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Injury Analysis: How badly is Romo hurt?

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.

Tony Romo and Dez Bryant
The Cowboys may have come away with a win in Week 1 but two key members of the offense will be spending extra time in the athletic training room prior to Week 2. Both Romo and Bryant suffered injuries in the game but appear set to play Sunday against the Chiefs.

Romo suffered bruised ribs late in the first half after being sandwiched between two New York defenders. X-rays did not uncover a fracture but the team will proceed with caution. Romo has a history of rib injuries, dating back to Week 2 of the 2011 season. The Pro Bowl quarterback suffered a fractured rib and punctured lung but managed to play through the injury in the following weeks, largely in part to pain-killing injections administered before each game. He also began wearing a Kevlar-infused rib protector produced by Unequal Technology. He also endured another rib injury in last season's finale but was able to rest the injury upon the conclusion of the season.

Rib injuries are extremely problematic for quarterbacks. These types of injuries often cause pain with breathing, sneezing, and trunk movement and would negatively affect his ability to throw, particularly the deep ball. This was evident Sunday when Romo badly under threw a deep route to Bryant, wincing in pain upon the attempt. Furthermore the injury is easily aggravated which could mean trouble for a quarterback with an offensive line still rotating in new members. Romo will practice this week and will likely resume wearing the Kevlar rib protector but expectations should be lowered for the immediate future.

Bryant was held in check by a Giant defense aimed to stop the emerging star but the focus allowed Miles Austin and Jason Witten to have productive outings. Unfortunately Bryant may pose less of a threat this week after suffering a mild foot sprain. The receivers left foot was planted in the turf when a Giants defender hit him, twisting his lower extremity. The Cowboys insist the foot injury is minor but did have a precautionary MRI performed.

The timetable for recovery would depend on the location of the injury but Dallas did not reveal the specifics in their morning press conference. The team is preparing for Bryant to be available in Week 2 though it seems likely he will sit out a portion of this week's practices. The good news is the injury occurred opposite his surgically repaired ankle. A broken right fibula that required surgery ended Bryant's rookie season but the latest injury occurred to his left foot. Like Romo, Bryant will likely be a participant against the Chiefs but expectations should be properly adjusted until he can prove it will not be an issue.

Shane Vereen
With teammate Stevan Ridley suffering from a serious case of fumblitis, Vereen took over the primary running back duties in New England. Sadly a wrist injury will prevent him from building on his Week 1 success. The running back suffered a break to one of the carpal bones in his wrist and will need surgery to stabilize the fracture.

Fractures to the carpal bone are more common that many realize. These eight tiny bones are situated between the end of the forearm bones and the bones of the hand. They help articulate the wrist providing it with a high degree of movement. Unfortunately surgery is often needed to fix a fractured carpal bone, largely due to a lack of blood. A poor blood supply slows the healing process and, if left untreated, increases the risk of improper bone union. Nerve involvement is also an issue as the hamate bone and scaphoid bone are in close proximity to the ulnar and median nerves, respectively.

Vereen will need at minimum of four to six weeks to recover and it could take longer, depending on the rate of healing. Nerve problems could also delay a quick return, as numbness in the area was a primary indicator of the break. The Patriots are already anticipating this injury to take a significant amount of time to heal and have placed him on the short-term injured reserve. He will available to return in Week 11. In the meantime Ridley may get a much-needed second chance with LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden also available for carries.

Maurkice Pouncey
The Pro Bowl center suffered a season-ending knee injury in the team's loss to Tennessee. Pouncey tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) after teammate David DeCastro fell into his leg. The news is devastating for an already porous offensive line. Pouncey was the linchpin holding the line together and that responsibility will now fall on either second-year player Kelvin Beachum or recently signed Cody Wallace.

Pouncey's absence was noticeably felt on Sunday as the team generated 32 rushing yards and only 195 total yards. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked five times and threw one interception. Fantasy owners will want to downgrade the primary members of the Steelers offense in lieu of the injury.

Turf Burns

Danny Amendola: It sounds like Amendola's availability for Week 2 will be a true game-time decision. The receiver was productive in his Patriots debut but suffered a groin strain. With the Pats playing Thursday, he will be quick pressed to be available against the Jets.

Reggie Bush: Bush made his presence felt in Week 1 amassing 191 total yards. He did so despite suffering a dislocated left thumb and a mild groin strain in the game. The thumb will continue to be taped for the next few weeks and could increase his propensity to fumble. However the groin strain is a bigger cause for concern. Bush has a history of lower extremity injuries and insuring no muscular imbalances develop will be key to keeping him on the field.

Rob Gronkowski: The Patriots tight end is nearing a return but don't expect that to occur Thursday against the Jets. A Week 3 or 4 returns seems much more realistic for Gronk as he continues to progress.

Jacoby Jones: The electric return man for Baltimore will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks after suffering a MCL sprain in his right knee. Fortunately for Jones, the MCL can heal without surgical intervention and he will be able to return this season.

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