Johnson's back is one factor in determining how much he is utilized but indicated that the Lions' offensive schemes, which sometimes call for Johnson to play a decoy role, are another. If Johnson were 100 percent, he would be more involved, according to quarterback Jon Kitna. Johnson made a nice leaping catch in the end zone Sunday, and I was watching in particular to see how he looked getting up after landing on his back. He stood up without hesitation, which was a good sign. At times he appears a bit less acrobatic in some of his catches, still lifting his sizeable 6-foot-5 frame over defenders, but perhaps without quite the same separation we saw early in the season, suggesting that his power is a bit limited because of the lingering soreness and stiffness. As time goes on, those things will continue to improve, barring any setback, and Johnson will likely find himself becoming a more frequent target.

New York (Jets) at Dallas:

Laveranues Coles, WR, Jets: The Newark Star-Ledger reports that the Jets' star receiver sustained a high left ankle sprain Sunday and is unlikely to play on Thanksgiving Day. The Star-Ledger cites an unnamed source who spoke with Coles after the game. The Jets are not very revealing when it comes to injuries so we may not get confirmation from the team that it is, in fact, a high ankle sprain. Assuming that is the case, however, we know that these tend to be a bit slower to resolve than a typical lateral ankle sprain. One thing to point out is that Coles did attempt to return to the game last week after the initial injury, meaning it did not appear severe when tested on the sideline, which should translate to a quicker return time. Coles is tough; he missed his first start in more than three years just three weeks ago when he was sidelined with a concussion. If the injury is mild, he could return in Week 13, but until the Jets initiate Week 13 practice, we probably won't hear anything more. He is a good candidate to keep on your fantasy roster because he very well could return within another week or two.

Patrick Crayton, Cowboys: Crayton sprained his ankle during the first quarter of Sunday's game, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Crayton managed to finish the game, indicating that the injury could not have been too severe. It was bad enough to keep Crayton out of practice Tuesday and to cause Wade Phillips to say that Crayton might miss Thursday's game. He is expected to be a game-time decision so be sure to check the inactives Thursday.

Colts at Falcons

Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts: His still-inflamed knee is expected to cause him to miss the Thanksgiving Day game, and he won't have Aaron Moorehead to back him up. Moorehead was placed on injured reserve by the Colts after experiencing a flare-up of a chronic back problem last week. According to coach Tony Dungy, Anthony Gonzalez, who has been out with a hand injury, will likely be back in the lineup. Harrison is being projected to perhaps return in Week 13, but whenever the timing is dependent on the resolution of swelling, especially swelling that has been lingering for nearly six weeks, understand that the reliability of the projection is questionable.

Byron Leftwich, QB, Falcons: Leftwich returned to play Sunday after being out following ankle surgery. His ankle seemed solid yet his performance was anything but, and Joey Harrington replaced him in the third quarter. Apparently, Leftwich also suffered a tailbone injury during the game and has not been able to practice. Harrington will get the start over Leftwich on Thanksgiving Day.

Sunday/Monday


Running Backs

Larry Johnson, Chiefs: ProFootballTalk.com reports that Johnson traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina to meet with Dr. Robert Anderson, the same physician who performed Kevin Jones' surgery, for an evaluation of his foot. The report states that Johnson has a Lisfranc injury and that the main question was whether Johnson would require surgery to repair the condition. The Chiefs have not issued any formal statement as to the exact nature of Johnson's condition, other than that he is dealing with a midfoot sprain. Last Thursday, the Kansas City Star reported that Johnson said he expected to return this season. Johnson described all of the rehabilitation he has been doing, and without disclosing any specifics about the injury itself, remarked that the swelling had been severe initially but pointed out that he was now walking without a boot. On Monday the Kansas City Star quoted Chiefs president Carl Peterson as saying "If a patient doesn't want medical information out there, then (the doctor) is obligated, as we are, under the rules of HIPAA, of not going into detail." This statement clearly suggests that it is Johnson himself who is requesting that the organization keep the details surrounding his injury confidential, as he has the right to do. Peterson went on to say that the Chiefs would only report what was required by the NFL and that they would continue to evaluate Johnson on a week-to-week basis.



So what are the takeaways from this?

