Stephania Bell: Willis McGahee



This is an unusual week with three games taking place on Thursday because of Thanksgiving. Six teams are dealing with the challenge of recovery in a four-day window as we move into Week 12.



Houston Texans at Detroit Lions

Out

Titus Young, WR, Detroit Lions (not injury related, knee): Young was sent home from the Lions' facility at the start of the week by coach Jim Schwartz for "repeated selfish behavior," according to the Detroit Free Press. He has been on the injury report because of his knee for several weeks now but that seems to have improved. Now he needs to work on his attitude.

Other injuries

Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans (hamstring): Tate has missed several games because of injuries to his toe and his hamstring. In late October coach Gary Kubiak indicated it would be a while before Tate would be ready to return to game action. Three weeks later and he has yet to return. Initially, Kubiak said Tate had "a good chance" for that return to happen Thursday, but after not participating Tuesday, his status remains unclear. The Texans' official website indicates he will be a game-time decision, but given he's been out for nearly a month, it's hard to count on Tate even if he does go.

Owen Daniels, TE, Houston Texans (back): Daniels was active last Sunday even though his back was not 100 percent recovered. The hope is that a light practice week helps move him along further. Daniels is expected to play again Thursday.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions (knee/thumb): Johnson has been on a limited practice regimen for weeks, and the pattern continues. His productivity has increased over the past couple of weeks as well with Johnson seeing the end zone in each of the past two games. Fantasy owners hope that pattern continues.

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys

Out

Brandon Meriweather, S, Washington Redskins (knee): It's a very tough break for Meriweather, who in his first game of the season (he had missed time because of problems with his left knee) tore his right ACL. He has been placed on injured reserve.

Other injuries

Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins (foot): Garcon returned to action last week and was able to emerge from that game no worse for the wear. His contribution from a fantasy perspective was invisible, but head coach Mike Shanahan insists Garcon's presence on the field represents a big-play threat. Right now, that threat may be limited as Garcon tries to play through an injury that is not truly healed. The combination of extended rest, treatment and a shoe insert to support his damaged toe did allow him to get through his first game in weeks without incident. Shanahan notes that the turf in Cowboys Stadium may present an additional challenge for Garcon's sensitive foot, however, making his status questionable for Thursday. He is expected to test his toe pregame before a final decision is made.

DeMarco Murray (foot) and Felix Jones (knee), RB, Dallas Cowboys: Murray is still limited to working on the side and has not resumed practicing with the team. Last week we said a return Thursday would be unlikely and that remains the case. The week to watch will be Week 13 as Murray will have had an additional 10 days to increase his workload. Meanwhile, Jones was out of practice Tuesday after injuring his knee last Sunday. This is not the same knee that has been bothering him for weeks. As coach Jason Garrett told the Dallas Morning News, "He was dealing with a knee going into last week and hurt his other knee in the ballgame." The Cowboys are taking it day by day -- as if there is any other choice -- and will have to wait to see if Jones will be well enough to take the field Thursday. Otherwise, Lance Dunbar could be in line to start for the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

Kevin Ogletree, WR, Dallas Cowboys (concussion): Ogletree suffered a concussion in Week 11 and has not practiced so far this week. His status for Thursday appears to be in doubt.

New England Patriots at New York Jets

[+] EnlargeRob Gronkowski
AP/Michael DwyerPatriots tight end Rob Gronkowski won't be doing any spiking for a while.
Rob Gronkowski (forearm/hip) and Aaron Hernandez (ankle), TE, New England Patriots: Gronkowski is not listed yet as "out," but after undergoing surgery Monday to repair a fractured left forearm, it is safe to say we won't be seeing him. The team has not confirmed which bone was broken (there are two in the forearm, the radius and the ulna, and either one or both can be fractured, depending on the mechanism), although the ulna -- which runs from the elbow towards the fifth (pinkie) finger -- is most vulnerable and most commonly broken on blocking plays in football. Assuming the fracture was not comminuted (multiple pieces) and did not involve the joint but was limited to the shaft of the bone itself, repair is fairly straightforward. Surgical stabilization with a plate is typically done to help facilitate the healing process and then the bone does the rest. It bears repeating that bone tends to heal well in an otherwise healthy individual and the timetable is generally consistent (approximately six weeks). Clearance for contact requires evidence of callus formation on imaging (a sign the bone is repairing itself, which is usually evident around four weeks, give or take) and players can return with a protective shell around the forearm as long as it is wrapped and padded. Gronkowski will be able to maintain his aerobic conditioning and, if the wrist is not involved, he can begin to work with the wrist and hand shortly. Contact is the last element permitted and it all depends on the healing status of the bone. If all goes well (and if Gronkowski's injury is of the least complicated variety as described above), a return within four weeks is not out of the question. Additional time could be required depending on the healing process.

Meanwhile, Hernandez appears on track to return Thursday after continuing his limited participation in practice. Hernandez has not taken the field since the last time the Patriots faced the Jets in Week 7, and with Gronkowski sidelined, his return will be welcomed. As to how much the team looks to him in his first game back since exiting for the second time because of his ankle, it remains to be seen.

Wes Welker (ankle) and Brandon Lloyd (knee), WR, New England Patriots: Both receivers are expected to play Thursday just as they did Sunday despite their presence on the injury report. Their limitation in practice early this week is to be expected given the short turnaround between games.

Jeremy Kerley, WR, New York Jets (hamstring/heel): Kerley was on the injury report last week with these ailments and despite his very questionable status, he was active. His productivity was limited and his practice so far this week has been limited as well. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Kerley has soreness as a result of his game play Sunday and he will be a game-time decision for Thursday night.

Beyond Thursday

Concussions

This is also a week where a large number of players are on the injury report because of concussions. As is the case with all concussions, there is no ability to predict the exact timetable for recovery. Even players who make progress during the week may not meet all the necessary criteria to be cleared to play in a game. Just ask San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, who suffered a concussion in Week 10, returned to limited practice during the week but was not cleared to play for a Monday night game. Two other starting quarterbacks, Jay Cutler and Michael Vick, also were sidelined this past week because of concussion. Not one is a lock to play in Week 12; the teams maintain, properly, that their status is day-to-day. In addition to the quarterbacks, several other key fantasy players have recently suffered concussions. Their status is also in question for Week 12. While it is not possible to guarantee when any of the concussed players will return, they are listed below as a means of reminding fantasy owners who they need to keep an eye on as game day approaches.

[+] EnlargeLeSean McCoy
AP Photo/Brian GarfinkelThis is definitely not what LeSean McCoy owners or Eagles fans wanted to see.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: McCoy suffered a concussion late in Sunday's game. While the Eagles' Monday night appearance will grant him an extra day to recover, he still must complete all of the necessary requirements before he can return to game play. Fantasy owners may want to secure Bryce Brown.



Donnie Avery, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Avery was among those suffering concussion injuries Sunday. He'll be one more to monitor throughout the week.

Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills: Jackson is reportedly feeling better this week and so far is on track to return to play. Coach Chan Gailey told the Bills' official website that Jackson was going through the final phases of the concussion protocol. He practiced Wednesday and is cleared to play Sunday. After C.J. Spiller's impressive performance last Thursday night while Jackson was out with the injury, it's not clear how the load would be divided this week.



Isaac Redman, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers' running back corps cannot seem to get through a week without being dealt an injury blow. This week it was Redman who was the victim, suffering a concussion against the Ravens. According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, coach Mike Tomlin is optimistic about Redman's chances for this week. We will see.

Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens: Pitta suffered a concussion early in Sunday's game against the Steelers but on an encouraging note, his symptoms reportedly subsided quickly. Count him among the many who will be going through a battery of tests this week.



More injuries to watch

Running Backs:

Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints (hand): Sproles didn't play last week but he was very close. Close enough in fact, to have traveled with the team to Oakland and been a game-time decision. The Saints held him out because of persistent swelling in his left hand on which he had surgery three weeks earlier to repair a fracture. He did practice fully leading up to the game and assuming he does so again this week and that the swelling is down, you have to like his chances of participating Sunday.

Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (knee): McGahee knows a thing or two about knee injuries, but his instincts were a little off last weekend. McGahee thought the injury he suffered in Sunday's game wasn't serious but as it turns out, it was serious enough to end his regular season. McGahee suffered a torn MCL and a compression fracture in his right knee, according to the Denver Post. He is non-weightbearing on crutches and will have to patiently wait for his body to heal. The Broncos placed on injured reserve/designated to return, meaning he would be able for the postseason.



Wide Receivers:

[+] EnlargeJulio Jones
Josh D. Weiss/US PresswireJulio Jones was already a game-time decision heading into last week, and could be even more of a question mark this week.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (ankle): Jones lobbied to play Sunday despite not being able to practice all week with his injured ankle. He managed three receptions before aggravating the ankle and exiting early. The question is just how much of a setback Jones suffered and will he be able to overcome it to play again this Sunday? Until the Falcons issue practice reports this week, there won't be any indication as to how much activity he can do, but there might be more resistance to playing Jones this week if he cannot participate.



Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs (neck): Bowe injured his neck in Sunday's game and his status for this week is uncertain. Coach Romeo Crennel would not rule him out just yet according to the Kansas City Star, but he also offered no details on the injury or any assurances Bowe would play. As of now that gives fantasy owners very little to go on other than making sure to have a plug-in for Bowe this week.

Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears (knee): After missing more than a month with a fractured bone in his right hand, Jeffrey returned to action this week only to injure his knee. He is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery Wednesday and Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports he is projected to miss anywhere from two to four weeks. Players often have to combat the return of swelling as they are reintroduced to football activity following even a minor scope (see: Donald Brown) so consider four weeks a more realistic timeframe.

Quick Hits


Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin had the bye week to rest his sprained ankle after sitting out Week 10 but is still dealing with soreness. Only two weeks removed from a sprain that Harvin described as being "in three places," residual soreness is not unusual. According to 1500ESPN.com, coach Leslie Frazier said the swelling is mostly resolved and he hopes to get Harvin back in practice Wednesday. Harvin's activity level by the end of the week will go a long way in determining the confidence level for him to not only play but stay in the game this Sunday against the Bears. There's no doubting Harvin's toughness (he has played through ankle injuries and performed well in the past) but it's a matter of functionality (can he run, stop sharply, cut, pivot) and risk of re-injury. After all, Falcons receiver Julio Jones was convincing enough to get in the game last week despite his ankle injury but was forced out early after aggravating it while playing.
Addendum: Harvin was not able to practice Wednesday generating a little more cause for concern related to his status for Sunday.

New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw was a participant in practice Monday. There was no extensive explanation of Bradshaw's test results performed during the bye week after his neck was a problem for him again in Week 10 (Bradshaw experienced neck-related symptoms in Week 2 and was later diagnosed with a bulging disc in his neck). According to Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger, he confirmed that he had repeat X-rays of his neck that came back "clean." It's not necessarily surprising that X-rays would be unremarkable; there is likely more to his clinical scenario than is being shared. In any case, his presence in practice has to be taken as an encouraging sign because he was obviously cleared to be there. Don't be surprised if Bradshaw is granted some of his usual down time during the week but as of yet, there is nothing to suggest he is in danger of sitting in Week 12.

[+] EnlargeBeanie Wells
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesBeanie Wells is taking advantage of the new rule that allows certain players to return after being placed on injured reserve.
Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells will be activated this week, according to the team's official website. Wells was placed on the injured reserve/designated for return list when he suffered a turf toe injury earlier this year. Wells is expected to play Sunday when the Cardinals host the St. Louis Rams. As noted last week, Wells has been practicing with the team and is eager to return to play. The Cardinals have to be hoping he can proceed without issue through the remainder of the season. While his toe may not be perfect, his legs should be fresh given that he has not seen game action (and therefore contact) since Week 3.

• Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger (sternoclavicular joint/first rib) and Byron Leftwich (multiple rib fractures) are incapacitated this week. Roethlisberger was injured a week ago Monday and while his injury was serious (and undoubtedly excruciatingly painful), it was not necessarily a season-ender. In fact, if his healing progresses well, it's conceivable that Roethlisberger could rejoin the team in December. Leftwich, filling in for Roethlisberger in Week 11, sustained multiple broken ribs and will not be under center this Sunday. The starting quarterback for the Steelers in Week 12 will be Charlie Batch.

• Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola left Sunday's game briefly after appearing to injure his foot. He did return to finish the game but was reportedly seen limping afterward. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, coach Jeff Fisher expressed some concern about Amendola, given his soreness in what is being called a foot/heel injury. His practice status will be something to monitor throughout the week. Amendola has proven to be so talented when on the field but the injuries seem to keep piling up.

• Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is making progress from the high ankle sprain he suffered in Week 9. He has not yet been ruled out for Sunday's game and it remains to be seen whether he can ramp up to full practice this week. A big test will be whether Brown can pivot and break to the inside, a movement that stresses the injured region of the ankle. With Jerricho Cotchery out with rib fractures, the Steelers have signed receiver Plaxico Burress. This team started the season off with a running back carousel as a result of injuries; it now seems like the quarterbacks and receivers are following suit.

Oakland Raiders running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson were both absent in Week 11 because of their respective high ankle sprains. Goodson has not done much outside of his regular rehab work. McFadden did test the ankle running last week so it will be interesting to see if he can increase his activity level and return to practice. Even if McFadden isn't quite ready to return Sunday against the Bengals it sounds as if he may not be too far off.

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew suggested he was a couple of weeks from returning last week. In other words don't expect him this Sunday, something coach Mike Mularkey echoed on the Jaguars' official website.

Week 4 Thursday injury update

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
10:41
PM ET


Welcome back, NFL referees! Tonight will mark their season debut in Baltimore as the Ravens host the Cleveland Browns. I have no doubt that they, like players who do not start the season on time because of contract disputes, have been maintaining their workout programs in order to be ready at the drop of a hat. But I wonder if they, like the players, will take some time to adapt to the speed of the game and will we potentially see an increased injury rate in the referees in-season this year? Something to keep an eye on.

Here's who else we're keeping an eye on in Week 4.

Quarterbacks

[+] EnlargeMatthew Stafford
AP Photo/Rick OsentoskiMatthew Stafford looks like he'll go Sunday after leaving last week's game early.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (hamstring): On Tuesday we discussed Stafford's hamstring/glute injury, which was labeled "hamstring" on the NFL official injury report Wednesday. Later that day, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweeted that the team had revised it to a "hip" ailment. To add less clarity to the situation, consider the remarks of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who told reporters, "I don't really consider him injured. He's just dealing with something that's been uncomfortable ..." Based on Stafford's original remarks, this does not have the sounds of a true muscle pull but rather of an issue in the back or hip that is causing some referred pain into the gluteal or hamstring area. That leaves open a range of possibilities, but in the end the actual diagnosis may not be particularly significant, at least not yet. It will come down to functionality. Does he have enough mobility and power in the leg to function effectively, even if there is some lingering soreness? As long as that soreness does not progress into more disabling pain or weakness, then Stafford should be able to press through it. For what it's worth, he indicated he was feeling better Thursday than Wednesday.

However they decide to label it, here's what we know: Stafford did not practice Wednesday but did return Thursday, a good sign that he is preparing to be available Sunday.



Tom Brady, New England Patriots (right shoulder): If you've missed seeing Brady's name on the injury report this year, well, he's back. And it's the same body part he was listed with when he went on that record streak of injury report appearances a few years running. He was limited at practice Wednesday but expect him to play, as always.

John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals (ankle): Skelton began limited practices last Thursday and that's how he started off this week. Still recovering from a sprained ankle, he returned to limited practice again this week. Right now it looks as if Kevin Kolb will stay under center.

Running Backs

[+] EnlargeAhmad Bradshaw
Mark L. Baer/US PresswireAhmad Bradshaw looks like he will start this week after missing the Week 3 contest.
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants (neck): The Giants weren't saying much about Bradshaw's neck injury last week but he offered up some insight Thursday. The culprit, it appears, is a bulging disc. According to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York, Bradshaw experienced tingling in his hands during the Week 2 game but didn't attribute it to a specific hit. It happened a second time in the game, which is when Bradshaw decided he should get it checked out.

