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Injury Analysis: NFL 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.

Adrian Peterson
Peterson was off to a solid start against the Raiders, rushing for 26 yards and a touchdown before leaving with a sprained left ankle. The incident was eerily similar to Week 11 of last season when Peterson ran for 36 yards and a score before departing with a sprained right ankle. However unlike last year when the running back was back in the lineup the following week, Peterson seems poised to miss at least one week. The difference is the type of ankle sprain. His injury in 2010 was a sprain to the ligaments located on the lateral aspect of the ankle joint. This is the injury most people associate with a sprained ankle. The recent injury is a high ankle sprain which effects a completely different location. A high ankle sprain, or syndesmotic sprain, involves the distal tibiofibular joint. The injury takes longer to heal and often is accompanied by more instability than the "standard" ankle sprain. While the MRI on Monday revealed a Grade I sprain, the least severe ranking, he will be in a walking boot until Friday with a slim shot at practicing and playing. Expect the injury to sideline Peterson this week and don't be surprised to see this stretch out into multiple weeks. Remember a similar injury sidelined Dallas' Felix Jones for four games.

Jay Cutler and Ben Roethlisberger
Two playoff-contending teams will look to continue their push for the postseason despite thumb injuries to their franchise quarterbacks. In Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger utilized a well-timed bye week to receive treatment on a broken thumb suffered in Week 10 and will be behind center Sunday when the Steelers travel to Kansas City. The news is much bleaker in the Windy City as the Bears are expected to be without Cutler for the remainder of the regular season. The quarterback also suffered a broken thumb on his throwing hand and is expected to miss between six and eight weeks. The team does not currently plan on placing him on the injured reserve leaving the door slightly cracked for a late season or post season return. Before you question Cutler's toughness and attempt to compare him to Big Ben, understand there is a huge difference in the two injuries. Roethlisberger's break is stable and the bone has not shifted. While he may have problems gripping the ball as tightly as normal, the bone is still aligned properly. In contrast, the bones in Cutler's thumb have been displaced, thus requiring surgery to fix. Fantasy owners don't have the luxury of waiting on Cutler and would be wise to begin looking elsewhere. Caleb Hanie will step in for Chicago but currently has limited value. Those invested in Roethlisberger shouldn't be overly concerned. Roethlisberger suffered a similar injury in 2005 and still managed to lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl.

Fred Jackson
Buffalo's leading rusher suffered a bruised calf and is a question mark for Week 12. A bruise to the lower leg can be extremely limiting beyond the damage directly related to the contusion. Below the knee, the leg is divided into four compartments. These compartments contain muscle, blood vessels, and nerves. Any edema resulting from the injury can cause pain and limitation as it is confined to the effected compartment. There has been no indication of anything serious as compartment syndrome, but know the injury is more complex than it sounds. If Jackson and the Buffalo medical staff can minimize the swelling, the running back could be back at practice later in week. However if the pain persists and limits his reps, CJ Spiller could assume a bigger role in the Bills offense come Sunday.

Matt Hasselbeck
The Jake Locker Era started off earlier than expected as the rookie was forced to fill in for an injured Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck left in the third quarter of Tennessee's loss to Atlanta with an elbow injury. Initially ruled a sprained right elbow, testing performed Monday revealed no structural damage. The team is now calling the injury an elbow strain and expects the veteran to reassume the starting position. The strain is likely to Hasselbeck's flexor bundle, a group of forearm muscles that originate from a conjoined tendon on the inside of the elbow. It's located precariously close to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), the ligament repaired in Tommy John surgery, but again no ligament damage was discovered. Consider Hasselbeck day-to-day at this point with a good chance at playing against the Buccaneers.

Turf Burns

Andre Johnson: At long last Johnson is slated to return from a severely strained hamstring. Johnson had a strong outing Monday in practice and should be available for Houston. His value will be directly tied to newly appointed quarterback Matt Leinart with regular starter Matt Schaub out with a foot injury.
Matt Cassel: Cassel is done for the season after the Chiefs elected to place the quarterback on IR following hand surgery.

James Starks
A short week of preparation seems to be working against the Packers as they enter their Thanksgiving matchup with the Lions. Starks, who suffered a sprained knee against Tampa, remained sore Monday and may not have the necessary time to recover.

Michael Vick: The Eagles remain optimistic Vick will return Sunday against the Patriots despite his still broken ribs. Yet the upset win over the Giants, despite the shaky start from Vince Young, could propel coach Andy Reid to rest Vick an additional week should the ribs remain tender.

Jeremy Maclin: Even if Vick is back at quarterback, he will likely be without his top target as Maclin continues to nurse a hamstring strain and an acromioclavicular (AC) sprain in his shoulder. With DeSean Jackson gimpy with a bruised foot, Jason Avant and Steve Smith could be in line for a high number of targets.

A.J. Green: Green's hyperextended knee and accompanying bone bruise kept him out of action against the Bengals and his availability for Week 12 remains in limbo. Green needs to get several practices under his belt before he can confidently be relied upon.

Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty: Hillis continues to wear the dreaded week-to-week label on his nagging hamstring injury and seems apt to miss another week. Hardesty returned to limited practice late last week but isn't at 100 percent yet. With his 115-yard performance against the Jaguars Chris Ogbonnaya may have bought his teammates an extra week of rest and treatment.

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