  1. We don't really know the severity of the injury. There has been speculation that Johnson has a fracture in his foot. That has neither been confirmed nor denied publicly by Johnson or the Chiefs. There are a few clues, however, as to how bad this midfoot injury might be. If it were definitely season-ending, the Chiefs would likely have acted by now to move Johnson to injured reserve, so as to open up another spot on the active roster. The Chiefs indicate that Johnson will be evaluated week-to-week, meaning they anticipate progress from week-to-week. Johnson has been seen walking about in a sock, out of the ankle boot, within two weeks of the injury. More severe injuries require a longer period of immobilization (4-6 weeks minimum), with the most severe cases resulting in surgery fairly soon after injury.

  2. Lisfranc injuries are not all created equal. There is a Lisfranc joint complex in the midsection of the foot (the name actually refers to the region of the foot as well as any injury associated with that region). Injuries to this area can be very serious (fracture/dislocation), especially if not properly diagnosed and managed early on, which is why teams become very nervous when they hear this name associated with an injury to one of their athletes. That being said, the injury can be less severe (sprain), requiring less immobilization time and no surgical intervention, which appears to be the case with Johnson. The injuries to the Lions' Kevin Jones, and most recently to the Colts' Dwight Freeney, are of the serious variety, requiring major surgery followed by lengthy rehab. (In Friday's blog we will examine the serious Lisfranc injury in more detail, specifically related to Dwight Freeney and Kevin Jones.)

  3. Keeping Johnson on your fantasy roster is a gamble. You now know why we do not know the specifics related to his time frame at this point. Assuming that the injury is, at best, only a sprain, with no fracture present, it would still likely be two-to-three weeks before Johnson could return, not likely in time to help out your fantasy team much. If you have already made the playoffs and can afford to keep him as an extra on your roster in the event that he returns, then do so. But if you need running-back help in the next few weeks, you should seek that help elsewhere.

Priest Holmes, Chiefs: Keeping it right here in the Chiefs' family, Holmes, who had stepped up his role in Johnson's absence, was shaken up during the second half of Sunday's game. There have since been reports that Holmes re-injured his neck, which coach Herm Edwards confirmed to ESPN's John Clayton, although he gave no detail as to the severity of the injury. Holmes reportedly has been visiting with medical specialists and conferring with family members and is scheduled for a Wednesday press conference. There has been speculation that he will announce his retirement, but the Chiefs have not confirmed that. Holmes originally suffered a concussion and a bruised spinal cord back in October, 2005. There was doubt at that time that Holmes would ever play football again, but after rehabbing extensively and working his way back towards football shape, Holmes made a comeback, albeit a brief one, in October of this year. While his efforts were admirable in terms of both his physical conditioning and mental resolve, there was always some concern about the potential consequences of another head or neck injury. It looks as if we may be seeing the end of a fabulous career. With teammate Larry Johnson out indefinitely, it looks as if rookie Kolby Smith may be forced into starting duties.



Ahman Green, Texans: Green continues to struggle with ongoing inflammation in his knee and there is no timetable for his return. Despite the efforts of coach Gary Kubiak to limit Green's practice during the week in order to save him for the weekend, Green's knee has prevented him from taking the field for the last few weeks. As ESPN's John Clayton reported, the Texans at this point are considering shutting Green down for the remainder of the season. If he is on your fantasy team, you should be searching for a replacement.

Selvin Young, Broncos: Young left Monday night's game with a "knee issue" according to the Denver Post. He did manage to return briefly, however, and the team says he is "fine." Practice reports this week will tell us if that really is the case.

Adrian Peterson, Vikings: According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Peterson (torn LCL) continues with his rehab progress, running on an underwater treadmill for the first time this week, which allows him to condition his cardiovascular system and get his running form back while minimizing joint, and therefore ligament, stresses. Coach Brad Childress has indicated that he does not expect Peterson to return to play this week (which would mark only two weeks since the injury) and the Vikings continue to approach this as a day-to-day situation. Childress did add that Peterson would wear a brace when he returns. Knee braces, although by no means a guarantee against further injury, are more effective at providing medial/lateral stability (more reinforcement for the medial collateral (MCL) and lateral collateral (LCL) ligaments) than rotational stability (ACL). It still remains to be seen what Peterson's true timetable is because he has yet to run on land, which will begin with straight in-line running. He then will have to progress through various drills and ultimately will need to demonstrate control in directional running and cutting (typically late in the progression), not to mention make it through complete practices, before he sees the field. Do not count on his return for another two-to-three weeks, and bear in mind that this is a sliding time scale depending on Peterson's response to each level of activity.

