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Week 5 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 the FFLockerRoom home page to view all of my injury tweets in real time!
Calvin Johnson (knee): After missing Week 5 with a knee injury, Johnson is reportedly improving every day. The Lions are non-committal about whether Megatron will return to the lineup Week 6, but you have to think there’s sense of urgency to get him back on the field after how miserable the Lions offense looked on Sunday. This will be a prototypical watch and see situation, but my guess is that if he can practice on some level on Friday, he’ll play on Sunday, barring setback. It’s hard to speculate Megatron’s availability without knowing the exact details of his knee injury, so we’ll have to watch and see how this plays out during the week.
Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm): According to ProFootballTalk, Gronk is in line to be cleared to play this upcoming week against the Saints. Nothing is set in stone yet, but this is a great sign for Gronk finally getting back on the field, as many fantasy owners out there have been growing very impatient with his return date. Over the last few weeks, Gronk has shown that he can withstand all types of football-specific drills, but what is holding him back seems to be more related to his mindset and confidence than anything else. From a physical standpoint, it appears that he hasn’t had any setbacks in his back or forearm, so there appears to be no reason why he can’t return this week if his mind is right. We’ll keep a close eye on this one as the week progresses, but this return would do wonders for a Patriots offense that is clearly struggling right now.
Roddy White (hamstring, ankle): Well, things just went from bad to worse for the Atlanta Falcons. It’s well known that White has been dealing with a high ankle sprain all season and really just hasn’t been the same Roddy we’ve come to expect. Now, White is dealing with a hamstring strain he suffered in the fourth quarter of last night’s loss to the Jets. If you read my articles, you know I stress the importance of watching for compensatory type injuries that can occur when a guy either plays hurt or is coming off a serious injury. Not to say this hamstring strain is 100% related to the high ankle sprain, but it stands as a reminder that guys will figure out how to overcome a deficit in one area by possibly over-stressing another region of the body. When you combine a loss of explosiveness from the ankle injury with a lack of acceleration/deceleration from this hamstring strain, you have a very ineffective WR on your hands. The Falcons have a bye in Week 6, but keep an eye on him once we hear more about the severity of the hamstring strain. Just know that this rest will be very important for him and one week off may not be enough.
David Wilson (stinger): Wilson left Sunday’s loss after suffering a stinger and dealing with “tingling” around the neck region. A stinger is basically an over-stretch of the brachial plexus, which is a bundle of nerves that provide the sensation and strength to arm/hand. This sensation usually occurs when the shoulder is driven down while the neck is bent away, causing an over-stretch to the nervous tissue. Nerves don’t like to stretch, so when this occurs, an intense neurologic “event” occurs, leading to potential numbness, tingling, and pain. Wilson is basically considered day-to-day, but with the Giants playing on Thursday night this week, unless he gets at least a full 24 hours symptom-free, he’s probably not going to play. The Giants did re-sign Da’Rel Scott after the game, so that maybe tips their hand a bit about Wilson’s potential availability.
Clay Matthews (Bennett’s Fracture): Matthews had successful surgery on his broken thumb and is expected to be out for at least 4 weeks. Matthews suffered a Bennett’s fracture, which is a fracture to the base of the 1st metacarpal. This injury affects the thumb joint that basically allows us to have opposable thumbs, which is obviously very important for not just a football player, but humans in general. This type of surgery usually involves stabilizing the fracture using pins while attempting to maintain the mobility of the actual joint itself, which requires at least 4-6 weeks to heal. Without the stability and mobility of the thumb, it will be difficult for Matthews to perform tasks such as engaging blockers, using the hand to potentially be in a 3-point stance, and intercept a pass. Expect Matthews to be fine upon his return, but it may take some time for him to feel like himself again.
Michael Vick (hamstring strain): Vick is back on the injury radar again, as he suffered a strained hamstring in Sunday’s win over the Giants. Vick left the game and was relieved by Nick Foles, who actually performed quite well in Vick’s absence. According to head coach Chip Kelly, Vick is considered day-to-day, but is not expected to start at this point of the week. Remember, we don’t have the luxury of full practice participation reports yet, so we’ll know more about Vick’s status as the week goes on. But at this point, the smart bet is that he won’t suit up on Sunday. Stay tuned.
Owen Daniels (fibular fracture): Big blow suffered by the Texans in their blowout loss as they appear to have lost their starting TE for a minimum of 4-6 weeks after suffering a non-displaced fracture of his fibula. As a reminder, a non-displaced fracture is basically like a crack in the bone that doesn’t alter the anatomical structure of the bone, while a displaced fracture would actually change the shape of the bone. This type of fracture is definitely the preferred kind, but based on healing principles, he’s going to need roughly 6 weeks to allow the process to occur, which means his likely targeted return date would be a best case scenario of week 11. Garrett Graham will be the starting TE in his place.
