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Injury Analysis: Jacksonville's Empty Backfield

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.

Maurice Jones-Drew and Blaine Gabbert
Every year a particular type of injury seems to gain notorious popularity around the league as it takes down numerous players. This year foot injuries have been all the rage with multiple players succumbing to various foot problems, including Santonio Holmes, DeMarco Murray, and now Jones-Drew. The Jaguars continue to collect information regarding the specifics of MJD's foot injury, suffered early in the team's overtime loss to the Raiders. They are currently calling the injury an arch sprain and have ruled him out for their Week 8 game against the Packers.

A sprained arch diagnosis provides little information but does confirm that the injury is to a ligament. The midfoot consists of multiple ligaments, each responsible for stabilizing a particular portion of the foot. Like discussed last week with Murray, a sprain of this kind elicits pain with pushing off and makes running difficult and painful. The news only worsens when the team failed to rule out a Lisfranc injury. Lisfranc sprains can be season endings and has previously cost players like Matt Schaub, Darren McFadden, and the aforementioned Holmes, significant portions of seasons.

The Jaguars will keep an eye on Jones-Drew's swelling over the next few days and continue to examine the results of his MRI. In the meantime, Rashad Jennings becomes the starting running back in Jacksonville and is a must add in all fantasy formats.

Gabbert also suffered an injury in the loss to Oakland, tearing the labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. The labrum is the cartilaginous ring that helps stabilize the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder. Tears cause pain and can limit the range of motion in the shoulder. Surgery is often needed to repair a substantial tear. Dr. James Andrews will examine Gabbert's injury reports and offer his opinion before the team will make a decision on their quarterback's Week 8 status. His odds are improved with the injury occurring in his non-throwing shoulder but as we have seen with Jake Locker, this is no guarantee. Chad Henne would start at quarterback if Gabbert is unable to play. Unfortunately the former Dolphins QB struggled Sunday completing just nine of 20 passes while being sacked three times.

DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones
The Cowboys have a huge divisional game against the Giants looming in Week 8 and may be forced to play without their top two options in the backfield. Murray, still recovering from a foot sprain, is hoping to return to practice but initial reports hint that is not likely. With Murray sidelined, Jones took over in Week 7 but suffered two different injuries that now threaten his availability for the game against New York. Jones briefly left in the early moments of Dallas' win over Carolina with a neck strain. However he received sideline treatment that included a dose of vapocoolant spray and returned to action. Unfortunately he would suffer a bruised left knee in the second half and would not return for the team's final two drives of the game. Jones will attempt to practice but may be limited throughout the week and could be a game-time decision.

Phillip Tanner would be the unlikely starter should Murray and Jones be unavailable but he remains a risky play. The absence of Murray and/or Jones would also effect quarterback Tony Romo who has been much better when he's had the services of a reliable running attack.

Turf Burns

Donald Brown: Brown is expected to miss his third straight game while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. Vick Ballard remains the starter in Indianapolis.

Nate Burleson: The Lions receiver will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a broken leg. The injury improves the stock of Titus Young and rookie receiver Ryan Broyles. Broyles caught the first touchdown of his career Monday and finished with three receptions for 51 yards.

Jay Cutler: Cutler shook off a rib injury sustained following a violent takedown by Detroit's Ndamukong Suh to help lead Chicago to a win on Monday night. Cutler missed five total plays with what is being described as bruised ribs. There are no signs suggesting Cutler will miss Week 8 but he did admit that the injury changed the team's play calling. Downgrade him a bit and closely watch his workload in practice.

Fred Davis: Davis' season is over after suffering a torn Achilles tendon. The Redskins moved quickly, resigning Chris Cooley.

Greg Jennings: The Packers will limit the receiver to one practice, hoping a lighter workload will allow him to slowly find his footing as he attempts to return from a groin strain. It seems likely this conservative approach will carry over onto gameday, limiting the number of times Jennings takes the field when he is eventually cleared to return. Fantasy owners should adjust their expectations accordingly and may want to consider keeping him on the bench until he's proven this injury is behind him.

Sean Lee: The Dallas linebacker remains on crutches after spraining his toe in the win over Carolina and is currently awaiting the results of a MRI. His absence would provide a nice boost for Giants offensive players, capable of exploiting that hole in the Cowboys defense.

Jake Locker: Locker will not return in Week 8, missing his fourth straight start since aggravating an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. Locker dislocated his shoulder twice in the first four games of the season and has since been replaced by Matt Hasselbeck.

Trent Richardson: The Browns are considering resting Richardson until the team's Week 10 bye. Richardson underwent knee surgery prior to the start of the year and suffered a rib cartilage injury in Week 6. Both have limited Richardson throughout the season and any additional rest would only benefit the rookie. After being benched for injury concerns in the second half of last week's loss to the Colts, he remains a risky fantasy play.

Charles Woodson: The Packers secondary will be without Woodson for at least six weeks after the safety fractured his collarbone. The fracture is to his right collarbone, the same one he broke in Super Bowl XLV. Look for Woodson to bounce back but understand the bone is extremely vulnerable to another injury.

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