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Injury Analysis: The NFL's new stand on concussions frustrates Witten, fantasy owners

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.

The NFL's new concussion protocol was once again tested as Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was held out of the final six minutes of Dallas' loss to Chicago. After making a catch, Witten was taken down by two Bears defenders and hit the back of his head on the turf of Cowboys Stadium. Witten stumbled to his feet and staggered a few steps. The Cowboys medical staff performed a neurological evaluation and diagnosed the Pro Bowler with a concussion. They then followed policy and removed the tight end from the game, much to the chagrin of Witten. Witten showed no symptoms or side effects on Monday and hopes to be cleared to participate in practice. The Cowboys medical staff should be commended for not yielding to a player's demands but the decisions clearly irked Witten and likely frustrated fantasy owners. However you can expect to see more frustrated players roaming the sidelines as NFL medical staffs take a definitive stance against concussions.

In other concussion news, Philadelphia quarterback Kevin Kolb has been cleared to practice following his Week 1 concussion but will not return as the starting quarterback when the Eagles travel to Jacksonville. Michael Vick was impressive in Week 2 throwing for 284 yards and two touchdowns and Coach Andy Reid felt Vick gave the Eagles the best change to win. Those fortunate enough to snag Vick should hold on tight and stash Kolb in case the situation changes. Keep in mind once a player has sustained a concussion they are more prone to another.

As Sidney Rice recovers from hip surgery, the last thing the Vikings can afford is another injury to a wideout, particularly another serious hip injury. However that's the situation they now face, as Percy Harvin was limited in the second half of their Week 2 loss with a hip strain. A MRI revealed no structural damage and the injury is limited to the musculature surrounding the hip. Harvin began complaining of the injury prior to Week 2 and aggravated the injury while setting a block against the Dolphins. The muscles of the hip are divided into two groups, the anterior and posterior. The anterior group consists of the iliacus and psoas muscles while the adductors, gluteal, and external rotators make up the posterior group. Each individual muscle group works in unison to move the hip in a specific direction while also aiding in stabilization. A strain to any of these muscles can be very detrimental and throw off the synergy of the hip muscles. Harvin will attempt to practice but has just six catches on the year and has yet to impress this season.

While Ben Roethlisberger serves his four-game suspension, the Steelers are down another quarterback after Dennis Dixon is expected to miss three to five weeks with a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. The menisci are two cartilaginous discs located on the articulating surface of the lower leg bone known as the tibia. When the knee is violently twisted, the menisci are susceptible to injury and are easily pinched between bony protuberances located on the upper leg bone, the femur. The lateral meniscus sits on the outside portion of the knee with the medial meniscus located on the inside of the leg. The medical meniscus is C-shaped while the lateral meniscus is more O-shaped. The Steelers have yet to discuss surgery as an option and it remains an outside possibility that it can be avoided depending on the location of tear. Both menisci are broken into zones based on the amount of blood flow that is supplied to the area. The outer edges of the meniscus are well supplied with blood and known as the red-red zone. As you move progressively inward the amount of available blood distributed to the meniscus decreases until the avascular white-white zone is reached. Blood does not circulate to the white-white zone. Without blood, the body's natural ability to heal is drastically limited. If the damage occurred outside of the red-red zone the likelihood that surgery can be avoided is slim. The Steelers will perform more tests to determine the specifics surrounding the injury and will now turn to Charlie Batch or recently re-signed Byron Leftwich for Week 3 against Tampa Bay.

It appears Atlanta running back Michael Turner avoided any serious injury and was withheld from returning in Week 2 for precautionary reasons. Turner suffered a strained groin in the Falcons' blowout win over the Cardinals. The groin muscles are a muscle group responsible for the motion of adduction. This motion occurs when the leg is pulled inward toward the midline of the body. If strained, an athlete will have problems transferring his body weight and moving laterally while making cuts. The strain appears minor and Falcons coach Mike Smith expects to have Turner in the backfield when the team travels to New Orleans.

Turner's teammate was not as fortunate as Jerious Norwood suffered a significant lower leg injury in the game. The team continues to evaluate the injury and will update his status when the information becomes available. Turner owners holding onto Norwood should now seek out Jason Snelling as a handcuff after the third-string back rushed for 129 yards and scored two touchdowns.

New Orleans running back Reggie Bush is back in the athletic training room after suffering a fractured right fibula in Monday night's win over the Niners. Bush suffered the injury after he was tackled after muffing a punt. The fibula is the outside bone of the lower two leg bones and is the thinner of the two. It is prone to fractures at both its distal and proximal ends. Bush has suffered a myriad of injuries since entering the league including a sprained ankle, a partial tear to his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain, and microfracture surgery. However the latest injury is not related to his most recent ailment, as all those injuries occurred to his left leg not his now broken right leg. Bush will undergo further testing to determine the extent of the damage but is expected to miss a minimum of four to six weeks. While Bush is an explosive offensive player, he is too much of an injury risk to be counted on as a fantasy options.

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