It is at this midweek point that we fantasy owners typically agonize over whether the injured players on our rosters will be available this week. With only one day of formal injury reports under our belt (at least that's the case for most teams at the time this blog is written), there is a big question as to whether many of the players appearing on these reports will be well enough to play in their games. Occasionally we find out early in the week that a player's injury is significant enough to sideline him. Disappointing as that news is, at least we can start searching for ways to make roster adjustments. Unfortunately, that early news is rare. However, this week, for better or for worse, we already know of several players who are projected to be out Sunday so we might as well get to those names straight away.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson is still dealing with the effects of the concussion he sustained Sunday following a collision with Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson. Jackson did not practice Wednesday and head coach Andy Reid has already indicated that he does not expect the wide receiver to play this week. It also appears quarterback Michael Vick will be out another week, despite putting in limited practice Wednesday. Vick, still healing from his rib cartilage injury, has already spoken about targeting Week 9 (the Eagles have a bye in Week 8), so expect Kevin Kolb to get another start.
The San Diego Chargers have already indicated that two of their players will be out this weekend. According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, kicker Nate Kaeding will be out for Week 7 because of a groin injury. Meanwhile, wide receiver Malcom Floyd injured his hamstring in the Week 6 contest, which was severe enough that the Chargers are already preparing for his absence. The question will be whether he can return in time for the following week and whether Legedu Naanee can step back into the lineup this week. Naanee missed last week with a hamstring strain of his own and didn't practice Wednesday, but did do some side running and hopes to return to practice Thursday.
This is an off week for the Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts, so that extra time off is most welcome. However, even with the bye week, there's already a lot of bad news with the Colts.
First off, there's tight end Dallas Clark, as he's facing an "indefinite" absence as a result of a wrist/hand injury. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that in the wake of the injury, Clark would be seeking multiple opinions as to the optimum course of treatment. On Thursday, Colts general manager Bill Polian confirmed Clark's indefinite absence. According to the Indianapolis Star, Clark is seeing a specialist in Cleveland on Thursday for what is a "relatively rare" injury and the team is awaiting word on the course of treatment before providing any more details, including a timetable. Said Polian, "This is not the kind of injury that is very common where our doctors can say, 'Hey, look, this is a four-week injury or this is a six-week injury.' So we'll know more later tonight."
Clark was apparently injured late in Sunday night's game when he put his left hand down to break his fall. He was then seen sporting a cast on his forearm and hand while at a fundraiser earlier in the week, hinting at the seriousness of the injury. Fantasy owners obviously need to make lineup adjustments in preparation for the possibility that Clark's absence is extensive.
And if you thought it couldn't get any worse for the Colts, Polian also revealed Thursday that wide receiver Austin Collie has an undisclosed injury that is being further evaluated. Adam Schefter reports that Collie has already undergone hand surgery and is expected to be sidelined for several weeks. No word as to the specifics of the injury and subsequent surgery, but suffice it to say fantasy owners will need a fill-in if he is out a few weeks.
Fantasy owners who own both Clark and Collie in their leagues (including this writer) may need to be restrained from acting out in frustration, but fortunately they were already going to be out this week anyway. More details as they emerge.
Meanwhile, there are also questions at the running back position. Joseph Addai, who suffered an injury to his neck and shoulder area in Week 5 but played in Week 6, was forced out of last Sunday's game after injuring his left shoulder. The Indianapolis Star reports that Addai says he is dealing with a "nerve" injury that could take up to five weeks to heal. Without knowing more about his diagnosis, it's hard to tell how accurate Addai's own prognosis about his condition is. NFL.com reports he is currently seeking a second opinion. The good news is that the Colts are on a bye this week and Donald Brown is getting healthier. Fantasy owners will want to be sure they target Brown in the event Addai misses some extended time.
As for the rest of the Week 7 injury concerns, read on ...
Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: Favre's elbow is reportedly feeling better than it did a week ago and he should be fine to take the reins for Sunday. Although he was listed as a limited participant in practice, he did do some throwing Wednesday. This is likely to be a condition that will have its ups and downs as the season continues, but with careful management, Favre could manage to play through it.
