By Stephania Bell, PT, MS, OCS, CSCS
Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
RotoWire Injury Expert
RotoWire Injury Page
Speedy running back Jerious Norwood re-injured his right MCL (medial collateral ligament) in last Sunday's game against Tampa Bay. Norwood originally hurt the knee November 5th, and it was diagnosed as a Grade I MCL sprain. Norwood was back in limited action two weeks later, then full throttle thereafter – that is, until Sunday. It is worth noting that at the time of his original injury, coach Jim Mora said Norwood was having difficulty cutting. This complaint is typical of an MCL injury because the ligament provides medial stability to the knee joint. When injured, the athlete's side-to-side directional movements, which are critical for a running back, become problematic. If Norwood was experiencing such limitations previously, and now has a second injury to the same area, his cutting ability might be significantly reduced even if he's able to play.
Norwood's counterpart, Warrick Dunn, left last week's game early with a calf strain. Dunn has since described the injury as feeling like a severe cramp and indicates he did not feel a pop or tear in his calf. Overall these are signs that the muscle injury isn't too severe, but even a minor strain to the calf can limit a running back's ability to push off. In particular, driving the body weight forward against a lot of resistance (think running up the middle through tacklers) would be challenged.
Norwood did some practice on Thursday, but is still listed as questionable. Dunn has not yet practiced. Both Norwood and Dunn are expected to be game-time decisions with Norwood's chances being only slightly better. Of course, who needs running backs when your quarterback needs only 66 yards to have a 1000-yard season?
Bob Sanders is still struggling with his knee since undergoing arthroscopic surgery in September. Reports of intermittent swelling and stiffness have made Sanders' ability to practice inconsistent, relegating him to a weekly game-time decision. Sanders had off-season shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and made it back for Week 1. By Week 2 he was out and shortly thereafter had knee surgery. Ever since, he has been on again/off again, but mostly off. This creates a huge defensive vacancy for the Colts as has been particularly apparent of late. It's unclear whether this problem will improve at all across the next few weeks, or whether Sanders will be held out proactively until the more critical playoff games roll around. In any case, his status appears to be touch and go.
Meanwhile, Brandon Stokley suffered a torn Achilles' – what bad luck. Stokley only appeared in four games all season, having previously been sidelined with knee problems. He has now been placed on IR, is expected to undergo surgery next week and can then look forward to eight months of rehabilitation. The best hope for him is that the time off will allow him to fully rehabilitate all of his injuries, allowing him to come back strong for next season.
Other News of Note
Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris underwent surgery this Tuesday. A hamstring repair is not a particularly common procedure. They typically occur when there's an injury that pulls the tendon away from its attachment to the bone, such that it might not heal properly on its own. Surgery is done to repair the tissue and re-anchor the hamstring to its point of attachment. The athlete is then placed on very strictly limited activity to allow this re-attachment to heal. Although Harris' physicians have indicated that this surgery presented the best option for him, it occurs infrequently enough that no specific timetable for his recovery has yet been set.
Saints receiver Marques Colston, whose biggest issue last week was being out of breath periodically, reported that his ankle continues to feel stronger. He's not even on the injury report this week, and with Joe Horn's status for the rest of the year uncertain, Colston's presence becomes ever more important.
Jake Delhomme has not done much with his injured thumb. He threw some short passes on the side in practice Friday, but didn't take snaps with the team. This doesn't look like a player ready to return. Delhomme's injury makes it hard for him to grip the ball, and that he has not been taking snaps or throwing on a regular basis, indicates that he'll be out a while longer.
Daunte Culpepper has quietly been placed on injured reserve. Not much of a surprise here in that most people had given up on seeing Culpepper return at this point in the season. But what does it mean for his future? Truthfully, we'll have to evaluate how he does during the off-season as it's much too early to speculate now. Interestingly, we never heard about his knee giving him trouble in the early weeks of the season, until he was actually pulled – then it seemed to all be down hill. In actuality, Culpepper probably was having trouble, and it was kept quiet. Whether Culpepper himself was denying early on that the knee was limiting him, or whether the team was unwilling to say so, doesn' t matter much now. It does however make one much more skeptical about what he will be able to do going into next season. Keep in mind, Culpepper had one of the more devastating knee injuries of last season, blowing out three of four major ligaments. It's a tough rehabilitation process for anyone just to get back to regular activity, much less getting back to NFL quarterback activity.
Ronnie Brown looks to be out for another week while his hand recovers from surgery. He has been fitted with a smaller cast that allows him some more freedom of movement. Realistically, there's no good reason to rush him back to the playing field. He's been doing some work, however, that would suggest we might see him back next week.
Elam kicked without incident last week but note that his longest attempt was 34 yards. An additional week under his belt probably helped his cause in terms of power, and if he needs to go long, let's hope he's ready.
Article first appeared 12/15/06