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Injury Analysis: 2007 NFL Weekly Injury Report-Week 15

Will Carroll

Will Carroll writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

RotoWire Injury Report

Will Carroll
RotoWire Injury Expert

The thoughts and prayers of Rotowire go out to the family and friends of Sean Taylor. Early in my career writing about injuries, Daryl Kile passed away. I can still remember driving through Chicago - I'd been at the previous day's game - and hearing Joe Girardi choking up on the field, announcing that the game had been cancelled. Each week in the NFL, each player knows that he's one play away, one wrong hit, one misstep from ending his season or his career. We never think that these players are human, having seen them perform activities over and over that are by definition super-human. Taylor and all of us are one step away, one bullet or knife or drunk driver, away from losing it all.

The season is over for Cedric Benson, one that couldn't have gone much worse. Handed the starting job, Benson wasn't able to do much with it and now heads to a surgeon's table to repair a severely sprained ankle. Benson's ankle gave way on a low hit in last week's game and has significant structural damage. There's no timetable set on his recovery, though physicians I spoke to felt that with the worst case scenario - a complete reconstruction of the ankle's main ligaments - he would likely be ready for training camp. The question then would be return to function. Benson isn't a cut-back, hop and pop runner, so any loss of lateral mobility would have minimal effect. Whether he's a keeper should be based more on your analysis of his effectiveness this season than on the injury.

Yes, Adrian Peterson could have played last week. No, the Vikings aren't giving any reasons why he didn't besides the now-ubiquitous "team decision." Sources tell me that Peterson was bothered far more by the knee brace than the knee problem, but with another week to get used to it, that should go away as well. Expect Peterson to practice and then play this week, but I'm still not completely convinced that he can be effective as a straight-ahead runner. Running behind the Vikings line should be enough, but instincts are such a part of running that if Peterson tries to make a move and can't, he'll be a sitting duck for the type of big hit that he's proven over and over that he can't take.

Here's a sentence you don't often hear from an NFL scout: "He was perfect aside from the three interceptions." That's what everyone's saying about A.J. Feeley after his Sunday performance against the Patriots. You'll hear it from people at work, on the street, on the radio, but the facts don't support this. Feeley was a minimalist, taking what was given, making a couple nice passes - something any NFL QB should be able to do - and exploiting the bend-don't-break scheme. I was far more impressed with Jim Johnson's blitz schemes. Feeley's performance (real or perceived) now gives the Eagles a problem. Donovan McNabb is clearly on his way out in Philly, so do they wait another week and get him over the thumb injury, or do they try to amp up his seasonal stat line. Watch for McNabb's practice reports; if the thumb isn't a problem on Wednesday, sources tell me that the team is currently leaning toward playing him against the Seahawks.

Marc Bulger took a classic concussion out of Sunday's game. Eyes unfocused, nausea, and a swaying gait were all seen on the sidelines during the game. Now, Bulger comes under the NFL policy, though early signs are that he'll be ready for Sunday. Bulger had a CAT scan on Monday which showed nothing beyond the normal and will test out under the policy by Wednesday. As yet, I haven't heard of a player failing the test, which makes me wonder about, though it's certainly better than nothing. Watch to make sure that Bulger isn't exhibiting any symptoms by late this week. If not, he'll get the start over Gus Frerotte. The worry now is the state of the Rams line is such that Bulger's going to get hit again, and the next time could be worse.

The Seahawks might go another week without Shaun Alexander, which I guess gives him more time to work with the NSync kid on his moves. Whatevs. The Seahawks will make another quick decision - if Alexander can practice in full on Wednesday, they'll give him the rest of the week to work himself into the lineup. If not, they'll continue with Mo Morris as the feature RB and focus on the passing game. The passing game won't have D.J. Hackett this week and perhaps far longer. Hackett re-injured the same ankle that cost him much of the first half of the season and, according to some sources, it's a recurrence of the high ankle sprain. At best, he'll miss a couple weeks and at worst, it could be the season. The Seahawks will keep working on him to see if they can get him back at any point, even in the playoffs, so watch closely if your league goes this deep. If not and with fantasy playoffs upcoming, you might do better looking elsewhere at this stage.

Marshawn Lynch isn't going to be rushed back after his ankle sprain, but the Bills losing Anthony Thomas to a strained calf might inform their decision on Lynch. Thomas' calf strain was very high, limiting his ability to bend and push off with the knee, making his playing in Week 13 extremely unlikely. With Fred Jackson (who?) standing to be the No. 1 RB, that gives Lynch a bit more push. Unfortunately, the Bills are indicating that Lynch is far from ready and seem unwilling to let him go at significantly under his normal full-go. Lynch is running and cutting, but unless you see him in pads by Thursday, it's time to plan for another week without the rookie.

It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Marvin Harrison, suited up and back at practice. While he's not quite Superman, he might have the same effect for the Colts. After 10 days off, the Colts squeaked through the down part of their schedule and now have what amounts to a playoff game against the Jags. Harrison will be back, according to almost everyone short of Bill Polian, assuming that he makes it through a week of practice without significant irritation of his severe bursitis. Harrison's return gives Peyton Manning his full compliment of WRs, something that should calm down Manning's ADD stylings of the last couple weeks. The team is still a bit cautious about Joseph Addai, which is funny since they weren't cautious putting him back in Sunday's game. Addai suffered a sprained neck when his neck snapped straight back on a hit. He's stiff and sore, but the concern is that his neck wouldn't take a hit, or it would prevent a hit to the head from dissipating normally. Watch to see that Addai is practicing fully, and expect Kenton Keith to get a few more touches on Sunday regardless.

Remember this at next year's draft when you're looking at first round guys and thinking "Hey, maybe Reggie Bush breaks out in year 3 like a lot of WRs." No, he won't. What you see from Bush is the problem - he simply can't stay healthy given the workload of a RB. Bush is hamstrung by the inability of the Saints offense to put him in situations where he can use his skills, locking him into a position that will cost him a lot of hits and a lot of icepacks. Bush made it through last week's game without aggravating his shin injury, but he was noticeably slowed and took some big hits. Without his speed, he's nothing, and NFL linebackers are doing their best to beat that speed out of him. The Saints are fighting for a playoff spot, so expect Bush to start regardless.

With a full week (albeit a non-standard seven days from Thursday to Thursday) to heal, it looks like Patrick Crayton will be on the field for the Cowboys when they face off with the Packers. While Crayton isn't an elite WR, he does get enough attention to help free up Terrell Owens some. In his absence, Tony Romo seemed to look for his TEs more. It's tough to judge how the team will use Crayton, but don't expect big numbers. He's shown little to no remaining limitations in practice, so if he's one of your normal WR options, feel free to lock him in for the early game this week.

Bumps and Bruises: Not what you want to hear about a top QB, Matt Hasselbeck... Brodie Croyle took the spike on the sidelines of Sunday's game after taking a helmet to the lower back. Even in plain sight, painkillers are the dirty little secret of the NFL... Yep, that's what got Jeff Garcia back in the fourth quarter... Mike Sherman to College Station? Yes, I'll take that, thank you... If you saw the hit Troy Williamson took, you'll wonder how the Vikings are getting away with not calling it a concussion. Yes, the injury report is still a joke on this... Antwaan Randle El has chest, back and leg injuries. He's banged up good and might need a week off... If you're wondering what Steven Jackson's leap tells us about his strained groin, the answer is: absolutely nothing. The groin muscle is correctly known as the adductor, which serves to bring the leg in towards the midline of the body. Last I checked, that's not the motion used for jumping.

Article first appeared 11/28/07