Week 4 is in the books, which means it’s time to look back at the week and make sense of all the big injury news from the weekend’s slate of games. Since it’s only Tuesday, all information is speculative and based on available information, so things can change between now and the weekend. Keep an eye on news as it leaks out throughout the week and follow me on Twitter for breaking news as it happens (z_dahdul) or go to the FFLockerRoom home page and check out our feed with all my tweets updating live.
Vince Wilfork (Achilles, Out for Season): The big man in the middle of the Patriots’ defensive line tore his Achilles tendon during the 1st quarter of the Pats win over the Falcons on Sunday night, ending his 2013 season. Wilfork had an MRI performed on Monday that confirmed the diagnosis, according to the USA Today. This is big blow for the Pats’ D, which has been playing very well through 4 weeks, putting up solid fantasy numbers. This loss effects both the defense and the offense, as it severely weakens the Pats’ run defense, allowing opposing offenses to extend drives and keep the ever-improving Pats’ offense off the field. Expect the Pats to adjust with a free agent pick up or two in addition to in house options, but make no mistake that losing an all-pro lineman severely weakens the Pats solid defense.
Aaron Dobson (neck sprain, time-table unknown): The Pats rookie 2nd-rounder left last night’s game after having his neck bend backwards, causing many to speculate he has suffered a sprained neck. Again, at this point, it’s pure speculation as there hasn’t been any news leaking out with everyone focused on the Wilfork injury, but the fact that Dobson didn’t return either means it’s extreme precaution because of how his neck bent or a sign that he may miss some time moving forward. Keep an eye on this one as the week progresses.
C.J. Spiller (ankle sprain, Questionable): It’s never a good thing to sprain an ankle heading into a short week, but that’s exactly what Spiller is dealing with heading into the Bills’ Thursday night contest. Based on the fact that he’s got a good chance of playing this Thursday, it appears he avoided a severe sprain or a high ankle sprain. However, he did leave the game and only returned briefly before exiting for good, so he’s clearly going to be limited on Thursday night. I’ll tell you now, Spiller owners are going to be rolling the dice regardless of what news comes out over the next couple days, as Spiller himself is just shooting for 80-85% health in order for him to play. First it’s a knee issue, then a quad issue, and now an ankle. These lower extremity issues are adding up for Spiller, who is reliant on his mobility and making people miss. Whether he’s active or not, it just doesn’t seem worth the risk. I’d sit him this week.
Fred Jackson (MCL sprain, Expected to play): Jackson’s injury seems much less serious than Spiller’s, as he is reportedly only dealing with a minor sprain to the MCL of the knee (ligament that runs along the inside of the knee, connecting the femur to the tibia). Jackson is no stranger to knee issues, so the fact that he took part in the walk through today is a good sign moving forward. Expectation is that Jackson will play on Thursday and get the majority of carries if Spiller can’t go. These two are tied to each other this week more so than any other, so watch for practice participation of both before committing to one or the other.
Julio Jones (knee, Probable): There is no doubt that Jones will play this coming week, but I included him here because had the Falcons not made a late run on Sunday night, he would have sat out the rest of the game after limping off the field. No word on how his knee responded after the game, but keep an eye on this situation considering that Jones was questionable Week 2 with a sprain of the same knee. Expect him to get some rest early in the week and slowly ramp up his participation, but this is beginning to look like something that will have to be managed throughout the course of the season, although it doesn’t appear like it’ll cost him much of any production or time when games roll around.
Roddy White (high ankle sprain, Probable): The probable only refers to the fact that he will play regardless of how he feels. I will say, I tweeted out early in the game that White was moving well and breaking off routes with a little more precision than he had been the first three weeks. However, the second half of the game proved to be a whole new ballgame, as he even drew an offensive pass interference call late in the 4th. He’s still not right, but I was pretty pleased with his first half mobility. Expect him to move towards full health right after the Falcons bye, which is during Week 6. He’ll keep gutting it out, but just know that although he isn’t 100%, he’s clearly (in my mind anyways) moving in the right direction.
Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring, Stud): I’m sorry, but did someone warn you that Fitz was going to have a great week 4, regardless of whether he was facing Darrelle Revis or not? All kidding aside, Fitz looked 100%, showing good explosiveness on his routes and beating guys downfield with the ease that we’ve grown accustomed to. Fitz seems to have put that hamstring strain behind him, so expect the Carson Palmer–Fitz connection to continue to grow.
Jake Locker (hip injury, possibly out 4-8 weeks): Talk about a bad break for a team off to a fantastic start. Locker injured his right hip after taking a couple hits from Jets’ linemen, as the right foot was planted on the ground while his body twisted. No word on the exact structures involved or a specific time frame, as Locker reportedly has a ton of swelling in the hip that has necessitated the Titans performing imaging again on Tuesday. My initial thought when I saw the hit was that it was some sort of labral pathology (the labrum is the ring-like cartilage that extends the depth of the hip joint to provide more stability; think of a golf ball on a tee being labrum-free and golf ball in a shot glass having a surrounding labrum), which could explain the broad range for Locker’s return being reported. Because of the way his body twisted on a planted right foot, there also exists a possibility that he suffered a subluxation of the hip joint, which basically means the ball (head of the femur) quickly and temporarily slipped out of the socket (acetabulum), causing tearing to potentially the joint capsule and/or the labrum. Scenario two would be more serious, but all is dependent on the severity of the damage to whatever structures are involved. He really could miss as little as 3-4 weeks, or potentially be out more than 2 months. It’s impossible to say without knowing exactly what’s going on, but we’ll hope for the best and brace for the worst.
Alfred Morris (rib injury, expected to play following bye): Morris left Sunday’s win over the Raiders after suffering bruised ribs. After the game, Morris himself said that X-rays came back negative for fractures, which means he is dealing with bruised ribs. I’ve talked many times about rib injuries being tough from a pain standpoint, but can be played through relatively easily if protected with padding properly. There’s going to be pain associated and some slight mobility deficits due to not being able to rotate the trunk/breathe deeply without discomfort, but it shouldn’t cause him to miss time. However, while he was out, Roy Helu looked fantastic, so keep an eye on how they split carries during practice after the bye week as Helu may have played himself into a little bit more time on the field. In regards to Morris, he’ll be fine moving forward.
Darren McFadden (hamstring, Questionable): Well, well, well, whoever had week 4 in the McFadden injury pool won him/herself a lot of money. DMac left Sunday’s loss to Washington after suffering a strained hamstring. According to NFL.com’s Ian Rappaport, he seems to have avoided serious injury, but there are no specifics available at this time about exactly how serious it is. Really, what are the Raiders supposed to do with this guy? His extensive injury history leaves me to believe they’re not going to rush him back, which means that if he has any discomfort or “sensation” in the hamstring region if he tests it this week, he may get two weeks of rest heading into the Raiders’ Week 7 bye. Nothing has been confirmed at this time, but for a guy who has had countless lower extremity injuries (specifically, muscle strains), my guess is he sits Week 5 and has an outside chance at Week 6. But hey, don’t take my word for it quite yet. Monitor his participation in practice this week for confirmation.
Le’Veon Bell (Lisfranc Injury, Probable): Well, here’s a case where I could have been wrong. I wrote that I hadn’t seen enough of Bell’s cutting/planting/burst to expect him to contribute during his 1st week back, but he proved my wrong by rushing for two TDs in Week 4. Just as important as his performance is how he responds in the days following competition, so keep an eye on how active he is during the week, even though this will be a light week considering the Steelers are on their bye week. Regardless, he may be just what the Steelers have been looking for as a solution to their backfield problems.
Ray Rice (hip flexor strain, Probable): Rice suited up for the first time since straining his hip flexor and appears to have come out of Sunday’s contest without aggravating his hip. Rice looked to move ok on the field, showing relatively good burst and quickness, although it didn’t translate into numbers. This is great news for Rice owners moving forward and should point to him returning to a 15-20 touch guy again. Same as with Bell above, let’s see how they list Rice this week and how much he participates to see if he truly came out of the weekend better than when it began.
Check back with me on Saturday morning for the final Week 5 preview after all of the injury designations have been set and practice participation have been documented. Good luck!