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October 26, 1:48 PM ET
Chat with Stephania Bell

Stephania Bell
  (3:04 PM)

Hello and good afternoon everyone: How is everyone's roster in Week 8? I have had to go running back shopping b/c mine was so badly decimated, so I understand the injury effect firsthand. With that, let's get to your questions...

Brandon (San Antonio, Texas)

Please answer my question, unfirable Stephania Bell! In your opinion, who's going to start for the Texans this week? It's a matter of fantasy life or death!

Stephania Bell
  (3:07 PM)

Hi Brandon: Yes, despite the TMR's despair and despondency over my beating him in our pro league (hence his subsequent wish to fire me), I keep hanging around, taking the abuse. As far as the Texans go, I wish I could give you an answer but haven' heard any official word. It may well go to gametime. Clearly Schaub is banged up and each day he gets a little better. Kubiak has indicated that he'll play - we just don't know if it's start or backup. We do know the game will be Sunday now, so no extra rest day. I just don't know - but if we hear today, i will post it on my blog.

Bailey (Atlanta)

Stephania, I have NE's Defense. While they have performed great, so far, I wanted to see if you knew when they could expect Richard Seymour back?

Stephania Bell
  (3:08 PM)

Hi Bailey: Seymour just returned to practice this week after being on the PUP list with the knee injury. He can practice for up to 3 weeks before the Patriots decide whether to activate him or place him on IR, but until it gets closer to that deadline we won't know much. It is the Pats after all, so we won't hear much about practice.

Ken (Chas. SC)

Stephania....great work on the injury updates! Is Rudi hurt worse than they're letting on? Have Watson (not Rudi) and am wondering if I should hold on to him as I could really use the roster space.

Stephania Bell
  (3:11 PM)

Hi Ken - and thank you- Rud has that most annoying of injuries - the hamstring strain. We can only be definitive when they're really minor (like a tightness) - maybe miss zero or one week, or a complete tear and done for the season. Anything in between becomes a day to day, week to week situation. Remember, johnson tried to play a couple weeks ago and got worse, which often happens. Now they won't let him back until he's really solid. No practice for him all week - but I might hang onto him b/c there's still a lot of time, and given the rest, he should come back strong.

Jake (VA Beach)

How confident should we be in SJax ability to perform this week?

Stephania Bell
  (3:12 PM)

Hi Jake: It's a question on everyone's mind. I think he feels good -or they wouldn't risk putting him out there,no with their season. Also, it's the Browns - so if he has a good game, the whole offense could get going. But the line still has issues - and I think his performance will be affected by that - and by the fact that this is his first game in 5 weeks. Expect good - not great things.

Tony (Greensboro, NC)

Any further word on Jamal? It's a nice matchup for Jamal/Wright if we get a clear picture of who is starting.

Stephania Bell
  (3:14 PM)

Hi Tony: I checked just before the chat for that reason - but no word on today's practice yet. He has been limited in practice and is still wrapping the foot, meaning that it is not really 100% even after a bye week. Crennel said the decision would be made based on what Lewis can do, so after today we'll have a better idea. I'll ppost an update on my blog -but right now, it's unclear.

Chaz (Scranton, PA)

I know Gore plans to play for your beloved Niners this week, but is his injury the kind that we should be concerned about? Will he now be more likely to sustain a serious injury by playing, and if so, is Mike Robinson the handcuff?

Stephania Bell
  (3:17 PM)

Hi Chaz: Yes, my Niners always get a mention, as does Gore. His ankle is sore but he's been able to do more and more each day in practice and there are no worries about it progressing. He'll no doubt have it well taped, and he will play with Smith coming back. I still like the Robinson handcuff. Hicks sees action too but Robinson emerging as likely backup.

Joe (Iowa)

I really got killed with Harrison last week in Indy. Will he be full time this week?

Stephania Bell
  (3:18 PM)

Joe: Colts are being a bit elusive on him. We heard (after the fact) that he was on a play count last week. He has not practiced yet this week, presumably to rest the knee. I think he will still play, but may be limited in his use this week. Hard not to start him though unless you've got much better options seeing as they're playing Carolina. I think they really want him in good shape for that big game next week.

Kelly (Girls League)

Is Vernon Davis healthy enough to play this week for niners? Think he'll be a good one-week start with Whitten on BYE week?

