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Injury Analysis: 2007 NFL Injury Report-Week 4

Will Carroll

Will Carroll writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

RotoWire Injury Report

Will Carroll
RotoWire Injury Expert

There's just too many. Look, I'm not complaining that I'm overworked, I'm just stunned and saddened that I have this much work. Each bullet point is a man, a man in pain, one who's season may have ended, who may never be the same again. The NFL pays its players well, no question, but if they won't give them the very best in protection as well, what good is the paycheck? There were far too many reminders that the game is played by men, fragile, breakable humans, no matter how freakish they are. Vince Lombardi said it was a game of blood, sweat and tears, but this weekend, there was far, far too much blood and gristle. Lets get to it:

It's official: the new NFL policy on concussions is a joke. If you watched MNF, you saw Eric Ghiaciuc wobble off the field. Going head to head (literally) with Ray Lewis is seldom a good idea but the way Ghiaciuc looked walking off, he wasn't having ideas, period. The danger of concussions is twofold: the initial danger of having your brain smashed and the cumulative effect of those blows. In a game filled with big hits, the idea that a player could be taken off the field with a concussion only to return "after a few series" flies in the face of everything the NFL said they would do. From seeing smelling salts used to "wake up" a QB before he heads back out on the field to the treatment of Ghiaciuc's injury, the NFL is proving itself to once again be more about the perception of action than actually making the hard decision. I'm not blaming the Bengals here. The fact is that the teams themselves have too much competitive reason to put their players back out there. Concussion management should be handled independently, and I'll once again call for the league to put their own independent doctors on the sideline to make these determinations.

The Giants took a beating in their Sunday night loss to the Cowboys with injuries to three major players. Brandon Jacobs has the most clear injury, an MCL sprain that will keep him out for about a month and that will test the RB depth. Jacobs should be able to come back relatively quickly and cleanly from this as the MCL will affect his lateral mobility more than anything, and he's not a shifty runner. He can be effective running straight ahead, and I believe his strength will help stabilize the leg more than most people. The news isn't so clear on Eli Manning, though the injury could be more devastating to the Giants. Manning suffered a separated shoulder according to several sources and first reported by NFL Network's Adam Schefter, though the Giants continue to insist that the injury is only a bruise. Listed as day-to-day, Manning's shoulder should keep him out a minimum of two weeks, though Manning is reporting no significant pain. What we don't know yet is how significant the collateral damage was inside the shoulder if in fact there is any. Ligament and labrum problems in his throwing shoulder would be far more problematic than the separation. This one could go in a number of directions so we'll have to see if Manning practices before making any sort of roster move. The Giants also have a small problem with DE Osi Umenyiora, who had significant swelling in his knee after the game, according to sources. It's a situation that could be recurrent and one that could see him miss some time later in the season if the Giants medical staff isn't able to stay ahead of the cartilage problem. said there "wasn't significant contact" while wire reports said there was "minor jostling." Look, when Julius Peppers runs into you, there's nothing minor about it. The damage to Orlando Pace's shoulder is so significant - a torn labrum and several muscles of the rotator cuff - that his season is definitely over, and his career is in jeopardy. Was this a "straw that broke the camel's back" injury? It didn't look like it to me, as Pace was in so much pain coming off the field that his knees buckled. That's usually a sure sign of traumatic pain. The forces that occur on even the routine plays are significant, so the forces between the NFL's version of the immovable object and the unstoppable force are probably even more significant. Along with a high ankle sprain to guard Richie Incognito, the Rams line is devastated. This is going to have a major effect on the Rams offense, especially Marc Bulger. One surprising fact from last year (courtesy of my pals at Pro Football Prospectus) is that Steven Jackson actually saw his production go up after Pace went down.

Jaws nailed it -- Jack Lambert, perhaps the toughest man in the NFL, was felled not by a broken leg or a knee, but by turf toe. Watching Jonathan Ogden limp off and then scream in pain as he sat down on the sidelines, giving a clear no mas to the medical staff, the soft-sounding but intensely painful turf toe claimed another victim. Ogden's injury is one that will need rest and treatment to overcome, but given his position, it's one that's very difficult to overcome in season. The loss of Ogden will affect the offense, especially Steve McNair, though last night's run blocking didn't seem to suffer much of a loss after Ogden left. McNair on the other hand was suffering. A tape job and painkillers weren't enough to keep the QB on the field after he aggravated an existing groin strain. It's unclear at this point how long he'll be out, but McNair is known for his ability to come back and to play through injuries. The biggest injury of the night for the Ravens might be the one to Ray Lewis. Suzy Kolber reported from the sidelines that Lewis had torn his triceps. That he continued to play is pretty amazing, though he had clearly been given painkillers to allow him back out on the field. The Ravens are calling the injury a strain -- which we all know is, by definition, the tearing of a muscle or tendon -- and have scheduled an MRI for Lewis. It's hard for me to imagine that he could play with a significant tear, but given his play last night, I can imagine Lewis trying to play through it. We'll know more after today's imaging.

