It's time for fantasy owners to make those midweek moves to boost their fantasy rosters. Injury concerns naturally factor into those decisions as we try to gauge who is going to miss time and just how long that absence will be. Here are some status updates as we look ahead to Week 3.
Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles: McNabb has yet to practice since fracturing his rib in Week 1 and it appears that Kevin Kolb may be in line for his second start. Although the Eagles have not ruled McNabb out, it certainly seems as if he could rest this week, especially with a bye coming up next week. It's worth noting that they also have Jeff Garcia available and, as of this week, Michael Vick.
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks: Hasselbeck suffered a broken rib in the Seahawks' Week 2 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. According to Associated Press reports, the rib Hasselbeck injured is in the upper back area, causing pain in his shoulder. Although the pain can be equally severe no matter which rib is broken, the abdominal muscles attach only to the lower ribs (where McNabb suffered his injury), so it's possible that the injury might not hamper Hasselbeck's throwing ability to the same degree.
Hasselbeck did not practice Wednesday and might not practice all week, but coach Jim Mora told the Tacoma News Tribune that missing practice would not prevent his starter from playing Sunday. "This is a guy who can pick things up without having to do the repetitions on the field," Mora said. However, he was quick to add that "the key thing is what's best for Matt's health and for this football team in terms of long-term success." The Seahawks are preparing Seneca Wallace to start, and fantasy owners should keep that in mind.
Marion Barber, Dallas Cowboys: Barber strained his left quadriceps muscle (large muscle on the front of the thigh) on a long run in Sunday's game. An early report had Barber missing one to two weeks, but the Cowboys have not ruled Barber out for Week 3. In fact, Barber surprised many by participating in practice Wednesday, albeit on a limited basis. He was reportedly catching some passes and jogging lightly. Although this early activity is a very good sign, it is a far cry from what Barber needs to do to perform in a game. Despite the fact that the Cowboys have a Monday night game, giving Barber an additional day of healing time, it is still unlikely that his muscle will have fully recovered by then. The big concern with soft tissue injuries is that overloading still healing tissue will result in more severe injury, and ultimately more missed time. In other words, we will track Barber's progress throughout the week but even if Barber does make an appearance, expect Felix Jones and Tashard Choice to get the bulk of the work.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings: Uh-oh. The appearance of Peterson on Wednesday's injury report is enough to strike fear in the hearts of fantasy owners who have no doubt been riding his Week 1 and 2 performances to victory. Peterson was limited in practice because of his back (which might just be a result of fatigue from the physical workload he's been carrying), but it is too early to panic. After all, he has missed only two games in two years. This is something to keep an eye on, though, as the week progresses.
LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers: Tomlinson missed Week 2 because of a sprained ankle, which he has suggested is minor. Nonetheless, Tomlinson did not practice Wednesday. He likely will attempt to get back into practice during the latter part of the week to test the ankle. Tomlinson was ruled out early last week, but this week might come down to a game-time decision.
Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell, New Orleans Saints: Not only do they play the same position, they suffer the same injuries. Bell came out of Week 2 with a sprained right MCL, but early indications are that the injury was not serious. It might have been a minor sprain, but it was still enough to keep Bell out of practice Wednesday. Thomas, who suffered a more serious version of the same sprain in the preseason, is on the upswing and the roles of the two running backs may well be reversed this week. Thomas saw some (very limited) game action in Week 2 but, most importantly, emerged no worse for the wear. Thomas was a full participant in Wednesday practice and is expected to increase his workload in Week 3. The timing might be perfect to allow Bell to either sit this week out or at least limit his activity.
Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook's sprained right ankle (his surgically repaired ankle) kept him out of practice Wednesday. This pattern of resting during the week and playing on Sunday is so familiar to owners that it's almost automatic. While it's too early to say that Westbrook will play for sure, it would not come as a surprise. And while this ankle injury has not been deemed serious, it is probably an indicator of the ongoing challenge Westbrook will face when it comes to maintaining the health of his joints.
Jamal Lewis, Cleveland Browns: Lewis missed practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that Lewis likely will be listed as questionable when Friday's reports come out. It is hard to imagine Lewis not suiting up if at all possible, given that he will be facing the Baltimore Ravens. There is backup available. Rookie James Davis, who sat out Week 2 with a shoulder injury sustained during the season opener, did return to practice Wednesday and is expected to play.
Kevin Walter, Houston Texans: Walter missed Week 1 after pregame warm-ups made it clear that he could not go full speed. The following week everyone, including Walter, was upbeat about his chances of playing in Week 2. But after a full practice that Wednesday, Walter's hamstring did not respond well. He was limited in practice the remainder of the week and then could not play Sunday. Unfortunately, this is often how it goes with muscle strains. The athlete's perception as to how the muscle feels is the biggest determinant of how hard to push it in practice and competition. It is often the case that the very work the athlete needs to do to test the muscle can result in a setback, and it appears that was the case with Walter.
So how is this week shaping up? Walter started the week limited in practice and there are no declarations of his availability just yet. Assume that the Texans will have Walter gradually increase his work through the week in the hopes that he can be available Sunday. This might again come down to a game-time decision.
Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals: Boldin has been steadily improving from the hamstring injury that limited him in the preseason and was much more of a factor in the Cardinals' Week 2 contest than in the season opener. The good news is that Boldin was a full participant in practice as of Wednesday, and at least at this stage, it appears the worst is behind him. Meanwhile, teammate Early Doucet, who had been sidelined with a rib injury, was also a full participant in Wednesday's practice and should be available this week. Steve Breaston, who has been recovering from a sprained PCL, was able to contribute in Week 2, so despite not practicing Wednesday, it is expected that he too will be available in Week 3.
Deion Branch, Seattle Seahawks: After missing the first two games this season, Branch, who over the larger part of the past two years has dealt with injuries including an ACL reconstruction, a heel bruise and the hamstring, appears to be in line to make his season debut. Branch was a full participant in Wednesday's practice and coach Jim Mora told the Tacoma News Tribune that he expects Branch to play this week. It's worth keeping an eye on the receiver situation since Branch's teammate T.J. Houshmandzadeh missed Wednesday practice because of a sore back. The back was bothering Houshmandzadeh last week but he did play Sunday.
Be sure to check my Saturday blog for post-Friday NFL injury report updates on all your fantasy players heading into the weekend.
See you at the injury chats (Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.-noon; Friday, 11 a.m.-noon; and Sunday pregame, 10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.). And check out Fantasy Football Now on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. ET to kickoff for last-minute inactives, rankings and more!