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Injury Analysis: NFL Injury Updates and Analysis

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.

Matt Leinart
The Texans just can't catch a break. With Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Schaub already sidelined for the season with a Lisfranc fracture in his foot, the team lost their backup after Leinart fractured his left clavicle and will need surgery to repair the break. The injury occurred in classic fashion as a Jacksonville defender drove the Heisman winner into the ground. The same mechanism of injury resulted in Tony Romo's broken collarbone in 2010 and Jason Campbell's earlier this season.

Leinart is no stranger to this injury. In 2007 while with Arizona, he broke the same collarbone and though the injury fully healed, he never regained the starting job. It's unlikely the previous injury attributed to the current one but it could have a long-term effect on the remainder of his career. A collarbone fracture increases the chances of future rotator cuff problems. These chances increase even more if the length of the healing bone is at all affected, meaning multiple breaks of the left collarbone are not exactly a good thing for a left-handed quarterback.

The Texans will continue in their quest for their first postseason appearance with rookie TJ Yates. The team expects to add a veteran quarterback to serve as the backup.

Beanie Wells
The fantasy world was buzzing after Wells torched the Rams for 228 yards and a touchdown despite aggravating his right knee injury, an injury that first occurred back on October 23 in a game against Pittsburgh. The team has been vague about the specifics, initially calling it a bone bruise. However the team refuted those reports and would not reveal any more specifics. What we do know is there is a history here. This is the same knee that required preseason surgery in 2010. The procedure was needed to repair a torn meniscus and remove loose cartilage. If the area was sprained or contused, like it is speculated, Wells would be prone to swelling and functional limitations.

Bottom-line fantasy owners shouldn't let his impressive performance against a porous St. Louis run defense mask the fact that the knee will be an issue each week. Wells has even admitted the injured joint will not be 100 percent for the remainder of the season and though he hasn't missed any games it has cost him practice time. The Arizona schedule doesn't help either with the defenses of three of their five remaining opponents sitting in the top 10 against the rush, including top-ranked San Francisco. Use Wells as you must but don't expect another huge outing any time soon.

Sidney Rice
Rice registered one catch for three yards in Seattle's loss to Washington before exiting with a concussion, his second in a month. While the concussion he suffered in Week 10 against the Ravens did not keep him out the following week, it would be unwise to think he will be able to do that again. The effects of concussions are cumulative and the minor symptoms he displayed with the first head injury are likely to worsen this time around. A Thursday night game against the Eagles shortens the week, giving the receiver another obstacle to overcome. Look for the Seahawks to follow NFL concussion protocol to gauge Rice's status but anticipate him sitting this one out.

Miles Austin
There's some in Dallas that believe Austin could be available in Week 13 to face the Cardinals after missing three weeks with a strained right hamstring. Austin missed two games earlier this season with a left hamstring strain. Even if the former Pro Bowl wideout is able to play, be prepared to give him some time to work his way back into rhythm. For receivers that must start and stop suddenly, returning from a significant hamstring strain can be mentally daunting. The fear of aggravating the injury is often in the back of their minds and it often takes time to feel comfortable and shake off any lingering rust. For example, Texans receiver Andre Johnson was limited to two receptions in his return from a six-week hamstring-related absence. Rookie Julio Jones was even less successful, failing to secure a reception in his return from a hamstring strain. Other factors like quarterback play and defense still play a role in the production of the receivers but the injury has to be factored in. With the Dallas offense clicking despite Austin's absence, the Cowboys will likely slowly incorporate him back into the lineup. Fantasy owners must be willing to cut Austin some slack and give him a week or two before confidently starting him.

Turf Burns

Ahmad Bradshaw: Bradshaw's availability remains up in the air after he missed his fourth straight game on Monday. He has shed the boot and has been able to do some work on the sideline in addition to riding a stationary bike. Still he needs to be cleared by doctors before he can return to the field and test his fractured foot.

Darren McFadden: McFadden provided his owners with the first glimmer of hope that he could be back soon. McFadden participated in a light workout, but like Bradshaw needs to make it through a full practice before he can be trusted.

Adrian Peterson: The Vikings report Peterson is progressing but remain unsure if he will be available for Week 13.

Troy Polamalu: The safety left the team's win over the Chiefs following the opening drive after suffering concussion related symptoms. Though the Pro Bowler has a long history of concussions dating back to his days in high school and while at USC, coach Mike Tomlin is optimistic his hard-hitting star will pass all testing and play in Week 13 against the Bengals.

Kevin Smith: Like Peterson, Smith is nursing a high-ankle sprain. The team has signed Aaron Brown for insurance and look for the Lions to lean on Maurice Morris with Jahvid Best still sidelined with a concussion.

Michael Vick: His broken ribs are still causing Vick pain, particularly when he rotates and torques his trunk. With the Eagles falling further in the standings and playing in the Thursday game, it appears Vince Young will get at least one more start.

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