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Injury Analysis: 2007 NFL Weekly Injury Report-Week 18

Will Carroll

Will Carroll writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

RotoWire Injury Report

Will Carroll
RotoWire Injury Expert

If you watched the Cleveland-Buffalo game in it's Discovery Channel conditions last week, you might have thought that players were at risk. We discussed the idea of ice, snow and chilly temperatures a bit in consideration of players with leg and back injuries trying to loosen up, but a closer look at the injury data shows an interestiing outcome for these games. There's no significant change in injury based on temperature, and though there's a small sample size issue, there appears to be a small decrease in injuries during snow-field games.

I'll go out on a limb and say that snow games reduce injuries due to increased platooning and a conscious effort on the part of the players, as well as a reduction in speed. As for the temperature, that's a bigger mystery. As the season goes on, injuries level out. The injury-prone players have already had their problems by the time we get to Week 14 or so, we see increased substitution for the winning and losing teams, and one player I spoke to said there's one other factor: "You know it's cold, so you warm up. It's not like you're surprised when you come out of the tunnel. Extra layers, stuff like that. I think there's something to players getting used to it. Guys that have played in Green Bay or went to college somewhere cold have an advantage." It's an interesting concept and one that bears a deeper look this offseason.

Call it the "Curse of the Girlfriend." Tony Romo had his worst start ever while new 'friend' Jessica Simpson looked on in a two-sizes too small replica Romo jersey. He had a similar bad start last season when Carrie Underwood was in attendance. Is Romo easily distracted or, as my pal Goldy said "the universe only allows so much luck before it bites back." I guess Simpson can still be called luck. Romo's thumb sprain isn't bad, with all indications pointing to him starting in Week 16. The question is more whether or not the team will ask him to do much more than prove the thumb is healthy before getting him out of there. The Cowboys are playing for the No. 1 seed, so they're not likely to completely pull the starters, making Romo a solid fantasy play next week. Watch to be sure he's throwing well in practice this week, just to be sure.

Jeremy Shockey plays in a manner that usually ends up with him injured, yet he always seems to try and play through it. It's part of his image, along with the long hair and the tattoos, so limping finishes the look apparently. I'm not sure how crutches will fit in, though they'll be a part of his look for the next few months. Shockey broke his ankle, necessitating surgery to pin the bone and repair some minor soft-tissue injury, in last week's game. It was a bad injury and one that many are speculating could cost him some speed and mobility. It's far too early to have that kind of speculation and given Shockey's game, I don't think a minor loss in those areas would affect his play. He'll limp a bit more, but I think he'll like that.

The Saints are expecting the return of Reggie Bush this week, but is Reggie Bush ready to return? Physically, all indications are that it would be possible for him to return. The sprained PCL was "play quality" for a month before he discovered the injury and a couple weeks of healing should have helped even more. It's more of a mental question for Bush. With many pointing to Aaron Stecker as a better RB and with the return of Deuce McAllister next year, Bush's status as an elite player is in question finally. He's not only going to have to prove that he can play up to his hype, he's going to have to prove that he can handle the role without ending up in the training room time and time agaiin.

Justin Fargas has run for over 1,000 yards this season, so can we just call him a solid RB now, or do we have to keep reminding people who his father is? Ok, it is fun calling him "Snuggly Bear," so we can keep that. Fargas is likely done for the season after spraining his MCL in the second half of Sunday's game. It's not a significant long term problem and won't need surgery - it's simply a disappointing end to a season where Fargas broke out. Whether he'll have the same opportunities next year depends on how the Raiders configure their backfield. They wasted money on Dominic Rhodes and hope that Michael Bush will be healthy by next year - so there are a lot of variables here that make Fargas a tough keeper decision.

The Texans are saying that Matt Schaub will be back at practice this week and that he's likely to play in the next two weeks. I guess Gary Kubiak didn't notice that Sage Rosenfels is playing pretty well and that the Texans were eliminated from playoff possibilities last week. Schaub's headed for surgery on his non-throwing shoulder so why not get a head start on the rehab rather than risk some further damage? Schaub didn't stay healthy this season for a reason; the line had a bunch of injuries and didn't block that well when healthy. It may only be a small risk that Schaub has some further injury, but there's even less possible gain by playing him. Teams do this over and over, as if they don't understand that a "push" isn't a positive outcome.

The Cardinals used Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin as expected on Sunday with about the results we'd expect as well. Both were used in a five-man rotation of WRs, and none got many targets. Both Fitzgerald and Boldin were used more in high leverage situations, but neither was able to make much of a fantasy impact. Fitzgerald was noticeably hobbled, looking much worse in the game than he did during last week's practice, making many wonder if he didn't re-injure himself. Both should play next week, but in much the same sort of roles, limiting their impact.

The Cowboys didn't appear to need much help, but they could get Terry Glenn back this week. It's unclear what role he'll play, if any, and if his knee has healed up to the point where he could be a deep threat. His absence has aided the emergence of Patrick Crayton and recent talk of a long-term deal for Crayton has raised speculation that Glenn wasn't going to make it back this year or next year. There's very little in the way of expectation for Glenn, and with Tony Romo's thumb hurting (see above), it's not clear if he'll be going vertical much against the Panthers on Saturday. The week's practices should give a little more guidance, though only the desperate should be grasping at this straw.

In the "everything that could go wrong, hasn't yet" department, the Jets lost Laveranues Coles who wasn't able to play Sunday because he re-injured his ankle while getting treatment. The portable table that the medical staff brought with them to New England collapsed while Coles was on it. I'm still working on getting the specifics -- was he injured further or just not able to get the treatment -- but the result is the same. Coles will be affected by the high ankle sprain for the rest of the season, though the Jets haven't given any sign that they're thinking of shutting down their No. 1 WR.

There's been some speculation that the rib injury to Kellen Clemens is more significant. Some are saying that his ribs are broken, and others have even gone as far as saying that he has a punctured lung. While it's clearly possible to hide things, even something this serious, in the NFL, there's no evidence that this is the case. The bigger question is whether Clemens will be able to return, no matter his current condition. That gets a firm "I don't know." The decision is more than an injury question and gets into the planning the team is already doing for 2008. If Chad Pennington is gone, and Clemens is going to be the man for the men in green, is it better to get him out on the field, if possible, or to keep him healthy and ready for next season. We'll have a better answer once the Jets start practicing.

Bumps and Bruises: The final verdict on Ben Roethlisberger? He was sandbagging it in practice. The arm looked fine ... Antonio Gates played, but couldn't post up in his favorite routes. That limited his touches. Look for him to be spotted in over the next two weeks to let him heal up for the playoffs ... Several sources are saying that Marvin Harrison will make his long-awaited return this week. I'll believe it when I see him make it through the week's practices, the key that Tony Dungy has given us for the past two months ... Kyle Boller has been cleared to play after a concussion last week.

Article first appeared 12/18/07