By Stephania Bell, PT, MS, OCS, CSCS
Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
RotoWire Injury Expert
RotoWire Injury Page
Silver and Black and Blue
As if things weren't going badly enough for the Raiders... Lamont Jordan went down in the first quarter of last Sunday's game against the Chiefs with a sprained left MCL (medial collateral ligament). This injury has been popular among offensive players in the last few weeks (QB Matt Hasselbeck, G Brian Waters, now RB Jordan) and though the consequence is the same (instability on the inner aspect of the knee), it affects each of them differently. For a running back, the medial collateral ligament is critical for providing the stability necessary to make sharp inside cuts. The interesting thing about the MCL is that it is hardly ever repaired, which requires the athlete to make different adjustments to regain stability. The healing time can be up to 6-8 weeks for a more severe sprain at which point the athlete can slowly initiate activity. Strong muscles around the knee, and a heavy dose of proprioceptive (position sense) retraining help return an athlete back to form. Running backs tend not to favor the heavy braces worn by quarterbacks and guards to protect the knee, and consequently require extra rehabilitation time, of which Jordan will have plenty as he's done for the year.
Adding to the Raiders injury woes, left tackle Robert Gallery suffered a dislocated left elbow last Sunday. Dislocating any joint means that the bones move out of their normal position of contacting one another, and in the process ligaments and other soft tissues are stretched and become painful. In an already loose joint like the shoulder, the concern is that the joint may become permanently unstable. In the elbow, which has a tighter locking mechanism, the concern centers on the initial tissue injury. According to reports on the MRI, Gallery suffered no major damage and may be able to return in a few weeks. If in fact the damage is minimal, then the likelihood of repeat problems is minimal as well.
The Eagles have not Landed
In Week 10, Donovan McNabb was saying how happy he was to have all of his offensive weapons healthy. Well, that lasted for one week. McNabb is now out for the season with a torn right ACL after taking an awkward looking step as he was bumped towards the sidelines Sunday. He's scheduled for surgery in the next few weeks (the wait is typical to allow swelling to subside) and once that has occurred, we should have more information as to his rehabilitation timeframe. In order to project how long or complicated McNabb's rehabilitation will be, we need to know whether he has other structures along with the ACL that need to be repaired (such as the meniscus, which reportedly shows damage on MRI). As we've seen already this season, not all ACL injuries are created equally. Carson Palmer (up and down), Braylon Edwards (mostly up), Javon Walker (remarkably up) and Daunte Culpepper (down into oblivion - who, to be fair, had a PCL/MCL injury as well, making his recovery much more complicated) each had his own timeline. What McNabb does have going for him is that his knees to date have been fairly healthy, and he has a decent amount of time before next season to get himself back to form.
Wide receiver Donte' Stallworth aggravated his hamstring during practice Thursday and until Friday, was listed as questionable for the Colts. He practiced on Friday and was declared ready to play by coach Andy Reid, but given Stallworth's history of hamstring injuries, he'd be wise to get to the bottom of this during the offseason. Let's face it - the Saints were happy to move him elsewhere because injuries, particularly hamstring-related, often limited his productivity. Soft tissue injuries, as we have seen, tend to be nagging and repetitive - and one weak area makes another area more vulnerable. For the rest of this season, he needs to manage it, meaning he may be up and down (play or sit) depending on his symptoms from week to week.
Continuing with the receiver corps, Reggie Brown (though he does not appear on this week's injury report) has recently been dealing with a hamstring strain and will need to pick it up a notch if Stallworth is limited. Brown has not been a big target the last two weeks, so despite appearing no worse for the wear, he has not been particularly challenged. The one bright spot on the offensive roster is Brian Westbrook, who's listed on the injury report with his intermittently swollen knee, yet performs brilliantly on Sundays. He has looked outstanding in the last few weeks and should see increased responsibility with the Eagles' injury-driven shifts on offense. One concern will be whether Westbrook's knee will suffer any setbacks as a result of an increased workload.
Other News of Note
Saints wide receiver Marques Colston suffered a left ankle sprain last Sunday when he was rolled up on from behind by teammate Deuce McAllister and a Bengals defender. Initially termed a high ankle sprain, Colston's X-rays were negative and he has been exercising this week, albeit in a restricted manner. It is unclear whether Colston truly sustained a high ankle sprain or one of the more garden variety mid-ankle sprains. If an athlete has any soreness across the front of the joint, or higher up the leg, high ankle sprain precautions will be taken to prevent any further injury. However, Colston's quick return to activity suggests that the injury is not so severe. He reported himself 60 percent on Wednesday but has only participated in one team practice. Colston may well be a game-time decision.
Brett Favre once again threatened his consecutive start streak when he hurt the ulnar nerve in his right (throwing) forearm last Sunday. Favre was being wrapped up by Tully Banta-Cain, then was hit by Tedy Bruschi who forced him down hard on his right forearm and shoulder while his wrist was curled up underneath him. The way he was grabbing his wrist and forearm initially aroused suspicion about a possible fracture. It later made sense however that Favre was trying to feel along the course of the nerve where he had tingling. The ulnar nerve sits very close to the surface of the skin where it wraps around the bony part of the inside of the elbow, popularly known as the "funny bone." This makes it more susceptible to being bumped and bruised. Everyone has smacked their elbow at some point and felt that jolt of tingling into the inner forearm and 4th and 5th fingers. Despite the saying, it's not actually the "funny" bone that causes the electric sensation, it's the ulnar nerve. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said initially that Favre couldn't get strength back in his hand, which is why he did not return to the game, yet by Monday reports were that his strength was gradually coming back. As of now, Favre is expected to keep the starting streak alive, but be aware that he may not yet have recovered his full sensation or strength, and may be limited in his ability to grip the ball.
Don't look for Aaron Rodgers to bail Favre out as Rodgers is out for the season with a broken foot.
Stevonne Smith, who appears to have fully recovered from that nasty hamstring strain he had earlier in the season, gave a scare last week when it looked as if he had injured his shoulder. He was later seen throwing up on the sidelines and then returned to the game, as if that got it all out of his system. It must have, because he does not appear on the injury report for this week.
Matt Hasselbeck (sprained right MCL) is listed as probable for the Seahawks and should get the start Monday night if he continues to perform in practice. Reports are that his mobility has significantly improved this week, and this is the biggest challenge for a player recovering from this type of injury. Coach Mike Holmgren remains non-committal, saying he wants to be sure Hasselbeck has adequate mobility to escape the pass rush, but all signs point to Hasselbeck starting, barring any setbacks between now and Monday.
Shaun Alexander (fractured foot) reported no ill effects after his much anticipated return last week. His performance was sub-par, but after all, he had been away for almost two months. Expect increased action from Alexander when the Seahawks face the Packers Monday night.
Willis McGahee is practicing in extra padding, and coach Dick Jauron has floated a teaser that he may be a game-time decision. Given the extent of McGahee's rib injuries, this would be a quick return, especially when the conversation last week was whether he would make it back this season. Despite the optimistic speculation, that McGahee himself reported rib soreness makes this a long shot. Although he has taken some hits in practice, the Jaguars will hit much harder. If McGahee does play, expect it to be a test and his playing time to be controlled.
Texans receiver Andre Johnson is dealing with a thigh bruise that appears to be more serious than initially thought. He has missed two straight practices, but the Texans still hope he can play Sunday. If he plays, one concern would be that his quadriceps will be tighter than usual, which could prevent him from making explosive plays down the field. Keep an eye on Friday practice reports for any update.
Article first appeared 11/24/06