The fact that the games were spread out across several days last week did nothing to minimize the injury toll across the league. For fantasy owners it might have spread the pain of losing multiple players on your team across more days, but does that really make anyone feel better? Isn't it more torturous to see your team slowly decimated than to take it all in one fell swoop? Trust me, I feel your pain. I lost five players this week and am still reeling from the blows.
But go on we must. For those of us who need to make multiple roster moves this week as a result of injuries, we take a look at what we know so far heading into Week 13.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons: Ryan is out for Week 13, and maybe longer, as a result of a turf toe injury he sustained Sunday. Ryan hyperextended his right big toe, a common mechanism for this type of injury, and was clearly in immediate pain. Ryan was examined on the sideline and had the toe taped, but after testing it with some side throwing it became apparent that he could not return to play.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ryan traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina to be evaluated by Dr. Robert Anderson, the foot and ankle specialist who recently performed surgery on Miami Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown. The obvious good news is that Ryan did not stick around in Charlotte for surgery and is back in Atlanta where coach Mike Smith told the Journal-Constitution that "during the week [Ryan] is going to work with our medical staff diligently to get back as quick as he can." Turf toe injuries, which are essentially sprains of the ligaments that join the big toe to the ball of the foot, vary greatly in terms of severity and recovery time depending on the extent of tissue damage. The encouraging sign here is that the Falcons are talking as if they expect Ryan to return. Ryan also benefits from the fact that he is a quarterback and not a running back or wide receiver whose position demands would place greater stress on the toe. Nonetheless, he needs to be able to set his back foot and push off with the toe and he also needs to be mobile enough to move out of the pocket.
Fantasy owners should expect that this will likely sideline Ryan for a couple of weeks, but we will keep you posted on updates as they emerge.
Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons: While Matt Ryan suffered a new injury, Turner aggravated an already ailing ankle. It came as somewhat of a surprise that Turner was active Sunday as he was still recovering from a high ankle sprain. Turner, who was injured in Week 10, sat out Week 11 and had been limited in practice leading up to Week 12. Although Turner had clearly made progress with his ankle, he entered the game in all likelihood at less than 100 percent. After a messy pileup in the third quarter, Turner limped off the field and his status for this week remains uncertain.
Cedric Benson, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: Two weeks ago, Benson insisted that if he didn't play in Week 11 because of his strained hip muscle, he would certainly be ready to go by Week 12. Even coach Marvin Lewis said after Friday practice that he had no doubt that Benson was healthy enough to play. That didn't keep the Bengals from sidelining Benson however. In what appears to have been a precautionary move, Benson was not active for Week 12 but Lewis has already indicated that Benson will be the starter in Week 13. After all, Bernard Scott injured himself (turf toe) while filling in for Benson. Who knows? Maybe Lewis was on to something in the air for Week 12. At least he's been kind enough to inform fantasy owners early in the week that Benson can be inserted into lineups with confidence.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants: Manning says that his plantar fasciitis symptoms are a thing of the past. While this may be the case, we learned this week that Manning's foot injury has taken a different turn. Manning is now dealing with a stress reaction in his midfoot which may have resulted from compensations related to the plantar fasciitis. A stress reaction is an indicator that the bone is under stress as a result of overloading. The damage can be microscopic at first but if the loading persists and the bone does not have the opportunity to heal itself, a stress fracture can develop.
At this point, Manning is receiving treatment for his foot which primarily involves resting it as much as possible when not specifically practicing or playing. Manning tells the Newark Star-Ledger that his biggest challenge is not discomfort in the foot itself, but dealing with the additional scheduling of regular treatment. Said Manning, "I'm a guy that doesn't like to be in the training room and I try to avoid it as much as possible. I only go in there when I truly need it."
There is certainly a good possibility that Manning will continue to function just fine as far as his foot goes for the remainder of the season. He says that he does not have pain in the foot nor does he believe that he limps and he certainly does not attribute any of his poor play to the foot. It's hard to imagine that the condition does not impact him to some degree; even subtle changes in how he puts pressure through that back foot likely already contributed to this secondary injury. Nonetheless, as long as it does not appear to be a major factor and his symptoms remain under control, it seems that Manning will be able to continue to play.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Another game for the Eagles, another concussion. Jackson left Sunday's contest early as a result of the injury and you can be sure that he will be carefully evaluated on a daily basis. Jackson will not be treated any differently as a result of the concussion concerns surrounding his teammate Brian Westbrook; each concussion is treated on its own merit with each individual player. He will be subject to the same criteria for return to play: Jackson will need to be symptom-free at rest, symptom-free following activity and his neurocognitive tests will need to return to baseline. For fantasy owners, the takeaway message is that this remains a day-to-day assessment. Plan early in case you need to replace him in your lineup.
Julius Jones, RB, Seattle Seahawks: Jones did not play in Week 12 due to lingering pain following a lung injury. According to the Seattle Times, coach Jim Mora remains hopeful that Jones will be available this week, but he had more definitive criteria that Jones would need to meet in order to be the Sunday starter. "If he's fully healthy," Mora said, "and he's had a full week of practice and everybody feels comfortable that he can bear the brunt of the workload that he would need to handle to be effective then he would start." Mora added that Justin Forsett's performance had earned him the right to continue to carry the ball, meaning that even if Jones were to return, Forsett would still see some action. Fantasy owners just love hearing about timeshares. Considering Jones still had pain to the touch last week, it would not be surprising if he were to sit out again in Week 13. Stay tuned.
Other quick hits
Ben Roethlisberger did not play and it was the right decision. He experienced a delayed recurrence of headache symptoms and the team, in consultation with their expert neurologist, decided Roethlisberger should sit. So far, all indications are that Roethlisberger will start in Week 13. Coach Mike Tomlin told reporters that Roethlisberger had not experienced any headaches since Friday, but naturally it will be important for those symptoms to remain absent when practice resumes this week.
Arizona Cardinals' quarterback Kurt Warner was also inactive on Sunday following a head injury the prior week. Warner was having continued visual disturbances, not an uncommon concussion symptom, but is visiting with an ophthalmologist to completely check out his eyes. To be continued.
Continuing on the concussion theme, Philadelphia Eagles' running back Brian Westbrook is being re-evaluated this week in Pittsburgh. His status going forward remains uncertain while he is in this recovery phase.
New York Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez aggravated his knee in Sunday's game but it wasn't enough to sideline him. Sanchez originally hurt his left knee in college when he suffered a patellar dislocation (kneecap slips out of place) and wears a protective brace as a result. His knee appeared to twist awkwardly Sunday however and Sanchez went to the ground holding his knee. While the Jets have not offered any specifics as to the nature of the injury, it does not appear that it will keep him from starting when the Jets play Thursday night. It may however hinder his mobility and make him a step slower. Fantasy risk.
Reggie Bush did not play Monday night despite some early optimism that he would be available. We will keep tabs on his activity this week when the Saints resume practice.
The injury blog returns this Thursday and we will have some better clues about player status as everyone returns to practice. Be sure to check back Saturday as well for all the latest injury news heading into the Sunday games.