David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars: Garrard rested at home Wednesday and Thursday rather than participate in activity at the team's facility as he recovers from a concussion sustained Monday night. As is often the case with these injuries, Garrard is resting from cognitively demanding activities, such as meetings and film review, while also laying off physical activity. The evidence would suggest that Garrard will not be ready to play in Week 7.
The question then becomes who will be under center for the Jaguars? Trent Edwards injured his thumb Monday night and was not at Wednesday practice either. At issue will be how much pain and swelling interfere with Edwards' ability to grip and control the ball. The Jaguars may rely on Todd Bouman to face the Kansas City Chiefs.
Vince Young, Tennessee Titans: Young, who sprained his left knee and ankle Monday night, did not practice Wednesday and was seen "limping on the sideline," according to the Tennessean. Backup Kerry Collins did not practice Wednesday either as he rested a sore right middle finger, but it appears he was set to return to practice Thursday. Young relies on his mobility so if he cannot maneuver well by Friday, expect Collins to get the start.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: He split reps Wednesday with Michael Bush. The Oakland Tribune specifically noted that the plays did not seem to be testing the "burst" of McFadden, something he suggested he would do earlier in the week to evaluate the progress of his injured hamstring. Whether McFadden can practice on successive days and work up to full speed by the end of the week will give a better clue as to his status for Sunday. There's a possibility that the team could head into the game against the Denver Broncos with a load-share situation.
Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers: When possible, we like to bring good news to fantasy owners in this column and the sight of Smith putting in back-to-back full practices this week is indeed good news. Last week at this time, it seemed as though Smith might be headed for a more prolonged absence, but the prognosis has since improved.
The Gaston Gazette reported Wednesday that Smith said he felt "healthy," adding "I'm out of the boot and I don't have much pain so I'm able to move around. So I feel good." Smith reportedly has been recovering from a high-ankle sprain and it has only been three weeks since the injury. While his practice activity is certainly encouraging and indicates his likely availability against the San Francisco 49ers, it will be more encouraging long-term if he gets through that game without a setback.
• Chargers tight end Antonio Gates did not practice Wednesday, as expected, to rest his sore toe. Coach Norv Turner has indicated that this injury does not appear serious and the team hopes to have him back in practice Thursday. At this point, it does not appear that his Sunday status is in doubt, although fantasy owners will want to see what Gates is able to do as the week progresses.
• Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver strained his quadriceps late last week but still managed to play in Sunday's game. Nonetheless, the quad did seem to hamper him and he was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. Friday's practice should give a better clue as to his availability but it is possible, even if he plays, that he will not be at full health.
• Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic expects both Steve Breaston (knee surgery) and Early Doucet (sports hernia surgery) to be back in the mix this week for the Arizona Cardinals. Both players participated in limited practice Wednesday.
• Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Mike Sims-Walker was limited in Wednesday's practice because of a shoulder ailment. There is no word of a major injury, but it is worth keeping an eye on his activity the remainder of the week.
• Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy did not practice Wednesday, but expect him to be in the action again this week. Every week that goes by is another week of the rib fracture healing itself, so there appears to be no cause for concern here.
• Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis continues to slog it out through his thigh injury. He was kept to a limited practice Wednesday but based on his prior performance, expect him to suit up this week.
• New Orleans Saints running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush were not in practice Wednesday. According to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Bush is targeting next week for a return to practice, hoping to return to play in Week 8 or 9. Thomas was hoping to resume running this week, suggesting that he is more than a few days away from returning. As of Thursday, expect Chris Ivory and Ladell Betts to be in at running back.
• Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap did not practice Wednesday because of a sore neck. Heap, who was on the receiving end of a big -- and much discussed -- hit from the New England Patriots' Brandon Merriweather, remained in Sunday's game after the hit but apparently the soreness lingered. The good news is that Heap returned to practice Thursday and appears to be on track to play in Week 7.
• At this point, Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini is suggesting that Colt McCoy could get his second start of the season, barring dramatic improvement in the ankle health of Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace. Given their injuries, McCoy is likely to be running the offense this week.
• Oakland Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski only watched practice while Jason Campbell and Kyle Boller split reps, according to the Oakland Tribune. When asked by Denver reporters during a conference call who would start for the Raiders this weekend coach Tom Cable responded, "We have no idea at this point."
See you at the injury chats (Tuesday, Friday 3-4 p.m.), when we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 7 in the Saturday morning blog!