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Injury Analysis: 2007 NFL Weekly Injury Report-Week 17

Will Carroll

Will Carroll writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

RotoWire Injury Report

Will Carroll
RotoWire Injury Expert

We get some interesting insights into the modern NFL with Reggie Bush and his PCL sprain. While some of us have been asking the question "can he play through it" -- answer: yes -- Bush has been asking the question for a month. A he said/she said is going on between Bush's entourage and the Saints, with the Saints saying that Bush could play and the Bush team questioning the long term consequences. During the month that Bush has said he's played with the injury, there's no clear deterioration, though his performance did trend downwards. I asked Dr. Neil ElAttrache of Kerlan-Jobe and a former NFL team doctor whether Bush could play. While Dr. ElAttrache did not see Bush, his response is telling:

"Many of the pro athletes we see do not even know they have a torn PCL once they get pass the initial inflammation and/or bone bruise. We see a number of players at the NFL combine, and many of them are shocked to learn they have a torn PCL. While it is very important to repair the torn PCL after it is diagnosed, it is entirely possible for a player, depending on the severity of his injury, to finish the season without causing further damage to the ligament."

Bush's injury isn't severe enough even for surgery, according to the opinion of Dr. James Andrews and the Saints' doctors. Bush seems to have shut himself down, a troubling trend for a player that people are suddenly realizing might not be the next great back. Bush's long term prognosis is good, and he should see no effects from the injury the next time he decides to play.

Andrea Kremer had the scoop direct from the mouth of Bill Polian. It's unlikely that Marvin Harrison will play this week, but the surprising part is why. Polian said that Harrison's conditioning was the problem. From practice, it hasn't looked as if Harrison is sucking wind or put on a gut. Is he in "game shape?" No, I'm sure there's some reduction, but no one's expected Harrison to be on the field for every play ... except for Tony Dungy. As we go back to Dungy's 100 percent dictate, Harrison might be below the normal threshold for playing as the No. 1, every down WR. Granted, he played last season with a cast/brace on his hand, which some might call a bit below 100 percent, though it was hard to see that in his play. It looks as if Week 16 will be the biggest hope for Harrison to get on the field, perhaps giving a boost to those that have held on to him week after week. We - yes, I'm one of them - can only hope we're rewarded for the struggle.

Jon Gruden gets points for admitting that he's monkeyed with the injury report. We knew that Jeff Garcia was injured, but the Bucs were doing more than just putting "questionable" out in situation where he should have been "out." No, they were actively working to give the idea that Garcia would be ready. One of my sources told me -- and I reported -- that the Bucs were working on "max protect schemes." Instead, it was Luke McCown all along. It's a lesson that information isn't bullet proof and that in situations where it's even called a "game-time decision", the best decisions are made with the fullest information, which often means waiting until the last possible second. In other words, if you're serious about fantasy, you better not have plans at 12:59 Eastern. Garcia should be able to play this week, but forgive me if I'm hesitant to sign off here.

Philip Rivers hobbled around after returning from a mild MCL sprain in the second half, but he was never in much danger. Painful and limiting, the injury was braced, and a doctor had determined that he couldn't do further damage. Remember that the MCL is often not repaired even when fully ruptured as some doctors feel the issue is more about joint stability than ligament integrity. Rivers isn't a mobile QB to begin with, so that isn't the issue. Watching tape (or whatever you call what's inside my Tivo) of Rivers in the second half, I have a bit more of an issue with his base. Rivers' throwing mechanics have always been unconventional, but effective. With a week to heal, I'm not sure if Rivers will feel more confident in the knee or have had a week to think about it. I'm hoping that some observers at practice will note as to whether Rivers is getting his normal set for his throws.

Dislocated kneecap. The term just sounds bad. Watching Jason Campbell scramble to hold onto the rotated patella after it had been pushed around his leg is going to be one of those sights that sticks with me awhile. Stunningly, Campbell could return this season. Once the patella (kneecap) was put back in it's proper place, there was very little swelling, indicating that there was little damage caused by the patella's sojourn. There's only minor ligament damage and none to the cartilage, so if the rehab goes well and if the Redskins stay in the wild-card chase, Campbell's return could happen. We'll get more indications when he returns to practice, but in all likelihood, he's done as a fantasy QB for this season.

The Niners have a dilemma. Alex Smith has finally decided to have surgery after every attempt at rehab failed with his throwing arm at the same time that Trent Dilfer took a concussion. That leaves Shaun Hill as the Niners QB, but he played pretty well in relief of Dilfer, so things could be worse. The Niners QB future is a bit cloudy -- Smith's surgery isn't one that lends itself to comebacks, Dilfer's name isn't one that's used in a sentence with the word future unless it's in connection to what he'll do after football, and Hill is one of those anonymous third QBs that teams hope never get discussed outside of training camp. For this week, Hill will have to do, but longer term, the Niners have work to do heading into the NFL Combine. Yes, I'm already talking about the Combine.

Scott Linehan is safe, but is Marc Bulger? Not if he's back on the field. No one is safe at QB for the Rams, simply because injuries have deteriorated their ability to protect anyone in the pocket. Bulger is still experiencing some post-concussive symptoms, including headaches and transient nausea, signs that no matter the protect scheme, he shouldn't be back in the game just yet. The Rams seem to be making the right decisions here, leaning to Brock Berlin again this week and perhaps down the stretch. If Linehan thinks he can rebuild next year, he needs a healthy and effective Bulger under center. The best thing he can do right now is make sure that Bulger has a chance to do that by closing the books on 2007.

Laveranues Coles had to be carried. Not from the field but from the post-game press conference. In obvious pain after the game, Coles showed just how much some players go through, a stark contrast to other players. I'm not one to praise the macho, Lombardi-misquoting crowd, but there is something inspiring about a player pushing through pain. Coles' high ankle sprain would have felled most, but in the absence of credible options, Coles stayed out there for a team that's going nowhere. It says as much about the Jets' coaching staff as it does about Coles. The question now is whether Coles will try to do it again. How his ankle responds to treatment will be the tell, but given the swelling and pain after the adrenaline wore off, I'd be looking for other options.

Yes, I'm hard on Shawne Merriman, in large part because no one else in the media is willing to give him the same treatment they give Mark McGwire. The difference, of course, is that Merriman got caught and was using powerful anabolic steroids long after a policy was in place. Merriman also plays a game where speed and strength are key, not hand-eye coordination. I think, however, that both have something in common besides that connection. Merriman is starting to break down in much the same way that McGwire did at various points in his career. If steroids give a player something - and they do - they also take something back. Merriman's indeterminate knee sprain could keep him out for the rest of the season, though at this point, the Chargers are only willing to say that he's out for Week 15. (And yes, if you're wondering if the strained calf and the possibility that Merriman has a PCL strain are connected, so am I.)

Bumps and Bruises: Travis Henry's not hurt. Mike Shanahan just hates you ... I've heard some very interesting rumors about Plaxico Burress. Keep your eye on him for a sudden increase in effectiveness ... Anquan Boldin should be ready to go this week ... Daunte Culpepper is already questionable, but it looks like JaMarcus Russell will see the field against the Colts ... L.J. Smith's knee could keep him out, but the MRI was unclear. We'll have to wait and see if he practices.

Article first appeared 12/11/07