RotoWire Injury Report
RotoWire Injury Expert
"Someone's "O" has got to go!" It wouldn't surprise me a bit to see Michael Buffer standing at the 50 yard line on Sunday here in Indianapolis. This game has a playoff atmosphere and as much hype as the Super Bowl, but is the Colts-Pats game going to match up? This isn't a heavyweight fight, two plodding giants as much as it is a welterweight tilt, one where speed and precision will be king. Will injuries be a factor, with some of the biggest names in the game matching up or is one of the reasons these teams are so good that they not only have depth, but that they keep the best talent on the field. Hunter Smith and Jim Whalen are going to be two of the most important guys this week ... and I'll bet most of you don't recognize the names. (And no, I'm not talking about the Colts punter.) Lots of important injuries this week so let's get to it:
It's odd to lead with this phrase, but it is the biggest injury story this week: Marvin Harrison's okay. Harrison sat out last week's game against Carolina in order to be ready for the Patriots. The Colts won't say that out loud, but all the talk about wanting him to be at 100 percent and at playing for the long-term is just code for "We want to beat the Pats." Harrison's bruised knee was still bothering him enough so that the team elected not to even let him come on the trip, making sure that he didn't force his way onto the field. Harrison wasn't completely on board with the idea of sitting out a game, but expect him to be at full-strength and ready for his full complement of targets Sunday afternoon. I spoke to someone close to Marvin yesterday who told me that Marvin's "playing angry. He's determined to prove that he's as good as anyone, whether that's [Reggie Wayne] or Randy Moss. He's quiet, but competitive as anyone I know." The rest of the team is also ready to go; Joseph Addai showed he can take a feature load again while Bob Sanders is, according to one source, "as close to healthy as he'll ever be."
The Pats are also at as close to full strength as a team can be nearing the halfway point of the NFL season. Laurence Maroney remains a concern with his shoulder and leg issues. With Sammy Morris out, the power running game is absent with Maroney unable or unwilling to lower his shoulder and get the extra yards. How he and Kevin Faulk match up against a speedy, hard hitting Colts D will be one of the big stories of the game on Sunday. Maroney continues to be a recurrence risk, while the rest of the team is hitting its stride in a big way.
One of the worst outcomes a medical staff can have is clearing a player to get back out on the field and having him come off quickly with the same or a related injury. That happened to the Rams this week with Steven Jackson. Knowing that Jackson's groin was going to limit his carries and that the team was headed into a bye, the team still tried to get Jackson back out on the field enough to turn its season around. Instead, he only lasted a handful of carries before his back started to lock up with spasm. The Rams should have seen this coming; Jackson required the services of a chiropractor after warm ups and told the team that he couldn't get loose. The cascade to his back injury isn't uncommon and speaks to just how serious the injury will be going forward. Jackson gets a week to heal and get loose; a lot of fantasy players are relying on his ability to do that. My take? It could be a nice time to buy low, but it has to be quite low to value in the risk.
The Niners are being very quiet about the ankle re-injury suffered by Frank Gore on Sunday, but given the frustration that Gore has shown this season and the frustration that his owners have shown in games like last week's, any reduction in his abilities has to be considered exceptionally serious. Gore has been the only consistent weapon the Niners have had, but as he hobbled around Sunday, he proved that even if he is bionic, he's still human. Gore's quick legs are reminiscent of Barry Sanders'. The difference is that Gore takes the big hits and doesn't have that preternatural sense for just missing the big hit that Sanders had. Watch the practice reports closely - it's impossible to replace a Gore in your lineup, but given his status, you may have to try.
The painkillers didn't work for Travis Henry. He was unable to go for the Monday night game, leaving the workload for Selvin Young, who did a decent enough job. Henry will be in the same situation, a pain management issue as his ribs continue to heal. That he was close to playing this week has to be balanced by the fact that the extra day's rest didn't get him ready, so he's bound to be a game-time decision again. The Broncos RB situation is always fluid, but Mike Shanahan appears to have more confidence in Henry (or less in his backups) than he has in several seasons. Watch for Henry's practice reports and expect Henry to be back in the lineup for Sunday.
