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Injury Analysis: RG3 and Matt Cassel

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.

Robert Griffin III and Matt Cassel
Two starting quarterbacks suffered head injuries in Week 5 and did not finish their team's games. RG3 was injured in third quarter of the team's loss to Atlanta after taking a hit near the sidelines. Cassel was hit in the fourth quarter in Kansas City's loss to Baltimore and has already been ruled out for Week 6. However the Redskins hope Griffin will be available, pending completion of the NFL concussion protocol and unfortunately the team is receiving scrutiny for how the Redskins began the league-mandated rules.

When a player is a diagnosed with a concussion, they are immediately removed from the remainder of the game and that information must be reported in a timely fashion. Following Griffin's collision, the team reported their rookie quarterback was "shaken up" despite the concussion diagnosis. While the description is not as vague as the "above the shoulders" injury reported by the University of Arkansas in regards to their concussed players, the NFL is currently looking into whether or not Washington accurately followed the rules.

Despite the mismanaged initiation of the protocol, Griffin can still play in Week 6 if he continues to progress and meet the remaining criteria for return to play following a concussion. League rules state a player will not be allowed to return to action until they have displayed a normal neurological exam when compared to preseason baselines exams and been cleared by the team's medical staff as well as an independent neurological consultant. The player must be asymptomatic at rest and following exertional based activities. Early reports out of Washington suggest Griffin is well on his way to meeting each of these requirements and should be available for the team's upcoming game against the Vikings. However Griffin's style of play makes him prone to further injury and the effects of concussions are cumulative, meaning another head injury would likely be more significant. Keep eye on Griffin's status throughout the week as he methodically clears the medical hurdles required to return to play.

Cedric Benson
The Packers will be without the services of Benson for at least eight weeks after further testing revealed he suffered a Lisfranc injury to his left foot. I detailed the Lisfranc injury when discussing Santonio Holmes in last week's column but remember the Lisfranc ligament sits at the base of the second metatarsal and is the linchpin of the midfoot. A sprained Lisfranc ligament can be extremely limiting and if there is a tear or any associated bone damage, surgery would be necessary. Benson will visit with several specialists before deciding his course of treatment but he's still slated to miss a considerable amount of time. While Benson will be missed, the Packers did fantasy owners a favor by identifying the issue and making it public. Last season a Lisfranc sprain cost Oakland's Darren McFadden a majority of the season, yet the team would not give specifics, leaving fantasy owners to wonder about McFadden's status on a weekly basis. We know Benson will miss at least two months and that James Starks and the emerging Alex Green will fill the spot. Green seems like the safer option since Starks has missed five straight games with a painful toe injury.

Danny Amendola
After a dislocated elbow and torn triceps injury prematurely ended his 2011 season, the Rams receiver will once again miss significant time after suffering another unusual injury. Amendola dislocated his collarbone in St. Louis' Thursday night win over Arizona. We frequently discuss the acromioclavicular (AC) joint when discussing the collarbone, but Amendola's injury was on the opposite end of the bone at the junction where the collarbone meets the sternum. The joint here is referred to as the sternoclavicular (SC) articulation and, with the help of a small cartilage disk, allows the clavicle to move in multiple planes. However SC joint injuries can be extremely problematic. The trachea and several major blood vessels are located directly behind the clavicle and can be compromised if the collarbone dislocates backward or posteriorly. Amendola did in fact suffer a posterior dislocation but the St. Louis medical staff acted swiftly, sedating the receiver and relocating the joint. He is expected to miss between four and eight weeks, but I would bet on it being closer to eight than four. For the collarbone to dislocate posteriorly, major ligament damage must occur. He will need time for these ligaments to heal in order to have full range and pain free motion at the shoulder.

Ryan Williams
Amendola's injury was extremely rare but so too was the injury suffered by the Cardinal running back in the same game. Williams suffered a fracture coracoid process and will miss the remainder of the season following surgery to repair the break. The coracoid is a tiny hook-like process that is part of the scapula and serves as a major attachment site for ligaments and muscles. Several of these ligaments attach to the acromion and the clavicle, stabilizing the shoulder and protecting the neighboring neurovascular structures. It is easy to see why a broken coracoid must be immediately addressed and Williams will spend the next several months rehabbing the area. With Beanie Wells out until late November recovering from turf toe, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Williams Powell and Alfonso Smith will split carries at running back. Smith seems like the most likely to get a bulk of the carries with Stephens-Howling (hip flexor) and Powell (concussion) with injury concerns of their own.

Turf Burns
Jimmy Graham: Graham suffered an ankle injury in New Orleans' first win of the season and was limited to one catch. He left the stadium in a walking boot but could avoid missing time as the Saints are conveniently on a bye week during Week 6.

Greg Jennings: Jennings remains shelved with a groin strain. The team said they would be more cautious after he aggravated the injury. Since the first injury cost him one week, I'd anticipate him missing at least one more week to insure the area nears 100 percent.

Jake Locker: The Titan have already committed to Matt Hasselbeck for Week 6 as Locker's injured shoulder continues to heal.

Hakeem Nicks: The foot and knee injuries suffered by the receiver continue to be an issue and his availability for Week 6 remains bleak. With a stingy San Francisco defense on tap, it would be wise to look elsewhere.

Javon Ringer: Ringer won't be able to take advantage of a struggling Chris Johnson as he will miss the next four to six weeks recovering from a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain in his left knee. Jamie Harper will move up the Tennessee depth chart.

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