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Injury Analysis: Jeff Stotts Gives His Prognosis

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.

Michael Vick

Just one week after scaring fantasy owners with a thumb ailment that turned out to be minor, Vick is once again instilling fear into the hearts of drafters as he suffered another injury. In Philadelphia's second preseason game, Vick left after six plays following a blow to the midsection from New England linebacker Jermaine Cunningham. It was ruled a rib injury, and precautionary images were taken. X-rays and a MRI came back negative for bone and cartilage, damage and the Eagles are now calling the damage a rib contusion. That has to be good news for Vick who has a lengthy history of rib problems.

In 2010, Vick missed three games after cracking the costal cartilages of ribs 2 and 3 near the insertion site at the sternum. He broke two ribs last season and again missed three games. Vick's rib problems have led him to wear a specially designed Kevlar flak jacket created by Unequal Technology. I would be interested to know if the quarterback was wearing the vest during the game and if it prevented a more significant injury from occurring. Unequal has had success in the NFL with multiple players including Vick and his division rival Tony Romo, sporting their rib protectors. If he wasn't before, Vick will likely wear the protective padding during practice and in the season opener against the Browns.

This setback once again illustrates the risk associated with selecting Vick. His style of play is explosive and entertaining, but it leaves him extremely vulnerable to injury. He has amazing upside, but I'd avoid him for the first few rounds in most drafts and then take the necessary steps to secure a reliable backup.

The Dallas Cowboys Offense

Since Romo took over at quarterback the Cowboys offense has been extremely fantasy friendly. Unfortunately a rough training camp has left the offense, particularly the aerial assault, limited for most of the preseason.

Emerging star Dez Bryant will not play for the remainder of the preseason after a MRI revealed patellar tendinitis in his right knee. It's nice to know Bryant's knee is structurally ok, but he's not out of the woods just yet. Tendon connects muscle to bone, and tendinitis occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed. In the knee, the patellar tendon connects the quadriceps muscle to the tibia and is the most common site of injury. Pain initially begins before and after activity, but as the condition progresses, pain develops during activity and can limit an athlete's mobility. Rest combined with corrective exercises and modalities, such as ice, electrical stimulation and ultrasound, can usually help treat tendinitis and decrease the resulting symptoms. However patellar tendinitis is known to linger and can easily return if not properly maintained. I suspect Bryant will be in uniform in the season opener against the Giants, but the situation is one I will be closely monitoring.

Bryant isn't the only Romo target nicked up, as both Miles Austin and Jason Witten remain sidelined. While Witten's injury is considered more serious, I'm just as worried about Austin's troublesome hamstring and its effect on his long-term value. Hamstring strains derailed his 2011 season and clearly remain an issue. Even if he is able to play in Week 1, he will need time to re-establish himself and shake off any rust. Furthermore his risk for the remainder of the season remains high. I've seen him fall as low as the sixth round in some drafts and while that may be a little too low, I'd draft Bryant, Brandon Lloyd, Demaryius Thomas or Jeremy Maclin before I'd invest heavily in Austin.

The next week is extremely important for Witten. When the team returns to Dallas, Witten will undergo several exams and procedures to determine if surgery will be required on his lacerated spleen. He has been forced to remain idle since the injury occurred in order to insure proper healing. If surgery is required, Witten would be out indefinitely, and there's a good chance he misses the entire season. Witten has been a warrior throughout his career, missing just one game due to injury playing through broken ribs and various other injuries. However damage to an internal organ is a different beast and must not be taken lightly.

If these injuries weren't enough, the Dallas offensive line is beat up as well. Starting center Phil Costa is nursing a lower back injury while newcomers Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings are fresh off injuries of their own. All these injuries indirectly affect Romo, and his value should be lowered a tad. Not only are his primary targets hobbled but a porous o-line would make him more vulnerable to an injury of his own. With the regular season just weeks away, the Cowboys athletic training staff has its work cut out.

Turf Burns

Adrian Peterson - Those hoping to catch a glimpse of Peterson before the regular season will be disappointed to learn he will not participate in Minnesota's final two preseason outings. Peterson is trying to recover a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) suffered last December.

Jamaal Charles - With his injury occurring four months before Peterson's, Charles has a leg up on his return from ACL surgery. He participated in Kansas City's first two preseason games, looking spry in limited action. He's averaging 4.8 yards per carry on six attempts and 9.7 yards on three receptions. He will split time with Peyton Hillis, but Charles could be set for a bounce back campaign in 2012.

Austin Collie - Collie suffered his third concussion since 2010 and will be out until he passes a series of neurocognitive tests. Concussions are cumulative, and the multiple head injuries for Collie are adding up. Despite feeling better, he's a risky pick moving forward.

Ahmad Bradshaw - Bradshaw bruised his hand and popped a preexisting cyst in Saturday preseason action against the Jets. He was limited in practice to start the week but should be fine by the start of the season.

Roy Helu - Helu continues to battle pain in both Achilles'. A running back with pain in one Achilles' makes me pause. A running back with pain in both takes a nosedive on my draft board.