RotoWire Injury Report
RotoWire Injury Expert
I'll start today going a bit off the normal rails of the intro. Instead of talking about a broader issue, I'm going to focus on one guy who typifies a broader issue. Football is a game of big hits, but for "skill players", the guys who are carrying the ball when big, nasty guys come to hit them, avoiding the big hit is as important as any other part of their game. Everyone's going to get hit, but if you think back to Barry Sanders, it never seemed as if anyone could ever get a solid "ooh" hit on him. Same for Gale Sayers, while Jim Brown and Walter Payton were more likely to be dishing out the hit than taking it. While many are wondering if Reggie Bush or Adrian Peterson can handle the workload of a feature back, I point to the big hits. Peterson can make people miss, but at 6-2, 218, he's often looking to dish out some punishment as well. Bush seems to rely on his speed and at the NFL level, he's really not that much faster than some of his competitors. It's not a strong predictor, but when you're assessing keepers, it might be worth thinking about how much punishment they took. The last thing you want to do is hang on to the guy who's about to fall off the cliff. Now, let's get to this week's full slate of injuries:
Now playing the part of Jason Street, it's Ronnie Brown. It wasn't quite that bad, not that dramatic, and I didn't see Minka Kelly anywhere and that's always a disappointment for me. Brown tore his ACL and will miss the rest of the season and possibly some of next year. It's difficult to get a real read on where he'll be next year until after the surgery, when we'll know if it was a "simple" ACL tear or if more structures were involved. There's no silver lining here other than that Brown should be able to return to his previous level. His career's been shortened by a year in a very small window of opportunity. Jesse Chatman will take the carries for now as the Dolphins circle the drain a bit more quickly.
Frank Gore got a little lucky on Sunday. His ankle sprain is relatively minor, one of those that hurts more initially than it did the next day with a minimum of swelling showing that the damage was minimal inside. Gore is expected to play on Sunday without any significant effect on his play. The controversy in San Francisco regarding play calling should help Gore, since they haven't been getting him the ball enough. Getting Alex Smith back, as they could do next week, will help as well. Smith will test the shoulder in practice this week, but all signs are that he'll be able to play. There's significant recurrence risk and one big hit or even just an unlucky fall could end Smith's season. As with Gore, the playcalling is an issue for Smith, though here it's likely a negative.
There's "healthy" and then there's "really healthy." The Colts showed off the difference last night in what was some smart football. Joseph Addai and Marvin Harrison were both healthy enough to play without limitations last night, but Tony Dungy's game plan didn't force them to take on a full workload. Because there were options like Kenton Keith and Reggie Wayne, the Colts lightened the load on their other players, a smart long term play that shouldn't give any indications on future usage. Keith proved himself an effective option, and Tom Moore has always liked having a "breather back", such as Dominic Rhodes or James Mungro during the Edgerrin James years. As for Wayne's dominance in targets, this isn't an acceleration of the evolution of Wayne to primary WR, just merely a step along that path. Despite the knee injury, Harrison was still drawing double coverage a lot. One MNF football shot in the fourth quarter showed Harrison sitting on the bench, knee pad pulled off and running his finger roughly over his MCL. I checked with my Colts source who reiterated that there is nothing more than a severe bruise going on with Harrison. The shot did confirm that there are no new scars on Harrison's knee.
The Colts did have one injury during the game - or did they? Tony Ugoh was standing on the sidelines after being pulled from the game showing no real distress. Sources tell me that Ugoh got a stinger in the first half and felt weakness in his arm. By the time that Ugoh felt ready to return, the Colts were comfortably in the lead and wanted to see what Charlie Johnson could do. After a tough start, Johnson held his own, though Ugoh should be back in his starting LT slot next week without limitations. Manning's quick release is once again perhaps more important than the play of the line in minimizing sacks, though I think we may be looking at the wrong stat here. Do lines ever really depress hurries and knockdowns?
Oblique injuries are epidemic in baseball, but this is really the first one I remember in football. Matt Hasselbeck strained his oblique, the muscle that sits below the ribs on the side of the abdomen, in Sunday's game. It clearly affected his throwing and could force him to miss a start or two if it continues to plague him. Oblique injuries are notoriously slow to heal and have a significant recurrence risk, even at the end of the rehab. The Seahawks get lucky that they're heading into a bye, which should allow him to heal up, but keep your eye on this one and have Plan B ready. I'm really not sure how this is going to play out.
