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Injury Analysis: Peyton Manning and Arian Foster Updates

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.

Peyton Manning

The Colts quarterback took a positive step forward, albeit a small one, by being activated from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. This will allow Manning to return to practice as he continues to recover from offseason neck surgery. The current focus of Manning's recovery is on the still healing nerves in the area. Nerves aid with two types of information, sensory and motor. As a result, a damaged nerve can effect sensation, causing pain or loss of sensation, or motor function, weakening muscles and affecting movement. The slow healing rate of nerves further complicates the issue and is the likely culprit behind Manning's slow return. Fortunately, he has been able to pass the ball on the sideline, hinting that his motor function is not an issue. However Manning has provided little information, humorously referring to HIPAA, the act that protects medical privacy.

With Manning back at practice, his workload and activity will be closely monitored to protect his health and improve his chances at a Week 1 start. The medical staff of the Colts will protect their franchise quarterback from taking any hit that would irritate the area or disrupt the healing process. The activation is a subtle hint that Manning will be behind center to start the season, but fantasy owners dependent on the four-time MVP should consider having a reliable backup ready.

Arian Foster
Initially injured on the first day of training camp, Foster aggravated the injury in the team's most recent preseason outing. Several weeks ago I detailed the risk of reinjury associated with injuries of this nature. Strains occur when a muscle is stretched beyond its physical limit or suddenly faced with a sudden change in load. By nature, the motions produced while playing football subject the hamstring muscle group to constant load changes while repeatedly stretching and overstretching the leg. This makes it fundamentally necessary for a running back like Foster to have healthy, strong hamstrings.

Once a muscle is strained, the damaged tissue needs time to heal and regain its original tensile properties. Until it recovers, the muscle will remain weak and a smaller force than the initial injury can easily aggravate the area. If the muscle is re-injured, the entire process must be restarted. Hopefully by now it's clear that time is of the utmost importance with hamstring strains. Even if the strain is minor, the likelihood of Foster's strain being 100 percent by Week 1 remains low. It's difficult to invest a top pick in a running back that could be dealing with a nagging injury for a good portion of the season.

Jeremy Maclin and Steven Smith

The Eagles receiving corps is slowly getting healthy and could provide Michael Vick with plenty of options. Maclin has returned to practice after being cleared of any lymphoma or any other serious condition. He will need time to regain his strength and conditioning after the mysterious illness caused him to lose weight and sapped him of his energy. However he fully anticipates being available for Week 1 and could prove to be a discount for opportunistic fantasy owners who gambled in early drafts.

Maclin's newest teammate, Smith, is also back at practice but still remains weeks away from a complete return. The former Giants receiver is recovering from surgery to repair damage to the articular cartilage in his left knee. He underwent two procedures on the knee, a microfracture procedure and mosaicplasty surgery. The more common microfracture surgery involves placing holes in the surface of bone and cartilage to promote new cartilage growth. The less familiar mosaicplasty procedure involves taking healthy bone tissue from the unaffected limb and grafting it in a mosaic pattern on the defective area. Both procedures have lengthy recovery times, and while Smith remains ahead of schedule, he still needs four to six more weeks to receive treatment and rehab.

Wes Welker

The Patriots remain tight-lipped on the status of Welker after the receiver injured his neck making a tackle following a Tom Brady interception. Every year offensive players are injured following interceptions, largely due to improper tackling. Most offensive players have never been instructed in the proper way to bring down a competitor, leaving them vulnerable to stingers, neck strains and even serious head and neck injuries like concussions or fractures. Welker reported feeling "ok" following the game, but no other updates have been given. If the injury is minor, expect Welker to be back and ready by the start of the season.

Turf Burns

Ahmad Bradshaw: A sore back was expected to keep Bradshaw out of the preseason showdown with the Jets, but the often-injured back managed to suit up. He finished with three rushes for five yards and one reception for 29 yards.

Michael Crabtree: Crabtree was activated from the PUP list Tuesday, though it's unclear whether and in what capacity he'll be ready for Week 1. He is no longer wearing a walking boot on his fractured foot at least.

Greg Jennings: A bruised knee kept Jennings out of Friday's preseason action, but he returned to practice over the weekend.

Maurice Jones-Drew: MJD is expected to see his first preseason reps Thursday when the Jaguars take on the Rams. It will be the first time he's suited up since undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus over eight months ago.

Byron Leftwich: Leftwich will miss a significant portion of the season with a fractured arm. The break required surgery to repair.