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Saturday, November 27, 2010
Week 12 Saturday injury update


Hopefully everyone enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving complete with family, friends and a whole helping of football. And hopefully everyone remembered to set their early fantasy football lineups. The bulk of the games are yet to be played, though, so there is more than enough injury news for this post-Thanksgiving Saturday. There's still time to make last-minute switches, so be sure to notice the slate of players already ruled out and the late additions to the injury report.

On that note, we turn to the guys we're talking about for the remaining Week 12 contests …

Quarterbacks

Chad Henne, Miami Dolphins, (Q): Here's a recap of Henne's past two weeks. Week 10: He's benched. Oh, wait! Chad Pennington's hurt. Henne steps in. But wait! Now Henne's hurt. Oh, no! He's done for the year. Then again, maybe not! Henne's in uniform in Week 11, dressed as the No. 3 emergency quarterback while Tyler Thigpen gets the start. Oh, no! That didn't work out so well for the Dolphins. What's that we're hearing? Henne is practicing? Henne might actually start against the Oakland Raiders this week? It turns out that yes, indeed, this could be the case. In a move that seemed highly unlikely just two weeks ago, Henne could resume his starting role for the Dolphins on Sunday.

 Chad Henne
Chad Henne, who looked to be headed to IR just two weeks ago, may start against Oakland.
Just 10 days after suffering a serious-looking knee injury against the Tennessee Titans, Henne was on the practice field Wednesday getting some reps with the first team while sporting a protective brace. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, a source close to the situation says coach Tony Sparano is leaning toward Henne as his starter against the Raiders. For his part, Henne says the knee is feeling better every day. He told the Sun-Sentinel, "Overall, I have had much improvement over the past week and I feel pretty good."

There are two primary concerns when a quarterback is attempting to return from injury: Can he perform effectively, and can he protect himself from further injury? In Henne's case, the Dolphins may be more concerned about the latter, given the injuries to the guys whose job it is to protect him. Key members of the Dolphins' offensive line are battling injuries of their own. Left tackle Jake Long suffered a shoulder dislocation against the Titans resulting in significant tissue damage, including a torn labrum, which leaves his shoulder unstable and no doubt uncomfortable. Long is trying to battle through the injury but struggled in Week 11. Meanwhile, center Joe Berger is listed as questionable with a knee injury, and right tackle Vernon Carey is playing through a knee injury as well. While Henne can wear a protective knee brace, it does not make him bulletproof. He will need to be agile enough to escape the pressure of the Raiders' defense. As of right now it looks like Henne has a shot, but it may not be confirmed until just before game time.

Kerry Collins, Tennessee Titans, (Q): Last week Collins was doubtful with a calf strain suffered in Week 10. Vince Young started, which did not go so well, and by the end of the game we had become acquainted with Rusty Smith. Young is now on injured reserve and Smith will start in Week 12, as Collins is not quite healthy enough for the job. Collins has not practiced all week but could be available in an emergency situation.

Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings, (P): This week Favre's shoulder is back on the list of ailments that have him on the injury report, along with his foot and ankle. None of them will keep him from playing for the new sheriff in town, Leslie Frazier, as the Vikings travel to Washington for Week 12.

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks, (P): Hasselebeck has already played since injuring his left wrist and will do so again this week. He hasn't missed any practice time, but his presence on the injury report reminds us that he does have a cracked bone in his non-throwing wrist.

Donovan McNabb, Washington Redskins, (P): McNabb, like his cohort Favre, might just be a season regular on the injury report. And like Favre, he just keeps on playing.

Jimmy Clausen, Carolina Panthers, (P): The Brian St. Pierre era has come to an end, or at least a stall. Clausen is recovered enough from his concussion to have practiced fully every day this week and is expected to start. St. Pierre has a sore right shoulder and has been limited in practice but is listed as probable. He could be available if necessary.

Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns, (D): Yet another Browns quarterback with a high ankle sprain. McCoy lit a spark for the Browns when he became the signal-caller this season but he will have to return to the role of observer this week. Jake Delhomme will be the starter in Cleveland against his former team.

