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Injury Analysis: Jeff Stotts Breaks Down the Key Injuries

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.

Minnesota wide receiver Percy Harvin suffered a scary incident on Thursday, collapsing at practice and ultimately leaving the field by ambulance after suffering a migraine headache. Harvin, a chronic migraine sufferer, was released early Friday morning and rejoined the team. He watched morning practice from the sidelines.

Migraine headaches are an unpredictable and serious issue for athletes, particularly NFL players. As in the case of Harvin, migraines can begin at an early age. However because a migraine is largely defined by information provided directly by the patient, it often goes undiagnosed. Migranes are classified by significant pain that is often accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light, and potentially vomiting and loss of consciousness. While the exact root of the problem is unknown, several factors including stress, physical exertion, and weather changes are believed to contribute to triggering a migraine. Medication exists to treat the associated symptoms and help reduce the regularity and severity of migraines, but at this time an end-all cure does not exist.

Harvin has been plagued by migraines his entire football career, including a similar episode during his sophomore season at Florida that resulted in a trip to the hospital. He sat out a game last season and has already missed time during this year's training camp with the ailment. Unfortunately, it seems likely that the rigors of training camp and the emotional stress from the recent passing of his grandmother may have contributed to his latest bout of migraines. The particular episode that sent Harvin to the hospital was triggered when he gazed into the sun while fielding a punt during special teams.

While it's encouraging his hospital stay was brief, the migraines are likely to affect Harvin's availability throughout the year and should hurt his value in the majority of fantasy drafts. The Vikings medical staff will diligently look into various options to control the attacks and can hopefully limit the length and frequency of their occurrences. Harvin has already visited with doctors from the renowned Mayo Clinic in an attempt to develop a plan of action.

Known normally for its ability to aid kickers by keeping out the cold and often harsh Minnesota climate, Mall of America Field could give the Vikings and Harvin another advantage in their attempts by allowing the wideout to play in a controlled environment. Furthermore two of their eight road games, including Week 1 against the Saints, will be played indoors and should help decrease a migraine attack associated with the weather and climate.

Offensive lineman often go unrecognized for their assistance to numerous fantasy football teams. Without their weekly contributions, fantasy stalwarts like Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson would not be able to put up the numbers essential to winning weekly matchups. Often, injuries to these athletes can lead to a decline in production and the occasional injury for quarterbacks and running backs. In Dallas, several key components of their O-line are nursing significant ailments.

Starting right tackle Marc Colombo recently underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bits of cartilage floating within his right knee. In this procedure, known as a debridement, inflamed or damaged tissue is removed resulting in a decrease in pain while better preparing the site for healing. In Colombo's case, five pieces of cartilage were excised including a specific piece that was limiting the range of motion in his knee. The Cowboys are optimistic he will be able to return within the next two weeks.

The injury to Colombo was compounded on Wednesday when starting left guard Kyle Kosier suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee. The MCL is a primary stabilizer for lateral movement, particularly valgus forces placed on the inside of the knee joint. A strong MCL is crucial for a lineman who must quickly move side-to-side while generating enough force to block an oncoming defensive player. Kosier is expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the preseason. With Kosier and Colombo out and backup tackle Alex Barron also hobbled by an ankle sprain, quarterback Tony Romo could be at risk for a bumpy start to the season. Romo was sacked three times in Dallas' preseason contest against the Raiders and left the game with a sore back. Expect the Cowboys to keep a short leash on the quarterback for the remainder of the preseason. Romo's fantasy value doesn't take an immediate hit, but those spending an early pick on the QB should scale back their expectations until the offensive line is fully healthy.

In addition to the offensive line woes, Romo is still without his newest offensive weapon, as rookie Dez Bryant remains sidelined with a high ankle sprain. Bryant injured the ankle on July 30 when he collided with a teammate. A high ankle sprain, or syndesmotic sprain, is more common in basketball and varies from the basic ankle sprain. Instead of an isolated sprain of the medial or lateral ligaments, ligaments located at the distal tibiofemoral joint are also disrupted or overstretched. These ligaments extend across the distal ends of the tibia and fibula, forming a location known as the ankle mortise. When sprained the integrity of the ankle joint is compromised, resulting in swelling, pain, and a loss of function. Depending on the severity of the sprain, an athlete can be sidelined between four to six weeks and in some extreme cases longer. However Bryant appears to be healing nicely, and he is no longer wearing a protective boot on his right ankle. He is jogging lightly but is still having trouble pushing off while making cuts. Expect the receiver to be ready for Week 1 with an outside shot of making an appearance in the preseason finale.

San Francisco wide receiver Michael Crabtree continues to nurse a strained neck. Strains can occur to a variety of muscles surrounding the cervical portion of the spine including the trapezius, scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, and both the splenus cervicis and capitis. A strain to any of these muscles can result in pain and a loss of range of motion often the result of a protective muscle response known as guarding. Heat is often used in conjunction with physical therapy to relax the muscles and allow for a gradual return to play. Crabtree has returned to practice but is still not participating on contact drills. He remains on target for a Week 1 return.