Anytime a player comes out with a hamstring issue, we always think the worst. Seeing Tony Romo hobble off in the first half of the Cowboys game did the same for me. Romo didn't end up straining the hamstring however. Instead, he was hit in the hamstring by the crown of a helmet and had a simple but painful bruise. He was able to get back on the field after some treatment, so this shouldn't be a long term issue. There's a chance that the bruise will "harden up" as one source puts it and reduce Romo's mobility. We'll know once he gets on the field for practice, though I'm expecting this to be a non-issue.
Travis Henry has bruised ribs. That's not that big a deal really. We've seen QBs play through it (Marc Bulger) and they're much more exposed, but doesn't a RB take more hits to the midsection? That's an interesting question, one that got varying answers from some of my sources. In any case, Henry's playing time will be dictated by his pain tolerance. I'd expect him to try and play through it, though I'd also expect that Selvin Young is likely to see a significant uptick in his touches.
When David Garrard went down on Monday night, it appeared that he took the Jags with him. Garrard's mobility worked against him, causing his ankle to twist as he was being sacked. It was described to me by a player on the field as "pretty nasty ... he yelped and Ed [Johnson] said he heard it pop." Garrard tried to play through the sprain, but as the swelling set in, he lost more and more range of motion. Once halftime came, the ankle swelled appreciably, indicating significant damage. He'll have an MRI later this week, once the swelling comes down to see just how bad it is, but for now, the short week makes it very unlikely that he'll be ready for the Jags next game. A Grade II sprain, the most likely diagnosis, would likely force Garrard to miss a couple weeks.
Byron Leftwich didn't leave the injury bug back in Jacksonville, but given his history, the Falcons shouldn't have expected otherwise. Leftwich reportedly has a high ankle sprain, the latest in a long series of leg injuries that I'm told have a connection to his long delivery and immobility. With this latest injury, missing a month would be about the normal expectation, though Leftwich has established that he can play in pain as well as anyone. I think the play of Joey Harrington is going to be as key to the timeframe as any other factor. Leftwich is a desperation play at fantasy QB, so there's no reason to hold onto him right now.
Tarvaris Jackson has an avulsion fracture in the index finger of his throwing hand. Yes, this is as much of a problem as it sounds like, making many wonder how he can possibly play (or why the Vikings would want him to do so.) An avulsion fracture isn't a traumatic injury in the sense that an outside event caused it. Instead, this type of fracture happens when the tendon pulls away part of the bone at the origin of the connector. We'll see if he's able to practice with his finger in this condition. Given the quality of his play, there's no reason at all to have him on your fantasy roster now.
Matt Schaub took a vicious helmet to helmet shot in Sunday's game, one that's sure to be reviewed by the league. That won't help Schaub much now as he tries to shake off the physical problems resulting from the hit. While he avoided concussion, he injured his hip on the fall, on top of an earlier mild ankle sprain. The hip was bad enough that he had x-rays, but it's just a severe bruise. Schaub is seeing the same type of problems that David Carr did during his Texans career, namely an inability of the line to keep him upright. Gary Kubiak was brought in as head coach due to his expertise with blocking schemes and his ability to work with QBs. Thus far, he's showing significant problems with those specific areas during his time in Houston. Sage Rosenfels had a nice game, and if Schaub isn't ready, Rosenfels should be adequate as a fill-in.
After Kurt Warner's performance, I may have to get a prayer leader to be part of my consulting group. Whatever it was - and I'm not going to minimize Warner's beliefs here - Warner was able to get on the field, throw effectively, and adjust his game to make the things he was having trouble with less of a problem. After the first backhanded handoff, it was clear that Warner was going to be able to do almost everything. He has the bye week to continue to heal, making it look like Warner will be an effective play for the second half of the season.
Bumps and Bruises: Expect Steven Jackson (groin) to get the start on Sunday. We'll know by Thursday, so watch for him to practice without limitation ... Laurence Maroney (groin) didn't play much Sunday, but that was more a reflection of the blowout, not a setback ... Vince Young (quad) will be back this week unless there's a setback in practice. He shouldn't be limited, but there is a recurrence risk ... Kenton Keith was shown on the sidelines with an icepack on the side of his head. While the MNF crew discussed a possible concussion, the explanation was simpler. Keith had been hit there after his helmet popped off ... Marcus Pollard will miss around a month after having his knee scoped ... Marc Bulger took seven more sacks, making me wonder how long those ribs will stay healthy ... Expect Michael Clayton to miss a couple games with his latest injury, an ankle sprain.
Article first appeared 10/23/07