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Injury Analysis: Early Training Camp Injuries to Watch

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts works as a Certified Athletic Trainer (MAT, ATC, PES, CES). He won the 2011 Best Fantasy Football Article in Print from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

Training camps are underway, and injuries are mounting. Minor sprains and strains are popping as players adjust to working at full speed, but veteran players are already praising the new rules regarding the number of practices and the duration of each outing. However, injury concerns remain high for a few individuals.

Michael Turner - The Atlanta running back limped through a majority of the 2010 with a groin injury suffered in Week 2. He never missed a game but admitted he never felt 100 percent after the injury. The injury was significant enough to warrant offseason surgery, but the two-time Pro Bowler insists it was a minor procedure and the groin will not be an issue going forward. However the injury risk around Turner remains elevated, particularly due to his heavy workload. Over the past three seasons, Turner has finished in the top 10 in touches twice, including in 2008 when he lead the league in rushing attempts with 376. He would likely have qualified in 2009 if not for a high ankle sprain that cost him five games.

The groin injury and its inability to heal may serve as an indicator that the high mileage he has registered on his legs may be catching up with him. The Falcons plan on spelling Turner at points throughout each game and drafted Oregon State alum Jacquizz Rodgers in the 5th round of the draft. Atlanta hopes Rodgers will develop into a receiving threat out of the backfield while providing a breather for its workhouse. Based on Turner's high number of red-zone carries, he remains a top-10 back in non-PPR leagues but is a bit of a health gamble entering the season.

Michael Crabtree - When the 49ers selected Crabtree with the 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft, they expected the Texas Tech product to be a dangerous offensive weapon. Unfortunately, a holdout during his rookie season, along with foot and neck injuries, has limited his production. He has just eight total receiving touchdowns in his first two seasons. Those fantasy owners optimistic that this year will serve as his breakout will be disappointed to learn his problematic left foot is once again an issue.

Prior to entering the '09 draft, Crabtree underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot. The fracture developed in his fifth metatarsal, one of the long bones within the foot that connect the bones of the midfoot to the bones of the toe. The fifth metatarsal sits on the outside of the foot and serves as an attachment site for several muscles. In surgery, a screw was inserted into the bone to stabilize the area and make it more conducive to healing.

In fractures of this nature, it's all about the location of the break and the mechanism of injury. The injury Crabtree suffered was a Jones fracture, the most serious and difficult to manage of the fractures. A Jones fracture occurs when the break is near the base of the bone. The blood supply to area is very poor, causing the fracture to take a prolonged period to heal. Furthermore, individuals who suffer Jones fractures often experience a delayed union or nonunion of the bone. Basically the two bone pieces fail to come together or take an extremely long period of time to connect.

San Francisco has not released the specifics of the new injury but has stated he will be out for at least four to six weeks. The team placed the receiver on the physically unable to play (PUP) list, and he'll miss a significant portion of the preseason. The situation will be closely monitored going forward, but in the meantime Crabtree should be knocked down a few pegs on all draft boards, particularly if he irritated the surgical screw or rebroke the foot.

Andre Johnson - The Texans' franchise receiver suffered a dislocated left index finger in practice early Tuesday morning while attempting to make a catch.

To better understand what's going on, let's look at the difference between a subluxation and a true dislocation. A subluxation occurs when the articulation of a joint is partially displaced. The displacement will often return to its normal position naturally by the supportive structures surrounding the joint. A true dislocation is considered more serious and occurs when the displacement of the joint is complete. Trained medical personnel are required to reduce the joint. A dislocation is often accompanied with disruption of ligaments and the surrounding soft tissue structures. If the mechanism of injury is strong enough to force the bone to break through skin, the injury is considered an open dislocation.

The Texans have yet to discuss the severity of the injury but reports indicate the finger had to be manually realigned and that the dislocation did bloody his hand, suggesting a possible open dislocation. Obviously receivers need their hands and should the injury require any type of surgical intervention his stock would be negatively impacted. However Johnson is a tough-minded individual who played the majority of last season with a painful high ankle sprain. Keep an eye out for any reports indicating the course of treatment for Johnson going forward.

Jermichael Finley - Poised to join the elite tier of tight ends last season, Finley missed Green Bay's last 11 regular season games and their entire Super Bowl run after suffering a knee injury in Week 5. He needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee and then saw his rehab delayed by a subsequent infection. The infection required a second surgery and a major dose of antibiotics. Still, Finley has reported to camp healthy and almost 15 pounds lighter. He has vowed to be a key component of the Packers' offense despite not fully participating in practice. Fortunately his gradual return to play is by design and should allow him to be ready for the start of the regular season. He remains a high-risk, high reward tight end option.