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Injury Analysis: Week 13 Injury Recap

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.

Ice bags and bandages were in short supply today after a hectic Week 13 left plenty of players bruised and bloodied. In fact the only thing uglier than Monday night's performance by the Jets was Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's nose following his teams win over Baltimore.

Ravens defender Haloti Ngata broke Big Ben's nose when he was able to get his hand under Roethlisberger's facemask during a sack. The athletic training staff quickly stopped the profuse bleeding and was able to get the quarterback back on the field in time for Pittsburgh's next offense drive. The nose is composed of both bone and cartilage. Following a direct blow, the bones in the nose will break and the cartilage can become displaced. A significant displacement will often result in breathing problems and must be repaired surgically. Roethlisberger was in surgery Monday to have his displaced nose reduced. He will wear a splint over the next few days and may miss several practices. However it seems likely Pittsburgh will have Roethlisberger behind center on Sunday when they take on the struggling Bengals.

Another quarterback, Minnesota's Brett Favre, is also spending time in the training room, but unlike Roethlisberger Favre's availability isn't as clear. Despite playing through numerous injuries this season, including two ankle fractures, a chin laceration, and an inflamed elbow, Favre's new injury could be the one that ends his consecutive-game streak. Favre was injured on his first pass attempt Sunday and did not return to the game after suffering a sprained shoulder. A MRI performed Monday confirmed a sprain of the sternoclavicular (SC) joint. The shoulder complex is comprised of four articulations. The SC joint is the only connection between the arm and the trunk of the body and is located where the clavicle (collarbone) connects to the manubrium of the sternum (breastbone). A sprain to the ligaments that stabilize this joint is rare and can have serious associated complications. While Favre's sprain is considered minor, it could still severely hinder his ability to throw a football. The range of motion in Favre's shoulder could be limited and prevent him from bringing his arm across his chest in a direction known as adduction. It is hard to bet against Favre not playing but his production was already poor when he was relatively healthy. This injury should only decrease his limited value and I wouldn't risk playing the veteran with the blitzing Giants defense on tap.

Cowboys rookie Dez Bryant will be placed on injured reserve after the flashy rookie suffered a fractured right ankle against the Colts. Bryant was injured in the fourth quarter while returning a kickoff. The receiver broke his right fibula on the play and underwent surgery on Monday to stabilize the joint. A surgical plate was placed into the leg to stabilize and fixate the bone and will keep Bryant out for three to four months. He should be ready for next season's training camp and will be ranked high on lots of draft boards to start the 2011 season. For this year there is no reason to hold on to Bryant, unless of course you are in a keeper league. Roy Williams will see a slight increase in targets for the remainder of the season with Miles Austin and Jason Witten being relied upon more heavily.

Bryant's teammate Marion Barber remains banged up with a calf strain and interim coach Jason Garrett is describing the running back's status as week-to-week. The strain will continue to limit Barber's productivity and it has been hinted that he could join Bryant on the injured reserve. Tashard Choice looked impressive against the Colts rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown and could actually be benefiting from his early season benching. Prior to Week 13 Choice had only received 13 rushing attempts and nine receptions. While maddening for Choice at the time, the light workload has saved his body from wear-and-tear and he now appears fresher than most backs. While Dallas faces a tough task in the Philadelphia defense in Week 14, Choice could be a valuable playoff commodity for fantasy owners with two run-friendly defenses, Washington and Arizona, slated for Weeks 15 and 16.

Seattle's Mike Williams could be in street clothes in Week 14 after sustaining a left ankle injury. He was already hobbled with a strain in his left foot that kept him out in Week 12. The former top-10 pick had a resurgent 2010 after reuniting with Pete Carroll but it seems this feel-good story is going to limp to the finish. Early reports suggested Williams would miss several weeks but coach Carroll described the injury as a first-degree sprain and hinted Williams could play against San Francisco. However with two injuries within close proximity of each other he remains an extremely risky play.

Emerging wide receiver Ben Obomanu was also injured in Week 13 and suffered a hand laceration that required stitches to close. Obomanu is expected to play against the Niners and could become Matt Hasselbeck's primary receiving target if Williams cannot suit up.

The New York Giants could get their top receiving duo back with Steven Smith and Hakeem Nicks hoping to return to practice at some point this week. Smith is recovering from a torn pectoral muscle that has sidelined him for the past three weeks. The muscle is apparently healed to the point where Smith feels confident running and catching the ball. However his ailment could become problematic when he attempts to create separation at the line. Imagine you are bench-pressing at the gym. The pectoral muscles are one of the primary muscles utilized when pushing that weight up. The same motion is utilized when trying to block or push off of a defender. A torn muscle hinders an athlete's ability to generate force and Smith could struggle to get himself open. Expect the Giants to ease him back into the rotation. Monitor his workload throughout the week before activating him in Week 14.

Nicks remains limited as the wound from his fasciotomy needed to relive swelling resulting from acute compartment syndrome. He hopes to make an early return in Week 14 against the Vikings but is likely still a week away. Like Smith, keep an eye on his status throughout the week but scale back your expectations as the Giants will be cautious with their breakout star.

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