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Injury Analysis: Another Torn ACL for Carson Palmer

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.

Carson Palmer
The Cardinals will continue their quest to remain the best team in the NFC without the services of their franchise quarterback. Just days after signing a three-year contract extension, Palmer was carted off the field with a non-contact knee injury. Images taken later revealed an isolated tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee.

Palmer's injury is to the same knee he previously injured during the 2005 playoffs while a member of the Bengals. That injury occurred when Steelers defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen violently collided with Palmer, not only tearing the quarterback's ACL but also his medial collateral ligament (MCL). Palmer's kneecap was also dislocated and the play resulted in the modification of NFL rules to better protect the quarterback.

Fortunately the latest injury is significantly less severe. The damage appears isolated to the ACL and Palmer will undergo surgery once the resulting swelling diminishes. He will then begin the daunting rehab process. While the Cardinals are optimistic he can be ready to return by training camp, it's important to remember players like Adrian Peterson that recovered in less than eight months are the exceptions not the standard rule. That's not to say it isn't possible for Palmer to be ready but a quick recover should never be assumed. Palmer's familiarity with the process will make things easier but that won't help the ligament graft heal any quicker. It can take over a year for ligamentization to completely occur and for the new ligament to exhibit the same biomechanical characteristics of the original ACL.

It's inevitable for people to wonder if the previously reconstructed knee played a role in Palmer's current injury. While studies have shown that players are at an increased risk for a second ACL tear in the 24 months following an ACL repair, the length of time elapsed between the two incidences is long enough to think the answer is likely no.

For fantasy purposes Drew Stanton becomes the starting quarterback. Stanton has performed admirably in four regular season appearance this year but don't count on him putting up the same numbers as Palmer. Furthermore, the value of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald could take a hit just as he was regaining momentum. Fitz's numbers with Stanton at the helm are disappointing with the former Pro Bowl receiver averaging just 4.0 receptions and 47.4 yards in Stanton's three starts. Fitzgerald also failed to find the end zone during that stretch.

Turf Burns
Giovani Bernard: The Bengals could use a good jump start after their offense was completely anemic against the Browns. However it doesn't appear that will come from Bernard who continues to battle injuries to his hip and collarbone. Rookie Jeremy Hill has filled in quite nicely and appears to have carved himself out a bigger role even when Bernard comes back.

Denver RBs: The Broncos have major problems at running back with Ronnie Hillman out with a midfoot sprain and former starter Montee Ball still recovering from a right groin strain. Hillman is expected to miss at least two weeks with the injury though midfoot injuries have a tendency to linger in running backs. Ball hopes to regain the starting position but he's struggled to stay healthy all season. CJ Anderson appears to be the man by default though he will likely split carries with Ball and Juwan Thompson.

Arian Foster: Foster hopes to play after a much-needed week off. The Texans running back suffered what appeared to be a serious groin strain based on Foster's reaction to the play. However he has steadily progressed through treatment and should be an able to participate in practice this week. Barring any setbacks, Foster should be good to go against the Browns.

Rashad Jennings: The Giants are hoping to have Jennings back on the field Sunday against the 49ers after a MCL sprained forced him to miss the team's last four games. Fluid lateral movement will be the biggest test for Jennings as the MCL will be most stressed during this motion. While Jennings' return could be a nice shot in the arm for teams lost at running back, keep in mind that he may not be himself for a week or two and will be a tough play this week against a San Francisco defense ranked fourth against the run.

Brandon Marshall: The Bears receiver is dealing with an ankle injury for the second time this season though Coach Marc Trestman is "very optimistic" he will have his top receiver available against the Vikings. Marshall struggled with the initial injury, salvaging several subpar performances with a lone touchdown reception. He still remains a solid option but scale back your expectations until the ankle injury no longer appears on the injury report.

Lamar Miller: Miller recently stated his ailing shoulder feels "good" and that he plans on playing Thursday against the Bills. Miller was limited last week after suffering an acromioclavicular (AC) sprain in Week 9. The short week complicates things and fantasy owner would be wise to consider other, healthier options.

Cam Newton: The former Heisman winner is dealing with a myriad of injuries and it appears to be taking its toll. Both of Newton's legs and feet seem to be an issue as he is reportedly dealing with a sprain in his right foot and pain in his surgically-repaired left ankle. He also is dealing with injuries to his right thumb and ribs. These injuries, particularly the lower extremity ones, are affecting his mobility and as a result his overall productivity. Fantasy owners should consider looking elsewhere for the immediate future.

Tony Romo: Romo looked solid in his return to the lineup after missing one game with two fractured transverse processes in his back. He will now take advantage of Dallas' Week 11 bye and rest the still recovering area. Expect Romo to be an extremely limited participant in this week's practice before the team shifts its focus to the Giants. Romo's inherent injury risk will stay high for the remainder of the season.