Tingling is a hallmark nerve symptom; when the tingling happens in both hands at the same time, it's a signal that the spinal cord is involved. The medical staff was understandably cautious when Bradshaw reported the symptoms and, after evaluating him, determined he could remain at the game, but could not return to play in the game. Bradshaw underwent a subsequent MRI, where the disc issue was detected. While disc injuries can be serious, they can also be fairly benign. It's not uncommon for bulging discs to be present and be completely asymptomatic. If there is an event that results in inflammation, it can become painful or provoke nerve tissue in the area (this is perhaps what Bradshaw was trying to explain when he referenced an "inflamed disc"). Often once the inflammation resolves, the symptoms do as well. It appears this was the case with Bradshaw.

Bradshaw has practiced fully both Wednesday and Thursday and is on track to resume his starting role Sunday against the Eagles. The Giants would not return him to play if he was at any significant risk, and his clearance to return indicates his neurological symptoms have resolved. The unknown aspect is whether these symptoms will return. There is no true predictability one way or another, however, it is not uncommon to have more than one episode once a disc injury is present. Those episodes can be weeks, months or even years apart. And in some cases, there is no recurrence.



Those who make their living at a computer are at as much, if not more, risk than professional football players for developing disc problems in their neck and back. So if everyone on a laptop is going to continue to work, Bradshaw can too. If Bradshaw's neck does turn into a recurring problem then his status may change, but until that time, he can be expected to play.

[+] EnlargeFred Jackson
Ed Mulholland/US PresswireFred Jackson might be ready to return to action for the first time since leaving during the season opener.
Fred Jackson (knee) and C.J. Spiller (shoulder), Buffalo Bills: Flash back to Sunday, Spiller clearly in pain on the ground, carted off the field with medical personnel holding his shoulders. Now it's four days later and Spiller is back in practice, albeit on a very limited basis. Quite surprising. Perhaps the reassurance he received after going through further tests was enough to encourage his rapid recovery. He is still has a ways to go before playing in a game and it would not be surprising if he is out this Sunday, but that has not yet been decided.

Jackson has made an impressive recovery of his own from a right lateral knee sprain. He returned to limited practice Wednesday but emerged seeming less than thrilled with the result. Jackson told the Buffalo News on Thursday, "I was a little sore ... a little swollen." It's not terribly surprising that Jackson's knee would respond that way to the increased activity; the question was whether he would have to scale it back further on the second day. Apparently not. There were no lingering effects into Thursday afternoon's practice and Jackson participated in most of it, according to the News. After practice, coach Chan Gailey told reporters, "I think if we make it through the next couple days and continue to improve I think [Jackson] will have the opportunity to play."

There is still plenty of time for things to change but it appears to be shaping up for Jackson to be available along with a healthy Tashard Choice, while Spiller likely rests another week.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams (groin): Jackson did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, but this week isn't so much about whether he'll play or not, it's about what can be expected. Last Sunday, Jackson gained only 29 yards rushing on 11 carries, most of which were very short gains with the exception of one run for 13 yards. Jackson acknowledged the injury affected him but also said he didn't suffer any setbacks. Until we see him running full speed, there will be some question as to whether the injury is truly behind him.

Arian Foster, Houston Texans (knee): Foster took in a light practice Wednesday but was back at it in full on Thursday. So far, so good.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders (shoulder): McFadden's presence here is a reminder that sometimes players appear on injury reports with very minor ailments -- bumps and bruise from a game -- because they take fewer reps in practice to preserve their bodies. Of course we all understand why there is a slight panic for fantasy owners when it's McFadden's name that appears here. While Oakland's official Thursday injury report is not in at the time of this writing, a source tells me he is participating and is "fine."



[+] EnlargeMatt Forte
Joe Camporeale/US PresswireMatt Forte could be back this week, but will fantasy owners be able to wait until Monday night for the decision?
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (ankle): If only the Bears didn't have a Monday night game. Forte's status could very well come down to the wire, which will make this a tough decision for fantasy owners. In general, things are looking up. Forte returned to practice Wednesday and repeated the effort Thursday. His chances of returning are looking better, but hopefully there will be a better indication by Friday afternoon.

Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins (knee): On Tuesday we highlighted Bush's knee concerns, but the real question was whether we would see him in practice. After being held out Wednesday, Bush returned to limited practice Thursday and was running well. If he can put in another good effort Friday, it appears he will play Sunday.

Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (rib): On Tuesday, we discussed what would determine whether McGahee could play this week, and his limited participation in practice Wednesday with a bump up to full participation Thursday shows he is on track.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles (rib): Another running back, another rib injury. There isn't much concern here because McCoy practiced fully both Wednesday and Thursday.

Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions (groin): Leshoure was limited in practice because of a groin injury but keep in mind, he is coming into this season off major surgery (Achilles repair). There is no indication that his Sunday status is in jeopardy, but Friday's practice should yield better clues.

Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals (knee): With teammate Beanie Wells going on IR (designated for return, meaning he can return in Week 12), Williams has an opportunity to shine. He is listed on the report but put in full practice. His value is on the rise.

Evan Royster, Washington Redskins (knee): Royster strained his patellar tendon and has been held to limited practice so far this week. Roy Helu (turf toe) is now on IR, but Ryan Grant was just added to the mix so the Redskins can continue with a running back carousel.

Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs (ankle): Hillis has been in a walking boot since the game ended and has not practiced. It's not looking great for his chances to suit up this week. Teammate Jamaal Charles is not on the injury report this week, however. Kudos to Charles, who had an outstanding performance Sunday (233 rushing yards!) and showed some of the pre-injury speed on a 91-yard breakaway run. With Hillis possibly out and Charles showing improvement, he could be poised for a big week.

Wide Receivers

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (ankle): Johnson has now been on the injury report each week but has never been at risk of not playing. Limited Wednesday, full practice Thursday, play Sunday.

Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles (hip): Maclin's hip benefited from the rest in Week 3 and he claims he's much improved. Full practice both Wednesday and Thursday, and he is expected to play in the big matchup against the New York Giants on Sunday night.



[+] EnlargePierre Garcon
John David Mercer/US PresswireIt doesn't look good for Pierre Garcon to return this week.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (foot): Judging from all the questions coming my way regarding Garcon, people are very suspicious about his injury. It's important to remember that a foot injury, even a relatively mild one (no fracture or dislocation) can be extremely incapacitating because of the load that goes through the foot with running and the shear forces it experiences when changing direction.



The Redskins have maintained that Garcon can proceed based on how the foot feels, which tells us they're not overly concerned about the injury worsening. Still, pain exists to help prevent us from doing things that would lead to further injury, and depending on the location and quality of it, it is not necessarily something that can or should be overridden. With coach Mike Shanahan telling reporters Thursday that Garcon's foot is still sore and with Garcon continuing to be limited in practice (although he is making progress according to Shanahan), it appears he could miss another week.



Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (foot): I said it here Tuesday and I'll say it again: Expect Nicks to play in Week 4. He got the benefit of some extra rest for his sore foot last week, but returned to limited practice Thursday. He will be ready for Sunday night in Philadelphia.

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans (groin): Johnson practiced on a limited basis both days. There is reason to keep an eye on this, as Johnson suffered a groin injury in the preseason. But this has more the appearance of preserving a veteran star than anything else.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (hand): The Falcons announced that Jones suffered a laceration (cut) to his hand, which is why he left the game briefly Sunday. He has been limited in practice, likely to protect the hand and help it to heal. He is expected to play.



Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans (ankle): According to the Tennessean, Britt described his cascade of injury after injury as "very frustrating." Britt went on to say, "It's like something I can't get right, injury after injury. The last healthy season I had was my rookie year." This has been an overarching concern with Britt for the last few years. A very serious hamstring injury derailed his season two years ago. He headed into 2011 with his quad and hamstring nagging at him, then tore his ACL later that year. During his recovery following reconstructive knee surgery, he needed a follow-up scope and an additional scope on the opposite knee. The Titans articulated their concern when he made his debut in Week 2, saying they planned to limit his touches. A week later he has yet another injury. And, although it is considered relatively minor, he has yet to practice this week. He still hopes to play, but the injury concerns will not disappear when he returns.

Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers (groin): Jennings played in the Monday night game but we all know his performance is hardly the thing we'll remember. He did appear to be at less than full speed at times but managed to play in the game and emerge no worse for the wear. He's been limited in practice since but looks to be in line to play this weekend when the Packers host the Saints.

Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs (elbow): On Tuesday we commented on how painful McCluster's injury looked so no one would have been surprised if he was not in practice this week. But there he was on Wednesday, wearing a brace and participating only in non-contact drills but he was out there nonetheless. On Thursday, he put in another limited practice. He's surprised so far, maybe he will again on Sunday.

Julian Edelman, New England Patriots (hand): Edelman has not practiced since injuring his hand in Sunday night's game. There's not much to go on here, but two missed practices aren't encouraging for Sunday.

Tight Ends

Dustin Keller, New York Jets (hamstring): Keller has not played since Week 1 because of his injured hamstring but it looks as if things will change this Sunday. He has been practicing on a limited basis and according to ESPNewYork's Rich Cimini, coach Rex Ryan says he expects Keller to play.

Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans (shoulder): On Tuesday we said Cook would need to show he could perform well enough to play and he appears to be on his way. Cook got Wednesday off but returned to limited practice Thursday. If he can do so again Friday, there is a good chance he will return this week.

Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos (groin): The groin can't be bothering him too much since he was able to practice fully both Wednesday and Thursday. It looks as if he'll be available in Week 4.



Other notes

New Orleans Saints WR Marques Colston does not appear on the injury report this week. He has been bothered by a case of plantar fasciitis that seemed to have limited him over the last two weeks. He played in Week 3 but had only three receptions for 40 yards. Perhaps his move off the injury report is a sign things are improving.

Don't forget to adjust your lineups! This is the first week of team byes. Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts are off this week so they do not appear on the NFL official injury report.



Week 3 is in the books! What a week for injuries. Several players suffered season-ending injuries, including New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who tore his left ACL and is expected to undergo season-ending surgery within the next few weeks. The Dallas Cowboys lost defensive back Barry Church to a torn right Achilles tendon. And Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie, who was making his season debut after a delayed start because of concussion, suffered a season-ending patellar tendon rupture. Given Collie's extensive and serious injury history, his future in the NFL appears uncertain. As for the slate of other injuries, here's what we're looking at to start the week.

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (leg): Stafford told the Detroit Free Press after Sunday's game that he felt a pull in his hamstring or glute area and he just couldn't run at full power, hence his fourth-quarter exit. He also indicated this was something he'd felt earlier in the week during practice and then it flared up during the game. He was scheduled for an MRI on Monday, but there has been little in the way of specifics since. As is his routine, head coach Jim Schwartz offered nothing substantial, but he did tell reporters he would make a decision about Stafford's status by Friday.

Matt Schaub, Houston Texans (ear): This might be a first, listing "ear" as the injured body part. Schaub took a vicious hit that knocked his helmet off, and he immediately grabbed the side of his head. The reason, it turned out, was the helmet took a piece of his left ear with it when it sailed off his head. Schaub, remarkably, missed only one play. He also visited the locker room in the third quarter for X-rays on his left shoulder (which obviously came back negative). Bruised but not broken, Schaub was back in practice Monday, according to the Texans' official website. Looks like it will be business as usual come Sunday.

Running Backs

[+] EnlargeC.J. Spiller
AP Photo/Tony DejakC.J. Spiller had been putting up big numbers all season long before injuring his shoulder on Sunday.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills (shoulder): Spiller went down hard on his left shoulder under the weight of his tackler and was in immediate visible pain. The two most common results from having the point of the shoulder driven into the turf are a broken clavicle (collarbone) (see: Ryan Mathews) or a sprained acromioclavicular (AC) joint, the joint where the tip of the shoulder blade or acromion (A) and the clavicle (C) meet. The AC joint is bound together by several ligaments; any ligamentous injury is a sprain, but if the sprain is severe enough to allow the bones to move apart, the injury is often referred to as a separated shoulder. In Spiller's case, the mechanism of injury combined with his response suggested something serious. It appears, however, that that is not the case.

The Bills have not formally declared the nature of Spiller's injury, referring to it only as his shoulder. During an appearance on "The Fred Jackson Show" in Buffalo on Monday night, Spiller said when asked what the injury was being called, "I'm not sure yet." Spiller noted that he had undergone several tests but, most importantly, commented on how much improvement there had been in just over 24 hours. "Actually, I'm very surprised the movement that we have in it," Spiller said. "I got the full range of motion, which is really weird when you have an injury like I do."

Spiller remained guarded about his availability for Week 4. "I definitely want to get out there, but we also want to be smart about it." According to the Buffalo News, head coach Chan Gailey said Spiller was unlikely to play but added the Bills were "not going to completely rule him out."

Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins (knee): Bush left Sunday's game against the Jets in the first half with a left knee injury. He was seen limping slightly, then riding the stationary bike later. Bush, who has an injury history that includes a sprained PCL, a torn meniscus, a fractured fibula (the latter to his right leg) and several arthroscopic knee surgeries, underwent an MRI on Monday to assess the damage. The good news is that there was no major damage to report, and Bush has not yet been ruled out for Week 4. Until he gets through some practice reps, he is not a lock to play, but this is certainly more encouraging than initially thought. Unfortunately, there is a potential cumulative toll of these injuries on Bush's knee health over the long haul.



Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (ribs): McGahee left Sunday's game against the Texans because of a rib injury. On Monday, the Denver Post reported McGahee's status as day-to-day according to head coach John Fox. Fox also indicated McGahee's injury involved the rib cartilage (which connects the ribs to the sternum). From a pain perspective, there isn't much difference. The ribs themselves can fracture, but the cartilage can also crack if the damage is significant enough. There are also numerous small muscles in the rib cage that can cause pain if bruised or torn. The problem with all of these injuries is they are often slow to completely heal, but the decision to play typically comes down to whether a player can perform in the presence of pain or not.



Wide Receivers

Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys (rib): Austin left Sunday's game in the fourth quarter to get X-rays on his ribs. Clearly the results were negative since he returned to the game shortly thereafter and continued to add to his fantasy numbers. No one was talking about his hamstring or ribs after he posted more than 100 yards.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders (concussion/neck): The sight of any player lying motionless on the ground, then being spine boarded and transported to a hospital for evaluation, is frightening. The best news possible came the next day when it was announced that Heyward-Bey had been released from the hospital after suffering a neck strain and a concussion and that he is expected to make a full recovery. No fracture, no spinal cord injury. And no talk of football right now. As is the case with all athletes who sustain head injuries, Heyward Bey's progress will be monitored closely and his activity will be increased on a gradual basis.

Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs (elbow): McCluster landed awkwardly on an outstretched arm and his elbow appeared to buckle. He was in obvious pain and the medical staff tended to him briefly on the field before escorting him off. After the game, the Kansas City Star noted McCluster was in a sling, but the Chiefs have not offered a specific injury update since then. McCluster had been on the injury report the previous week with a shoulder injury. It would not be a surprise if he ends up missing at least this week.

Tight Ends

Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans (shoulder): Cook injured his shoulder late in the first half and it was reported by The Tennessean to be an AC sprain (see: C.J. Spiller note). Cook was in a sling following the game, but the Titans sound as if they expect him to be available in Week 4. Still, he'll need to show in practice that he can get his arm sufficiently elevated and absorb some contact through that side in order to play.

We're keeping an eye on

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants (neck): Bradshaw missed Week 3 with a neck injury and the team offered no details as to the specifics, including how much time he might miss. After visiting with team doctors Monday, however, Bradshaw, who had just received clearance to return to practice, tweeted the following: "Great news! Thanks everyone for ur thoughts and prayers. But u dnt understand, I'm Ready to rock #bigblue #health." Bradshaw's level of activity in practice this week should offer clues as to his readiness to return to play. Of course, teammate Andre Brown filled in admirably during Bradshaw's absence and he won't disappear completely when Bradshaw returns.

[+] EnlargeFred Jackson
Ed Mulholland/US PresswireFred Jackson might be able to return just in time to replace injured backfield mate C.J. Spiller.
Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills (knee): Jackson has made progress more quickly than anyone anticipated and looks as if he will return to practice this week. Shortly after suffering a sprained LCL, Jackson targeted the game against the Patriots in Week 4 as a return date. Now it's possible he may actually reach that goal. Jackson gave himself a "70-75 percent chance" of playing this Sunday, although even if he does return, the likelihood would be that he yields some of the work, perhaps to Tashard Choice if Spiller is out.

Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears (ankle): According to the Chicago Tribune, coach Lovie Smith says "hopefully" Forte will return to practice this week. That's still quite a ways removed from returning to play. The Bears are also working out running back Ryan Grant on Tuesday, according to ESPN Chicago.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (hip): After sitting out Week 3 because of a hip injury, Maclin is expected to return to practice this week and be available Sunday.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants (foot): Nicks missed the Thursday night game in Week 3 because of soreness in his surgically repaired foot. After the extra rest, he is expected to return in Week 4.

Late Week 16 injury updates

December, 23, 2011
12/23/11
8:24
PM ET


With the majority of NFL matchups taking place on Saturday, there is one fewer day for teams, coaches and, most importantly, fantasy owners to prepare! Never fear, championship contenders. We won't let something as small as a schedule change get in the way of bringing you all the latest information. With the NFL injury reports hot off the presses, here are the players whose status may have you concerned heading into this week's games.

Good luck in Week 16, everyone! May your players stay healthy and win for you.

Quarterbacks

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
Frank Victores/US PresswireBen Roethlisberger likely will play against the Rams only in case of an emergency.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers, ankle (Q): The Steelers have been preparing Charlie Batch all week to face the St. Louis Rams, with Roethlisberger active only in an emergency scenario. This is not a huge surprise, as Roethlisberger is coming off a short week following the Monday night game in which he was clearly limited. With the playoffs forthcoming, the extended rest can only help. It's too soon to say whether the Steelers plan to have him active or not in the final week of the regular season.

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles, ribs, (P): Vick will probably be on this list through the end of the regular season as his rib injury continues to heal. There's no question, however, that Vick will be the quarterback for the Eagles against the Dallas Cowboys.

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, right shoulder, (P): Freeman is now at the point where he can play despite the shoulder soreness. He practiced fully this week and will start against the Carolina Panthers.

Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals, head, (Q): Kolb suffered a concussion in Week 14 and has still only returned to limited practice. It's expected that John Skelton will start again.

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams, ankle, (D): Bradford has been struggling with his ankle, saying it feels as if it's "going backwards." Not good. Neither is a doubtful tag. With backup A.J. Feeley already ruled out, it appears recently signed Kellen Clemens will get the start.

Running Backs

Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans, ankle, (Q): Johnson sprained his ankle Sunday and has been gradually increasing his activity throughout the week in an effort to return. While Johnson escaped major structural injury, the ankle has still been sore and could affect his overall performance, particularly with lateral movement and cutting. Johnson returned to limited practice Thursday and Friday and is expected to play, but likely will not be at top form.



Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants, foot, (P): Bradshaw is following the same pattern of limited work during the week and playing on Sunday. Expect him to play again this week.

[+] EnlargeFelix Jones
Douglas Jones/US PresswireThe oft-injured Felix Jones is once again a question mark for fantasy owners.
Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys, hamstring, (Q): Jones hasn't done much ... and that's the worry. Although he has been doing some running on the side, he has not fully tested the hamstring. While the Cowboys hold out hope he'll be available, it's Sammy Morris who has taken all the first-team reps in practice. As another signal the Cowboys want insurance, they promoted running back Chauncey Washington from the practice squad, according to ESPNDallas.com. To complicate matters, this is a late game and the decision will not likely be announced until inactives are due. Even if Jones plays, there has to be some concern about what exactly one can expect in live game conditions.

Michael Bush, Oakland Raiders, shoulder, (Q): Bush has been on the injury report but it seems only logical he would be. After all, there are many other Raiders there to keep him company but, most importantly, he has been the workhorse of the backfield, enduring a physical toll. After he has been limited in practice each day, the questionable tag does raise some eyebrows. The signals out of Oakland all week have been that the Raiders expect to have Bush play, but it will be important to check pregame inactives.

Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos, hamstring, (P): McGahee has been bothered intermittently by the hamstring since hyperextending his knee but the probable tag tells us the Broncos plan to have him on the field. McGahee practiced in full every day, which should also help put fantasy owners' collective minds at ease.



Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions, ankle, (P): Smith's status is an upgrade over last week, indicating the team is feeling far more confident about his ankle. Smith's activity this week was a positive sign, as he was able to practice in full each day. While there's no way to be certain he can get through the game unscathed, this is certainly a better situation than last week.

Roy Helu, Washington Redskins, toe/knee, (Q): Helu downplayed his injuries, but according to The Washington Post, he felt much better after practice Thursday than he did earlier in the week. Despite the questionable tag, it appears Helu will play.



Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars, ankle, (P): His ankle got tangled up during the Week 15 game, but Jones-Drew, one of the most durable and productive running backs this season, was never really in danger of missing the game. He was given fewer reps in practice but participated on a limited basis every day. Jones-Drew is expected to start against Tennessee.

Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals, knee, (Q): After he was listed as probable the past couple of weeks, it's a little concerning that Wells has been downgraded this week to questionable. He did practice daily, but on a limited basis; however, that has been the pattern for some time as the team has been attempting to manage his knee condition. The Arizona Republic reports that Wells is expected to play Saturday, despite the questionable tag.



James Starks, knee/ankle and Brandon Saine, concussion, Green Bay Packers, (P): Starks sat out last week's game to give his ankle some additional rest. It only made sense after Starks struggled for several weeks in a row. This week has gone much better for Starks, who was able to participate fully in practice each day. Saine missed Week 15 with a concussion but returned to limited practice Wednesday, then full practice Thursday and Friday. Both backs are expected to be available along with Ryan Grant. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, there is likely to be a shared workload in place.

Shonn Greene, New York Jets, rib/shoulder, (P): Greene has been on the injury report for a few weeks now and his latest injury (torn tendon in finger) isn't even listed. The probable tag indicates the Jets expect him to play.

Marion Barber, Chicago Bears, calf, (D): Barber is listed as doubtful, meaning there is little doubt that Kahlil Bell will be carrying the load for the Bears on Saturday.

Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints, toe, no designation yet: Ingram is still not practicing, and with the game on Monday night, fantasy owners should avoid him in their lineups.

Wide Receivers

[+] EnlargeA.J. Green
Scott Rovak/US PresswireAfter missing part of last week's game with an injury, A.J. Green appears poised to carry a full load this week.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, shoulder, (P): Knowing that Green comes into this game fresh off a Grade 3 shoulder separation, the probable tag is very encouraging. Green has maintained all along that he would be able to play this weekend, and now it appears all but certain that he will. He was catching passes as early as Tuesday, practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday, and returned to a full practice Friday. If Green lands hard on the recently injured shoulder, it certainly won't feel terrific and he may be challenged to reach directly overhead, but he managed to finish the game last week after suffering the injury. It's hard to imagine it being much worse Saturday.

Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills, groin, (P): Last Sunday Johnson appeared to aggravate the groin injury that has plagued him throughout the season and was removed from the game as a result. Johnson said he could have re-entered the game and expressed little doubt that he would be back in Week 16. He practiced on a limited basis daily and appears on track to play as usual. It's worth noting that Johnson has performed well this season despite the presence of injury.



Laurent Robinson, Dallas Cowboys, shoulder (Q): Robinson was listed this way last week but we all know he played. Expect him to do the same again after practicing daily.

Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles, hamstring/shoulder (P): Maclin looked better last week than he did the week before and the probable tag tells us the Eagles are confident he'll be out there again. Maclin practiced fully each day and looks to be overcoming the injury.

Mario Manningham, New York Giants, knee, (D): Manningham has managed to play through his knee issue for the last two weeks but it appears he will miss this one. Swelling in the knee has returned, and he did not practice at all this week. Fantasy owners should make other plans.

Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans, ankle, (P): Washington has already shown he can play through the ankle injury, even coming in at far more questionable status. After practicing in full daily, Washington appears good to go against Jacksonville.

Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins, knee, (P): Marshall apparently had been dealing with some knee soreness but nothing so serious that he might have to miss this matchup against the New England Patriots. Marshall didn't practice Wednesday but returned to light work Thursday and full practice Friday. Expect him to play.

[+] EnlargeChargers' Vincent Jackson
Kirby Lee/US PRESSWIREA groin injury may keep out Vincent Jackson at the worst time for fantasy owners.
Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers, groin, (Q): Jackson did not practice at all this week because of the groin issue, making his Saturday status far less certain. Jackson has played through injuries before, but this time may be different. It seemed like a foregone conclusion earlier in the week that Jackson would go, but Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Jackson's groin has not responded as hoped to treatment during the week. Late game alert.

Wes Welker, knee and Deion Branch, groin, New England Patriots, (Q): Once again the Patriots have roughly half their roster at questionable after limited practice all week. Welker has been at this status for several weeks and has played without incident. Branch, however, missed last week and there is legitimate question as to whether he is ready to return. Branch says he's improving, but the team will make the final decision, just before game time.

Santonio Holmes, New York Jets, hip, (P): Holmes was an addition to the Thursday injury report after being limited in practice, but coach Rex Ryan said the Jets expected him to be ready by Saturday. The probable tag supports that, and fantasy owners can put him in their lineups.

Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders, foot, (P): Moore was able to make it back last week but didn't do too much. Another week of practice (full practices daily) should have him on track for more action.

OUT


This space is intended for a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are officially listed as "out" for the upcoming game.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Baltimore Ravens, knee: Boldin underwent knee surgery this week and will miss the remainder of the regular season.

Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers, knee: Jennings suffered a sprained MCL in Week 14 and is likely out for the remainder of the regular season.

[+] EnlargeJake Ballard
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesJake Ballard won't be able to take advantage of a Jets defense that struggled to stop fellow tight end Brent Celek last week.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears, knee: Forte suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain, and the Bears still hope he will be able to return before the regular season is complete, but it is far from certain.

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears, thumb: The Bears' starting quarterback remains out alongside their starting running back. Cutler is recovering from surgery to repair his broken right thumb.

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders, foot: McFadden is still removed from practice but the team still holds out hope he can return at some point. It won't be this week.

Jacoby Ford, WR, Oakland Raiders, foot: Ford has still not been able to practice this week as he recovers from a foot injury.

Jake Ballard, TE, New York Giants, knee: Ballard injured his PCL and, as expected, will miss this week.

Anthony Fasano, TE, Miami Dolphins, head: Fasano was diagnosed with a concussion Thursday, at which point it appeared obvious he would sit out this week. The team made it official Friday.

Be sure to check out Fantasy Football Now on Saturday this week, on ESPN2 at 11:30 a.m. ET and Fantasy Surround on ESPN.com starting at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!

Status of Green, McGahee uncertain

December, 20, 2011
12/20/11
5:02
PM ET


Week 15 is in the books, and if you're still alive in your fantasy league, then it is a happy holiday season indeed. Everything right side up was upside down Sunday as there was an abundance of upsets around the NFL. Who should you be concerned about heading into Week 16?

Quick hits:


• For Thursday night's game, the Houston Texans will once again be without the services of wide receiver Andre Johnson. This does not come as a huge surprise, but coach Gary Kubiak maintains Johnson is very close to a return. The Texans have sustained so many significant injuries this season, it's understandable that they would be reluctant to be anything but conservative in managing their star offensive weapon in advance of the playoffs. Still, between Johnson stating he would like to see some regular-season game action and Kubiak talking about Johnson's near readiness to return, it appears there is a solid chance he is back in Week 17. That is, if you're still playing.



• Also in Houston, tight end Owen Daniels will be a game-time decision Thursday night, according to Kubiak. Daniels took a helmet to the knee in Sunday's game and was still experiencing soreness that kept him out of practice Tuesday.



Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones was held out of Tuesday practice with a tight hamstring. Naturally that raises some concern, given the recent loss of DeMarco Murray to injury. According to Bryan Broaddus of ESPNDallas, head coach Jason Garrett says he expects to have Jones back in practice Wednesday. It sounds like it was a proactive measure to rest him for a day in the hope it doesn't turn into something more.

[+] EnlargeAJ Green
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesAJ Green left last Sunday's game with a shoulder injury but later returned.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green suffered a third-degree shoulder separation in Sunday's contest, but came back and finished the game! It certainly couldn't have felt good, and Green was wearing a sling to support his arm afterward, but the impressive rookie has already said he will be back this week. Green suffered a similar injury to his opposite shoulder in college and since the Cincinnati Enquirer reports it is a Grade 3 (complete) tear of the acromioclavicular ligaments that connect the clavicle (collarbone) and the acromion (tip of the shoulder blade), it doesn't present a huge risk. Unlike throwers who often choose to have these injuries surgically repaired (Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford comes to mind), non-throwers can often function just fine without surgery. One of the primary issues will be discomfort and whether Green can elevate his arm enough to be effective. As if to answer that question, Green told reporters on a conference call that he was catching passes Tuesday, although he did not formally practice. It's worth watching to see if there are any signs of change during the week, but right now Green appears to be on track.

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson sprained an ankle late in Sunday's game, but no one in Tennessee seems to be particularly concerned about his status. In fact, head coach Mike Munchak was clear about Johnson's availability according to the Tennessean. "He'll be questionable this week, but we saw him [Monday] and we don't think there's any reason he'll be out for the game," Munchak said. Fantasy owners would like him to not only play this week, but also play better.

• There was some question as to just how much Willis McGahee's hamstring was bothering him Sunday and whether that played a role in him spending a lot of time on the sideline. McGahee returned to limited practice Tuesday, making it look as if he will be ready to go on Saturday.



Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson aggravated the groin injury that has nagged at him for a good portion of the season. Johnson did not practice Tuesday, but the Buffalo News reports he is expected to play in Week 16. Johnson has played fairly effectively despite the injury throughout the season, so it comes as little surprise he plans to press forward.



Heading into the Thursday night game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers, there are, thankfully, only a couple of fantasy question marks. For the Browns, running back Peyton Hillis appeared on this week's injury report with a hip strain. He is listed as questionable after practicing on a limited basis this week, but the general sense in Cleveland is that he will play. Teammate Montario Hardesty returned in Week 13 to active status but never touched the ball. Hardesty was only in for a few snaps but claims the calf injury is behind him. After practicing fully earlier in the week, Hardesty is listed as probable and is expected to be available. If Hillis ends up not being able to go, Hardesty would get the start.

For the Steelers, there were a number of players listed on the injury report but all were able to practice. From a fantasy perspective, running back Rashard Mendenhall (back), quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (thumb) and safety Troy Polamalu (knee) are all listed as Probable and all are expected to play.

Quick Hits

Not Practicing Thursday:

Here is a list of players who are worth monitoring based on the fact that they are not practicing as of Thursday afternoon:

[+] EnlargeAndre Johnson
Bob Levey/Getty ImagesAndre Johnson had barely returned to action when he hurt his other hamstring last week.
Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans: Johnson injured his non-surgical (left) hamstring in Week 13 and while the injury is reportedly mild, the Texans will not take any chances by rushing him back too soon. According to the Texans' website, coach Gary Kubiak said of Johnson, "The key here right now is that when we get him back, we need to make sure we get him back for the long haul." Not only is caution warranted to avoid risking a setback with this latest injury, but there is no reason to chance overloading Johnson's right side. He needs to be running uninhibited with even strides before taking the field. The Texans have said he will be a game-time decision but it appears likely he will rest this week.

Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit Lions: Smith returned in Week 13 just 10 days after suffering a high ankle sprain and it did not yield a good result. Smith struggled in his outing, then left the game after aggravating the ankle. Given the setback (and Smith's long history of injury issues), it appears Smith will not be participating this Sunday. Maurice Morris would get the start in his place.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants: At this time last week, Bradshaw had not tested his foot in practice and seemed unlikely to play. Then Friday came, he had a solid practice and then played Sunday. While he did not post stellar numbers, most importantly Bradshaw emerged with his foot no worse for the wear. His absence from practice on Wednesday and Thursday of this week might have signaled concern, but the New York Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano reports that coach Tom Coughlin says he expects both Bradshaw and Jacobs (who has been out with a sore hamstring) to return to practice Friday. Both backs are in line to play Sunday night in a big divisional matchup in Dallas.



Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: In what now sounds like a broken record, McFadden is still not practicing with the team. Even Raiders coach Hue Jackson seemed at a loss for words on the subject Wednesday when he told reporters he has given up on guessing when any of his injured star players will return. Expect McFadden to be out again in Week 14, with Michael Bush continuing to carry the load.

Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland Raiders: See the note above on McFadden. Neither player has returned to practice and neither, at this point, can be expected to play Sunday.

James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers: Starks aggravated his ankle injury yet again in Week 13 and this time it looks as if he will be forced to miss a game. Starks has not practiced this week but still has a shot to return to practice Friday, although that appears unlikely. If he does not practice Friday, it is expected he will sit Sunday.

