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Injury Analysis: Week 3 Injury Updates

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.

Kenny Britt
Britt became the latest player to suffer a season-ending injury after tearing the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee. He suffered the injury in the second quarter of Tennessee's win over Denver when he awkwardly planted his right leg in an attempt to elude a tackle. He instantly fumbled the ball, likely due to the pain, and was carted off the field. A MRI performed Monday confirmed the damage.

The injury was not a violent hit but Britt had several factors working against him. To start, attempting to decelerate with knee rotation is the most common noncontact mechanism of ACL injuries. Furthermore the emerging wideout has been plagued with hamstring and quadriceps problems in the injured right leg. Any residual muscle imbalances would elevate Britt's intrinsic injury risk. If the hamstring muscle group was weaker than normal, the knee would be predisposed to injury as major quadriceps activation is a believed to be a chief contributor in ACL injuries. We cannot point to one specific reason why Britt's ligaments failed but instead have to assume multiple factors played a role. Unfortunate cases like Britt's are a good example of the risk associated with playing with an injury, even if the strain or sprain appears and feels minor.

Britt will undergo surgery at some point in the next week and should be able to return for next season's training camp and preseason. Advancements in the surgery and subsequent rehab have improved the surgeries' success rate and multiple wide receivers including New England's Wes Welker have returned following the procedure. However studies have shown that NFL players, particularly wide receivers and running backs, see a decrease in productivity once they are able to return. Look for Britt to make a comeback in 2012 but remain a high-risk, high-reward candidate on draft day.

Michael Vick
After exiting early in Week 2 with a concussion, Vick again was unable to finish the game in Week 3 after suffering a right hand injury. Multiple x-rays were performed at the stadium and while the initial x-ray did not detect a fracture, a second set of films suggested a break in one of the bones. Further tests, including a more accurate X-ray computed tomography (CT) scan, were performed Monday and revealed no fracture but a deep bone bruise instead.

A CT scan has the ability to view an injury site in multiple planes and at a higher contrast resolution, making it a more accurate diagnostic tool. It also allows physicians to see a more detailed image and pick up on fractures that did not appear on x-ray. Furthermore CT scans are site specific and can help eliminate mistakes during interpretation. X-rays are not specific and occasionally other neighboring tissue can be superimposed over the area of the interest, as was the case for Vick. His first x-ray showed no break because there was no break. The second x-ray came back positive because a blood vessel in the hand caused an area of contrast on the film, which was mistaken for a crack in the bone.

The injury occurred to Vick's non-throwing hand increasing his chances of playing this week. However the injured hand remains swollen and painful and will likely limit his reps in practice. If he were able to play, the four-time Pro Bowler would need extra padding and a glove to protect the injury site. He may be less inclined to run and could be forced to take a majority of the snaps out of the shotgun. Vick owners have to remember this comes with the territory and injuries are the steep price of having one of the league's most explosive offensive weapons on your roster. Vince Young is poised to return to full practice after missing time with a nagging hamstring issue and could be an interesting pickup should Vick be unavailable.

Frank Gore
Gore stands as one of the most disappointing players in this young season after rushing for 148 total yards and just one touchdown through three weeks. To make matters worse, the Niners back is now nursing a sprained right ankle. The sprain appears minor and he was already out of the protective walking boot on Monday. However Gore has history of lower extremity injuries including a right hip fracture last season. He also has a ton of mileage on his legs and currently sits seventh among active players in number of carries. The players ahead of him in the list are all past their prime and have endured similar injuries, including Steven Jackson, Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, and LaDainian Tomlinson. Rookie Kendall Hunter will see an increase in his number of carries if Gore is at all limited.

Darren McFadden
After running wild for 171 yards and two touchdowns, McFadden saw limited action in the fourth quarter after suffering a groin injury. The Raiders stated McFadden's groin was simply tight and that they fully expect the NFL's current rushing leader to be ready to go for Week 4's showdown against the Patriots. However given McFadden's injury-riddled past it's at least worth monitoring through the week.

Peyton Hillis
Hillis was a surprise scratch in Week 3 after a bout of strep throat left him too sick to play. He battled the illness throughout last week but still had a fever and was weak from vomiting. Fortunately the cause of strep throat is a bacterium, meaning an anti-biotic can be prescribed to help Hillis' combat the infection. He was back with the team on Monday and all signs point to him returning in Week 4 against the Titans.

Turf Burns

Felix Jones: After starting the second half of Monday night's game in impressive fashion, Jones aggravated his dislocated shoulder and was not on the field during the game-winning drive. He will likely play in Week 4 against the Lions but both Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murry could see an increase in their workloads.

Jeremy Maclin: If things couldn't get any worse for the Eagles offense, Maclin is day-to-day with a hamstring strain.

Peyton Manning: The Colts did not officially rule their MVP quarterback out for the year but admitted it is unlikely he will able to recover from neck surgery in time to play.

Tony Romo: Romo failed to throw a touchdown for the first time in 20 games but led the Cowboys to a Monday night win over the Redskins. The quarterback needed two pain-killing injections prior to the game and played with a Kevlar vest designed by Unequal Technologies to protect his broken ribs. Until Romo is healthy and Miles Austin returns from a hamstring strain, expect his numbers to be lower than normal.

Mark Sanchez: The Jets quarterback suffered a broken nose against the Raiders but will not miss any time.

Arian Foster and Ben Tate: Foster is eagerly set to return to the practice field this week in hopes of playing in Week 4. His understudy, Tate, has performed well in his absence but has a minor ankle injury. With the Steelers defense on tap, both backs could be in for more punishment.

Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.