Running backs

Maurice Jones-Drew
The uncertain nature of Maurice Jones-Drew's injury makes predicting the running back's playing status dicey.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars, (Q): Jones-Drew has been on the injury report multiple times throughout the season but has always managed to show up to play on Sundays. This week he appeared on the report as a limited participant in Thursday practice because of an abdominal injury. Jones-Drew was again limited Friday, but it sounds as if the Jaguars expect him to be able to go for the game. The question becomes just how much this injury will affect him. Abdominal strains can range from mild soreness to more serious injuries that evolve into sports hernia situations. There has been little indication, other than Jones-Drew's limited practices, as to how significant this injury is, but the New York Giants present a tough run defense on any back's good day. This could be a bit of a nail-biter for fantasy owners.

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers, (P): Stewart has been out since suffering a concussion in Week 9 but he's been a full go in practice this entire week. Listed as probable, Stewart is expected to play but the question becomes whether it will be him or teammate Mike Goodson, coming off a couple of strong games, who gets the start.

C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills, (Q): Spiller injured his hamstring in Week 10, then sat out Week 11. Almost from the moment he was injured, the Bills indicated that they would proceed cautiously with Spiller's return.

Spiller provided his take on the situation on the Buffalo Bills' official website after being a limited participant in practice Thursday and Friday. "I've just got to see that my hamstring is fully strengthened and that I'm full speed and I can make the normal cuts," he said. "I can't be timid. In the back of your mind you're going to be thinking 'If I hit an extra gear, what will happen?'." Spiller's concerns are fairly typical for a running back or wide receiver attempting to come back from a muscle strain. Unfortunately, as Spiller intimates, there's no way to truly test the health of the muscle until faced with a game situation. The question is whether the Bills' coaching staff wants that test to come this week. Spiller's status will be a game-time decision based on what the team sees during warm-ups.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles, (P): McCoy has been playing through a rib fracture and a shoulder sprain, but he keeps on chugging along. Expect him to do the same again after practicing all week.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, (D): Mathews did not play in Week 11 after aggravating his early-season high ankle sprain and does not look to see action this week either. He has not yet been able to practice, and the "doubtful" tag pretty much says it all. Mike Tolbert will be the starter for San Diego in a Sunday night matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.

Joseph Addai, (D) and Mike Hart, (Q), Indianapolis Colts: Addai returned to team practice for non-contact drills only this week but was held out of practice completely Friday. Listed as doubtful, he is not expected to play Sunday night. Hart, who has been on the mend from an ankle injury, showed encouraging signs in practice early in the week but did not participate Friday either. Although Hart is listed as questionable and has a chance to play, the late-week downgrade is never encouraging. Donald Brown likely starts again for the Colts.

Wide receivers

Sidney Rice, Minnesota Vikings, (Q): The biggest questions about Rice -- whether he would be able to return this season and be effective -- have been answered. After being activated for Week 11, Rice played the majority of offensive snaps and has shown that he can handle the activity. He was given Thursday off from practice this week, but that shouldn't be too much cause for concern. If anything, expect Rice to become more integrated into the offense as time goes on.

Santana Moss
Santana Moss appeared to injure his hamstring against the Titans.
Santana Moss, Washington Redskins, (Q): Moss appeared to injure his hamstring in the third quarter of Week 11 and, despite continuing to play, did not contribute much after that point. He has not been a full participant in practice since. Moss was limited Wednesday, off Thursday, then limited again Friday. According to The Washington Post, despite Moss feeling improved Friday, coach Mike Shanahan says he will be a game-time decision Sunday depending on how he looks in warm-ups. Fantasy owners will need to pay close attention to pregame inactive reports.

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans (P): For the first time in a long time, Johnson participated fully in practice every day. He will play.

Donald Driver, Green Bay Packers, (P): Driver emerged relatively unscathed from his return to play in Week 11. After practicing on a limited basis Wednesday, he was a full participant Thursday and Friday. He is expected to play against the Atlanta Falcons.

Mike Sims-Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars, (Q): Sims-Walker sprained his ankle in Week 10 and sat out Week 11. He then revealed that he was dealing with a high ankle sprain, a slightly more ominous diagnosis. To the surprise of many, he returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday and Friday and is listed as questionable heading into Week 12. It remains to be seen whether he'll be able to play in a game, but he's not likely to be at full health.

