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Injury Analysis: The Giants Defense Has Been Hit Hard This Preseason

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts works as a Certified Athletic Trainer (MAT, ATC, PES, CES). He won the 2011 Best Fantasy Football Article in Print from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

Ryan Williams and Chris Wells

Williams suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee and will undergo surgery this week. The patellar tendon attaches the quadriceps muscle to the lower leg bone, the tibia. The patella (kneecap) is a sesmoid bone, meaning it floats within this tendon. When the patellar tendon ruptures, the kneecap shifts upward and the athlete loses full function of the leg, Fortunately no other structural damage occurred, and Williams should make a full recovery in four to six months. A recent study revealed that a high percentage of NFL players that suffered a ruptured patellar tendon were able to return the following season and averaged almost three more seasons of action following the surgery.

For now, Beanie Wells becomes a more intriguing option. However Wells does come with his own set of issues. Wells has been prone to injury since his days at Ohio State, where he suffered a fractured wrist and dealt with foot problems. His rookie season was slowed by an ankle injury, but the most recent injury is the most significant. Last September, Wells needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee and remove several loose bodies. The injury was initially ruled a bone contusion before the arthroscopic procedure was carried out. He missed the first two weeks of the regular season and spent the majority of the year as Tim Hightower's backup.

Injuries of this kind can be problematic for a big back expected to carry a large workload, and unfortunately there's little evidence to show whether Wells and his knee will be up to the challenge. In two seasons, he has carried the ball more than 17 times just once, a 20 carry, 30-yard performance in Week 5 of last season. In 29 career games, he has just 292 carries and 17 total receptions. In comparison, Maurice Jones-Drew had 299 carries and 34 receptions last season in just 14 games. Wells has an opportunity to become a serviceable back, but it comes with a fair amount of risk and uncertainty.

Jason Campbell, Malcolm Floyd and Jahvid Best

Campbell, Floyd and Best all suffered concussions in their respective teams' most recent preseason outings and are likely to miss several days of practice. Each player suffered his injury in a different fashion, illustrating the multiple ways a concussion can occur. Campbell was struck in the helmet by a defender's knee and was removed from the game after he reported feeling dizzy. Floyd was injured when his head struck the Dallas turf following a tackle. He limped off the field holding his lower back before being taken to the athletic training room, where the medical staff diagnosed his concussion. Best suffered his concussion during a helmet-to-helmet collision with Cleveland's Joe Haden. Three separate mechanisms of injury all with the same result.

While each concussion was deemed "mild", you should not consider this a very accurate description. Part of the problem with diagnosing and determining the severity of a concussion comes from the absence of a true grading scale. Numerous grading scales exist including the Glasglow Coma scale and the Cantu guidelines. These objective rankings attempt to classify head injuries but sadly the medical profession is at a constant debate on which scale is best. Instead, it is best to approach any concussion as serious and help treat the existing symptoms.

To help avoid confusion and misdiagnosis, the NFL has placed several rules and tests into effect to insure its players are protected. The most notable is ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing). The test provides medical staffs baseline information for each individual and incorporates previous injuries into its results. Concussed players must pass these exams and be cleared by a neurologist prior to returning to play. Keep in mind: the effects of repeat concussions are cumulative, and each subsequent injury can prolong the amount of time needed to recover. Campbell, Floyd and Best are all likely to return to action within the next week, and their fantasy stocks shouldn't drop barring setbacks.

NY Giant Defense

The Giants defense entered the preseason as a top 10-ranked unit and on average is the fifth defense taken in drafts, according to MockDraftCentral.com. However, the injuries are mounting. Four of their top six cornerbacks are dealing with injuries, including Terrell Thomas who is done for the year after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee. Teammate Bruce Johnson is also out for the remainder of the season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon. Rookie cornerback Prince Amukamara is still recovering from surgery to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot, and Brian Witherspoon is awaiting the MRI results on his sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL).

The injuries have not been limited to the secondary, either. Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora just underwent arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome right knee to remove several loose bodies. He's expected to be out at least a month. Big Blue doesn't look quite as tough with an elite pass rusher sidelined and a suddenly porous secondary, though keep in mind fantasy defense and real-life defense aren't necessarily the same thing, and the Giants have last year's first-round pick Jason Pierre-Paul to fill in for Umenyiora early on.

Percy Harvin

The Vikings welcomed Harvin back from a rib injury. Harvin bruised his ribs early last week and did not play in the preseason game over the weekend. Fortunately the rib injury appears minor and should not affect him much. Rib injuries are a bigger deal for running backs since the often-utilized flak jacket increases the bulk of the midsection and the likelihood of fumbles. Harvin shouldn't have that issue, and being back on the field is important as he continues to develop a rapport with new quarterback Donovan McNabb.

Darren McFadden

McFadden returned to practice Monday after sitting out the last two weeks with a fractured orbital bone. The location of the break did not affect McFadden's eyesight, and he should remain a top option at running back, particularly in PPR leagues.

Miles Austin, Tashard Choice, and DeMarco Murray

The Cowboys are playing it safe with their top wide receiver, giving Austin extra time to handle a tight hamstring. The injury appears minor, and Dallas anticipates Austin will be back on the practice field later in the week. Running backs Choice (calf strain) and Murray (hamstring strain) are also expected back from lower extremity injuries. Both backs have fallen way behind Felix Jones but could produce an interesting battle for the second spot on the depth chart. Whoever wins the battle would become an attractive handcuff to the somewhat injury-prone Jones.