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Injury Analysis: NFL Injury Updates

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.

It is fitting that in a year in which concussions and the NFL concussion policy have been a focal point that players suffering or recovering from the head trauma are deciding a multitude of fantasy league championships.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been a fantasy stalwart in 2010 but missed Green Bay's loss to New England recovering from concussion-related symptoms. Rodgers suffered his second concussion in 10 weeks in Week 14 and remains a question mark for Week 16. The Packers are hesitant to rush Rodgers back despite being in a must-win situation. Rodgers is the face of the Packers franchise and the medical staff will not let Rodgers risk serious injury if he is deemed unfit to play. To understand why just consider the case of Indianapolis wide receiver Austin Collie.

Collie suffered his second concussion in seven weeks on Sunday after taking a violent, but legal hit from Daryl Smith. The play knocked Collie unconscious and ultimately ended his season. Collie has shown flashes of greatness and served as a legitimate weapon in quarterback Peyton Manning's arsenal. However with his season over, Collie is no longer a fantasy weapon and should be dropped immediately. He should bounce back in 2011 and could be a valuable commodity in next season's drafts.

Of course an injury report isn't complete without an appearance by Minnesota's Brett Favre who adds yet another ailment to his endless of injuries. Favre shocked many by shaking off a sternoclavicular sprain and starting Monday night against the Bears. Unfortunately the heroic return was brief as the veteran quarterback left in the second quarter after suffering a concussion of his own following a hit from Chicago defensive lineman Corey Wooton. Favre hit his head on the surface of the TCF Bank Stadium turf and was unable to return. Winter conditions likely played a role as snow and freezing temperatures made the playing surface of the field much harder than normal. Favre is once again a question mark entering the weekend but it appears that his career is at long last over. Joe Webb or Patrick Ramsey would get the start against the Eagles. Neither one would appear to be valuable in fantasy circles going against an aggressive Philadelphia defense.

To make matters worse the Vikings may be without All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson who was a spectator Monday night with a thigh bruise. Peterson was a surprise scratch but it appears the Vikings did not want to risk their running back aggravating an injury that occurred when he collided with Tavaris Jackson. While a thigh contusion may seem minor it can be a debilitating injury.

The anterior portion of the thigh consists of the quadriceps muscle group while the posterior portion of the thigh is the muscle group commonly referred to as the hamstring. Quadriceps contusions vary based on severity of injury but a significant traumatic blow can disrupt the muscle fascia resulting in an intramuscular hematoma. The hematoma and resulting swelling can drastically limit a player's range of motion at the knee and hip. Closely monitor Peterson's availability at practice throughout the week and hope the injury allows him to play. Toby Gerhart should be added as decent insurance policy.

San Diego's Malcom Floyd was also on the inactive list Sunday as he continues to yo-yo in and out of the lineup with a hamstring strain. Hamstring strains are extremely problematic for wide receivers since the muscle group initiates explosive movements like sprinting and jumping. While Floyd is hopeful he will play in Week 16 against the Bengals, the weather conditions are working against him. Part of Floyd's problem is that he has been unable to loosen the muscle and unfortunately that will become a more difficult task in the cold conditions in Cincinnati's forecast. Snow flurries and freezing temperatures are expected. Cold temperatures result in muscle stiffness and delayed nerve transmission making it likely that exposure to the elements will tighten Floyd's hamstring. While he may be available come Sunday, Floyd will be a risky play.

Running back Knowshon Moreno abandoned fantasy owners in Week 15 after leaving Denver 's loss to the rival Raiders with a rib injury. His replacement, Lance Ball, took over but was unimpressive amassing just 20 yards on 15 carries. The specifics of Moreno's injury remain cloudy but rib injuries can be particularly troublesome for running backs. Running backs absorb contact every time they touch the ball making them susceptible to not only new rib injuries but also vulnerable to aggravating preexisting rib damage. Moreno could wear a flak jacket to add some padding and protection to the injury site. However flak jackets increase the bulk in the midsection and increase the likelihood of fumbles. Moreno is questionable to practice all week, which is an early indication he will be limited come Sunday.

Terrell Owens time as a Bengal appears over after a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee forced Cincy to place the boisterous receiver on the injured reserve. Owens' injury first occurred in Week 13 against New Orleans but worsened Sunday against the Browns. The receiver elected to undergo surgery on Monday and the recovery time is now dependent on the severity and location of the tear. If the tear was minor and located close to the periphery of the cartilage disk than the recovery window is much smaller. If the tear occurred closer to the poorly vascularized center, he will be out for a longer stretch. TO's agent should have an interesting offseason trying to convince a franchise to take a risk on an outspoken veteran with one surgically repaired knee.

The man Owens once tearfully defended is also done for the season as the Cowboys finally placed quarterback Tony Romo on the IR. Romo has been sidelined since fracturing his left collarbone on October 25 in a loss to the Giants. The bone has been slow to heal and is still giving the quarterback discomfort. Look for Romo to bounce back in 2011, particularly if Dallas retains Jason Garrett as head coach.

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