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Injury Analysis: Week 2 Injury 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.

Tony Romo
A week after an epic meltdown against the Jets, Romo endured himself to Cowboys fans and fantasy owners by throwing for two touchdowns and 345 yards despite a painful rib injury suffered in the first half. A CT scan performed Monday revealed a fractured rib and a punctured lung for the quarterback who still hopes to play Monday night against the rival Redskins. The rib fracture is significant but could be treated and protected with pain-killers and a padded flak jackets. However the lung injury complicates the issues. It is likely when the rib broke, the bone displaced back into the pleural cavity of the lung. Often when this occurs the pleural cavity will fill with air in a condition known as a pneumothorax. A hemothorax will arise if blood appears within the pleural cavity. Romo's scan did reveal a small pneumothorax and the rate at which it heals will go a long way to determining his availability for Monday night. The hole causing air to enter the pleural cavity needs time to heal and if inadequately repaired, another big hit could cause the lung to collapse and put Romo's livelihood at stake. Dallas will not risk their quarterback's safety and will perform all the necessary tests to confirm the lung and ribs are strong for him to play. The fact that he was allowed to return Sunday is a good hint that the pneumothorax is tiny. However the broken rib will remain painful and will likely alter his throwing mechanics.

Despite his gutsy performance in Week 2, Romo is a risky play for Week 3. His availability will likely be a late game-time decision on Monday, putting fantasy owners in a tough spot. Furthermore key members of the Dallas offense and offensive line are also banged up, creating additional uncertainties surrounding the Pro-Bowl quarterback.

Miles Austin and Dez Bryant
Austin took advantage of Bryant's absence, hauling in three touchdown passes against the 49ers. However he aggravated a hamstring injury on the final play of regulation and will likely be out for several weeks. As we have seen with players like Arian Foster, hamstring issues are complicated. The muscle group is necessary for explosive movement and aids in both acceleration and deceleration. Any injury to the area requires time to heal. As scar tissue repairs and fills in the damaged area, it must be allowed to reach a point where it can handle the considerable amounts of force subjected upon it. If a player returns before this point, the tissue is unable to meet these high demands and the muscle is easily aggravated or reinjured. The Cowboys medical staff understands this concept and allotted weeks of rest and recovery for Austin during the preseason. However with this recent setback, the reset button must be pressed and the wide receiver will restart the rehab process. He is expected to miss Week 3 against the Redskins and several reports suggest he will sit through Dallas' Week 5 bye. If that's the case Austin will get almost a month's rest and be available Week 6 when the Cowboys travel to New England.

The Cowboys will need Bryant to overcome his quadriceps bruise quickly if Austin will indeed be sidelined for an extended period of time. The second-year receiver attempted to warm up prior to the Niners games but could not reach a point where he felt comfortable playing. A quadriceps bruise may sound like no big deal but for an athlete like Bryant it can be extremely problematic. The quadriceps femoris is a powerful muscle group vulnerable to hematomas and swelling. Both can severely limit function while causing a considerable amount of pain. If a quad contusion is improperly treated, tiny calcified formations may develop in the damaged tissue in a serious condition known as myositis ossificans. To insure this doesn't happen Bryant will wear extra padding when he returns to play, which I would anticipate will be Week 3. The extra amount of rest provided by the Monday night start time should allow Bryant to return just in time to replace Austin in the lineup.

Felix Jones
The Dallas aerial game isn't the only aspect of the offense banged up as Jones is dealing with a partially dislocated shoulder. He suffered the injury early in the first half and was sidelined while the athletic training staff fitted him with a shoulder stabilizing harness. It sounds like Jones suffered a subluxation rather than a true dislocation. A subluxation occurs when a joint is partially displaced. The injury is often naturally reduced by the supportive structures surrounding the particular joint. A complete dislocation occurs when the joint completely displaces and generally must be relocated by medical personnel. For Jones, the associated symptoms of the subluxation will be treated and the joint will be stabilized with a brace. Expect Jones to play in Week 3 but in a limited fashion. DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice will get additional carries to ease Jones' workload.

Michael Vick
The Cowboys weren't the only team to suffer injuries in Week 2 as Philly's quarterback headed to the locker room early with a concussion. The injury occurred as Vick's head collided with the helmet of a teammate as a defender dragged him down. The concussion is being described as "slight" which is completely misleading. The terms slight and minor in regards to concussion are inaccurate. Every concussion is and should be treated and handled as a significant injury. While Vick's symptoms may be mild or slight, the injury should be taken seriously. Vick will take an ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) test that will be compared to baseline data collected prior to the season. Should he return to his baseline score and be cleared by an independent neurologist, he should be in the lineup come Sunday. However the short week will be working against Vick so keep an eye on his status over the next few days to get a better idea on his current condition.

Jamaal Charles
Charles earns the dubious distinction of being the first top-10 pick of the year to see his season end prematurely. Charles suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and has been placed on injured reserve. Those looking for any silver lining can look to the timing of the injury. Since it occurred early in the season, Charles can undergo surgery in the near future and spend the next several months rehabbing. It is reasonable to believe he could be ready for the start of the 2012 season. Veteran Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster will attempt to fill the void left by Charles.

Turf Burns

Arian Foster: Foster sat for the second half of Houston's win over Miami after feeling tightness in his still healing hamstring. Ben Tate filled in nicely and could serve as a nice flex position option as Foster continues to be eased back into the lineup.

Steven Jackson: Jackson could not get his strained quad ready in time for Monday night but his pregame appearance opens the door for a Week 3 return.

Mario Manningham: Manningham suffered a concussion Monday night and is considered day-to-day. Like Vick the shortened week could make it difficult for a Week 3 return.

Braylon Edwards: A MRI on Edwards' right knee showed no structural damage and the receiver is considered day-to-day. The Niners need Edwards on the field as teammate Michael Crabtree continues to have problems with his surgically repaired foot.

Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal: Both Broncos receivers are dealing with groin injuries. Lloyd was a surprise late scratch Sunday while Royal was injured during the game. Eric Decker and Matthew Willis are the next receivers on the depth chart.

Knownshon Moreno: Like Foster, Moreno is dealing with a strained hamstring and is expected to be limited in practice this week. Willis McGahee will continue to receive the bulk of the carries should Moreno need more time.

Aaron Hernandez: The Patriots tight end will miss the next few weeks recovering from a Grade I medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain. Rob Gronkowski will see more targets with Hernandez out.

Cam Newton: Newton was seen in a walking boot on Monday but claims the right ankle injury will not keep him from practice.

Nick Collins: Collins was carted off the field Sunday after suffering a scary neck injury. He does have complete movement and sensation in all his extremities. However, he has been ruled out for the season, leaving a gaping hole in the Green Bay defense.

Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.