Stephania Bell
  (3:21 PM)

Hi Kelly: Go girls league! Davis is good to go -but he didn't do much last week with Smith out. Now with Smith back I think he may have a better week.

Jamaal (Washington Twp, NJ)

Stephania, your blog on Steven Jackson the other day said that Linehan has admitted bringing him back at less than 100%. That makes no sense to me...can you explain that?

Stephania Bell
  (3:24 PM)

Jamaal - The thing is, even if Jackson is good enough to be cleared to play, he is obviously not quite what he was before injury - simply from not having played for 5 weeks. Players lose their "football shape" and the last component really to rehab is getting back in the game. You make the decision to send the player back when he passes a series of tests to prove he is healthy enough to handle the workload without an increased risk of re-injury, but then he has to work himself back into game-playing, 100% shape. Fact is, in the NFL, many athletes come back from injury at somewhat less than 100% and do most of their true healing in the off-season.

Scott (Louisville)

Any word on Hines Ward? 100% or a risky start?

Stephania Bell
  (3:24 PM)

Hi Scott: Ward looks solid and is a good start.

Will (Windsor, ONT)

Whats he word on Travis Henry? Is he gonna play on Monday, cant afford to wait till Monday Night to find out.

Stephania Bell
  (3:27 PM)

Will: You're going to have to gamble a bit then. Henry has not practiced yet this week. There is a night practice tonight at which he may do something and then test it more tomorrow. Rest is the best thing for bruised ribs, so the fact that he's resting is not alarming. The extra day (to Monday) is a good thing. But night games = cold, stiff, more pain. It may well be a GTD - so if you can't afford to wait, need to find another back.

Jim (Wisc)

Andre Johnson practiced AGAIN today, why is he not even given a shot at playing this week? You cant baby them forever

Stephania Bell
  (3:30 PM)

Jim: This is not babying. These knee sprains all get lumped together - but in reality, the type of sprain Johnson had (to the posterior cruciate ligament or PCL) is very debilitating. It is typically a non-surgical rehab (surgeries are rarely effective here unless they completely blow it out, and even then there is some question) - but the injury causes instability at the knee. Imagine feeling like your thighbone and your legbone are going in opposite directions and one is going to slip off the other. That's how it feels. The athlete has to retrtain the muscles to protect what the ligament can't - and it just takes time. Originally they gave him 4-6 weeks, it appears he needs a week or two extra. You want him to come back and not go back out with a blowout - so let him get healthy enough to do that. My guess? Week 10.

Mike (az)

anquan boldin flared up his injury again this past week agsint the skins and said he wont be 100% all year. What do you know of his injury casue every time i hear hip i think bo jackson and with quan as one of my favorite players that really really scares me

Stephania Bell
  (3:31 PM)

Hi Mike: Yes, Bo's hip injury was awful - but he actually had a breakdown of the joint itself. Boldin's injury was a bruised hip, and as far as what we're told, it's a soft tissue (muscles around the hip) injury. Likely to be sore all year, but he should be able to play on now.

Jason (Greenville, NC)

Are there lingering effects of Laurence Maroney's injury holding him back or does Belichek just hate fantasy owners?

Stephania Bell
  (3:31 PM)

hi Jason: I think it's a little of both.

Chris (CA)

Any word on MJD? I've got Fred Taylor and would love to see him get a couple extra looks with Jones-Drew hurting... (sorry Maurice)

Stephania Bell
  (3:33 PM)

Hi Chris: Taylor does seem likely to get more looks right now. Taylor NOT on the injury report (groin appears to be fine). MJD limited in practice with his knee sprain, expects to play, but we'll see what he does in practice today.

Eric (Philly)

Stephania, May i call you Steph? Anyway, Thank you from all of us Eagles fans for your blog update on B. Dawk. Our season maybe falling apart but knowing he is ok gives some of us in the city of never ending torment something to smile about . Thanks

Stephania Bell
  (3:34 PM)

Hi Eric: Yes you may, and you're welcome. I love Dawkins as a player - and he says he models his play after one of my all-time favorites, Ronnie Lott.

Vinny (nyc)

Stephania - I have R.Brown in a keeper league. How long does it usually take to recover from his injury? Will he be close to 100% come Week 1 2008?

Stephania Bell
  (3:35 PM)

Hi Vinny: yes, Borwn should be good to go in 2008. The consistent observation though is that most running backs take an extra year to return to pre-injury form. The first year is really about gaining confidence and getting the knee to feel solid playing football.

chris (tampa)

i hate that i'm asking, but what can we expect from Alex Smith and David Carr. i need a QB with Garrard out.