Rashad Jennings (hamstring): Jennings left Sunday night’s game with a hamstring strain and did not return. Apparently that injury is contagious around the Raiders, as starting tailback Darren McFadden was out with the same injury Week 5. Jennings actually reported that he felt a tug in his hamstring during pre-game warmups, but just pushed on through it until a Raiders’ training staffer noticed he was favoring the leg. Initial reports are that keeping Jennings out of the second half was more precaution than necessity, but we all know how tricky these hamstring issues can be, so it was probably a good idea to err on the side of caution. Expect to know more about Jennings and McFadden as the week wears on, as Jennings’ value is tied to whether or not McFadden can play, hamstring issue or not.
Ryan Mathews (concussion): We know the drill with our concussion folks. Mathews will have to pass the NFL mandated ImPACT screening tool in order to be cleared for play. The good news is that the Chargers play the Colts on Monday night, so there’s an extra day for Mathews to right the ship. However, with Danny Woodhead playing so well, the Chargers may not be in much of a rush. Mathews would basically have to pass stage 5 by Saturday to have a legitimate shot at playing on Monday.
Brandon Myers (ankle): Myers suffered an ankle injury during Sunday’s contest and did not participate in practice on Monday. Consider Myers day-to-day at this point until we hear more.
Ray Rice (hip flexor strain): Rice finally turned in a solid effort on Sunday, rushing for 2 TDs in their win over the Dolphins. Rice looked really spry and mobile on Sunday, cutting and making guys miss in a way that we’ve come to expect over the years. Also, he came out of the game just fine with no reported setbacks, which is great news when dealing with any sort of soft tissue injury, which can flare up and become inflamed after high level activity. Rice seems to be turning a corner as he recovers from this hip flexor strain and looks to be on his way to a return to fantasy stardom.
Marlon Brown (hamstring strain): Brown missed Sunday’s game after only practicing one day last week, but is fully expected to practice this week and should be in better shape to resume his starting role in Week 6. As always, we’ll monitor his participation levels, but if he’s a full participant by Friday, he’ll have a great shot to play.
Donnie Avery (shoulder): Avery left Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury, which was diagnosed post-game as a shoulder contusion. A contusion is essentially a bruise to the bone, which is not usually a serious injury, but can effect function due to high pain levels. Avery had X-rays post-game that came back negative, so as long as there’s no serious soft tissue involvement (rotator cuff, biceps, labrum, etc), this should not be a major issue. Also, a lot of his comfort level will be based on where he suffered the contusion, as the location of the contusion is not clearly stated at this time. His availability for Week 6 is still up in the air, so we’ll wait and see.
Blaine Gabbert (hamstring strain): Gabbert was diagnosed with grade 2 hamstring strain, according to coach Gus Bradley. Gabbert is currently considered week to week, but is expected to miss multiple games.With a grade 2 strain, we know there is tearing of the actual muscle fibers, but the diagnosis is so broad that we don’t know if it’s closer to a 10% or 80% tear of the muscle. A grade 2 tear can severely hinder a guy like Gabbert, who not only likes to scramble, but sometimes has to run for his life with that Jaguars o-line. Chad Henne will start in his place if you’re desperate for a second QB or bye week fill in.
EJ Manuel (sprained LCL): Manuel left Thursday’s loss to the Browns with a sprained Lateral Cruciate Ligament (LCL). Manuel is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. The LCL is the ligament that provides stability to the outside of the knee, most commonly stressed when the knee bows outward, either from a planting and twisting type mechanism or when a medial to lateral (inside to outside) force is applied to the knee. Manuel will need to demonstrate enough stability in the knee to return to scrambling, cutting, and pushing off without pain, especially since the right leg is his drive leg when he throws. If there is a continued lack of stability in his knee, he will have difficulty with generating power on throws in addition to his mobility issues. Thad Lewis will start in his place.
Michael Crabtree (torn achilles): Coach Jim Harbaugh stated this week that Crabtree may be ready to return for the 49ers game against the Saints on November 17th, which would be almost exactly 6 months after Crabtree tore his achilles tendon. This is by no means a definitive return date, but we now have a benchmark to shoot for just in case you want to make a speculative waiver wire addition. 6 months is becoming much more widely accepted as an appropriate time frame for a return from an achilles tendon repair, so this is not out of the realm of possibility for Crabtree. So long as the repair site is protected and the calf has been properly strengthened, there’s no reason to think this isn’t possible. Stay tuned.
Percy Harvin (torn hip labrum): Another NFC WR who is on the comeback trail, Harvin has reportedly resumed running under the care of his surgeon’s rehab team in NYC and has returned to Seattle to get back into football shape. He is currently 2 months post-operation, so this is definitely a little premature as three months is the usual expected return to field date. My guess is that Harvin is still about 4 weeks away, but it’s a great sign that he’s back to running at the two month mark and it bodes well for his return.
Christian Ponder (broken rib): Ponder returned to practice on Monday coming off the bye week following a fractured rib. He reportedly threw the ball well and with comfort, which is a good sign coming off a rib injury considering how much twisting of the trunk happens during the throwing motion. He looks to be getting better from an injury standpoint, but the Vikings’ QB situation is very murky after Matt Cassel led the team to a win over the Steelers and the team signed Josh Freeman over the weekend. Coach Leslie Frazier has been quoted saying that Ponder is his guy if he’s healthy, so watch to see how this situation plays out with Ponder’s practice levels this week.