The Bears took more than just the loss in their game against the Chargers. They lost two starters, Mike Brown and Dusty Dvoracek, for the season. Both players went out with knee injuries within plays of each other. Brown, who missed much of last season with a foot injury and has been plagued by injuries for the last three seasons, suffered a multi-structure knee injury after being pulled to the ground on a blitz by FB Lorenzo Neal. There's some question about how the knee was actually injured, and I haven't seen a clear replay of the incident. Brown will need surgery, and this will be a tougher comeback that what he had last year after a Lisfranc sprain. Dvoracek also tore his knee and will need surgery, testing the depth of the Bears front line. While the Bears did play well in the absence of Brown in last year's playoff run, losing him this early certainly hurts.

Few injuries are more painful than a dislocation. That was obvious on the face of Jon Jansen while he was being carted off the field after dislocating his right ankle. He got rolled up and with his cleats stuck deep into the turf, something had to give. The injury was reduced (popped back into place) on the field, but imaging showed that Jansen had also fractured his fibula and torn ligaments in the ankle. He'll undergo surgery this week to fixate the bones and ligaments and is done for the 2007 season. If there's any bright light here, it's that he should be able to return for next season at full strength. Jansen's continual serious injuries will be a big concern as the Redskins build their 2008 team.

While a number of players looked great coming off injuries, there's one guy who had a great game (killing me in the SI Experts League) who I'm not so sure about. Plaxico Burress played without Terence Newman blanketing him, making it a bit unclear how much was bad coverage and how much was the Eli Manning to Burress connection that the Giants will need to be successful. (Assuming Manning can get back on the field relatively soon). It also speaks to the Cowboys defense. Plantar fasciitis is a chronic problem, one that Newman is likely to be dealing with all season, pushing him from a tough matchup for opponents to one you can possibly exploit.

Chester Taylor has a hip injury that, in the scheme of things, isn't that significant. Brad Childress called it a "contusion of the oblique", which would seem to indicate that the injury was very low on his side rather than a de facto hip injury. Sources tell me that Childress may not have been completely accurate and that the injury was best described as a hip pointer, which is painful but seldom serious. The bigger problem for Taylor is that his missed carries went to Adrian Peterson, who shined in his first NFL game. Peterson's presence will allow the Vikings to go the conservative route with Taylor. It wouldn't surprise me to see Taylor out for Week 2 and limited for the next few games as well.

You won't see any surprise on my face that Cadillac Williams is back in the injury report. Williams is the very definition of injury-prone and doesn't seem able to hold up in the NFL game. His latest injury is bruised ribs, a painful injury that will severely limit him for the next couple weeks, putting the run load on Michael Pittman. Note also that Williams tends to be a slow healer, so this could go on longer than expected, especially if Pittman proves effective for the Bucs in their game against a New Orleans defense that didn't look too solid against the Colts in Week 1 or a St. Louis defense that got torched by the Carolina rushing attack.

The Packers won despite an anemic running game. I hope you all listened to my reports that Vernand Morency wouldn't play -- I saw him started in several leagues -- because he didn't. Brandon Jackson didn't get much done in his 15 carries, and Morency, who's expected back at practice this week, could very well get the majority of carries in Week 2 whether or not he starts.

It's amazing that Chad Pennington's injury, which initially looked devastating, was handled so ably by the training staff. After being rolled up in a pile, barely escaping serious knee or ankle injuries, Pennington hopped off the field and was back quickly after a masterful stiff tape job by the trainers. The heavy black tape applied over his shoe as well as their insistence that he keep moving to stave off the inevitable swelling allowed him to come in and stay effective. Once the game was gone, Pennington was pulled, and the next task, getting him ready for Week 2, started. Pennington's availability will be determined solely by his ankle's response to the injury and treatment. Watch to see how much he practices by Friday, since that should be a solid indicator on how much mobility and motion he's lost.

It's a reminder that every play is dangerous. It's more than the "minor jostling" that ended Orlando Pace's season or the "block" by Lorenzo Neal that ended Mike Brown's season. For Kevin Everett, it was nearly his life. The spinal injury that Everett suffered on the type of collision that takes place on every special teams play was enough to cost him the use of his legs and only emergency surgery kept it from being more. There's not much to say here medically. It was a devastating hit, but there was nothing anyone could do to prevent it other than changing the very nature of the game. Our best wishes go out to Everett and his family in a situation that he'll be dealing with for the rest of his life.

Bumps and Bruises: It wasn't Thomas Jones' calf that held him back, it was the Pats defense. He could be a nice buy-low candidate in some leagues ... Similarly, it was the Packers rush and not Donovan McNabb's knee that was the problem. I saw no signs of any problem in McNabb's play ... Randy Moss proves that the preseason means nothing. Heck of a day for him and absolutely no sign that his hamstring is an issue, if it ever was ... T.J. Duckett sprained his ankle, but is expected back at practice this week. With Kevin Jones closer every day, he's missing an opportunity to establish himself as an option ... The Cowboys lost DT Jason Ferguson for the season after he tore his biceps. Note this for the next couple weeks as the Cowboys could be a good matchup for Ronnie Brown and Cedric Benson ... D.J. Hackett will miss at least three weeks with a high ankle sprain.

[Carroll is the author of several books, including Juice: The Real Story of Baseballís Drug Problems and Saving the Pitcher, writes the "Under the Knife" column for Baseball Prospectus and comes to us after serving as the injury expert for the short-lived The Fantasy Show on ESPN last season.]

Article first appeared 9/11/07