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Injury Analysis: What's Wrong with Tom Brady?

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.

Tom Brady
The level of play fantasy owners are accustom to seeing from Brady has reached such a high mark that many are already questioning the former MVP after four consecutive sub-par outings. During this span Brady has thrown just two touchdowns to four interceptions and has thrown for less than 200 yards in two of the four games. Inconsistencies along the offensive line and an injury-riddled, new group of receivers have both played their part but a right hand injury may be a bigger issue than the Patriots are suggesting.

Brady has been spotted wearing a glove on the hand in question and tape on his middle and ring fingers. Various media outlets displayed pictures of what appeared to be a very swollen hand and Brady was caught on camera examining the fingers throughout the Jets game in Week 7.

Other than the swelling, which could be the result of numerous possibilities, there's been no official diagnosis or mention of a hand injury. Brady deflected any questions about the hand and said he felt "perfect." Still pay attention to his accuracy over the next few weeks. If he continues to complete 50 percent of his passes or less, it could be a sign that his grip on the ball is being affected. Injuries like a strain or bone contusion would alter how he holds the football and make it harder for him to throw with the same velocity and precision. Keep him in your lineups but understand that he may not put up his usual, elite numbers.

Brandon Gibson
The Miami receiver will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn patellar tendon in his left knee that will require surgery. The patellar tendon attaches the quadriceps muscle group to the lower leg at the tibia. The patella (kneecap) is embedded within the patellar tendon so it can help improve the efficiency of the muscle. Based on this location, the kneecap retracts upward following a tendon rupture and the injured player losses the ability to straighten the leg. The damaged tendon is surgically anchored back in place and requires an extended recovery process.

While the surgery and associated rehab is extensive, a recent study showed that a high percentage of NFL players to suffer patellar tendon ruptures were able to return to a high level of play following surgery. However there appeared to be a correlation between returning to play and draft position. Players taken in the fourth round and higher were more likely to return. The data suggests Gibson, taken in the sixth round of the 2009 draft, will have a more challenging road to recovery. In the meantime Rishard Matthews will take over the slot position vacated by Gibson.

Michael Vick
Another game lost for Vick owners after the Philly quarterback lasted less than a full quarter in Week 8. Vick aggravated his lingering hamstring injury, this time telling reporters he felt a "pop". An audible pop can be the result of a tendon tear or even scar tissue developed following his previous injury giving way. Regardless of the origin of the noise, it appears Vick will once again return to the sidelines. Three weeks ago I warned of how easily these types of injuries can be aggravated, due largely in part to the random and chaotic pattern the body takes when repairing injured muscle tissue. Scar tissue is generally not as a durable and when injured the reset button is pushed on the entire recovery process. Look for Vick to miss at least another week with a multiple week absence likely. Backup quarterback Nick Foles has yet to complete the NFL concussion protocol, setting the stage for rookie Matt Barkley to receive his first career start.

Turf Burns

Arian Foster and Ben Tate: Foster (hamstring) and Tate (broken ribs) both remain question marks entering Week 9. Neither one participated in practice on Monday though Foster was able to complete some light running. Like previously mentioned with Vick, Foster's hamstring injury makes him a risky play and Tate's prognosis appears worse.

Josh Freeman: Freeman could return this week after completing the NFL concussion protocol. He would become an interesting option as the Vikings are set to face off against a Cowboys defense that became the first defense in NFL history to allow four 400-yard passers in a single season.

Robert Griffin III: RG3 gave his owners a brief scare Sunday after his good knee appeared to get stuck in the turf. He was examined by team physicians and hopped off the training table but did not return to the game. The left knee remains sore but there are no reports of a significant sprain or strain and Griffin should be ready to go against the Chargers.

DeMarco Murray: Murray could also return in the same game as Freeman after missing two games with a left knee sprain. However should he return, Murray could struggle to find open lanes as guard Brian Waters will miss the remainder of the season with a triceps injury. Water's absence could also affect Tony Romo's performance with the inconsistent Mackenzy Bernadeau slated to fill along the line.

Zac Stacy: Stacy put together an impressive performance Monday night, rushing for 134 yards against a tough Seattle defense. However he was on the sidelines down the stretch after suffering an ankle sprain. The severity of the injury has not been determined and the Rams will continue to evaluate him. Cross your fingers that the injury is not a high ankle sprain that would likely sideline Stacy for at least one week. Look for Daryl Richardson to get the start if Stacy cannot play.

Julian Thomas: The bye week is coming at a perfect time for the Denver tight end. Thomas, who was emerged as one of Peyton Manning's favorite red-zone targets, suffered a mild ankle sprain in a win over Washington. A MRI revealed it is not a high-ankle sprain and shouldn't be a long-term issue.

Mike Williams: The Tampa receiver is done for the year with a torn hamstring. He has been placed on injured reserve.

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