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Injury Analysis: Packers will be Cautious with Rodgers

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.

Aaron Rodgers
With the Packers trailing both the Bears and Lions in the NFC North, it's nice to see the team still exhibiting patience with Rodgers. It's been three weeks since the quarterback suffered his broken collarbone against the Bears and while the reports surrounding Rodgers' recovery have been positive, the team has already ruled him out for Week 12 against the Vikings. As previously discussed in this column, Rodgers simply needs time. As long as the bone is properly aligned, the recovery process is straightforward and simply involves the repair and regrowth of new bone tissue. Rushing him back before the callus has healed and a proper union has formed would leave Rodgers vulnerable to reinjury and potentially surgery. Fantasy owners frustrated with his absence have to understand sacrificing another week or two should allow Rodgers to return in time for the fantasy playoffs. Green Bay's upcoming schedule looks extremely appealing as well with four porous pass defenses on the slate. In the meantime, Scott Tolzien will remain the starter and could be a decent option for Week 12.

Wes Welker
There was some drama surrounding the Broncos' decision to allow Welker to play following a hard hit from Chiefs safety Eric Berry. Despite appearing dazed, Welker was allowed to return for five additional plays until his symptoms worsened and he was ultimately removed from the game. Denver insists they followed the normal sideline procedure and will now place Welker in the league mandated return-to-play protocol.

The first step in the NFL concussion protocol following removal from activity is the completion of a neurocognitive test known as ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing). Each athlete reacts to a concussion differently and ImPACT testing allows for each player to be appropriately screened. Every NFL organization utilizes the ImPACT Test to help provide data on concussed athletes.

The test is performed on a computer and analyzes the individual's current neurocognitive status through neuropsychological tests that include memory recall, shape and color recognition, and matching. The results are compared to a set of baseline information gathered prior to the start of the season. The individual's IMPACT scores must return to or above their baseline numbers before they can resume activity. Furthermore the player must be symptom free at rest and with activity. The final step involves an independent neurologist who must sign off on the player returning to action.

The Broncos have already said Welker wont return until Friday at the earliest and he still must complete the aforementioned protocol. Keep in mind the effects of a concussion are cumulative and any additional head injury moving forward would be more significant. Welker may be cleared but given the unpredictability of concussions it would be safer to consider him a game-time decision and have a suitable backup available.

Adrian Peterson:
Peterson is managing a painful groin injury and the reigning MVP admitted it's affecting his play. He managed 65 yards on 21 carries in a loss the Seahawks and said he was unable to perform to his normal elite level of play. The groin controls the motion of adduction, a move vital in explosive lateral movement. A limitation here would hamper Peterson's capacity to cut and avoid tackles as well as his ability to shed tacklers. Look for AD to manage a lighter load this week in practice and spend extra time in the training room. Fantasy owners may want to scale back their expectations as well, though Peterson remains a must start.

Turf Burns

Keenan Allen: The Chargers receiver should be in the lineup against the Chiefs after suffering a hyperextended knee. The term hyperextension shouldn't be confused for an actual diagnosis. It's actually a description for the manner at which the injury occurred. Pushing the knee past its normal range of motion can lead to an assortment of injuries including soft tissue, ligaments, and/or muscles. Fortunately it sounds like Allen avoided any significant damage and is expected to play though the matchup isn't fantasy friendly.

Miles Austin: Austin has been cleared to return from his nagging hamstring injuries but his role remains in question. The emergence of Terrence Williams will likely limit Austin's productivity and the chronic hamstring problems will remain a risk even after the four-week hiatus.

Leonard Hankerson: The Redskins receiver is likely done for the year after suffering a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) injury. Surgery has not yet been ruled out but look for Hankerson to miss the remainder of the season even if he avoids going under the knife due to the severity of the injury.

Stevie Johnson: Johnson hopes to return from a groin injury following his team's Week 12 bye. His productivity has been low since Week 8 so here's to hoping the extended rest allows him to return at a high level of play.

Terrelle Pryor: Pryor's sprained MCL cost him a game against the Texans and there's some fear that it may have cost him his job. Rookie Matt McGloin's three-touchdown performance has led to the speculation that he will remain the starting quarterback. Though Raiders coach Dennis Allen has yet to make a decision, it could be in part because Pryor's knee remains an issue. Look for a starter to be selected when Oakland has a better gauge of Pryor's health sometime later in the week.

Jordan Reed: Reed will be forced to complete the previously dissected NFL concussion protocol after sustaining a head injury in Week 11 against the Eagles. It's worth noting Reed has history of concussion having suffered one in college while at the University of Florida. A Monday night game makes Reed a risky play for Week 12.

Darren Sproles: Sproles briefly left Sunday's win over the 49ers with an ankle injury though he was able to return. Expect Sproles to be a limited participant in New Orleans' shortened week of preparation for Thursday's matchup against the Falcons. Utilize him as you normally would, barring any setbacks.

Julius Thomas: Like Allen, Thomas suffered a hyperextended knee. However instead of calling it a hyperextension, the Broncos revealed he suffered a muscular strain. The strain is likely to his patellar tendon and quadriceps and the tight end is considered day-to-day.

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