Willis McGahee, RB, Denver Broncos: McGahee did not practice Wednesday or Thursday but has told reporters he plans to play. He was listed on the injury report because of his knee, but there has been no news of anything new and significant. Recently, McGahee has dealt with a strained hamstring (the result of hyperextending his knee) along with hand surgery to address a fractured metacarpal (long bone of the hand). He has been remarkably resilient, missing only one game and has performed well since suffering those injuries, including rushing for more than 100 yards rushing last week. The rest during the week may go a long way towards helping him perform on Sundays. Barring a surprise, McGahee is expected to face the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints: Ingram has a case of turf toe (injury to the ligaments anchoring the big toe at the ball of the foot), which has kept him off the practice field this week. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Ingram's toe injury appears to be mild, but Ingram says he will let what's in the best interest of the team take precedence. "If I feel like I can bring my best to the table, I'm gonna go," Ingram said. "If I can't, I'll sit if that's what's best for the team. But I always wanna try to go." The Saints are in a much better position with the overall health of their running backs now compared to the same time last year. Chris Ivory hasn't been active recently only because he's the fourth guy in a stable of healthy backs. If Ingram does not go -- and at this point it would not be surprising if the Saints rested him with the playoffs looming -- then Ivory will likely take his place.

Practicing Thursday:

Here is a list of several key fantasy players who were back in the mix by Thursday.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Peterson
AP Photo/Nell RedmondAdrian Peterson has missed the past two weeks with an ankle injury.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Peterson has now been out of commission for two games since suffering a left high-ankle sprain and the question now is whether he will miss his third game Sunday. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Peterson rated himself at 70 percent health early in the week, yet is eager to show he can play. As much as fantasy owners would love to have him available for their playoffs, most would agree his long-term health is the primary concern, and it only makes sense the Vikings would see it the same way. Peterson said he would know after testing the ankle running and cutting whether he would be able to play. The first step in that direction came Thursday when he returned to doing individual drills in practice, including making some cuts. How Peterson's ankle responds to the increased activity will be critical and whether he can put in back-to-back practice workouts may prove the determining factor. The progress is encouraging, but the decision to play has not been made as of yet.

Michael Vick, QB and Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Vick has missed three games with two broken ribs but can now throw the football without cringing. Vick graduated from throwing the football Monday to returning to full practice, and he plans to start Sunday. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Vick insists he plans to alter his style to slide more and avoid some contact, but that is no guarantee of avoiding a setback. After all, this latest rib injury happened in the pocket when Vick was hit as he threw the ball. Vick's fantasy value has come largely in the form of supplementing his throwing yards with plays made on his feet, so it will be interesting to see how this new strategy shakes out. The first step is getting him back under center, though, and it appears that will happen in Week 14. Meanwhile, teammate Maclin may join Vick on Sunday if he continues to feel as he did Thursday. Maclin has now put in back-to-back practices, an important step after last week's practice attempt resulted in a setback with his hamstring. The concern naturally will be if Maclin has not tested the leg at full speed whether he can survive a game situation without the threat of re-injury.



[+] EnlargeTBD
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezMiles Austin last appeared in a game on Nov. 6 against the Seahawks.
Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys: After missing four games with his second hamstring injury of the season, Austin now appears on track to rejoin his team. Austin returned to route running last week, but given his health challenges thus far, the team was not going to force him back into service too soon. Not to mention, teammate Laurent Robinson has been filling in more than ably in his absence. However, Robinson has a mild shoulder separation, which he suffered but played through last week. He has not practiced yet this week but maintains he will play on Sunday. This week Austin returned to practice on a limited basis and, barring a setback, he is expected to return. The Cowboys tentatively expect to have both receivers available Sunday night but how the workload will be divided is unclear.

Mario Manningham, WR, New York Giants: Manningham sounded discouraged about the status of his knee last week, even hinting at a possible early end to his season. Well, things are looking up in Week 14, as Manningham has been able to practice on a limited basis for two days. While he is no lock to play Sunday night, coach Tom Coughlin sounded encouraged saying Manningham looked "good, sharp, quick," according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. Stay tuned, but it looks as if Manningham has a chance to be on the field against the Dallas Cowboys. Manningham's knee will likely not be fully healthy again this season and he may yet need surgery once the season is over, but the key question has been whether the swelling would be manageable enough to allow him to continue.

Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Freeman sat out the Week 13 contest after injuring his shoulder late in the game one week earlier. Freeman reportedly suffered no major injury other than bruising in the shoulder, but acknowledged that it was extremely painful even at rest. The rest appears to have paid off, however, as Freeman's pain eased up, his range of motion has improved and he returned to limited practice this week. On Wednesday, Freeman only did light throwing with backup Josh Johnson handling most of the reps with the first team. On Thursday, the Tampa Tribune reported Freeman was back "making all the throws" in practice, a somewhat stronger indication that he is likely to start Sunday.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 10 a.m. and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 14 in Saturday's blog!

Schaub, Cassel likely done for season

November, 15, 2011
11/15/11
3:06
PM ET


What key fantasy player on the Houston Texans hasn't missed time due to injury this year? A few days ago the best answer might have been Matt Schaub, but not any longer. To make matters worse, Schaub's injury appears as if it will be season-ending. Schaub suffered a Lisfranc injury to his midfoot and is being evaluated by specialists this week to determine the course of treatment, which may include surgery.

[+] EnlargeMatt Schaub
Margaret Bowles/AP PhotoMatt Schaub was 11-for-15 for 242 yards and two TDs against the Bucs in what might be his last game of the season.
According to the Houston Chronicle, coach Gary Kubiak indicated Schaub's injury happened during a quarterback sneak. "Somebody fell on the back of his foot, and his foot got caught in the pile," Kubiak said. A force placed on the heel while the athlete's forefoot is fixed firmly on the ground (picture a push-off position with the heel in the air at the time the load is sustained) is the most common mechanism for this type of injury in football. It is often difficult for the athlete to continue to play, and in the most serious situations, it is virtually impossible to bear weight. The surprise with Schaub, who managed to play the majority of the game in spite of the second-quarter injury, came Monday when the team discovered just how significant the injury was. According to the Chronicle, the Texans were "stunned" by the news.

Other noteworthy players have suffered Lisfranc injuries -- some severe enough to require surgery -- and have returned to play, although in some cases not to their prior level of play. Running backs Ronnie Brown (injured while a member of the Miami Dolphins in 2009) and Kevin Jones (injured while with the Detroit Lions in 2006) went through lengthy rehabilitation efforts, as did Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, who was injured in 2007. Although the term "Lisfranc" is more easily recognizable now that several prominent athletes have suffered the injury, what it describes remains a mystery to most. Many have asked on Twitter "What exactly is a Lisfranc?" to which the only response is that the answer deserves more than 140 characters. To help explain the complexity of the injury, along with the origin of its unique name, I returned to an entry I wrote in 2007 when Freeney was recovering from his surgery:

So what is this thing they call a Lisfranc injury? There is a region in the middle of the foot where the long bones of the forefoot (metatarsals) articulate with the small tarsal bones in the middle of the foot. This joint is thus called the tarsometatarsal joint. It is also referred to as the Lisfranc joint.

Why? Frenchman Jacques Lisfranc, a field surgeon in Napoleon's army, described an amputation technique through this region to address forefoot gangrene following frostbite. There is also the story that soldiers wounded in battle would fall from their horses, but a foot would often remain caught in the stirrup, right at that tarsometatarsal joint. Such an injury often resulted in amputation of part of the foot, from the injured joint forward. In fact, amputation to that region still bears the same name (although NFL players, thankfully, don't need part of their foot amputated when they suffer Lisfranc injuries).

Since NFL players aren't riding horses, how does this injury happen to them? There are several mechanisms for this type of injury, but in sports, especially football, the primary scenario is that the player is running forward, with his weight on the ball of his foot, and he gets hit or stepped on from behind against his heel. The resultant force through the portion of the foot in between the ball and the heel (midfoot) causes it to buckle, and the midfoot is injured.

Are all Lisfranc injuries the same? No. In fact, the name Lisfranc refers to the region of the foot, not necessarily the severity of the injury. By virtue of its important location (the midfoot essentially forms the arch), any injury to this region needs to be taken seriously. That said, not all Lisfranc injuries are created equal. When the midfoot buckles, the ligaments that connect the various bones can become damaged. Ligament injury without any bony impact would be the mildest version of a Lisfranc injury. The problem is that damage to the ligaments can affect the relative position of the bones in the area, and they can shift or dislocate, which is often accompanied by a fracture. Now it's getting more serious. In the worst-case scenario, an artery passing over that area can also be damaged, affecting blood supply to the foot. A shift of the bony alignment typically requires surgery to realign the joint and provide stability. Failure to do so can result in chronic instability and pain, eventually leading to major arthritis in the area. Even with surgery, it appears that people who have suffered a significant Lisfranc injury are more at risk for arthritis down the road, simply because of the trauma to the joint.

The bottom line is that players who suffer these injuries must have their treatment managed carefully, not only with surgery, but in the postsurgical rehabilitation process as well.

Apparently it was a bad week to be a quarterback named Matt when it came to injuries. Kansas City Chiefs signal-caller Matt Cassel suffered an injury to his right (throwing) hand near the end of Sunday's game that coach Todd Haley said was "significant and could end his season." According to the Kansas City Star, Haley said Cassel's injury will require surgery, although specific details as to the structures involved were not provided. Looks like it will be Tyler Palko facing the New England Patriots next Monday night. Nothing like jumping in under the bright lights.

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick
Howard Smith/US PresswireMichael Vick's status for this week is up in the air after he suffered broken ribs last Sunday.
Maybe it was just a bad week to be a quarterback whose name starts with the letter M. It only took two plays into Sunday's game for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick to suffer another injury, this time two broken ribs. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, coach Andy Reid says Vick broke his two lower ribs but the severity of his injury was not immediately obvious. As to whether Vick will be available this Sunday, Reid was uncertain. "We'll see. I'll see in the next little bit. He's a tough nut." Maybe. But his ability to throw effectively may be compromised by the injury (which perhaps we saw on Sunday). His status should become clearer later in the week.

And then there were several more season-ending injuries, including two to offensive players who may be on your fantasy roster. Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno tore his right ACL, effectively ending a season that had already been limited by hamstring injuries. Teammate Willis McGahee came out of the same game with a left hamstring strain, but the Denver Post reports he has been cleared to return to practice Tuesday. If McGahee has a solid practice, he could start Thursday night. Meanwhile, Washington Redskins rookie wide receiver Leonard Hankerson's season came to an abrupt end when he injured his hip in the fourth quarter, leaving the stadium afterward on crutches. According to the Washington Post, Hankerson suffered a torn labrum. Fortunately for him, youth is on his side and he should make a full recovery.

Quick Hits


• The New York Jets will return to action Thursday night to face the Denver Broncos, just four days after their difficult showing against the New England Patriots. We know the Broncos will be without Knowshon Moreno, but will the Jets also be down a running back? It certainly appears that will be the case, as LaDainian Tomlinson suffered a sprained MCL in Sunday's contest. While the MRI reportedly showed no major damage, four days' rest is a very brief recovery period. Tomlinson was not practicing with the team Tuesday, generally the biggest practice day before a Thursday night game. Fantasy owners who were hoping for a flex play from Tomlinson are advised to look elsewhere.

• Uh-oh. Scott Brown of the Pittsburgh Tribune is reporting that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a broken right thumb. However, the Steelers are on a bye this week, and according to Brown, Roethlisberger says he will play in Week 12. But it's best to keep an eye on practice reports heading into that week.

• Now that Matt Schaub is out, quarterback Matt Leinart will take over under center when the Houston Texans return to action in Week 12. All indications are that wide receiver Andre Johnson will be there to help him out. Coach Gary Kubiak said he expects Johnson to participate in practice in advance of the next game, although he acknowledged nothing is set in stone.

[+] EnlargeTBD
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesJeremy Maclin was supposed to pick up the slack for the deactivated DeSean Jackson on Sunday, but instead he left the game twice with injuries.
• Even if Michael Vick does return to action for the Eagles on Sunday, he could very well be without receiver Jeremy Maclin. Maclin suffered not one but two injuries Sunday, a sprained AC joint (commonly referred to as a separated shoulder) and a hamstring injury. Maclin suffered the shoulder injury in the first half but returned to the game, then exited for good in the fourth quarter after straining his hamstring. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported following Sunday's game that Maclin was moving "very slowly and with a limp." On Monday, coach Andy Reid said the shoulder injury was the more serious of the two. Either injury on its own could be enough to limit Maclin. We will see whether he is able to return to practice this week.

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore returned from a left ankle sprain to play in Sunday's game but delivered no fantasy points. It wasn't even his ankle that was the issue. Gore took a hard fall on his knee but emerged with only a bruise, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. However, running backs coach Tom Rathman did not want Gore to return to the field and risk further injury. Gore has indicated he does not expect to miss any playing time, and Maiocco says Gore was walking without a limp Monday, another encouraging sign. The San Francisco Chronicle is echoing the sentiment, reporting coach Jim Harbaugh expects Gore to play. Harbaugh also expressed confidence in "the stable of backs" the 49ers have available, which could hint at a timeshare. The Niners will have a Thursday night game following this Sunday's contest, so spreading the workload around could be a strategy.



• The Detroit Lions do not expect to have running back Jahvid Best this week. Perhaps the most telling quote from coach Jim Schwartz when asked about Best was, "We're status quo with that." According to the Detroit Free Press, Schwartz added, "When we get clearance from the doctors, we'll get him back. But he needs to be symptom-free before we get clearance from the doctors." The inference there is that Best is not yet symptom-free, and as is typical with these injuries, there remains no timeline.



[+] EnlargeMatthew Stafford
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastLions QB Matthew Stafford shouldn't expect to see a lot of blitzes from the 49ers on Sunday.
Teammate Calvin Johnson was evaluated for a concussion following a big hit in Sunday's contest but passed his tests, according to Dave Birkett of the Free Press. Johnson says he will play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is also expected to play, despite a fractured index finger on his throwing hand. Stafford entered the game with the injury, which went under the radar with the Lions on bye in Week 9, but it became a topic of conversation after Stafford's less than, well, Stafford-like performance. The Free Press reports that Stafford blames the gusty winds for affecting his play more than the finger. Hmmm. It's difficult to imagine between the tape on his finger and a glove over the tape that there was zero effect from the injury, but Stafford has never made excuses based on his health as long as he could physically take the field. We'll see. This week the Lions play at home, in a dome. No wind there.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones left Sunday's game early because of a hamstring injury. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports this injury is to Jones' right hamstring, the opposite leg of Jones' prior injury that caused him to miss Weeks 6 and 7. His status for Week 11 is uncertain.

• Fellow rookie receiver A.J. Green also had an injury scare Sunday when he landed awkwardly during a touchdown grab in the end zone, hyperextending his right knee. Although his knee was stiff, Green told the Cincinnati Enquirer he did not hear a "pop," usually a good sign, and a follow-up MRI that came back negative was even more encouraging. The Cincinnati Bengals expect him to play Sunday.

• It's too soon to have any meaningful update on New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who sat out Week 10 to rest his healing foot. Bradshaw had improved to walking without pain last week. The key will be when he can progress to running. As coach Tom Coughlin told ESPN New York, "There is no sense speculating. He is going to have to go out and practice." Let's see if he does just that.

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis (hamstring) has already been ruled out for Week 11. No word on Montario Hardesty's status (calf) just yet, but we will need to see if he can return to practice.

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

It turns out Thursday was a good reminder day.

We were reminded that no two injuries, even with the same classification, are identical. Witness the "hamstring strain." So far we have seen a range of missed games for players who have suffered this injury, from zero games missed (Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers) to two games missed (Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans, albeit nonconsecutive) to four games missed and counting (Andre Johnson, WR, Texans), with a surgery involved.

The point is, while an injury might be labeled the same way, technically, on numerous team injury reports, the severity, treatment, recovery time and any number of other factors can be quite different. Perhaps most importantly, the rate at which an individual heals cannot be quantified or predicted with any degree of certainty for any particular injury. There are time ranges for certain types of tissue repair (up to six weeks typically for bone healing, for instance), and therefore there are projection estimates. But there also are variations in treatment. Sometimes there is debate -- yes, debate! -- about whether a particular condition is better managed aggressively with surgery, conservatively with rehabilitation or the hybrid, an initial conservative approach followed by offseason surgery.