Stephania Bell
  (3:36 PM)

Hi Chris: Well don't pick Carr. Testaverde is starting for Carolina. I think Smith is motivated to play and play well - He has been throwing hard and throwing well in practice. The consensus seems to be that the extra week was good for him. Pick him.

Eddie (NJ)

Any word if Branch will be back after the bye week?

Stephania Bell
  (3:37 PM)

Hi Eddie: Seattle is off this week (literally players were sent away so not practicing) but that sounds like the plan.

john (Illinois)

after the injury heals for rudi johnson, do you see him taking over as the primary or do the bengals have more invested in watson now.

Stephania Bell
  (3:38 PM)

Hi John: I think Rudi is the primary when he comes back - but then has to perform like the primary to stay that way.

Cole (Kansas City)

Hi Stephania, What is going on with Javon Walker's knee?

Stephania Bell
  (3:40 PM)

Hi Cole: Well the good news is that Walker's knee is doing well and reports now suggest that he will be back sooner than 6 weeks. That sounded like a long projection when it was made, but sometimes it is safer to make longer projections and then ahve a player return sooner, vs the other way around.

Jeremy (Denver, CO)

Stephania, thanks for chatting. K.Jones seems to be rounding into form. Any worries about his continued recovery? Worthy #2 rb from here on out?

Stephania Bell
  (3:41 PM)

Hi Jeremy: I have seen enough that I am not worried at this stage about Kevin Jones. He looks great, has been brought back gradually, and I think he will continue to see solid action. Good #2 back.

Eric (Groton, CT)

Stephania, love reading your work. Just wanna let you know that Your prediction on Andre Johnson coming back week 10 might be a little off with him on the bye and all.

Stephania Bell
  (3:42 PM)

Right Eric - That would really be something if he played and no one else showed up. Week 11 is what I meant - thanks for calling it.

Ron (Clarks Summit, PA)

Even though he is back to practice, DeShaun Foster's turf toe scares me (after all, that is the injury that ended Jack Lambert's career!) Do you think he is "flex"-ible this week (interesting use of that word, eh?) or would you replace him with Calvin Johnson or Reggie Brown at flex instead?

Stephania Bell
  (3:44 PM)

Ron: nice wordsmithing. Yes, turf toe can end a career so I always get nervous when I see it mentioned. But, Foster did practice fully yesterday and says he expects to play. I think he is actually a good flex player this week - but then watch to see how he does - and most importantly, how he feels after the game. If he has a setback, then we might suspect we're in for a ride of an up and down problem.

Gerald (Alabama)

Hi Steph, Will Tom Brady be ok to go this week with his shoulder and all?

Stephania Bell
  (3:45 PM)

Gerald: I hope you saw Kenny Mayne's hysterical piece on Brady's shoulder. He's there every week, and certainly, this year, it hasn't hurt him at all.

Bobby (Charlottesville Va)

Hi Steph - I have the other LJ - Jordan, and was wondering if he can carry the load for the remainder of the season...

Stephania Bell
  (3:46 PM)

Hi Bobby: I have been saying across the season that I worry about Lamont Jordan b/c the back issue is a chronic management thing and he could be up and down each week. If you can live with the suspense, then he's a good play when he's healthy. But it could crop up anytime.

JKlipp (Milwaukee, WI)

Just peeking in quick b4 i get in trouble at work! Brandon Jacobs' status for this weekend?

Stephania Bell
  (3:47 PM)

Hi JKlipp: Don't get in trouble - glad you snuck in. Jacobs should have a good week in London. Ward is doubtful, Jacobs is NOT on the injury report. Expect him to do well.

Ben (Chicago)

Stephania, Joe Addai admitted that his shoulder was still sore after the bye wk, leading to Addai taking himself out and more carries for Keith. Do you know precisely what his shoulder issue was, and whether it's something that could linger for the season? Thanks

Stephania Bell
  (3:50 PM)

Hi Ben: Addai originally had what was called a shoulder, then a chest injury - basically took a hard hit to the front of the chest/shoulder and we haven't been given any specifics (which would suggest that he had no subluxation or major tissue injury) - but a deep bruise ot that area could make it hard to carry the ball and absorb contact, just because of it being stiff and sore. He may be concerned about losing the football if he gets any intermittent weakness in the shoulder/arm. I think it will get better -but he is playing it smart so as to not get hurt worse. Doesn't help fantasy owners so much.