Is it possible that Matt Schaub's concussion is related to his hip injury? It's a long stretch for that cascade anatomically, but looking at Schaub's limited mobility, I'm not surprised he was taking more hits and that one of those was the big one. The concussion was severe and Schaub is still feeling the effects with headaches and dizziness a day later. Given the new emphasis, it will be interesting to see how the Texans handle this. It's the first "major" case after Trent Green and once again, it's a QB. It's important to note that as with many of the concussions we're seeing this season, it's not so much the initial hit, but the "bounce" off the turf that's causing problems. It's a similar situation in boxing, where a knockout's damage is caused as much by hitting the canvas as the punch that sent him there to begin with. Sage Rosenfels is likely to get the start, allowing the Texans to give Schaub more time to heal.
In other Texans news, Andre Johnson is beginning to look like he could play this weekend. He's running more, but hasn't shown that he's game ready. Call him doubtful for now and keep your eye on the practice reports, especially the late-week ones. Ahman Green was a surprise inactive this week, having not been on the injury reports. His knee, constantly a problem, swelled up before the game, and Green wasn't going to be "a sure thing" as one source said coach Gary Kubiak demanded. Green's knee is now at the stage where it's all about maintenance, something the Texans staff hasn't had the most success with. I'm not confident that he'll be able to come back for any extended period, though he could be effective in bursts. Green's likely near the end of his career.
Alex Smith had precautionary images taken of his injured throwing shoulder after throwing more than 40 times on Sunday and taking some hits. Smith told reporters that surgery is still an option after the season and that there's still significant laxity in his shoulder. I'm very unsure about his ability to stay healthy throughout the season, especially if he's on a virtual "throw count." The most troubling problem is the swelling, which indicates some increasing damage in the shoulder despite "normal" use. Smith is going to be a risky play all season, especially if the running game (i.e., Frank Gore) is reduced.
The combo injury to Trent Edwards is a tough one to gauge. It's a combination bruise and sprain, so it's hard to know at this stage whether it's a serious sprain, serious bruise, or a combination of the two mixing to be a problem. The more serious one part of the injury is, the longer it will take to heal. A sprain would be the major concern, as that could take weeks to heal completely and would remain a problem during throwing. Edwards will miss at least next week and likely longer, giving the starting job back to J.P. Losman in the interim.
David Garrard is making some progress with his ankle and could be back sooner than expected. While the Jags are saying that he could miss only one more game, bringing him back in time for the Tennessee divisional matchup, that's a very aggressive goal for a mobile QB. Garrard is reportedly off crutches, but still in a stabilizer, so I'm looking for a report this week that he's running if I'm going to believe that he could make it back in another week's time. Absent that, I'll hang on to backup options in the one league where I own Garrard. Even once he's back, we'll have to watch to make sure that he's mobile and getting the quick lateral movement he needs to be successful.
Kelly Holcomb took an unbelievably brutal (but legal) hit and was lucky that he came out as healthy as he did. In essence, the hit gave him a whiplash injury, according to various reports, though sources tell me that Holcomb did lose conciousness. There's some question over this, as one source said that Holcomb passed out or at least appeared to due to the pain rather than a concussion. It's a fine difference but an important one. With Tarvaris Jackson trying to come back from an avulsed bone in his index finger, the QB situation in Minnesota is as unsettled as the rest of the team. With the Vikings already looking to the '08 draft for QB help, the current QB is one to avoid no matter who it is.
Bumps and Bruises: Reggie Bush has a mild rib injury, likely just bruising, but one football official told me "It's the start. He can't hold up under the load they're giving him" ... Steve McNair will get the start this week for the Ravens, but he's on a very short leash ... Brandon Jones is expected back for the Titans this week, which should help Vince Young ... Byron Leftwich is off his crutches after having his ankle fixated with a pair of screws ... Need a RB sleeper for the second half? Michael Bush could begin practicing, and no one's locked down the Raiders RB position ... Vinny Testaverde's midfoot injury means that a relatively healthy David Carr gets another start next Sunday ... The Lions are questioning Calvin Johnson's toughness and desire again after he was once again limited by back spasms ... Maurice Jones-Drew took the low-end of the timeshare with Fred Taylor this week. He'll be back to the pure split next week ... The Seahawks should get Deion Branch this week, coming back from his foot injury.
Article first appeared 10/30/07