On Thursday, Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw and his injured foot reminded us there are many variables that factor into how an injury affects an athlete. Those variables can render the outlook either bleak (Bradshaw out indefinitely because of a cracked bone in his foot, as reported by the Newark Star-Ledger) or promising (Bradshaw's injury is not serious and he should play Sunday, per ESPN's Adam Schefter), depending on how the information is packaged. Typically, much to the dismay of those seeking instant definitive responses on Twitter, it's impossible to determine simply from one strand of information, even if it involves a specific diagnosis, what the expectation for missed time will be.

[+] EnlargeAhmad Bradshaw
Chris Faytok/The Star-Ledger/US PresswireIt's still too early to tell what Ahmad Bradshaw's status is for Week 9.
Technically, both statements regarding Bradshaw could be true. Bradshaw could have a cracked bone, and the injury still could be considered not serious, as in not season- or career-threatening. Bradshaw still could be out indefinitely ... which ultimately could turn out to be three days or three weeks (or more). According to ESPN New York, even Giants coach Tom Coughlin seemed in the dark about the course Bradshaw's care will take and whether surgery will be an option. "I'm not going to speculate on what the doctors are going to decide or say. I don't know," the coach said. For now, the biggest hint Coughlin gave us was that the guys who are practicing will play, and Bradshaw has not yet practiced this week.

Athletes have physically performed with foot fractures in the past. Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones ran at the 2011 NFL combine with a fracture in his fifth metatarsal (incidentally, the same bone Bradshaw had surgically repaired and that appears to be the source of his current discomfort) and went on to have surgery later. Some might recall Jones ran rather well despite the broken bone. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played last season with what was originally called a sprained foot. The injury was actually a small fracture (also on the fifth metatarsal), and later his injury was described as a broken foot. As in Bradshaw's case, the injury was related to a prior incident. While the word "fracture" sounded ominous and the injury was undoubtedly painful, he never missed time.

The ultimate message is this: No matter what information we might have about an injury, the human body does not subscribe to fantasy football deadlines. And so we continue to suffer as we move closer to Sunday ...

Quick Hits


• It might be another week of waiting for Andre Johnson. This would be his fifth missed game, but he is just one month removed from the surgical procedure to address his torn hamstring. The hope was that he could return in three to four weeks, so it's not as if Johnson is way past the projected timeline, but as Johnson has noted, doctors told him it could take up to six weeks to fully recover (and here you can refer back to the above note on how individuals heal at different rates).

The primary issue is how Johnson feels. Reports suggest he has looked good running when participating in practice, but Johnson still has an awareness of the injured part. The team, wisely, does not want him on the playing field until he is symptom-free. It would be a far worse scenario for him to return only to suffer another injury that could cost him additional time. While his absence is frustrating to fantasy owners -- and no doubt to the Texans and Johnson himself -- imagine how frustrating an early departure to further injury would be. It's worth the wait ... and it looks as if we'll be waiting beyond Week 9. The Texans continue to maintain Johnson is being evaluated on a daily basis and will not "automatically" sit out through their Week 11 bye.

Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden was observed leaving the practice facility on crutches and in a walking boot Wednesday evening. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Raiders coach Hue Jackson indicated the team would consider holding a guy who was "close" to being ready out of Sunday's game, given the Raiders will play again four days later. The Raiders face the San Diego Chargers next Thursday in the first of a series of Thursday night games. Since McFadden is still protecting the foot from bearing weight, he's not in line to run up and down the field by this weekend. His presence in Week 10 isn't looking automatic at this point, either, but there's still time for him to progress.

• Chargers tight end Antonio Gates had a normal practice Wednesday, and that makes it two weeks in a row. It's perhaps more impressive this week since the Chargers played Monday night. Also practicing for the Chargers on Wednesday was running back Mike Tolbert, who was held out Monday because of a strained hamstring. It's a good thing he's looking healthy, because teammate Ryan Mathews has not practiced since injuring his groin Monday night, and it's looking as if he will miss Week 9. Emerging running back Curtis Brinkley suffered a concussion Monday night, and he does not look as if he'll be available, either. Receiver Vincent Jackson did not practice Wednesday, but so far this season, he has missed more midweek practices than he has made. At least it seems that way. Still, he returned to practice Thursday and has played each week, so it's tough to imagine him missing this one. Malcom Floyd didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday, either, but after racking up 100 receiving yards Monday night after coming off a hip injury, you could say he earned some rest. If Floyd doesn't return Friday, it's time to start getting nervous.

[+] EnlargePeyton Hillis
Kyle Terada/US PresswireGood news: Peyton Hillis was back at practice Thursday.
&#8226 Alert, alert: good fantasy news! There's so much gloom among fantasy owners contending with injured players, it's nice to be able to insert something positive in this blog once in a while. Just when Peyton Hillis owners were resigning themselves to another week without him, his status took a turn for the better Thursday. Hillis returned to practice Thursday, and according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer (via Twitter), he was in full pads, participated in team drills and looked good. Cabot also quoted Hillis as saying if today were Sunday, he'd play. While this all is very encouraging, we flash back to last week, when Hillis practiced and then was increasingly sore the next day, after which he did not return ... until today. If Hillis can put in back-to-back practices, then fantasy owners and Browns fans can start getting excited.

&#8226 According to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, Cardinals running back Beanie Wells has said he expects his knee to be an issue all season. On Sunday, just one week from suffering what the team thought could be a season-ending injury, Wells ran as if nothing was wrong. Yet this week he reminds us it could be a problem all year, and he remained limited in practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. This appears as if it will be the weekly scenario going forward when it comes to practice. The question is, will Wells' weekly productivity be that consistent?

&#8226 New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has not practiced at all this week, and the bruised heel that caused him to miss last week's game is likely to keep him out again.

&#8226 Broncos running back Willis McGahee just might be true to his word. McGahee indicated he expected to play in Week 9 after fracturing the fourth metacarpal in his right hand in Week 7. He had a plate and screws put in to stabilize the fracture, but he has been back on the field, practicing with his hand wrapped. The primary issue is gripping the ball. Given the wide grip required to carry a football, it's easier on the recently repaired bone than if, for example, McGahee needed to close his hand around a baseball, which requires more motion in the hand. That's not to say it will be comfortable, but pain is something McGahee can potentially overcome. If the medical staff is confident the hand can be adequately protected and McGahee can carry/protect/block to the satisfaction of his coaches, he has a decent chance of being in the lineup Sunday.

&#8226 The aforementioned Julio Jones is set to return from his hamstring injury this week. Jones missed two games, then entered a well-timed bye week. He has been practicing all week and is expected to play Sunday.

&#8226 As if the Bradshaw situation weren't enough, the Giants could be without starting wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who strained his hamstring Sunday. Nicks has not yet practiced, but he also has a history of going right up to game day before a decision on his status is made. The Giants did not appear overly concerned about the severity of the injury, but they certainly don't want it to take a turn for the worse. Expect this to possibly come down to pregame warm-ups.

&#8226 Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham hasn't practiced this week after sitting out Week 8. Gresham felt his hamstring tighten up in pregame warm-ups, and the decision was made to hold him out. Apparently it's more than just a pregame issue; things aren't looking good for Gresham's chance of suiting up in Week 9.

&#8226 And finally, expect Cowboys running back Felix Jones to miss this week's game. It would have been early to expect him to return from the high ankle sprain he suffered in Week 6, and he hasn't practiced at all this week. More DeMarco Murray!

See you at my injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. ET, and I'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 9 in my Saturday morning blog.

The injury aftermath from Week 7

October, 25, 2011
10/25/11
5:34
PM ET


Anyone who plays fantasy football knows the trauma inflicted across rosters in the mess that was Week 7. There are, oh, a gazillion injury situations in play, so without further ado:

[+] EnlargeTim Hightower
James Lang/US PresswireTim Hightower had seemingly retaken the Redskins' top running back slot last Sunday before suffering his season-ending knee injury.
Two more fantasy running backs were lost for the season Sunday. Washington Redskins running back Tim Hightower was just getting past his shoulder injury, but it was his leg that failed him this time. Hightower suffered a torn ACL in a classic non-contact, deceleration manner, so we won't see him until next season.



It's hard to know whether we'll see Earnest Graham again after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' veteran back, filling in for the injured LeGarrette Blount, suffered a torn Achilles tendon. With surgery and a lengthy recovery ahead of him, Graham may be challenged to return. In the meantime the Bucs, who have said nothing about Blount's specific injury or his progress (other than terming it a sprained knee), may be turning to some outside help to shore up their backfield. However, the Bucs do have a bye this week, but it is too soon to know whether Blount, who has yet to practice, will be ready by Week 9.

Tight end Chris Cooley never really got it going this season as a result of his ongoing knee ailment. He then fractured his index finger, requiring surgery and a lengthy recovery. He will now have plenty of time to recover from both as the Redskins have placed him on injured reserve. Fred Davis has proven to be quite capable in his place so far this year.

Quick Hits


They're all going to be quick hits this week gang given the number of injury items. As details emerge throughout the week, we will expound on them.

[+] EnlargeMatthew Stafford
Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesOnce again, Matthew Stafford is dealing with an injury.
• For all those who took the under at Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford staying healthy through the first half of the season (officially through this Sunday; the Lions then have a bye in Week 9), don't rush to cash in just yet. Although Stafford was seen limping off the field late in Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons game after a defender fell on his right ankle, head coach Jim Schwartz is simply calling him "day-to-day," leaving open the possibility he is available this week. Schwartz did not go into details regarding the results of Stafford's imaging tests. My interpretation: nothing catastrophic, but some variant of a soft tissue injury. The key, as always, will be whether he can effectively plant and throw and move to protect himself.



• There were a pair of hand injuries suffered Sunday that require surgery. Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss underwent surgery Monday to insert pins in his broken left hand. He is projected to miss five to seven weeks. That timetable could be updated in about a month as the bone healing is evaluated. Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee fractured his fourth metacarpal (the long bone in the hand that runs from the base of the fourth finger to the wrist) and is scheduled for surgery to repair it on Tuesday. While McGahee acknowledged he would miss Week 8, he expressed confidence he could return by Week 9. That sounds optimistic. Consider Redskins running back Ryan Torain, who underwent surgery for his metacarpal fracture in August but took three and a half weeks to return to practice, and four weeks before he played in a game. While all injuries are unique, it would not be surprising if McGahee's absence extends beyond the two weeks he projects. Even when he returns, he may require protective wear on the hand. OK, Knowshon Moreno, it's time to step up.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings also suffered a hand injury Sunday, but the results were not so dire. Jennings suffered a bruised right hand, one that caused him to temporarily experience numbness, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. He had enough function in the hand to return to the game and later X-rays revealed no fracture. The Packers have a bye in Week 8, and it sounds like they expect Jennings for their Week 9 matchup with the San Diego Chargers.

Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden had only two carries Sunday before exiting with what coach Hue Jackson told reporters Monday is a midfoot sprain. McFadden was on crutches Monday to offload the foot, but the team seems to not be overly concerned. They have the luxury of a bye week to allow McFadden to rest the foot and plan to re-evaluate him Monday. The midfoot is key for transferring load from the back of the foot to the front during weightbearing and any injury there makes it difficult to walk, much less run, normally. A minor sprain can respond well to unloading (this is where the crutches come into play) along with therapeutic modalities to help ease any pain and inflammation. Keep in mind that McFadden did return to the sidelines, but given his history of toe and ankle injuries, the Raiders were more conservative in guarding him against further injury. Wise move. Hopefully he is able to return in Week 9.

[+] EnlargeBeanie Wells
AP Photo/Paul ConnorsBeanie Wells rushed for 42 yards before leaving with another injury.
Arizona Cardinals oft-injured running back Beanie Wells suffered a knee injury in Sunday's game that has left him with significant swelling but no particular diagnosis, at least not one the team is revealing. According to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, Wells denied a bone bruise and head coach Ken Whisenhunt did not elaborate on the nature of the injury, only saying there was no major structural damage. There are plenty of means by which a joint can become irritated and the response to that irritation is swelling. This is the same knee Wells had surgery on last year for a torn meniscus. The bottom line is that there is no plan for surgery (since there is no "structure" to address) at this time but there is also no running on a swollen knee. The goal is to address the swelling first, then try to bring the athlete back toward full activity and hope the swelling does not return. How long will it take? No one knows for sure. So stay tuned and keep an eye on when Wells is able to return to practice. Start by preparing for a backup in Week 8.

• New Orleans had all their running backs healthy when they came into Week 7 (not counting Chris Ivory, on the Physically Unable to Perform list since the start of the season). But Mark Ingram left Sunday's game with a limp, suffering what the team has called a bruised heel. No further word from the Saints on what they expect, and there is no indication as to whether the bruise is on the back of his heel, near the Achilles attachment, or on the undersurface of the heel, making it hard to prognosticate. If Ingram is limited, Pierre Thomas could be setting up for a nice matchup against the St. Louis Rams. Meanwhile, Ivory could be nearing a return to practice but that has not yet been made official.

• Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had a nasty looking ankle roll in Sunday's game. The awkward spill appeared to stress both his ankle and his knee, but after exiting for a brief period, Ryan was able to return and finish out the game. Ryan is no doubt pleased to have a bye week to allow the soreness to subside but is expected to start in Week 9. Teammate Julio Jones has missed two games with a strained hamstring, but if all goes well he could be back in Week 9.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin has been battling sore ribs since the preseason. Again he had issues with the ribs, which forced him to exit the game in the third quarter. Harvin is going to be further evaluated, but consider the Vikings had already agreed to scale back his playing time when his condition worsened. It's entirely possible he misses some time.

• Even the durable Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers is on the injury report this week after sustaining an ankle sprain Sunday. Ward often gets a day off from practice during the week (veteran, history of knee issues in the past) so it may be difficult to get a feel for his playing status until Friday.



• The San Diego running backs have to be thankful for one extra day before returning to competition. Ryan Mathews injured his thumb during the game against the New York Jets but was able to return to play. Mike Tolbert was seen grabbing his hamstring late in the game and was indeed listed on the postgame injury report, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, but neither player's injuries seemed to be a major cause for concern.

Raise your hand if you were one of the fantasy owners whose Sunday was ruined when Marshawn Lynch, declared active, was suddenly not playing because of back spasms that flared up during his pregame warmup. To make matters worse, it appears Lynch has been dealing with the issue for a while. According to the Seattle Seahawks' official website, coach Pete Carroll said Lynch's back is "not a new issue" but has been managed effectively to this point. As for Lynch's status this week Carroll said, "We'll have to be careful with him through the week and make sure that we do the right things. He is determined to play for sure in his mind, but we're really not going to know until we get to the end of the week." Or maybe not until Sunday after your rosters lock. Have a backup at the ready so you can pull the trigger if there's any shadow of a doubt heading into gametime.



And then there were a number of players who never took the field in Week 7 but whose status is of interest for Week 8:

[+] EnlargeSam Bradford
Ray Carlin/Icon SMISam Bradford sat out Sunday's game against the Cowboys and may be back on the bench this week.
• St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is still in a walking boot and is no lock to play in Week 8. The team plans to reassess his status Wednesday.

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis was not able to play Sunday because of his strained hamstring, but he did get some running in Monday, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. There have been enough hamstring injuries around the league that everyone should know this is only one of many steps before returning to play. If Hillis is able to get back to full practice this week, then he should play Sunday.

• The Houston Texans could have wide receiver Andre Johnson back in the lineup Sunday if all goes well. Coach Gary Kubiak added clarity to the situation calling the return of Johnson "definitely a possibility" when speaking to reporters Monday. Johnson, who underwent a procedure on his torn hamstring tendon in early October, has been running but has not yet returned to practice. If he is able to do so early this week, it would bode well for his chances.

• The San Francisco 49ers could have wide receiver Braylon Edwards in the mix this Sunday. Edwards has been out recovering from meniscus surgery on his right knee. Head coach Jim Harbaugh said he expected Edwards to return to practice Tuesday.



• The New York Giants could get running back Brandon Jacobs alongside Ahmad Bradshaw this week. Jacobs, sporting a brace for protection, was able to practice Monday, indicating the swelling in his knee had subsided to the point he could participate. Now the challenge will be to see if the swelling remains down before he can be cleared to play.

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

Week 14 was not kind to running backs in terms of injuries. If you were lucky enough to survive this round in your fantasy playoffs, you might find yourself in need of a replacement for the next one in Week 15.