Riaz, OH

Hi Stephania :-). When is Ben Watson coming back? You hadn't brought him up in your updates this week so I was wondering if even you are in the dark about this injury?

Stephania Bell
  (3:51 PM)

Hi Riaz: Probably more b/c I was working off the "expect him to miss a couple weeks" info that we got last week. He has not practiced, and has not been available to the media, so don't expect to see him this week.

Bill (West Chester)

Please Steph hlep Me!! Any updates on M. Pittman's return- drop him or stash him for week 12-15?

Stephania Bell
  (3:53 PM)

Hi Bill: Sorry - not much to update as he's been away from practice -usually get more as the return time approaches. If you have the room, I do think he's worth stashing. But I wouldn't pass up another good option just to keep him around.

Joe/Vegas

Who to start at flex? Maroney or K Keith? My other RBs are MJD and Chatman.

Stephania Bell
  (3:54 PM)

Keith.

M. Butler (ATL)

Can you give us a Brandon Jackson update?

Stephania Bell
  (3:56 PM)

Jackson has just become fantasy (and perhaps real football) irrelevant. He is no longer injured ( he had the shin injury) - but he has been working out with the practice team, not likely to play Monday, you get the picture...

Rick (San Diego)

Hi Stephanie: Survived the fires, but not sure about this. Start Bulger or A.Smith?

Stephania Bell
  (3:58 PM)

Hi Rick: Glad to know that - we are thinking of all of you in SD. Bit of a toss-up with QBs. Bulger should, emphasis on should, have a good outing with his RB back and all 3 receivers healthy (relatively). But the o-line is still bad. Smith I think ends up having the better day. Battle has looked good, Lelie is excited to start - and I think they pass on the Saints.

brad ( columbus oh)

HI STEPH, I was wondering if your have heard anything about Champ Bailey. My Quaterbacks are Favre and Bres an I am torn on who to start.

Stephania Bell
  (3:59 PM)

Hi Brad: Bailey has been practicing on a limited basis - ut with the game being monday night, I expect he goes.

Rob (Miami, FL)

Hi Stephania! One more thing about Harrison. They say bruised knee but it's a little more than that, right? Have you heard exactly what it is?

Stephania Bell
  (4:00 PM)

Hi Rob: Went from being called a bruise to a sprain (although usually we know which ligmaent is involved if it;s a sprain and nothing has been stated) -sometimes when the knee gets tweaked and there is enough to cause some pain and swelling but no obvious specific damage, it just gets called one of these generic terms for lack of anything better.

Rebecca (STL)

My RB's not on bye are J. Wright, T. Henry, and S. Young. Which is more likely to happen? Jamal Lewis plays and J. Wright is "fantasy insignificant" / T. Henry and S. Young share carries and are both "fantasy insignificant"? Thanks!

Stephania Bell
  (4:02 PM)

Hi Rebecca: you have been patiently waiting for an answer on this, I know. But I;ve got a 50/50 chance of being wrong (or right, I guess) since the two guys you're wondering about (Henry and Lewis) are quesiotnable (meaning a 50/50 chance). So having said that, you could flip a coin here - but I'm going to guess that Henry and young sharing is more likely to happen.

Coke Hero

Hey Stephania, With the recent injuries to Berry and Ravitz please answer the following: Please pick 3: R. Moss, B. Edwards, Berrian, Colston, Coke Zero?

Stephania Bell
  (4:04 PM)

Coke Hero: Coke Zero for sure. You know you can never count on Berry and Ravitz, they're perpetually injured. Have to go with Moss based on production and then I like Berrian.

Paul (Kansas)

Go Niners! Which injured RB should I start, Lamont Jordan or Travis Henry?

Stephania Bell
  (4:06 PM)

Right back at ya Paul - Go Niners!! Start Jordan - he's off the injury report this week and assured of a start. Matchup isn't great - but unless there is a big turnaorund in Henry's status by tomorrow I'd go with Henry.

Stephania Bell
  (4:08 PM)

OK everyone - time for me to go. Thanks, as always, for the excellent questions. Please check back on espn.com for our inactive updates before gametime and our fantasy chats running from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST. Good luck to everyone!