Let's examine the rest of the field and see how things are shaping up for the Week 5 contests.
Travis Henry, Broncos: The Broncos got some good news this week when Henry's MRI results came back negative. While there is no doubt that Henry is sore from getting his leg banged up in Week 4, as far as true injuries go, there appears to be nothing of major concern here. Henry did not participate in practice in order to rest his aching joints and was expected to be a game-time decision Sunday against the Chargers.
Then, the Broncos apparently got some bad news related to Henry. According to ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli, Henry is facing a one-year suspension for a repeat violation of the league's substance-abuse policy. This story as it relates to Henry's status is evolving, but at this point, if you are a Henry owner, you should also own Selvin Young.
Joseph Addai, Colts: Interestingly, after reports on Monday identified Addai's injury as a bruised shoulder, he was then listed on the practice reports as having a chest injury, although no more specifics have been offered. Addai did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, and it is unclear what his status will be for Sunday. Coach Tony Dungy, on the Colts' Web site, indicated that playing decisions would be determined largely by Friday's practice.
Ahman Green, Texans: To say that Green has had a lousy two weeks would be putting it mildly. Green's knee began acting up after Week 3, causing him to miss Week 4. He then suffered a personal loss, the death of his stepfather, this week. In a report on ESPN.com, Green said that his stepfather had been suffering for some time and that he was relieved that his stepfather no longer had to endure the pain associated with his illness. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that the loss weighs heavily on Green. Green did say that he expects to continue on with the team and that participating in football will help him to forge ahead. The question then becomes, will his knee cooperate? To that end, Green did return to practice this week, but on a limited basis. We will see how much he is able to participate in Friday's practice, but Green says his knee is doing much better than at this time last week.
Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, Giants: Jacobs, returning from a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain, sat out Week 4 to allow his knee a few more reps before being subjected to a game situation. Jacobs was still having some stiffness in the knee last week but looks to be moving around even better this week. He participated fully in practice Wednesday and Thursday, and appears ready for a start Sunday. But what about Ward? Ward started Sunday night's contest, despite still having some soreness in his sprained ankle. He held up well through the game, although his ankle is not 100 percent. Ward was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday, probably in an effort to rest his ankle. Ward is also expected to play this weekend, but it is unclear exactly how much. He and Jacobs may split carries for the Giants as a means of protecting them from overuse. Time-shares may be nice for vacations, but they are not ideal for fantasy owners when deciding whom to start. We will watch Friday and Saturday reports closely to see which way the Giants are leaning.
Laurence Maroney, Patriots: We may not get much information from New England, but sitting on the sideline during a game is a picture worth a thousand words. Maroney did not play in Monday night's contest, which hints at his groin injury being more than just an episode of muscle tightness. Interestingly, Maroney reportedly was on the field for warm-ups and then was a late scratch. That would suggest that Maroney was close to going, but last-minute testing was not satisfactory. Maroney remained limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, and if he is again limited Friday, it would not be surprising to see Morris start in his stead, especially after his Monday night performance. Groin injuries are tricky as has been stated many times, and in addition to the obvious difficulties with cutting and lateral movement, the groin muscles contribute to straight line power running. Even if the groin is no longer painful, Maroney needs to have enough strength to be effective or he will watch from the sidelines again. Compounding the situation from a fantasy perspective, Sammy Morris was extremely effective and is still likely to see significant action, even if Maroney returns.
Clinton Portis, Redskins: Remember when Portis' knee pain was lingering in the preseason and we said that the big concern with any "itis" is that it means inflammation is present, and it can recur, particularly with overuse? In Portis' case, the "itis" referred to patellar tendinitis, inflammation of the patellar tendon, the tendon that anchors the strong quadriceps muscle to the leg. Portis had been performing well so far this season and the knee had not been an issue since Week 1. Not, that is, until Week 4. Initial reports, coming from coach Joe Gibbs, suggested that Portis had aggravated his original knee condition. Then on Wednesday, the Washington Post published an article explaining that there had been a miscommunication between Bubba Tyer, the Redskins director of sports medicine, and Gibbs. The clarification went on to say that Portis had actually sustained a Grade I (mild) knee sprain after landing on the knee.
In any case, Portis was held to limited practice on Wednesday. On Thursday, Portis participated fully, suggesting that he tolerated Wednesday's work well. Portis himself said that the knee felt "real good" while running full speed in practice. The big clue will be to see what he does Friday, but if he fully participates, we can expect him to play as usual on Sunday. Portis owners should keep in mind that although this latest episode is being called a knee sprain, the tendinitis could crop up at any point throughout the season.