As always, practice reports throughout the week will provide better hints as to players' statuses for Sunday, but here are the early reports following Week 14:

Peyton Hillis
AP Photo/David ZalubowskiThe Broncos' Peyton Hillis is done for the season.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Broncos: At the start of the season, most fantasy owners didn't even know who Peyton Hillis was, and it's a virtual certainty that he was not on any fantasy roster. But by Week 14, after stepping up for a team that had been decimated by injuries at the running back position, Hillis was owned in more than 80 percent of ESPN.com fantasy leagues.

Sadly, there's no reason to own him any longer, outside of keeper leagues. ESPN analyst Chris Mortensen reported Monday that Hillis is done for the remainder of the season because of a hamstring injury. On Sunday, Hillis was stepped on after a catch and ended up in an awkward splitlike hyperextended position on his right leg, resulting in the injury. Hillis expressed optimism after the game, but tests proved otherwise, and he'll be placed on injured reserve in the next day or two.

With Hillis out, the Broncos could turn to Selvin Young (nearing recovery from a groin injury), Tatum Bell (who stepped in Sunday after Hillis was injured) or P.J. Pope, who recently missed time because of a rib injury. Stay tuned for practice reports late in the week to see how the Denver lineup is shaking out.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: Two weeks ago, the Giants were concerned enough about the health of Jacobs' knee that they played it safe and sat him out in Week 12. And last year, Jacobs sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and missed several weeks.

Well, on Sunday, Jacobs gave the Giants another scare when he appeared to injure his left knee during the third quarter. Although he did not return to the game, Jacobs did not appear overly concerned about this latest setback, telling the New York Daily News that he does this "almost every game, so I knew what it was." Jacobs added, "I could've [come back in], but why? We couldn't get anything going." Interestingly, this is not the knee that Jacobs injured last year (and then reportedly reinjured this year), yet his comments would suggest this knee has not been entirely ailment-free, either. With Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw available, there was no reason to force an impaired Jacobs back into the lineup and risk more serious injury. Despite Jacobs' comments, it remains to be seen whether he will be well enough to play in Week 15. Be sure to have an insurance option ready, just in case.

Other noteworthy injuries:

Frank Gore
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesFrank Gore wants to play in Week 15, but will his body allow him to?

&#8226 Even after their victory over the Jets in San Francisco on Sunday, the 49ers were not all smiles after the game. Running back Frank Gore was forced out of the game early because of an ankle injury, and Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that Gore was moving around quite slowly in the locker room afterward. The injury is being called an ankle sprain/contusion, and early X-rays were reportedly negative, but his status for Week 15 remains unclear. According to Maiocco, Gore really wants to play Sunday when the team travels to his hometown of Miami, but whether he is able to play is unknown at this point.

&#8226 Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte left Sunday's game because of an apparent lower back injury. Frerotte could be seen receiving some treatment on the sideline but eventually was carted off to the locker room and did not return to the game. Coach Brad Childress did not comment on Frerotte's potential availability for Week 15, but the quarterback is expected to undergo additional tests Monday. Tarvaris Jackson came in when Frerotte went out and likely would start Sunday in his place if necessary.

&#8226 Redskins running back Clinton Portis had a laundry list of injuries headed into a tough Sunday night matchup with the Ravens, and he certainly didn't seem to feel any better as the game went on. Portis struggled in the first half, then sat out the majority of the second half. Although no additional injury for Portis has been reported, it seemed logical, given his (and his team's) struggles to move the ball on the ground and the team's inability to keep him off the field and out of harm's way.

&#8226 The Ravens actually had Willis McGahee in the game at running back for a while Sunday night, but that ended when McGahee suffered a stinger on his right side in the fourth quarter. Ray Rice was in and out of the game with his own ailments, and when the Ravens ran, the bulk of the work went to Le'Ron McClain. McClain likely will continue to get the bulk of the work for the remainder of your fantasy season, but check back for updates on McGahee's and Rice's statuses later in the week.

Be sure to check back here throughout the week as we update these and other injuries. New Orleans heads to Chicago on Thursday, so be sure to set your lineup in advance. Stop by the injury chats (11 a.m. ET Tuesday and Friday) to discuss the status of your injured players. Hope to see you there!

Steven Jackson out again

November, 8, 2008
11/08/08
1:42
PM ET


Do you need a running back replacement for your fantasy roster? Maybe now you know what it feels like to be the Broncos or Rams, who have had no choice but to bring in some new talent to replenish their depleted backfields. In the bigger picture, does this trend of injuries to starting running backs threaten the notion of a feature back? What team won't want to have a two-back system to minimize the pounding one running back has to absorb? If one succumbs to injury, another can simply increase his workload any given Sunday. With those considerations, teams may seek to expand the number of running backs on their active rosters. Either that or they will have to hope there is a surplus of available unsigned backs who have kept themselves in game-ready condition and are bright enough to absorb a new offensive playbook within a week (see: Samkon Gado, who signed with the St. Louis Rams this week).

Of course, teams like the Chiefs might argue that the entire roster size needs to be expanded to allow for complete decimation of your running back and quarterback pools.

So who will play this weekend? Here's what we know as we head into the Week 10 contests.

Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: Although Jackson is officially listed as doubtful on the injury report, coach Jim Haslett has made it clear in advance of this week's contest that Jackson will not play. Jackson is still recovering from a strain of his right quadriceps muscle and is a classic example of why these muscle strains are so challenging.

A muscle strain requires rest during the week to allow the tissue to heal, but that often means testing that muscle in the game. The demand for speed and power, especially for a running back, translates to increased force of muscle contraction, which for a healing muscle can pose a risk of further injury. In Jackson's case, he felt he was ready to go last week (as he pronounced on his Web site the night before the game), but then was forced out of the game early when he found that the muscle would not cooperate as expected. According to the Belleville News-Democrat, Jackson reported that a repeat MRI of his thigh muscle showed that the inflammation was actually worse than the previous image showed. Consequently, Jackson was unable to practice all week, and although he says the quad feels better, he has acknowledged that when he tries to do certain things to test it on the field, "it's not responding." Haslett has been clear that Jackson will need to demonstrate that he can go full speed in practice before he is eligible to play Sunday.

The question at this point is not about this week, but whether Jackson will be able to go by next week or even the following week. Unfortunately, this is a day-to-day evaluation. In the meantime, expect recently signed Ken Darby to start, with even more recently signed Samkon Gado expected to be in the rotation. The third running back is expected to be Antonio Pittman, who is also still recovering from a hamstring strain but was able to do some limited practice Friday. Pittman is listed as questionable but could see some action, albeit likely in a limited capacity. Travis Minor, who has been out following a concussion, is also listed as questionable but is not expected to play.

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: Parker is officially listed as doubtful on the NFL injury report, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has reported that Parker will not play. The good news here is that it is not Parker's knee that is keeping him out of this week's contest. Parker played Monday night after missing four games with a medial collateral ligament sprain. He ran well Monday but apparently injured his right shoulder during the third quarter. The injury wasn't severe enough to force him out of the game, and it is not likely to cause him to miss extended time. So hang in there, Parker fantasy owners -- it looks like he will be back in your lineup next week. In the meantime, hopefully you have kept Mewelde Moore available on your roster.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers: Stewart is listed as questionable because of a heel injury and will be a game-time decision. The not-so-good news is that Stewart is having lingering pain in his heel that has kept him in a protective boot, despite coming off of a bye week. Stewart's heel pain apparently began two weeks ago and it is causing him pain when he puts pressure on it, something that's impossible to avoid as a running back. The good news is that Stewart did make the trip to Oakland and was able to practice Friday, which means the team thinks there is at least a chance he could play. Either way, expect DeAngelo Williams to see the majority of the action for Carolina this weekend.

[+] EnlargeDarren McFadden
Kirby Lee/US PresswireMcFadden's turf toe is taking a long time to recover, as most turf toes do.
Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: McFadden is listed as questionable for Sunday, but his chances of playing don't look good. McFadden's turf toe problems continue to hang around, as turf toe problems often do. The left toe seems to be the worse of the two at this point, and McFadden is still in a boot when not practicing. McFadden was limited in practice earlier in the week and then did not practice Friday, another sign that he is unlikely to suit up Sunday. McFadden is being fitted with some new, rigid footwear to help support his toes, but his mobility is compromised because of the lack of push-off with the big toe. He has said that he needs to get the "confidence" back in his foot, and it requires an adjustment when he makes a change as seemingly simple as his shoes. There is no reason to rush McFadden back to the lineup. The Raiders may be better off allowing their draft-day investment to recover fully before having him see game action again. Once again, it appears that Justin Fargas is likely to start for the Raiders this week.

Other noteworthy items


• The Bears' Brandon Lloyd looks like he'll make his return after missing a month with a sprained knee. Lloyd is listed as probable, has practiced fully all week and is expected to play.

• Ravens running backs Willis McGahee and Ray Rice are both listed as probable, and are expected to play. Although they were limited in practice earlier in the week, they practiced fully Friday, indicating they are ready to go. But who becomes the feature back? As Jamison Hensley stated in the Baltimore Sun earlier this week: "In [coach John] Harbaugh's mind, it's not about McGahee or Rice. He said he thinks of the running game as McGahee and Rice." Good luck, fantasy owners.

• Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell was a surprise addition to the Thursday injury report when he was unable to complete practice because of tendinitis in his knee. Tendinitis is an inflammatory condition, meaning that rest is the best medicine. Russell was resting Friday, but he could be resting through the weekend. His designation is questionable, and the Contra Costa Times is reporting that his status will not be known until just before the game.

• It appears that Patriots running backs Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan will be sidelined again this week. Morris continues with the doubtful tag, so his unlikely playing status is clearer. Jordan is listed as questionable, but given that he did not practice Thursday or Friday, he will likely be watching the game rather than playing.

• Chargers receiver Chris Chambers is listed as probable with his ankle injury, suggesting that he will play Sunday. Nonetheless, his ankle is still not 100 percent, so Vincent Jackson may still be in for a fair number of catches against the Chiefs.

• Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey is listed as probable and is expected to play. Shockey, who has been recovering from sports hernia surgery, has no doubt benefited from the time off during the bye week, and according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, is probably as healthy as he's been all year.

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are additions to the "Out" listing for Week 10.

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: Schaub sprained his knee (MCL) Sunday and will be sidelined this week. The Houston Chronicle has reported that Schaub could miss two to four weeks, which is consistent with the return time for quarterbacks after sustaining this injury. In the meantime, Sage Rosenfels will lead the Texans.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks: The good news is that Hasselbeck's strength appears to be improving. Nonetheless, he has a ways to go before he is cleared to return to play. Expect this to take at least a couple of weeks.

Dan Orlovsky, QB, Lions: Orlovsky has a significant thumb injury that could ultimately require surgery. The Detroit Free Press reports that Orlovsky has two fractures and a torn ligament, all of which apparently occurred during the first play of the game against Chicago. He is seeking several opinions about his thumb, after which more should be known. Daunte Culpepper has seen the majority of first-team snaps in practice this week, and although coach Rod Marinelli has not officially named a starter, ESPN's Chris Mortensen has reported that Culpepper will start against Jacksonville.

Josh Reed, WR, Bills: Reed remains out with an Achilles injury.

Chris McAlister, CB, Ravens: The big news here is that McAlister is out not only for this week, but also for the remainder of the season. McAlister has decided to have surgery on his knee to address a torn posterior cruciate ligament and cartilage damage, according to the Baltimore Sun. It remains to be seen whether McAlister has played his final game in a Ravens uniform.

Heath Miller, TE, Steelers: Miller injured his ankle in the Steelers' Monday night contest and will not suit up against the Colts. In fact, the Post-Gazette reports that Miller has a high ankle sprain and could miss a couple of games. Make sure you have a replacement on your roster.

Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: Bush is still recovering from meniscal surgery but is making good progress. His rehab is right on schedule, and he transitioned from pool running to outdoor running this week. According to the Times-Picayune, Bush thinks he will "definitely" be ready to play next week against Kansas City. It's possible, but he will have to prove he can run full speed, cut and pivot before he returns. Don't be shocked if his return comes in Week 12, when the Saints have a big Monday night game. In the meantime, teammate Deuce McAllister could have a big week against the Falcons.

Arnaz Battle, WR, 49ers: Battle is out with a foot sprain and will miss Monday night's game against division rival Arizona. It appears that this injury could keep him out even longer.

Good luck in Week 10! Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET.

Steven Jackson looking to play

November, 1, 2008
11/01/08
10:10
PM ET
Bad weather and airport delays during my West Coast travels have me hustling to get the news out to you. So without further ado, here's what we know as we head into the Week 9 contests.

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: After a successful week of practice, including Saturday, it appears (fingers crossed) that Parker, labeled as probable, will play Monday. Parker has been working his way back from a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee which he originally injured in Week 3. Then, just when it looked as if he was ready to return, a misstep set him back and he has missed two additional weeks.

Parker and his fantasy owners have been eagerly anticipating his return, but don't get too excited just yet. Given the fact that he has already suffered one setback, no one wants to set him up for another, so the team plans to bring him back gradually. In other words, expect Mewelde Moore to continue to see a fair amount of action this week.

Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: The quad strain that kept Jackson out of last week's game continued to limit him in practice throughout the week, although he was able to do a bit more Friday. Nonetheless, his official designation remains questionable and again this week coach Jim Haslett stated that Jackson would be a game-time decision. Last week it was tightness in the muscle that Jackson felt during warm-ups that kept him from going, so it did literally come down to how he felt minutes before the game.

But wait! Perhaps you won't have to wait until just before kickoff to find out about Jackson's status. In a late post on his official Web site Saturday, SJ39.com, Jackson announced to all his fans that the leg is feeling good enough for him to play against the Cardinals on Sunday. He notes that it is a big game and he is going to "give everything [he's] got" to get the Rams a win. In case you still don't believe? Jackson's words: "So to be clear. I am playing. Be ready." Don't know if that's directed at fantasy owners or the Cardinals, but it sounds convincing. Although he was limited this week, and perhaps a little more so than expected given that he was considering suiting up last week, he may have been protecting his leg to save up for the weekend. It's looking promising.

Joseph Addai, RB, Dominic Rhodes, RB, and Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: Addai has been absent for a few weeks because of a hamstring strain but there is reason to get (a little) excited. Addai, although listed as questionable, is expected to play, and possibly start when the Colts face the Patriots on Sunday night. Addai has been practicing all week without a setback, a positive sign of his progress.

The reason we can get only a little excited is because the Colts plan to have Addai share time with Rhodes, who has been filling in ably during his absence. According to Tom James of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, Tony Dungy was very clear on that point even as Addai improved in practice throughout the week. "Joseph will start if he's ready to go and 100 percent. But Dom is going to get a lot of carries and continue to do a good job for us either way. If Joe's not 100 percent, then we'll start Dom," the Colts coach said. There's a twist, though. Rhodes himself was added to the injury report this week with an ankle ailment and is listed as questionable. Despite that, he was fully practicing Thursday and Friday, so he should be on the field. Addai and Rhodes are likely to split the work to ensure that neither is overburdened.

Meanwhile, Wayne has been limited by a sore knee all week. The Colts have not issued any specifics related to his injury, indicating only that he tweaked the knee against the Titans. Early in the week, Dungy sounded optimistic that this apparently minor ailment wouldn't hold Wayne back. But as the week went on, and Wayne did not practice Thursday as originally expected, it appeared the situation was a bit more serious. On Friday, Wayne did only limited work and has been tagged as questionable. Here's why we're concerned. This is a guy who, until this week, has not missed practice since his rookie year in 2001. The knee is bothering him. That being said, Wayne did tell the Indianapolis Star that he is "ready to go." Look for Wayne to be a game-time decision, but consider that he may not be in tip-top form.

Other noteworthy items


&#8226 Clinton Portis ended the week with a probable designation, so you can feel safe that he will play Monday. His hip is still sore and he sprained an ankle last week, so the team kept his practice to a minimum, but he is good to go. Teammate Santana Moss is less of a sure thing, however; his hamstring strain kept him out of practice the entire week. He is listed as questionable and even coach Jim Zorn made it clear in comments to the Washington Post that he did not want Moss to start, only to find out minutes into the game that he couldn't continue: "I want him to go out and, if he's going to play, participate fully in the game." Given Moss' extensive hamstring injury history (2004, 2006 and 2007) and his reliance on speed and explosiveness, I would be leery of counting on his availability.

