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Saturday, September 24, 2011
Injury updates on Romo, Foster, more


Tony Romo
If Tony Romo plays this week, it's unclear how effective he'll be able to be.

It's hard to top a punctured lung when it comes to NFL injury reports, so Tony Romo wins for the most dramatic injury of Week 2. He's arguably a contender for playing through the most pain too. And the Dallas Cowboys still beat the San Francisco 49ers, inflicting their own pain on the Bay Area as they have been known to do.

Running back Arian Foster's hamstring was not quite ready for prime time, and quarterback Michael Vick suffered a concussion after colliding face-first with his own offensive lineman. The worst luck award goes to the New York Giants, who lost two wide receivers to injury, one for the remainder of the season.

Beyond the pain of watching the injuries pile up for their favorite teams, some fantasy owners are struggling after just two weeks to fill out a starting roster. As a result, this blog entry grows longer each week.

Good luck in Week 3, everyone! May your players stay healthy and win for you.

Quarterbacks

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys, ribs (no designation): Romo's injury has been discussed plenty. The bottom line as of this writing is that Romo's lung has healed, as measured by a follow-up CT scan taken Thursday. The issue is whether the residual pain from the broken rib will keep him from taking the field Monday night. We've heard about him being fitted with a special vest lined with padding made of, among other things, Kevlar.

He has been sleeping in a recliner -- not uncommon after a rib/lung injury -- and is, by all accounts, fairly miserable. But this will be the Cowboys' home opener on a Monday night, and the feeling in Dallas is that when game time rolls around, Romo will do all he can to take the field. The bigger question for fantasy owners is how effective he can be moving and throwing the football. With Romo not practicing much this week, it's hard to gauge. On Saturday morning, the Dallas Morning News reported Romo was wearing a helmet and throwing passes in the portion of practice open to the media.

He's bound to be somewhat stiff, but pain medicine prior to game time might enable him to move a little more easily. The more he has to run (translation: breathe harder) and the more he gets hit, the more difficult it will be for him. The Washington Redskins have made no secret of the fact that they are coming after him. Will the adrenaline be enough to help Romo survive what is bound to be another challenging outing? Keep in mind the rest of his offensive weapons are fairly banged up as well. He may play, and so far it appears likely he will give it a go, but it could be a tough night.

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles, concussion (Q): Vick made steady improvements throughout the week on a graded progression implemented by the team. Cleared to practice by Thursday afternoon, Vick returned Friday, indicating there have been no setbacks thus far. If that remains the case, Vick will start for the Eagles on Sunday.

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, knee (P): Ryan took it easy in practice Wednesday and Thursday but was a full participant Friday. He is expected to start in Tampa Bay.

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, ankle (P): Newton was seen wearing an ankle boot at the start of the week, enough to make some fantasy owners nervous. When asked about the ankle, Newton described it as "luscious." We think that's a good thing. In any event, Newton did not miss any practice time and is expected to start again in Week 3.

Jason Campbell, Oakland Raiders, foot (P): Campbell was on the injury report last week with the same ailment but played Sunday. He again put in full practices daily and is expected to start against the Jets.

Running backs

Arian Foster, Houston Texans, hamstring (Q): With teammate Derrick Ward again ruled out early (ankle, shoulder), it appears the team plans to be more conservative with Foster this week after he played in the first half only of the Week 2 contest. Ben Tate appears set to start and has proven himself early. Coach Gary Kubiak said Tate had been given an opportunity because of injury and had taken advantage of it. As one astute observer pointed out on Twitter this week, "Isn't that how Foster got his opportunity?" (Last year Tate suffered a season-ending ankle injury, opening the door for Foster.) The injury curse, it appears, spares no one. The team also has Steve Slaton available. Foster's status is likely to come down to a game-time decision, but the most likely scenario appears to be that Foster will be active but very limited in his workload.

Steven Jackson, quadriceps; Cadillac Williams, hamstring, St. Louis Rams (Q): Between the two of them, an entire thigh -- front and back -- is straining the Rams' running game. Initially, given that Jackson warmed up and tested his quad before Monday night's game, it seemed as if a return was not far off. Jackson didn't practice until Thursday, however, and did so on a limited basis. He appears to be shaping up as a game-time decision again.

Meanwhile, Williams, who started in Jackson's place Monday night, is dealing with a hamstring strain that kept him out of practice until Friday. Even then, Williams did only limited activity. Neither back's status inspires confidence heading into Sunday's game.

Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns, illness (Q): Hillis showed up at the practice facility ill on Friday and was sent home to rest and get fluids. The sense is that he will be able to play Sunday, but it depends how recovered he is by game time.

Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys, shoulder (no designation): Jones does not have to play until Monday night, and it appears he will take the field. He reportedly dislocated his shoulder in Week 2 but could be seen on the sidelines being outfitted with a shoulder harness. He ultimately returned to the game. After resting Thursday, Jones did limited work Friday, and although he is likely to be in a protective brace, it looks as if he'll play Monday.

Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals, hamstring (Q): Wells injured his hamstring in Thursday's practice but downplayed it later via Twitter. Hmm. Wells is no stranger to the lower extremity injury, having dealt with foot and ankle issues out of college and into his rookie season and a meniscus injury last year that resulted in a few missed weeks following surgery. Now he's dealing with a hamstring strain. Even if Wells plays, and he did return for limited practice Friday, this latest injury serves as a reminder that he has not been the most durable back.

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos, hamstring (Q): Moreno is still struggling to recover from the hamstring injury that kept him out in Week 2. Although Moreno returned to practice this week, he did only limited work each day and remains questionable heading into Sunday.

Mike Tolbert, San Diego Chargers, calf (P): Tolbert did not practice at all Wednesday or Thursday, causing deep concern among fantasy owners as to whether he would miss Week 3. Take a deep breath everyone. Tolbert was able to return to full practice Friday and indicated he expects to play. There is certainly a possibility of Tolbert aggravating his calf during the game, but the hope is that the rest he got early in the week will help guard against that.

Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans, ribs (P): Sore ribs kept Johnson out of practice Wednesday, but he was back to full work Thursday and Friday. Johnson is expected to play. The question is whether he can return to form, something not seen in the first two weeks.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders, shoulder (P): McFadden appeared in this column last week with the same designation and played on Sunday. McFadden did light work Wednesday and Thursday but returned to full practice Friday. He is expected to play this week when the Raiders host the Jets.

Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins, groin (P): Last week it was Bush's teammate Daniel Thomas who was on the injury report with a hamstring strain. Now Thomas is healthy (as evidenced by his 100-yard game last week) and Bush is working through a groin strain. It clearly is on the mild side since Bush practiced fully every day this week. At probable, he is expected to play.

Marion Barber, Chicago Bears, calf (Q): Barber seems to move up a notch each week. After being ruled out early in Week 1, Barber progressed to doubtful in Week 2 (and ended up sitting out). This week Barber participated in limited practice early but moved up to full practice Friday and is listed as questionable. For his part, Barber expects to be on the field in Week 3.

Wide receivers

Miles Austin, hamstring; Dez Bryant, thigh, Dallas Cowboys (no designation): Austin suffered a hamstring strain in mid-August, came back to start the season with a bang then aggravated the injury in Week 2 against the 49ers. Initial reports had Austin out for multiple weeks, but as with any soft tissue injury, the timetable is uncertain. Although there is no designation yet for Austin since this is a Monday night game, he has not practiced and is expected to sit out Week 3.

Bryant sat out Week 2 with a thigh contusion and had not done anything until Saturday morning when he took part in some passing drills. Bryant will likely turn up as questionable and may be a game-time decision, but there's no doubting that the Cowboys would like to have him on the field in some capacity. Judging by his late addition to practice this week, even if he suits up, he's not likely at full strength just yet.

Mario Manningham
Mario Manningham suffered a concussion against the Rams.

Mario Manningham, New York Giants, concussion (D): Manningham suffered a concussion in Monday night's game and did not make enough progress to return to practice in this shortened week. The doubtful tag confirms the likelihood he sits out this one. After losing Domenik Hixon to a second ACL tear in less than two years (he has been placed on injured reserve), the Giants are moving down the depth chart for wide receiver help. Michael Clayton was signed this week as a result. Hakeem Nicks, who was questionable in Week 2 with a bone bruise in his knee, thankfully emerged relatively unscathed from Monday night's game. He is not on the injury report this week.

Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers, groin (D): Floyd has not been able to practice all week with a groin injury, and as the doubtful tag indicates, he is not expected to play.