Brandon Jacobs, Giants: We're still not hearing much about the extent of Jacobs' hamstring injury. Jacobs said initially that he did not think it was serious, yet he hopped off the field grabbing his leg. That looked like more than a minor tweak. The New York Post states that coach Tom Coughlin, when asked how Jacobs was doing after undergoing some tests, merely stated "He's sore." If you look at the effect hamstring injuries have had on key fantasy players already this season (Rudi Johnson, Todd Heap), you know to hope for the best but expect the worst. Despite his protestations regarding the seriousness of the injury, expect Jacobs to be out of your lineup for two-to-four weeks, meaning, you may not have him back this fantasy season. Derrick Ward may be moved to action, but keep in mind that he has been out with ankle and groin injuries for several weeks and would be a risky fantasy start. Reuben Droughns and Ahmad Bradshaw are the next two Giants on the running-back depth chart, though the team signed veteran Patrick Pass this week.

Quarterbacks

Vince Young, Titans: Young suffered a quad contusion (bruise) on Monday night, on the same quad that he strained earlier in the season. In the Tennessean, coach Jeff Fisher said he expects Young to play this Sunday, even if he does not practice the entire week. When Young strained the muscle, he actually tore muscle fibers which had to repair themselves in order for the injury to heal. A contusion is a deep bruise to the muscle, and the main goal in the next few days is for the bruising and local swelling to dissipate, at which point the muscle function should vastly improve. Consequently this injury should not take as long to resolve.

Alex D. Smith, 49ers: Smith will not be returning any time soon. ESPN's Len Pasquarelli reports that Smith visited Dr. James Andrews for a consultation and was told that the shoulder may be in worse shape than at the time of the initial injury. Smith will continue with his rehab efforts (keep in mind that his forearm continues to be a problem as well) for two weeks and will then be re-evaluated. It sounds as if he is ultimately headed for surgery; the question is whether it will be during the season or afterward. To compound Smith's physical problems, he and coach Mike Nolan have exchanged some very public barbs recently, perhaps underlining the general frustration present in San Francisco. There is not a lot to suggest that Smith will be rushing back any time soon, if at all, this season.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Santonio Holmes, Steelers: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says it's a mild high ankle sprain that is affecting Holmes, and he is already listed as doubtful for next Monday night's game against the Dolphins. Even if the sprain is minor, the location (high) makes it a more serious injury. Expect him to miss two-to-four weeks, give or take.

Javon Walker, Broncos: Walker is optimistic, according to the Rocky Mountain News, that he will resume full practice this week and be ready to start Sunday at Chicago. Walker is recovering from an arthroscopic knee surgery on his previously ACL-reconstructed knee and has been progressing nicely. Prior to the surgery, Walker had been dealing with persistent swelling on the back side of his knee. Walker now says that it was a "cyst" in his knee that was causing the problem. Walker is most likely referring to what is called a Baker's cyst, which is a pouch of synovial fluid (the fluid found normally within the knee joint) that collects and forms a cyst-like structure as an extension of the joint capsule, typically on the back side of the knee. The cyst generally forms in response to some irritation within the knee joint itself. Remove the source of the irritation, which ranges from torn meniscus to cartilage flaps or fraying, and the cyst then typically resolves. If that is indeed the scenario, then Walker should be in much better shape for having had the procedure, and should return strong and without fear of further injury.

Don't see your player here? Be sure to check back after Friday practice reports when we check further Week 12 updates. We will also quickly touch on any Thursday game injuries at that time.

Steven Jackson may return this week

October, 24, 2007
10/24/07
9:52
AM ET
Was there any positive news on Tuesday? Maybe. Despite the fact that yet another starting quarterback went down to injury on Monday night, there might be a previously-injured quarterback returning this week. Fantasy owners can only hope for some positive news, right?

Running Backs


Steven Jackson, Rams: The long-awaited return of the Rams' star running back, who suffered a partial tear of his groin in Week 3, appears to be around the corner. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that Jackson will play in Week 8 against the Browns. I have to admit that this is a bit surprising, given Jackson's limited activity thus far, and the fact that the Rams have a bye in Week 9. Jackson began working out with the team last week. He wore the red non-contact jersey indicating he had not yet been medically cleared for contact, but coach Scott Linehan seemed pleased with what he saw. Nonetheless, a word of caution is in order here. According to the Belleville News-Democrat, Linehan acknowledged that Jackson is not 100 percent. Jackson has only just begun running in practice, which is far removed from full contact, and the higher level drills that would test his power. Also, in the course of a game, Jackson will be asked to drive his body weight against defenders, something that places a lot of load on the groin musculature. Unless Jackson has been able to show that he can do all of these things in practice, I would remain a bit skeptical about how he would be utilized, even if he were to return this week. Linehan commented that Jackson brings a lot to the team in terms of his leadership and the excitement his play generates, and the Rams, don't we know, are looking for something, anything perhaps, to provide a spark that can ignite the team. But is Jackson's entrance at this point the guaranteed spark? What if he struggles in his first outing? Or suffers a setback? That might be the final straw for the hapless Rams. Despite the reports, it is still too early in the week to be certain that Jackson will play. Have your backup ready for another outing until we have the benefit of the full week of practice reports.

Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Oh, ye of little faith (Negative Nate Ravitz, that means you). What's a minor ankle sprain to a guy like Gore? Gore hurt the ankle Sunday but played through it, suggesting that the injury was not terribly serious to start (not that it was not painful, but in terms of injury severity, Gore could still continue to run, suggesting less tissue damage). According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Gore said on Monday that he will have "no problem" playing against the Saints come Sunday. Believe him.

Travis Henry, RB, Broncos: Henry has a bit of good news. According to the Denver Post, Henry has no fractures in the ribs, they are just bruised and sore. Again, the primary limiting factor is pain, and the ribs will be painful when moved (deep breathing, twisting, reaching). It is likely that the Broncos will limit him in practice in the early part of the week to allow the ribs to rest. Although he is officially listed as day-to-day, Henry is highly motivated to play and I would expect to see him on the field Sunday, barring a setback.

Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor, Jaguars: Jones-Drew left Monday night's game against the Colts late in the fourth quarter with what is being called a sprained left knee according to the Orlando Sentinel. The injury does not appear to be too serious and there were no Tuesday updates from the team as to Jones-Drew's status. He and teammate Taylor, who has been nursing a groin injury amassed approximately the same amount of rushing yardage, with Jones-Drew receiving more carries. Two take away messages: Taylor's groin looked fine as he pulled off some nice moves Monday night and Jones-Drew, if healthy, will continue to get the ball more than Taylor. With David Garrard injured, the running back tandem could factor more into the offensive scheme, so we will monitor their practice reports to assess their status throughout the week.

Rudi Johnson, Bengals: According to a report in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Johnson might be ready to play this week. The key in assessing Johnson's readiness is observing what he is able to do (or not do) in practice this week. We will update his status after practice reports come out.

Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins: By now, you know that Brown suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Sadly, this surgery has become so routine, that you are no doubt familiar with the procedure (insert graft to replace original ligament inside the knee joint), the length of the rehab (approximately 9 months, give or take), and the stats, especially for running backs, on the time to return to form (usually better performance in the second year post-surgery). So I will spare you the details here. Suffice it to say that the Dolphins, already struggling, will struggle more. Fantasy owners who enjoyed Brown's success over the past few weeks will also struggle to find a worthy replacement.

Quarterbacks


David Garrard, Jaguars: Garrard injured his left ankle when he was sacked during the second quarter by the Colts' Ed Johnson. Watching the video replay of the sack, it appeared at first glance that Garrard's knee would be the victim, but his foot yielded enough motion to actually protect his knee. In the end, something had to give, and he sustained the ligament injury (sprain) to his ankle. According to AP reports, Garrard underwent an MRI on Tuesday to determine the extent of damage to the ankle. Coach Jack Del Rio indicated that he expected to update Garrard's return timetable on Wednesday. In the meantime, expect Garrard to miss one game at a minimum while the pain and inflammation settle. Garrard is not a running quarterback per se, but he certainly moves well when he needs to make plays. He needs enough mobility in the ankle to allow him to escape the rush and enough stability to step confidently onto the ankle as he delivers the ball. The MRI results combined with his practice activity during the next few days will give us more information.

Byron Leftwich, QB, Falcons: Although Leftwich had an MRI on Monday, coach Bobby Petrino is keeping the details quiet. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Petrino remarked that he hopes Leftwich is "back at some point." No kidding. When that point will be, though, is a big question mark. The initial diagnosis was a severe high ankle sprain. At this point, if Leftwich is on your fantasy roster you should be making other plans. Non-surgical sprains of this nature typically take 4-6 weeks of recovery time with some variability either direction.