Mike Williams, Seattle Seahawks, (Q): Williams suffered a foot injury in Week 11 that coach Pete Carroll called "unusual." Williams was on crutches and in a boot after the game and, as of Friday, remained in the boot. Despite not practicing at all this week and despite quarterback Matt Hasselbeck indicating to the Seattle Times that the team was planning as if Williams would not be available, he is still being considered a game-time decision. It's a late game, and Williams is still in a protective boot. Fantasy owners are advised to look elsewhere.

Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts, (Q): With teammate Austin Collie already ruled out, Wayne is the sole wide receiver on the injury report this week. The Colts may have him listed as questionable (and he sat out one day of practice as he often does), but after full practice Friday, fantasy owners can feel fairly confident about his availability. The "questionable" tag technically gives him a 50-50 shot to play, but the Colts have been fairly liberal with this designation in the past. It would be a big surprise if Wayne is not on the home turf to face the San Diego Chargers.

Malcom Floyd, (Q) and Legedu Naanee, (P), San Diego Chargers: Another week, another chapter in the Chargers' injury playbook. Wide receiver Patrick Crayton was lost for at least a couple of weeks when he suffered a wrist injury Monday night. Ready to jump into the mix is Vincent Jackson, who will be playing for the first time this season now that his suspension is complete.

Back in the injury department is Floyd, whose hamstring strain caused him to miss Weeks 7 through 9 (Week 10 was a bye), and finally returned to play Monday night. Unfortunately, Floyd tweaked his hamstring during that game, forcing him to skip practice Wednesday and Thursday of this week. He was a limited participant Friday and is listed as questionable with the Chargers likely waiting to see how a few more days of rest will benefit him. In the meantime, teammate Naanee has finally made strides in his recovery from a hamstring injury and is listed as probable. The Chargers expect to have him available Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Rivers has proved adept at throwing to whomever is on the field; fantasy owners just need to make sure they have insurance at the ready for the questionable Chargers since this game takes place Sunday night.

Tight ends

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers, (Q): Gates returned to a limited form of practice Thursday for the first time since tearing the plantar fascia in his right foot. It wasn't an overwhelmingly positive experience for Gates who told reporters he was "incredibly sore." Sore enough that he was not on the field Friday. While coach Norv Turner said, "It didn't get any worse," he also indicated that the team would have to wait to see how Gates was Sunday before making a decision. At this point it would seem that Gates is headed for another week on the sidelines. Randy McMichael, who has filled in with Gates being injured, strained his own hamstring Monday night. The injury was relatively minor, though, and McMichael, listed as probable, is expected to be able to step up again if needed.

Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders, (Q): Miller did return to play in Week 11 but his strained foot was problematic enough to limit him the bulk of the second half. He participated in practice on a limited basis throughout the week and is expected to play. It's just hard for fantasy owners to know what to expect in terms of productivity, as Miller is not yet fully recovered. He continues to improve and remains a favorite receiving target as long as his foot cooperates.

Tony Moeaki, Kansas city Chiefs, (Q): Moeaki sat out Week 11 with a concussion but looks on track to return after full practice this week. As long as there is no recurrence of symptoms before Sunday, Moeaki should be available. Fantasy owners will want to check pregame inactives. This is a late game so it would be wise to have insurance.

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.

Ryan Torain, RB, Washington Redskins: Torain will miss another game with his strained hamstring.

Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants: Smith, with his partially torn pectoral muscle, and Nicks, with his post-compartment syndrome fasciotomy, comprise two of the more colorful injuries on the report. Both are sidelined, and Mario Manningham will continue to get more reps.

Austin Collie, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Collie experienced some recurring symptoms from his concussion and was ruled out early for this week's game.

Owen Daniels, TE, Houston Texans: Daniels is still not past his hamstring injury and will not play. Joel Dreessen continues to be an attractive fantasy option at tight end.

Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans: Britt's Week 8 hamstring injury was serious, and he has not returned to practice.

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday and Friday 3-4 p.m.). Be sure to check out "Fantasy Football Now" on Sunday on ESPN2 from 11:30 a.m. to noon, switching to ESPNEWS from noon-1 p.m. ET for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!