Brandon Jackson, Packers: Jackson has been out of practice all week with the shin injury that sidelined him in Week 4. It appears that he will not be ready to go this week, but on a brighter note, teammate Vernand Morency does not even appear on the injury report this week. The bigger concern for fantasy owners is that the Packers have already indicated that all their backs will continue to share carries. This may be in part because no one has emerged as a true leader yet. It also may be a measure to help preserve the health of the running back corps during the season. Either way, it is not a great situation for fantasy owners, so look elsewhere for your running back points.
Marvin Harrison, Colts: Harrison, who injured his knee Sunday, did not participate in practice Wednesday or Thursday. If Harrison does not practice Friday, expect him to sit this one out, giving him this week and next week's bye to fully recover. The Colts are interested in Harrison's health for the long haul and will not play him unnecessarily to jeopardize that.
Isaac Bruce, Rams: Bruce did not participate in practice Wednesday or Thursday because of a hamstring injury. Hamstrings are, after all, the No. 1 threat to wide receivers, so it is not surprising to see various receivers develop this type of problem throughout the season. Unfortunately, the Rams do not need to lose another key element of their offense given their recent struggles. Meanwhile, Drew Bennett has been practicing fully and may see some increased targets if Bruce has to miss time.
Jacoby Jones and Andre Johnson, Texans: Johnson continues to work his way back from a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury sustained in Week 2. He is not yet ready to participate in team practice, but this is not surprising given the nature of his injury. Jones, who separated his shoulder in Week 3, has returned to practice on a limited basis, which is very encouraging. The Houston Chronicle reports, however, that Jones hardly participated Thursday. There is a slight chance that Jones may be well enough to go this week, but we'll refrain from getting too excited until after Friday's practice reports.
Anquan Boldin, Cardinals: Boldin missed Sunday's contest with a bruised hip that he sustained during Week 3. Boldin had stated near the end of last week that the hip was loosening up somewhat, but it must not have improved much because he has missed practice so far this week. At this point he does not sound like a promising prospect for Sunday's matchup with the Rams.
Hines Ward, Steelers: Ward has not yet practiced this week but appears to be more optimistic about his knee. His injury is still being called a sprained knee and his activity appears to be determined by how he's feeling. Ward has had a follow-up MRI and plans to seek another in two weeks. Ward stated in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that his Friday practice would dictate whether he plays this Sunday. If he is at all hesitant, the Steelers likely will sit him again, since they have a bye in Week 6 followed by three important division games.
Santana Moss, Redskins: Moss has not participated in practice yet this week and it appears that his groin injury has returned. He has been doing some individual drills but nothing else. Moss had problems with the groin in the preseason and has struggled over the past few years with various muscle injuries. At this point, it does not appear that he will be ready to play Sunday.
Javon Walker, Broncos: Walker was held out of practice Wednesday because of his knee. He indicated that the swelling on the back side of the knee is limiting him and that he just has to wait patiently for it to drain. Although he says it improves daily, we will wait until Friday's practice to see how he is performing functionally.
Derrick Mason, Ravens: Mason was limited in practice Wednesday, then did not practice at all Thursday; on the injury report, he is listed with a knee injury. Details are not available and we will have to wait to see what Mason does on Friday.
Todd Heap, Ravens: Heap is another favorite receiving target for the Ravens, and the fact that he did not practice Wednesday or Thursday is cause for concern. Heap is accustomed to enduring a lot of bumping and bruising; he is a very physical tight end known for barging his way into the end zone. He is also extremely tough, so his absence is noteworthy. His injury is being called a thigh injury, but the Baltimore Sun indicates that it is his hamstring. His activity in Friday's practice should yield further clues about his game-day status.
Marc Bulger, Rams: Although Bulger is not officially listed as out for Week 5, all indications are that Gus Frerotte will start in his place. Bulger left the Week 4 game early, and with the hits he has been taking, he really needs to be removed from contact to allow those ribs to heal. Although he has performed some in practice, it is highly unlikely that the Rams would use him except in an emergency situation.
Steve McNair, Ravens: This is not really news, but McNair's groin is still bothering him. It's not news because if you watch McNair play, you can observe that his mobility is somewhat limited and, as the game progresses, he appears to favor that side. Nonetheless, he is still performing and is expected to go Sunday. He has been limited in practice thus far this week, likely a measure of preserving McNair for Sunday.
Jake Delhomme, Panthers: Delhomme continues to be held out of practice this week as he recovers from what has been called a strain of his throwing (right) elbow. This injury is certainly taking on the appearance of something more than minor because Delhomme has not attempted to throw since injuring the elbow in Week 3. The Panthers have not revealed much, so we are forced to observe Delhomme's lack of activity and interpret from there. If Delhomme is on your roster, at least plan for a backup quarterback for the foreseeable future, and if there are any further developments with regards to his injury, we will be sure to let you know.
We'll check up on everyone as the practice week comes to a close. Be sure to check back before Sunday's games for any new developments!