On Wednesday morning, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Leftwich underwent surgery on his right ankle, a procedure which may, in fact, decrease the total amount of time that Leftwich is absent from the team. Why surgery when there are no broken bones? In the case of a high ankle sprain, damage to the ligaments at the top of the ankle joint, when severe enough, results in a gapping of the two bones (tibia and fibula) that shape the top of the ankle. There is an option of immobilizing the ankle in a boot and decreasing weight-bearing in the hopes that the ligaments will scar and heal. Another option, the one which Leftwich and his medical staff elected to choose, is a surgical fixation of the joint where screws are inserted to close the gap. The addition of the hardware helps to reinforce joint stability. The reason this gapping is problematic if it persists is that it can lead to severe ankle arthritis down the line. Every time the athlete puts weight on the foot, the joint can gap further, leading to instability and uneven wear and tear, with ultimate pain and disability. Although the early reports are that Leftwich could return within two weeks, it would not be unreasonable for that to extend to three or four. Leftwich, although oft-injured, is tough and has been known to push through pain. We will monitor his progress as he rehabilitates the ankle.

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: According to ESPN's John Clayton, Schaub is seriously banged up and is dealing with a lot of soreness in his hip. Coach Gary Kubiak reinforced that with his comments on the Texans' official site adding that Schaub was "moving around very, very slowly." Kubiak reported that all of Schaub's tests were negative, which means that Schaub's ability to play will depend on his ability to move. Although the team is hopeful that, after a few days of rest, Schaub will be able to move around well enough to practice some, he could still play Sunday without practicing during the week. One thing working in Schaub's favor is that he does not have to be loose enough to make shifty halfback moves or leaping receiver plays. He does, however, need to be able to move well in the pocket without being tentative on either leg. He also needs to be able to withstand the impact of another (presumably legal) hit that could bring him down on the right side. At this point he appears to be a risky play for Sunday, so plan accordingly, but as the weekend approaches, we will re-evaluate his status.

Vince Young, Titans: Sitting out Sunday's game appears to have been a wise move for Young, as it no doubt allowed him some additional healing time for his quadriceps strain and, most importantly, prevented him from suffering a potential setback. Remember, he was already doing some light running and throwing, and was available as a backup, suggesting that he was well on his way to recovery. The Titans, however, mindful of how easy it is for a strained muscle to worsen, especially at that pivotal point in time where it is feeling better but has not yet been tested, kept Young resting in the wings. Coach Jeff Fisher told the Tennessean on Monday that the team expects Young to take all the practice reps on Wednesday, in anticipation of a Sunday start. If indeed Young is able to complete full practice Wednesday with no post-practice side effects, then he looks good to resume his position come Sunday.

Tarvaris Jackson, Vikings: Jackson suffered a new and different injury on Sunday to go with his poor performance. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Jackson sustained an avulsion fracture to his index finger. An avulsion fracture is a small chip fracture that occurs when a tendon or ligament tears away from the bone to which it attaches, taking a small piece of bone with it. It is understandably painful initially, and can be bruised and swollen, but rarely requires surgery to address it. Avulsion fractures often occur in the hand, foot and ankle and are generally treated with immobilization and rest until the swelling subsides and the pain diminishes. Jackson will wear a splint and then attempt throwing early this week. He may have plenty of time to rest his finger, though, as the Vikings could opt for Kelly Holcomb in his place, regardless of how his finger is feeling.

Receivers and Tight Ends


Andre Johnson, Texans: I'm not spending a lot of time here as the story remains virtually the same. Johnson (PCL sprain) is dealing with an injury that is more serious than most knee sprains, because one of the cruciate ligaments (internal stabilizer of the knee) is involved. This weekend would mark six weeks since the original injury, putting Johnson well within the normal time frame for recovery from this type of ailment. Given the upcoming bye in Week 9 and the challenges he is still facing, do not expect Johnson back until Week 10. If he is still struggling at that point, then I would begin to be a little more concerned.

Marcus Pollard, Seahawks: According to the Seattle Times, Pollard is scheduled to undergo surgery as his knee is still giving him trouble since injuring it two weeks ago. It sounds as if the team expects it to be a minor clean-up procedure but will, of course, know more once the scope is complete. Meanwhile, the team does hope to have D.J. Hackett and Deion Branch back after the Week 8 bye. The team has this week completely off so we will update the status on these players after practice reports come out next week.

Thanks for stopping by. If you don't see your player listed here, check back on Friday as there will be more information available after a week's worth of practice. On Saturday, we add any pregame updates that might affect your lineups. Until then, good luck on the waiver wires.

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