RotoWire Injury Report
RotoWire Injury Expert
Camps open and pow, there are injuries. Each year, some team is going to have "something happen." That one wrong step, that one falling 300 pounder, or whatever it might be, is going to affect a season. Teams do little to protect players, saying it's "part of the game," much in the same way that not so long ago they said the same thing about drinking water during practice. NFL camps might not look like something out of Junction, Texas or even something out of Tom Coughlin's 2005 playbook, but they're not doing much to effect a reduction in injuries. Add in the ridiculous exhibition schedule, and you have a recipe for either disaster or self-parody. We won't see Peyton Manning. We won't see LaDanian Tomlinson. We'll see very little of many stars, but a lot of the 30 guys on the roster playing for a dream, and those are the ones who lose the most when they get injured. Peyton Manning will be back, but Anthony Cotrone who blows out his knee in something like the Oklahoma Drill will have only a scar to show for his time in the NFL. Some of these have already happened, so let's take a look around:
We knew going into training camp that Manning wouldn't be taking part, so his absence is odd only in that everyone is so used to seeing No. 18 under center all the time. Seriously, Jim Sorgi does less than any other QB, so just getting practice snaps, let alone a game start, is a very odd thing for the Colts backup. Manning, I'm told, is making "normal progress" after surgery to remove an infected bursa, which puts him on track to be ready around the first real game. His conditioning is going to be an issue, but no one I've spoken to thinks he'll need much work to get his timing back. There's really nothing new to the offense, and everyone surrounding him will be the same. If Manning is slipping on the draft board, let it happen and just hope he slips to you. The injury will play almost no part in the numbers he puts up this season.
Everyone who's seen Marvin Harrison is almost as stunned at how he looks as they were at his legal issues last spring. There's never been a superstar in any sport who we knew less about than Harrison, and even after the press started looking, there's nothing that's been found. It's as if outside the lines of the field, he doesn't exist, but on them, he's one of the best ever. He's doing everything that we were looking for: good acceleration, sharp cuts, and that surprising burst of speed that gets him past corners and around the corner. Since we have almost no solid information to go on here, the recurrence risk has to be factored in, but I'll be honest in saying that I have no idea how to do that. Harrison is going to be the litmus test of the draft. I'd say pick a spot where you think he should go and then do not let him slide past it. Mine's going to be the fifth round.
Last time we saw Rivers he was playing through an ACL tear. Now we'll get to see how he comes back from it. I'm not sure which is more important. Rivers reportedly took his rehab more seriously than he normally takes conditioning and his body, especially his upper body, is noticeably stronger. Like Carson Palmer, he's still a bit nervous about taking a hit. I'm looking to see if he'll stay in the pocket, and if he's stepping into his throws. Last year in the playoffs, due to the knee injury and the secret knee surgery he had between the Colts and Pats games, he simply couldn't. His mechanics have always fodder for his detractors, but his results have been solid. I think he'll be fine this season.
A speed guy with bad legs is no good to anyone. It's worse for a guy whose singular talent is arm strength when he comes down with a sore elbow. JaMarcus Russell has enough challenges in front of him (literally, that's where his line is going to be) so that losing any time to a sore elbow becomes even more problematic. Russell injured it during a throw, coming down on Darren McFadden's helmet, so it's one of those occupational hazards. He's got plenty of time to get healthy enough to be effective, but missing snaps keeps pushing him back. He's already a guy that you draft completely on upside. This injury, while minor, is going to push him behind guys on the QB2 tier.
We all know that Willis McGahee has some knee problems. Since his last college game and that gruesome knee injury, that's really been the one knock on McGahee. Like Brian Westbrook, he needs a bit of extra care, extra days off, and a solid backup. We're seeing all of that in training camp, so it shouldn't be seen as a negative. That said, it will probably cost him some carries, though if he can get 20 good carries that's a net positive over 25 less successful carries. Ray Rice has looked good in camp, though with his size, he may be more affected by the loss of LT Adam Terry.
While everyone's been focused on the Chad Johnson soap opera, many might have missed that the RB situation in the Queen City is as big a mess. Rudi's been out with a strained right hamstring. That's not really a good sign, though it's not the left hamstring that gave him problems last season, and the injury is deemed minor. Still, with most of the RB depth chart having some issues, getting Johnson back to full health before the season would help significantly. With DeDe Dorsey and Kenny Watson healthy, the Bengals cut loose Kenny Irons, who wasn't able to get back from knee surgery. I'm not sure how much this pushes Chris Perry up, but it's a bit.
He's done this before. At least part of it -- McAllister had a nice season in 2006 after an ACL tear, so there's been no reason to believe he couldn't do the same thing with the same cast around him. Except we learned this week that he also had microfracture surgery on his "good" right knee, the one that had the previous ACL tear. That's a much riskier surgery with wider bands of uncertainty than the now-predictable ACL reconstruction. McAllister has had some issues, albeit minor ones, so far in camp, issues that make it more likely that he'll need relief. Whether that comes in the form of Reggie Bush, Aaron Stecker, Pierre Thomas, or more passing looks remains to be seen.
Hackett gets to take a swing at the ... no, that's a terrible, mean-spirited joke. Hackett gets be the team's No. 1 target while Steve Smith is taking his suspension, giving him an opportunity to do two things: show how good he is and show that he can finally stay healthy. While I love Hackett and think he's a sleeper, he's also going to be getting two games where we're still not that sure about Jake Delhomme (elbow).
While Williams came off the PUP list, don't expect him to be in game shape just yet. His ankle is still problematic and even more problematic for him is that the Titans have let several players pass him by on the depth chart. He's a favorite target of Vince Young over the past couple seasons, but even that won't help if he's the third or fourth guy down and not on the field. Add in Alge Crumpler who's been Young's preferred target in camp so far, and it's even tougher for Williams to come back to his previous production. Williams is getting healthier, but he's probably not going to be 100 percent for a while.
Torain had a real chance to be the guy you started and hoped that Mike Shanahan would hand the ball to 25 times a game. Now one fluke play has all but ended his season. A dislocated elbow and associated ligament damage will cost him at least three months and could push him to the IR. Keep him in the back of your mind as an injury replacement if the Broncos don't push him to the list. The only upside is that this shouldn't have long term consequences, though it will add to his injury-prone tag.
Article first appeared 8/7/08