Five weeks into the season and it is becoming abundantly clear that the NFL's new concussion protocol is being enforced and followed. It is having a direct impact on fantasy owners as Philadelphia's Kevin Kolb, Chicago's Jay Cutler, and Dallas' Jason Witten have all missed time or been withheld from a game after displaying concussion-like symptoms following a hit. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the latest player to succumb to the injury and test the new guidelines. Over the last few weeks we have dissected the NFL's protocol and taken a closer look at the neuropsychological testing known as ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) testing. With Rodgers a question mark for Sunday's game against Miami lets now examine the injury itself in more detail.
A concussion occurs when trauma to the head results in an abrupt and temporary disruption of basic neurological functions such as vision, hearing, balance, or memory. Despite popular belief, concussions are not always accompanied by a loss of consciousness and a player will not always realize one has occurred. The length of the resulting symptoms often varies depending on the severity of the concussion. Symptoms may clear after a day or two while others may linger for an extended period of time. Often symptoms will disappear in daily activity but return with exercise and exertional activity. Symptoms can vary from person to person making understanding them difficult to identify and analyze.
To aid in their recognition and detection, numerous neurologists and medical professionals have attempted to construct ranking scales. Several of these classification systems are now utilized to determine the severity of the concussion with most of them focusing on the length of time the athlete was unconscious. However each grading system is subjective making it difficult to closely adhere to one specific classification scheme. It was because of these skewed systems that the NFL elected to develop their own protocol to protect their players.
In Green Bay, Rodgers has already been ruled out for several upcoming practices and must be symptom-free and undergo a neuropsychological test. The results of the tests will be compared to a baseline exam Rodgers took prior to the season. An independent neurologist must then clear the quarterback before he takes to the field. Keep a close eye on Rodgers status later in the week and have a reliable backup quarterback handy if he is a no-go. Third-year quarterback Matt Flynn would start in Rodger's absence.
Whoever lines up at quarterback for Green Bay will do so without several big targets including Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee. Finley will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. The menisci are two fibrocartilage discs located between the femur and tibia. They serve as a buffer between the two bones and absorb various stresses placed on and through the knee. When torn, a surgeon will repair or remove the damaged portion of the meniscus arthroscopically. Finley's rehabilitation will begin almost immediately, first focusing on range of motion before shifting to strengthening and weight bearing. The final stages of rehab will focus on football specific activities simulating what Finley will undergo when he returns to the gridiron. He is hoping for a speedy recovery and a Week 9 return against Dallas. However, Green Bay has a bye in Week 10 and Finley is more likely to return in Week 11 against the Vikings.
Finley's backup Donald Lee will also miss time nursing a chest sprain. Early reports suggested the injury was to his shoulder but upon further examination it was determined to be to the chest. While the information is vague we know the injury is to a ligament in Lee's chest, likely the sternum. The sprain could be where the rib bones connect to the sternum or where the clavicle attaches to the sternum. Since it was originally believed to be a shoulder injury, it is more likely the ligament involved is at the sternoclavicular junction. Regardless of the location, Lee will be out at least two weeks and rookie Andrew Quarless will become the primary tight end in the Packer offense.
Detroit is taking a play out of the New England playbook and remains tight-lipped regarding the specifics surrounding Calvin Johnson's injured right shoulder. Johnson injured the shoulder early in the fourth quarter when he landed following a catch. Megatron headed to the sideline where he removed his pads and the medical staff wrapped the injury site in ice. Shoulder injuries can be a big problem for receivers, limiting their range of motion and decreasing their ability to make catches. Johnson spent most of Monday undergoing test and his availability for Week 6 remains in doubt. He will likely be a game-time decision.
Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew appears to have avoided serious injury to his wrist allowing fantasy owners everywhere to breath a sigh of relief. Jones-Drew injured his right wrist as he placed his hand on the ground to brace himself. Buffalo defenders than fell on top of Jones-Drew causing the injury and forcing him to miss several plays. He returned to action and finished with 84 rushing yards. X-rays on Monday came back negative and MJD should benefit from an extra day of rest as the Jags face the Titans on Monday night.
St. Louis will be without receiver Mark Clayton for the remainder of the season after he suffered a torn patellar tendon in his right knee. The patellar tendon is the common tendon of the muscle group best known as the quadriceps. The quadriceps is responsible for knee extension and is a necessary component for explosive movements like running and jumping. The patella, or kneecap, is located within the patellar tendon and increases the lever arm of the muscle. Surgery will be required to repair the damaged tendon, securing it back to the tibia. Clayton should be available for the start of next season. Danny Amendola looked impressive in Clayton's absence catching 12 balls for 95 yards. He is a legit fantasy option in PPR leagues and should be considered in all other formats.
Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.