&#8226 Jason Witten remains a game-time decision with his fractured rib. Witten, known for his pain tolerance, is feeling enough pain that his daily activities are limited, and he has not practiced all week. He is very Brian Westbrook-esque in his ability to show up Sunday and play well, even if he does not practice during the week, but even Westbrook sat out a week with a rib fracture. Witten may very well follow suit.

&#8226 Speaking of Westbrook, the Eagles now have him and Kevin Curtis back in the mix. It also appears that they will add Reggie Brown to the list of players returning to the lineup from injury. Brown has missed multiple games this year because of various muscle strains, the latest being a groin injury. Brown did practice all week, is listed as probable and is expected to play. Teammate DeSean Jackson also showed up on the injury report with a shoulder ailment but it appears minor because he did not miss any practice time. He too is listed as probable and is expected to play.

&#8226 Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden acknowledged earlier in the week that Dunn should not have played last week. Although Dunn seemed to downplay the symptoms of his pinched nerve last week, it clearly was more problematic than he expected. Dunn did not practice all week and is unlikely to play Sunday. More work for Earnest Graham.

&#8226 The Bears have to be happy that Devin Hester was completely off the injury report this week. Teammate Brandon Lloyd, however, was not. Lloyd is still listed as questionable with a sprained knee and has not been a full participant in practice all week. Do not be surprised if he is held out again Sunday.

&#8226 What to make of the Broncos' injury report? It looks as if the entire running back corps is questionable, along with a receiver and a tight end. Running backs Selvin Young (groin) and Ryan Torain (elbow) are the more questionable of the backs on the list. Young is still limited in practice. Torain, although he is doing well in practice, has never played a down of professional ball and coach Mike Shanahan has hinted that he wants to give him just a little more healing time before subjecting him to the big boy hits. Pittman (bruised ribs) was able to practice all week, suggesting that he will indeed be ready to play. Meanwhile, tight end Tony Scheffler continues to be limited by his groin injury and receiver Brandon Stokley is still recovering from his concussion. They both practiced on a limited basis and could play, but their status is not exactly confidence inspiring.

&#8226 Willis McGahee has been listed as questionable because of an ankle injury. There has been nothing out of Baltimore to suggest that this is serious, and the fact that he was limited in practice this week can probably be interpreted as a protective maneuver. Check game day inactives, but expect him to play.

&#8226 Raiders rookie Darren McFadden is nursing two bad toes. When you have two ailing feet, your designation is doubtful, as McFadden's is, and when you haven't practiced all week, you can expect that you'll be watching from the sidelines in your street clothes. And maybe a boot. More work for Justin Fargas.

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 additions to the "Out" listing for Week 9.

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: Palmer's elbow problems are not news, but his status is worth repeating. The Bengals have a bye next week, and after that we should learn whether Palmer will attempt to return at all this season.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks: Hasselbeck continues to have weakness in his leg related to sciatic nerve compromise. This is a waiting game and is not likely to be over quickly.

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: Out again this week with the broken pinkie, as expected. Bye next week. Likely return to start in Week 11.

LaMont Jordan, RB, and Sammy Morris, RB, Patriots: Well, Morris' downgrade posted in the Boston Globe Saturday was no surprise. Why the Patriots didn't list him as out on Friday is a mystery since it seemed as if everyone knew his knee would keep him out again this week. But Jordan was downgraded to out (from questionable) on Saturday along with Morris, apparently as a result of the nagging calf problem. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk are the Sunday tandem.

Champ Bailey, CB, Broncos: If you were watching Denver's last game two Mondays ago, you saw Bailey reach down to his inner thigh in the middle of a play, a sure sign of a groin injury. Unfortunately for Denver, it sounds as if it was a significant strain. Bailey is out this week and is expected to miss several more.

Josh Reed, WR, Bills: Reed has an Achilles injury that will sideline him this week.

L.J. Smith, TE, Eagles: Smith suffered a concussion last week and it was not pretty. He was unable to practice all week and will watch from the sidelines while he continues to recover.

Deion Branch, WR, Seahawks: Branch continues to be plagued by the heel injury he sustained a few weeks ago. The Seahawks recognized that he would not go early in the week and made the announcement that he would sit out alongside his quarterback.

Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins: Betts' knee injury from Week 7 will keep him out for the big Monday night contest against the Steelers. The Redskins have a bye in Week 10, so look for Betts to increase his activity in Week 11.

Shawn Springs, CB, Redskins: Springs has a calf injury that has been problematic and will sideline him Monday night. All the more important that teammate Carlos Rogers' calf injury does not appear quite so serious, and his return to practice late in the week suggests that he will be available against the Steelers.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET. Good luck in Week 9!

News on Westbrook very promising

October, 4, 2008
10/04/08
3:06
PM ET
Here's what we know as we head into the Week 5 contests.

Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook is listed as questionable again this week, but there is more optimism he will indeed play. Westbrook practiced with the team on a limited basis throughout the week but was a full participant in Friday's practice, lending credence to the idea that he will be ready to go Sunday.

Westbrook injured his ankle in Week 3 as he tried to hurdle teammate Tra Thomas and ended up catching his right foot awkwardly in the turf. Although reportedly imaging tests came back negative, Westbrook described his injury as closer to a high ankle sprain than anything else. It is fortunate for Westbrook and the Eagles that it was a mild version, as high ankle sprains can be particularly difficult to recover from, especially for running backs.

Last week, Westbrook tested the ankle in pregame warm-ups but, after discussion with the medical staff, determined he was not ready to go. During his weekly radio show Monday evening, Westbrook explained that even though straight-ahead running felt OK, he could not cut or weave Sunday. Show me a running back who can be effective without cutting or weaving, and I'll show you one who isn't a top draft pick on fantasy football teams worldwide. The decision to rest Westbrook was a wise one, as it improved his chances of performing well in this outing and, more importantly, helped decrease the risk of re-injury. Bear in mind that Westbrook's ankle is not 100 percent and there always is the possibility he will tweak it during the game. It's not enough of a concern to worry fantasy owners; after all, anyone can get injured on any given Sunday. Check pregame inactive lists to be sure, but as of now, expect Westbrook to start.

[+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesRodgers will need to have full arm strength if he wants to be effective Sunday.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: Rodgers sprained his shoulder last Sunday. This much we know to be true. And that's about where it ends. Rodgers, who was held to very limited practice Wednesday and Friday (and no practice Thursday), will be a game-time decision for the Packers. His questionable status implies there is a 50-50 chance he will play. And that estimate seems to reflect exactly what Packers coach Mike McCarthy is saying.

McCarthy said in his Friday news conference that he is "preparing to go either way," meaning he will insert either Rodgers or rookie Matt Flynn into the lineup as quarterback once he sees how Rodgers looks during warm-ups. It really does come down to how Rodgers "looks," because Rodgers himself said the pain is "potentially tolerable." The big issue is arm strength, which, as of Friday, he still did not have. Rodgers, who is known for having a very strong arm, was able to throw only lightly Friday. McCarthy wants to give Rodgers every opportunity to start Sunday, hence the decision to allow his shoulder an additional 48 hours of rest and recovery. If Rodgers can go on the field and prove to himself and his coaching staff he can make the necessary throws, he will start.

The Packers have not been more specific in discussing Rodgers' ailment, calling it only a "shoulder sprain." Since there is more than one joint at the shoulder -- the glenohumeral joint (the ball and the socket of the shoulder) and the acromioclavicular (AC) joint (the point of the shoulder that, when injured, often is referred to as a separated shoulder) -- it is unclear where the problem lies. Either way, there is little chance playing could make Rodgers' injury worse. That is why it really comes down to function. Can he bring his arm over the top and put enough on the ball to deliver it as needed, not only with adequate distance, but also with accuracy?

Although Rodgers suggests pain will not keep him out of the game, pain does have a potential role in his ability to perform. Pain inhibits muscular contraction; it is part of the body's way of protecting you from yourself. When there is an injured part, forceful muscular contraction could result in increased damage to that injured part. Through complex neurological mechanisms, the body comes to a simple solution: Don't allow the muscles to contract at 100 percent strength, therefore prevent something worse from happening. As the tissue heals itself, the pain and the inflammation diminish, and this mechanism becomes less and less of a factor. For that reason, allowing Rodgers a couple of extra days of recovery and treatment might make the difference in allowing him to function well enough to play.

That said, even if Rodgers is well enough to play, he will not be at 100 percent. This could show up as fatigue in the arm as the game goes on or as ineffectiveness if he absorbs a lot of contact and finds himself hitting the ground with that sore shoulder. His offensive line will have to make an extra effort to protect him in order to keep him in the game, and his best chance of lasting will come if the Packers can balance their running and passing games.

Fantasy owners and Packers fans will just have to wait and see whether 48 hours are enough.

Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati Bengals: Palmer is listed as questionable, but all signs after Friday's practice point to him starting in Dallas. Palmer is recovering from an inflamed right (throwing) elbow and was held to very limited activity and lots of treatment early in the week. Friday, however, was a different matter, as Palmer was a full participant in practice, making short, intermediate and long throws, according to the Bengals' Web site.

Coach Marvin Lewis said that if Palmer had no setbacks Saturday, "all systems are go." No news appears to be good news, and Palmer looks as if he will start Sunday. Even if he does start, Palmer's elbow likely is not 100 percent recovered. If he takes a lot of hits, as has been the case so far this year, or if he is forced to throw hard and throw often, he could start to feel the elbow acting up. If the pain returns or if his throwing becomes ineffective, Palmer will be forced to make an early exit. Palmer wants to play, but all along, the concern he's expressed after discussions with the medical staff is ensuring that this does not turn into a more serious, lingering problem. Palmer might start, but he might not finish.

Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore Ravens: McGahee is listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision Sunday. The consolation for fantasy owners is that the Ravens play a 1 p.m. ET game. The downside is that a running-back-by-committee situation might be only enhanced by McGahee's latest setback. He wants to play, but given that he still is recovering from a shot to the ribs on a short week, the bulk of the carries might shift to the Le'Ron McClain-Ray Rice tandem.

McGahee has demonstrated his toughness, suiting up for Monday night's game despite suffering a lacerated eyelid and a poke in the eye in Week 3. His eye was not completely healed, as was evident if you saw him standing on the sidelines late in the game, helmet off, blood still visible in his eye. He was on the sidelines because he was forced out early after taking a bruising hit to the chest. In the absence of a fracture, the primary limitation from bruised ribs is pain, hence the team's choice to wait to make a decision until Sunday, allowing for maximum recovery. For his part, McGahee told The Baltimore Sun he just wants to finish a game, something he has not been able to do yet this year with all the physical abuse he has endured. Let's see. The Ravens play the tough Tennessee Titans defense Sunday. Sorry, Willis, this might not be the week.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Despite his questionable tag, various reports suggest Roethlisberger is likely to start Sunday night's game against the Jaguars. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is reporting that coach Mike Tomlin said Thursday, "I think he's going to be fine." Roethlisberger still is dealing with soreness in his throwing shoulder since spraining his AC joint in Week 1. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Roethlisberger received an injection in his shoulder Thursday, which probably is what allowed him to practice for the first time all week on Friday.

Of course Big Ben is still sore! He keeps getting hit, knocked down and otherwise buried by opposing defenses. The more he lands on a joint in which the ligaments are trying to heal, the harder it is for them to do so. I know, I know, it does not take a medical degree to figure this out. But it's worth highlighting why it is so difficult for Roethlisberger to truly improve from week to week; he's lucky to just maintain. Something tells me it won't get much easier against the Jags, despite some of their own defensive injury woes. If Roethlisberger is struggling, don't be surprised if Tomlin trots out Byron Leftwich to face his former team. Tomlin has been expressing confidence in Leftwich and his ability to step up if needed all week. Makes you wonder whether he has a plan.

Other noteworthy items

&#8226 Philadelphia Eagles tight end L.J. Smith is listed as questionable but is expected to play. Smith sat out this past Sunday with a back injury but was able to fully participate in practice throughout the week. Teammate Donovan McNabb still is sore from the chest bruise he sustained in Week 3, which is why the team limited him in practice early in the week. McNabb practiced fully Thursday and Friday and is listed as probable, indicating the Eagles expect to see him on the field.

&#8226 Tennessee Titans running back LenDale White is listed as probable with a sore shoulder. This shoulder ailment is the one that caused him to exit practice early Sept. 25, but he proved this past Sunday that he could play through it. The team held him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday, no doubt raising some concerned eyebrows among fantasy owners, but White practiced fully Friday, confirming his readiness to play. Meanwhile, the news is not so good for one of his teammates, wide receiver Justin Gage. Gage missed a game earlier in the season due to a groin injury and apparently now will be sidelined with a right knee injury. He is listed as doubtful and did not practice all week, never a good combination heading into the weekend. The Nashville City paper reported that Gage was wearing a brace early in the week, suggesting a sprain of some sort. Although there have been no specifics as to the nature of Gage's injury, the Titans' bye in Week 6 will come at a good time, hopefully allowing him to return by Week 7.

&#8226 Cincinnati Bengals running back Chris Perry made some fantasy owners nervous when he showed up on the injury report with a hamstring ailment this week. The probable designation should put minds at ease, though, as Perry practiced fully Thursday and Friday with no reported setbacks. It appears the decision to rest him somewhat Wednesday was largely precautionary, especially with backup Kenny Watson recovering from a more significant hamstring strain of his own. Watson is listed as questionable, and his availability is far less certain.

&#8226 Good news for Seattle's receiving corps! Welcome back Bobby Engram and Deion Branch. Both receivers are listed as probable, and both are expected to play. Branch is about eight months post-ACL reconstruction and has been working on the confidence aspect of recovery. He has strength and stamina, but the biggest hurdle for many players following this type of injury is having confidence that the knee will hold up when they return to the playing field. As Branch told The Seattle Times earlier in the week, "My leg was healed a long time ago. It's the mental part I had to break through." Expect him to start Sunday but perhaps see less playing time, as the Seahawks might ease him back into the position. Engram returns from a shoulder fracture sustained during the preseason. He practiced fully all week and is expected to play. It is unclear how much time he will see on the field, but the fact that he did so well in practice, despite it being the first week he had practiced with the team since the injury, bodes well for him.

[+] EnlargeBernard Berrian
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesGus Frerrote is really hoping Berrian can play given the state of Viking receivers.
&#8226 The Minnesota Vikings had a surprise addition to the injury report that will affect fantasy owners. Wide receiver Bernard Berrian, who has been hampered by a toe injury for much of the season, now has a knee injury that has downgraded him to questionable for Monday night. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Berrian was "clearly hobbled" during the limited portion of practice available to the media Friday. The late addition to the injury report implies the injury is recent, and in the absence of any further details about the injury itself, it is unclear whether this is a short-term or long-term problem. Either way, Berrian does get an extra day to rest his knee, but it might not be enough to allow him to go Monday night. Meanwhile, teammate Sidney Rice still is struggling with his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) sprain. Although he was active this past Sunday, he played only a limited amount and was held to one catch for 6 yards. After he was limited in practice every day this week, it does not appear he has made great strides. He is listed as questionable for Monday night. The knee instability associated with this injury makes it tough for a receiver to jump, land and pivot normally. Remember that last season, it took Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson several weeks to return to the field after a similar injury.

&#8226 While the Vikings' receivers might be in trouble, at least their star running back feels like he is back to his old, er, young self. Adrian Peterson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he feels his hamstring now is 100 percent healthy. "I really feel like me being out there 90 percent, 95 percent, I can go out there and run full speed. As far as opening it up and really shifting to another gear, I haven't been there. But I've been able to go out and get away from guys still, so it hasn't affected my game. But me just being 100 percent, no tweaks, just feeling good, feeling fresh, like I felt when we started the season, it's a good feeling inside." Good news for Vikings fan and Peterson fantasy owners alike.

And a couple of IDP tidbits

Charles Woodson, CB, Green Bay Packers: Despite his toe injury, he is performing and will continue to do so. He is listed as probable and is expected to play.

Derrick Brooks, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brooks is listed as questionable with the hamstring injury that bothered him throughout Week 4. Well, it bothered him in practice, but it certainly didn't affect his monster productivity. He again is expected to play Sunday, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Brooks practiced on a limited basis throughout the week, and his presence as a team leader on defense is incredibly valuable.