Roy Williams, Chicago Bears, groin (Q): Williams has been challenged with a groin strain since training camp. Although he did limited work Wednesday, Williams practiced fully Thursday and Friday and appears as if he will play Sunday when the Bears host the Green Bay Packers. Given the questionable tag, be sure to check game-day inactive reports Sunday morning.

Jacoby Jones, knee; Kevin Walter, shoulder/thigh, Houston Texans (Q): Jones did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of his knee but did return to limited work Friday. Walter was a limited participant all week. Both Jones and Walter have a chance to play, but be sure to check pregame inactives Sunday.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Denver Broncos (P): Lloyd sat out Week 2 after injuring his groin in the season opener. Lloyd was back to full practice Thursday and Friday, and the probable tag indicates the team expects to have him on the field.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, ankle (P): Johnson rolled his ankle in Week 1 but was able to play in Week 2. As is not unusual for Johnson, he was held out of Wednesday practice to rest the ankle but returned to limited work Thursday and Friday. Expect Johnson to play.

Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings, illness (P): Harvin missed practice Thursday with an undisclosed illness, but coach Leslie Frazier indicated he did not believe migraines were the culprit. Harvin returned to a regular practice Friday and is expected to play.

Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans, thigh (P): Britt appeared to aggravate his hamstring earlier in the week but was back in business Thursday and Friday and is expected to play. While this appears to have been just a small bump in the road, this is a reminder to fantasy owners that Britt's hamstring is a recurrent issue and at some point could present a bigger problem.

Santonio Holmes, New York Jets, quadriceps (P): Holmes has played through this and will again.

Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks, shoulder (P): Coach Pete Carroll has already indicated that Rice is going to play. It remains to be seen how well he fares in an actual game where there will be more contact and no doubt some awkward landings. Those will be the test for his shoulder.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders, knee (P): Heyward-Bey injured his knee in practice last week and ended up missing the game as a result. This week he has improved and practiced fully Thursday and Friday. The team expects him to play against the Jets, but Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy remain out.

Mohamed Massaquoi, Cleveland Browns, ankle (Q): Massaquoi has had a foot issue, and now it's the ankle. He was limited in practice throughout the week and, although questionable, is expected to play.

Tight ends

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers, foot (Q): We knew Gates was going to be challenged by the foot throughout the season. We just didn't know how long it would take. It appears that time is now. Gates did not practice this week and is listed as questionable. While he has managed to play without practicing before -- and as a veteran it would not be out of the question for him to do so again -- there seems to be some legitimate concern about his availability.

Chris Cooley, Washington Redskins, knee (no designation): Cooley continues to struggle through his knee issues but has been a regular at practice. It seems he will likely play Monday night, but he hasn't been particularly effective yet.

Dallas Clark, Indianapolis Colts, foot (Q): So far, Clark's wrist has held up quite nicely following ligament reconstruction surgery and an extensive rehabilitation process. But now he has a foot injury that was enough to keep him out of practice Friday. Clark did not practice Wednesday, returned to limited work Thursday and was kept out Friday, which is never encouraging.

The Colts are notorious for listing the majority of their injured players as questionable (this week there are 12), making it hard to determine which players really have a shot at seeing the field. Clark is a key receiving option (although he hasn't been located much by Kerry Collins), and it would seem that if he is able to play through this, he will. Backup tight end Jacob Tamme, also questionable, has been on the injury report with a concussion, and it is unclear whether he will be available, although he did put in a full practice Friday. To make matters worse for fantasy owners, this is a Sunday night game, so the definitive status will not come until late.

Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers, ankle (P): Finley has been on the injury report since the start of the season with the ankle but has played each week. He was a regular in practice all week and is expected to play this Sunday in Chicago.

Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars, calf (P): Lewis strained his calf in Week 1 and missed Week 2 as a result. Lewis was able to practice fully Thursday and Friday and is expected to return this weekend.

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:

Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts, neck: Manning will be out for several months after undergoing a cervical fusion.

Derrick Ward, RB, Houston Texans, shoulder/ankle: Ward missed Week 2 because of a high ankle sprain and will sit out again this week.

Eddie Royal, WR, Denver Broncos, groin: Royal injured his groin in Week 2 and could miss a couple of weeks.

Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints, shoulder: Colston is still recovering from his broken clavicle and will be out in Week 3.

Osi Umenyiora, DE, New York Giants, knee: Umenyiora, who underwent meniscus surgery late in the preseason, is still not practicing and will sit out again this week.

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