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Injury Analysis: 2008 Weekly NFL Injury Report

Will Carroll

Will Carroll writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

RotoWire Injury Report

Will Carroll
RotoWire Injury Expert

Pre-season games are a joke. I thought about buying tickets to go see the Colts open up their new stadium, but when I found out that upper level seats were going for $250, I passed. I'm glad I did. Watching J.P. Losman and Jared Lorenzen start isn't what I want to spend my hard earned money on. While I understand the owners are getting a big check from the ticket sales to these games, they're also risking the money they've paid out to guys like Osi Umenyiora or Carson Palmer, two big names injured this week during these meaningless exhibitions. There has to be a better way to handle this, but the NFL hasn't been jumping to change things up despite this problem being in existence for, well, forever. As the contracts get bigger, maybe the pain of the lost dollars will force a change. Let's take a look at who's hurt around the camps:

Osi Umenyiora

Most underrated feature of Rotowire? Typing in "U-M-E-N" and getting back the correct spelling of Umenyiora. Umenyiora is done for the season after a tear in his lateral meniscus came loose in his knee. The Giants quickly blamed a misstep on the hard Giants stadium turf for the injury, but many of you have noted that a meniscus tear is normally a few weeks rather than a lost season. The reason is that the surgeons will try to repair the meniscus rather than simply removing the damaged piece of cartilage. Removing it - a meniscectomy - would leave Umenyiora with very little cushion in his knee and the likelihood of reducing his career and later problems due to bone-on-bone grinding. He's had surgery before on the knee after tearing his medial meniscus, done by Jim Andrews while Umenyiora was in college. Umenyiora should be back next season with no deficits, but the Giants pass rush this year now has a lot of questions.

Shawne Merriman

It's just a coincidence, I'm sure, but the Chargers have four big "stars" on the team and all four of them have had major injuries since the 2007 regular season ended. Shawne Merriman is the latest, having two "loose ligaments" - PCL and LCL - and there's no clear indication of how this happened. We'd assume that Jim Andrews didn't see this during his March surgery to clean up the left knee, and Merriman himself said in July that his knee was fully healed, but again, there's no known trauma that would cause significant ligament tears. Since Merriman tends to speed rush the RT, and the normal blocking on that is to push him further out, that's exactly what would tax his knee. The Chargers could flip-flop him to help, but this is going to be one of those things that is going to mostly go off of Merriman's ability to feel comfortable and to play through pain. Merriman's used to needles, so I think he'll be able to play, but I'm not sure if he'll be able to make it through the season. Dr. Neil ElAttrache, one of the top orthos in sports, said that "if Merriman were 30 and had played longer in the NFL, this could be career-threatening. However, Merriman will be more game-to-game." It's clear that if Merriman had the surgery, he'd be stronger and safer, but the path he seems to be choosing is doable, but risky.

Jason Taylor

Seriously ... Warren Sapp on Dancing With The Stars? Ok, I'll admit I normally only watch for Julianne Hough and Anna Trebunskaya, but Sapp dancing? In a suit? This I have to see. Taylor was of course last year's runner up, but he won't be dancing or more importantly playing football for a couple weeks due to a knee injury. Taylor is practicing lightly with a large brace, and it's important to remember that he's played through injuries as significant as a broken arm in maintaining a games played streak. It's likely that he'll still be limited in Week 1, but could play while braced. Look for him to be used lightly in the first few weeks, so he might be a "buy low" guy in IDP leagues.

Peyton Manning

Adam Schefter of NFL Network shocked me with this piece of info: Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison both had bursa sacs removed from their knee in the offseason, but Manning never spoke to Harrison about his recovery or experience. REALLY? "Hey Marvin, how's the knee? Were you still limping at four weeks post like I am?" never passed between them? I guess not, but that tells us a lot about why the Colts rank dead last in this year's survey of the NFL medical staffs. The rumors persist that Manning had a second surgery, whether on his left or right knee, and that he's only a bit better than a coinflip to make his Week 1 start, according to Peter King. Late reports are that Manning could be activated and at practice in some capacity on Tuesday, so we should finally get some new facts to work from, though there is zero chance that he'll play in Thursday night's last preseason game.

Chad Johnson/Carson Palmer

The Bengals are almost as much fun as the new "90210" figures to be, minus the scantily clad women and solving all the problems in 44 minutes. There's never a lack of drama, even when it's sublimely ridiculous. After Chad Johnson went down with a sprained shoulder, the team signed Chris Henry in a hurry. That told me there was something more going on than just a simple sprain. Turns out, Johnson also tore the labrum in his shoulder, which has caused significant pain and makes it hard for him to reach up. That's a skill a reciever really has to have. Johnson is going to have to wear a harness under his pads to try to avoid season-ending surgery, but this will limit him, especially in the red zone. The long-term issues for Carson Palmer aren't there, though he'll be uncomfortable for a few days after breaking his nose on a sack. Yes, the facemask should prevent that, but it got pushed back into his nose. He had surgery to fixate it and he likely won't take the field for Thursday's final pre-season game. He'll be fine for the season opener, though he might want to tighten up his chinstrap before then.

Willis McGahee

While everyone is discussing the Wally Pipp potential of Willis McGahee's injury and snapping up Ray Rice, where does that leave McGahee? McGahee looks to be ready physically for Week 1, though he's still got some conditioning issues, according to sources. Add those up, and McGahee is likely to lose some touches to Rice in the first few weeks, but this isn't a situation like Chester Taylor was in last season. McGahee is the true feature back in the equation, so the worst case scenario here is that he ends up Fred Taylor to Rice's Maurice Jones-Drew. Assuming that the Ravens can find some sort of passing game, a Cam Cameron offense usually finds ways to open up holes. I still like McGahee as a second-tier RB and don't think the knee will affect him after the first few weeks.

Wes Welker

5-9, 185. That's what Welker is listed as, and NFL figures are usually pretty accurate. He looks smaller, largely because he's playing with behemoths. Welker's size might factor slightly into his ability to stay healthy, but most punt returners are pretty small, so the rib injury he took in the Pats preseason game isn't something specific to Welker. It doesn't look to be lingering or serious, though it was clearly painful. Welker is expected back for Week 1, though he'll surely be wearing a flack jacket to help him take hits. I couldn't find confirmation on whether he normally wears one. In this picture from his Dolphin days, it appears he does, but in this one from 2007, he is not wearing one.

Texans RB

The Texans brought in Ahman Green last season expecting him to solidify the running game and take some pressure off of new QB Matt Schaub. Problem is Green couldn't stay healthy. He's a year older now with the same issues, yet the Texans still seem to think that Green is the answer to their backfield woes. Even when healthy, he wasn't effective, and he's already dealing with leg problems. The Texans have some options, but as they went down the depth chart last season, it didn't get much better. After Green, free agent Chris Brown is having back issues. Once again, the Texans are three and four down the chart, but it could be different this season as they seem to have a steal in Steve Slaton, who's been productive, but came out of the last game with turf toe. They also have Chris Taylor, a favorite of the staff, back from knee injury. If this all sounds like a Denver-style RB mess, that's because it is.

Harry Williams

Harry Williams is a name you probably don't know. You probably didn't know Kevin Everett before his miraculous story last year either. Once again, it was a kick return where someone was injured, not just ending a football career, but very nearly ending a life. Williams fractured his C3, a very high vertebrae in the neck. A spinal cord injury in that area may have left Williams unable to breathe on his own. He's undergone surgery and should regain most if not all of his function, though his football career is done. At some point, something is going to have to be done about kick return-related injuries, though it may take an on-field death to force things.

Article first appeared 8/26/08