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 additions to the "out" list for Week 5.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Did anyone who saw the hit that leveled Boldin this past Sunday really think he would be back in uniform this week? Probably not, but the team did not officially rule him out until Friday. Boldin underwent a corrective procedure to address a fractured sinus and will continue to recuperate from that and his split lip. I would not be surprised to see Boldin out Week 6 as well, especially given the fact that the Cardinals have a bye in Week 7. Fantasy owners should make alternate plans.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Chicago Bears: Lloyd had a hip problem earlier in the year, and now he has added a knee injury to the list. Although the team has called it only a knee sprain, Lloyd was wearing a brace and did not practice all week. This appears to be more than a one-week injury.

Joey Galloway, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Same story as the past two weeks. While no details have been given as to the nature of his foot injury, we know such injuries tend to take a while to improve. Galloway's continued absence from practice and presence on the "out" list only serve to confirm that.

Jeremy Shockey, TE, New Orleans Saints: Shockey is doing some more activity but still is only two weeks removed from surgery. He's not yet ready to return to the field. The Saints have hinted his return could come soon. We'll know more next week.

Willie Parker, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Parker apparently wanted to play Sunday, but the coaches are holding him out as a precaution, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Parker's sprained left knee is nearing 100 percent, but with a bye next week, the team chose to give him the extra rest. Fantasy owners, mark your calendars for Oct. 19, when Parker should be back in the lineup.

Samari Rolle, CB, Baltimore Ravens: Rolle is expected to be out at least a month following surgery to address a bulging disc in his neck. The Baltimore Sun reports that the injury, initially thought to be a shoulder problem, occurred Sept. 21 when Rolle intercepted a Derek Anderson pass, but further testing revealed the problem actually was coming from his neck (a common occurrence). Poor Rolle has had his share of challenging ailments during his NFL career. Last season, he was diagnosed with epilepsy and missed six games as a result. He later missed four others due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. Now this. He hopes to be back on the field this season, but some intensive rehab awaits him between now and then. We will keep an eye on his progress.

Sedrick Ellis, DT, New Orleans Saints: Ellis will miss two to four weeks after undergoing surgery to address a meniscus tear in his right knee. The good news is that the injury is less serious than it could have been. The Saints have gotten great production out of their first-round pick and hope to again when he returns.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET. Good luck in Week 5!

First bye week, first major substitutions for fantasy owners whose top draft picks are resting. And then there are those pesky injuries that complicate matters. This week, the injury picture actually looks much clearer in terms of who will sit and who will start, with a couple of notable exceptions. But even when they start, the big question for fantasy owners is, will those semi-healthy players be productive?



Here's what we know as we head into the Week 4 contests:

Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles:
The answer to the question, "Will he or won't he suit up Sunday night?" remains the same as it was Wednesday when we last discussed Westbrook's injury status. We don't know. What we do know is that through a complete week, Westbrook has not practiced because of his sore ankle. We also know that the game is Sunday night. And if past performance is an indication of projection, we know that Westbrook is entirely capable of showing up big in a game without practicing at all during the week. He's done it before.

That being said, his latest injury appears to be consistent with a high ankle sprain. Even in the mildest of cases, this is a tough injury to recover from and move effectively as a running back in just one week. Westbrook seems to know his body well and knows when he can and cannot push through something. I believe that when he is a game-time decision, as he will be this week, it truly will be a matter of him warming up pregame to assess how effective he can be before a decision is made. The problem for fantasy owners is the timing of the game. Unless Correll Buckhalter, who will start in Westbrook's place if he cannot go, is on your bench, you may not have the luxury of waiting. At this point, his questionable designation, which literally is intended to translate to an athlete having a 50-50 chance of playing, appears right on point.

Brett Favre, QB, Jets:
Although Favre appeared noticeably hobbled by his ankle early in the week, per ESPN reports he seemed to move better in practice each day. Most importantly, he did, in fact, practice every day, albeit on a limited basis. He is listed as questionable, but there seems to be no danger of his consecutive start streak being broken. Favre has played with injuries far more serious than this. Nonetheless, he is a quarterback who makes plays with his feet. Stiffness and pain in the ankle could hamper his mobility and render him less effective in that area of his game. Expect him to play, but know that he may have to unload the ball more quickly if he can't escape the rush as easily.

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals:
Palmer was a late addition to the injury reports this week, showing up Friday as limited in practice with soreness in his right (throwing) elbow. Coach Marvin Lewis pointed out that Palmer had been hit "quite a bit" in last week's matchup against the New York Giants, but in reality he has been getting hit quite a bit all season. The evidence? A broken nose in the preseason, a sprained ankle in Week 2, and now an elbow ailment.

But Palmer, according to the Bengals' official Web site, seemed to attribute his elbow issues to overuse. It is worth noting that soreness that typically occurs at the elbow associated with overuse is related to the muscles that control grip. Wide grip, such as is necessary to grip a football, is particularly taxing. If indeed this is an overuse issue, it could potentially hang around for a while, as in weeks. A mild case may not be of much concern, but if it continues to become aggravated as Palmer plays, it could be a bigger concern down the line.



Both Lewis and Palmer have suggested that the rest Friday means he will be ready to go Sunday, despite the questionable tag next to his name. If the elbow is still sore, it could affect his grip on the ball and his ability to throw hard. It will be interesting to see how he fares during the game and how his elbow responds afterward. At the moment, it does not appear that it will limit him terribly this Sunday, but it wouldn't hurt for him to get some better protection. I'm sure he wouldn't disagree.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers:
Tomlinson's performance Monday night was a welcome sight for Chargers fans and his fantasy owners. Although he is not 100 percent recovered from the injury to his big toe, LT certainly showed familiar sparks, especially when driving straight ahead. Cutting is still somewhat problematic, which is to be expected with this type of injury.

Tomlinson was able to practice more this week, also a good sign that his toe is improving. He is listed as probable and is expected to play. Tomlinson has enjoyed great success against the Raiders in the past and no doubt intends to try to maintain that trend.

Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens:
Finally, McGahee gets into the game to contribute, and we can breathe easier that he is past the recovery mode for his recent knee scope. Except then he gets poked in the eye. In fact, McGahee suffered enough of a cut on his eyelid that it caused a fair amount of swelling around his eye. He was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday because he was literally having difficulty seeing becuase of the swelling. Coach John Harbaugh told the Baltimore Sun that he would play Monday night "as long as he could see." Things seem to be going in the right direction, since McGahee was a full participant in Friday's practice. With a couple more days to further treat the eyelid, McGahee, listed as probable, should be good to go. Keep in mind that the running back committee of McGahee, Le'Ron McClain (also listed as probable on the injury report because of his ankle and back) and Ray Rice will likely be in play.

Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, RB, Vikings:
Peterson was limited in Week 3 by a hamstring strain sustained in Week 2. The best news coming out of last week's game was that Peterson said his hamstring felt good. Peterson was restricted in practice throughout the week, which makes good sense with a still-recovering muscle strain. Another week removed from injury means another week closer to healing, especially given that there appear to have been no setbacks. Although he is listed as questionable, expect Peterson to play.

Peterson's teammate Taylor has been added to the injury report because of his foot. Although specifics have been hard to come by, Taylor, too, was limited in practice. With his injury being more recent and Peterson on the upswing, expect Taylor, also listed as questionable, to play but Peterson is likely to resume the primary role.

Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings:
Rice sprained his knee (posterior cruciate ligament or PCL) in Week 2 and sat out Week 3 as a result. He remained limited in practice this week and is listed as questionable. Rice hopes to get in the game, but with a PCL injury, he has some instability in the knee. The key for him is whether he has adequate muscular strength to compensate for the stability deficit so that he can run, jump and land effectively enough to play the position and not risk further injury. He is also likely to be a game-time decision but could see some action.



Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders:
McFadden played in Week 3 despite suffering a turf toe injury the week before. He was not at his best, and appeared to have trouble with his footing on the turf. Whether that was attributable to his toe at all is uncertain, but he did wear a stiffer shoe to help support the toe, which does alter the ability to push off.

This week, McFadden was rested on Wednesday, then returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday; he is still not fully healed. But Justin Fargas is out with his still-healing groin injury (look for him to potentially return following the Raiders' Week 5 bye) and McFadden is again expected to start, despite the questionable designation. Michael Bush will no doubt get some work to spell McFadden, and given that he is not at full health, there is risk that McFadden exits early. Nonetheless, he is lined up to get the bulk of the work as of now.

Devin Hester, WR, Bears:
Hester is still experiencing enough pain to significantly restrict his practice activity. Hester, who sat out last week's game with torn cartilage in his ribs, does not appear ready to go just yet. He is listed as questionable for this week's game against the Eagles, but the relevance of his position cannot be underestimated. Yes, he is seeing time at wide receiver. But his most important role is as a kick returner and, as such, he is the target of an entire squad whose sole goal is to hit him and bring him down. He knows he will have to absorb impact and potentially a lot of it. His chances for playing do not appear great at this point, but he will be a game-time decision.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers:
Despite an injured hand at the end of last week's contest and a shoulder sprain the week before that, Roethlisberger has practiced all week and is off the injury report. Ah, the allure of Monday Night Football at home when you're a Steeler.



Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns:
Edwards was limited early in the week in practice with a shoulder injury, but was able to practice fully on Friday and is listed as probable for Sunday. Edwards played last week despite a listing as questionable, so his status has only improved. He did not do much last week, but he did catch the balls thrown his way, which was an improvement over the first two weeks. The Browns are likely to throw more his way this week, so expect his performance to go up again Sunday.

LenDale White, RB, Titans:
White made an early exit from practice Thursday with what the Titans called a shoulder problem, but it did not appear serious at the time. That appeared to be confirmed by the fact that White was a full participant in Friday's practice. He is listed as probable and is expected to play Sunday. White's physical style of running is likely to make him susceptible to bumps and bruises along the way. He showed last year that he could play through some discomfort, so this episode is not of great concern.

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers:
Grant's hamstring has been the source of much concern for Packer fans and Grant's fantasy owners. His condition has steadily improved and this week he is off the injury report. Expect Grant to start Sunday. His hamstring should not hold him back, but the Tampa Bay defense might.

And a couple of IDP updates


Charles Woodson, CB, Packers:
Despite the toe injury, he is performing and will continue to do so. He is listed as probable and is expected to play.

Tommie Harris, DT, Bears:
Ongoing problems with his knee are the challenge for Harris. He is listed as questionable after not practicing at all this week. Very questionable indeed.

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 additions to the "Out" listing for Week 4.

Joey Galloway, WR, Buccaneers: Same story as last week: foot injury and 37 years old now. Bad combination. Galloway did not practice at all this week, so this is looking as if it could last a while.

Roscoe Parrish, WR, Bills: Parrish is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a thumb injury, a la Marques Colston. Better replace him on your roster.

Justin Fargas, RB, Raiders: The groin injury that caused him to miss last week forces him to sit again. Look for him to possibly return in Week 6 after the Raiders' bye week. Meanwhile, McFadden and Bush pick up the load in Oakland.

Jeremy Shockey, TE, Saints: Shockey had surgery this week to repair a sports hernia. Reports of his timetable vary widely, but based on the average recovery time for this procedure, plan on at least a four-week absence.

Jason Taylor, DE, Redskins: Taylor took a blow to the leg and had to undergo a procedure to drain the resulting blood and relieve the pressure on the nerves and blood vessels to his foot. Sounds bad, but the procedure is not complicated. The important thing is getting to it in time. Thankfully, that was the case for Taylor, but it will take him some time to recover. If he's on your IDP list, seek out a replacement.

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: We have not been given the specifics of the injury that is forcing Parker to the sidelines, but when a coach says a player is "week-to-week" as Mike Tomlin did in his news conference this week, it does not sound good. Best to ensure that you have a 2-4 week replacement.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at 12 p.m. ET. Good luck in Week 4!

Keeping close tabs on Westbrook, Parker

September, 24, 2008
9/24/08
12:58
PM ET
Since Monday, we have received some good news for one high-profile fantasy running back and some not-so-good news for another. One quarterback could be making a return from injury this Sunday, but could another be sidelined?



Let's take a look at how things are shaping up in preparation for Week 4.

Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: I made the case Monday that in the absence of major MRI findings, this could be one of those classic Brian Westbrook weeks where he is banged up one Sunday, rests during the week, then returns to outperform everyone else the following week. Well, the MRI on Westbrook's ankle came back negative, meaning that no major structural damage to ligaments, tendons or bone was uncovered. So everyone wants to know: Will he suit up on Sunday or won't he?



The answer is ... we don't know yet. One positive is that Westbrook was walking without a boot when he went to a Philadelphia radio station to do his Monday night show. On that show, Westbrook indicated that his ankle was still sore. He classified his injury as "closer to a high ankle sprain than anything else," and if you saw how he hurt himself, this is not surprising. Westbrook was attempting to jump over teammate Tra Thomas' leg but ended up landing on him with his left foot. This resulted in Westbrook's right foot coming down awkwardly and catching in the turf, causing him immediate pain. His leg twisted relative to his foot in a way that is consistent with the mechanism for a high ankle sprain.



When asked if he would be ready to go Sunday, Westbrook did not answer directly, but said that his plan is to "rehab his butt off" and do everything he needs to do to be ready to go. He said that he will see where he is Saturday and Sunday to determine whether he can go. Right now this is a situation that is too early to call. It likely will come down to a gametime decision, so be sure to have a backup ready. But know this: Westbrook knows his body and if he plays, he expects to perform.

Willie Parker
Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesIt probably isn't a good sign that Willie Parker was already declared out for Monday night's game so early in the week.
Willie Parker, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Tuesday news conferences can be full of surprises. And so it was when Mike Tomlin ran down his injury list for the media. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was notably absent, which implies that his hand injury from Sunday doesn't have the team too concerned. The big surprise, however, was Willie Parker who, before Sunday, had been off to a fabulous start in 2008. Now we learn that he has a sprained left knee and that he will not play Monday night when the Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens. Welcome to the NFL, Rashard Mendenhall! Nothing like getting your first start under the bright lights of Monday night.

In the meantime, the Steelers have released no specifics about Parker's knee, making a timetable impossible to project. Tomlin's comment, however, that Parker's status is "week-to-week" suggests that there is reason to fret about him missing extended time.

Brett Favre, QB, New York Jets: Favre reportedly sprained his ankle during Monday night's beatdown by the San Diego Chargers. ESPN's Ed Werder indicated that a source close to Favre says his ankle is "very sore," but added that Favre is expected to play Sunday. Based on past performance, and his record consecutive games streak, we know that Favre will play through some pain. An ankle sprain could certainly hamper his mobility, and for a quarterback who is known to save plays at times with his feet, it could become a factor. The bigger factor, however, has to be whether he misses valuable practice time, as he is still working to solidify his familiarity with the playbook and his receivers.

Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore Ravens: McGahee returned to full capacity Sunday, and he did rush for 64 yards and a TD. Unfortunately, he suffered a cut over his right eyelid, but according to the Baltimore Sun, he is expected to play this week. A word of caution is in order, though. Everyone in Baltimore -- the coaches and the running backs themselves -- seems to be very comfortable with the concept of a running-back rotation, so expect McGahee, Le'Ron McClain and Ray Rice to continue to share time.

Damon Huard, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: Huard could be back under center for the Chiefs this week, according to Associated Press reports. Coach Herm Edwards has hinted that he's leaning toward starting Huard, who was sidelined following a neck/head injury in Week 2. Tyler Thigpen replaced him and remained the starter in Week 3, but the results were not so good. The team's original starting signal-caller, Brodie Croyle, suffered a separated shoulder in Week 1 and is not expected to return until mid-October.

On Monday, we indicated that a positive injury note coming out of Week 3 was the seemingly no-worse-for-wear statuses of Adrian Peterson and Darren McFadden. Add LaDainian Tomlinson to that group. Tomlinson told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he, too, was feeling better after Monday night's game. Although he clearly wasn't 100 percent, the LT we know and love was spotted at times during the game, and he appeared able to run and drive harder. As he told the Union-Tribune, "If my toe feels like it does now, I think I'll practice for the full week this week." Don't be surprised if his practice activity is limited given the relatively short week, but this news is certainly encouraging.

There are some players whose practice activity this week should give us more information by Saturday (Devin Hester, ribs; Ryan Grant, hamstring; Justin Gage, groin; Justin Fargas, groin; to name a few). Remember there are bye weeks for Detroit, Indianapolis, New England, Miami, New York Giants and Seattle, so we will not get much information on player injury updates from those teams until next week.



See you Friday at the injury chat, and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 4 in the Saturday morning blog!

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