The injuries are mounting quickly, so let's get right to 'em:
Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles: On Tuesday, I outlined McNabb's rib injury and the challenges he would face in attempting to play. The information we since have learned further supports the prediction that he will be on the sideline this week. ESPN NFC East blogger Matt Mosley reported the details of McNabb's injury that coach Andy Reid outlined in his news conference. Reid described McNabb's fracture as one in which the bone was broken "all the way through."
This is an important distinction when it comes to fractures, because if it were just a crack or a stress fracture (in which there would be evidence of injury to the bone but not a complete separation), the healing time might be quicker. But when the bone is broken all the way through, it is essential to minimize movement in the area so the two ends can bridge together and heal. Since a rib cannot be effectively casted, the athlete must limit movement, including muscle contraction, to help protect the rib. As the doctors treating McNabb told Reid, the rib "has to get sticky." This stickiness is an indicator of the tissue healing. Once there is evidence that the two ends are intact enough that they are not moving, the doctors and the Eagles can consider allowing McNabb to increase his activity. Once McNabb is cleared for activity, it becomes an issue of pain tolerance and how effective McNabb can be as a quarterback in the presence of that pain.
Suffice to say that the process undoubtedly will take longer than the few days remaining until game time. Other evidence -- McNabb's not practicing Wednesday, backup Kevin Kolb's taking all the first-team snaps, the Eagles' signing of Jeff Garcia -- supports the notion that McNabb will sit out this week. From that point forward, it becomes a day-to-day assessment. The Eagles were wise to get insurance. Fantasy owners need to do the same thing.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs: Cassel sat out Week 1 because of his sprained medial collateral ligament, which clearly was still hampering his mobility late in the week and preventing him from full practice. But the Chiefs appeared to be encouraged by Cassel's improved running ability Wednesday and have increased optimism for his availability for Week 2. Coach Todd Haley told reporters that Cassel still did not participate in the entire practice and would not commit to Cassel's being the starter Sunday, but he did acknowledge that Cassel was doing everything he could to get ready.
It appears Cassel might indeed play, especially if he can participate fully in practice by the end of the week. It's reasonable to expect that he will remain braced, just as it's reasonable to expect that the ligament is still healing and that he will not yet be 100 percent. Nonetheless, if he shows he can be effective under center in practice this week, the Chiefs might opt to bring him back.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: Romo had some tests done on his right ankle, including an MRI, this week. According to The Dallas Morning News, the tests came back negative, so it appears all systems are go for Romo on Sunday. He was able to fully participate in practice Wednesday, another positive indicator.
LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers: Tomlinson rolled his ankle in Week 1 but managed to play on and off throughout the remainder of the game. After the game, however, it seems Tomlinson's ankle felt a little worse. He did not practice Wednesday and was seen sporting a protective boot on the ankle to minimize motion at the joint. (Editor's Note: LaDainian Tomlinson has now been ruled out for Sunday's game versus the Ravens).
If there's some good news here, it's that Tomlinson says this injury does not begin to compare to the toe and groin injuries he suffered last season, and Tomlinson told the San Diego Union-Tribune on Wednesday that he doesn't expect the injury to sideline him for long, in other words, this does not seem to present long-term concerns. Fantasy owners should make alternate plans for this weekend but shouldn't give up on LT just yet.
Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints: Thomas says he will play this week, and he did participate fully in practice Wednesday for the first time in weeks. Nonetheless, as the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported, his leg was wrapped during practice and he was icing it afterward. Now, both of those things are to be expected as a player returns to practice from this injury, but it does remind us that he is not yet 100 percent recovered. We will track his progress throughout the week, but bear in mind that even if he does play, his touches likely will be limited.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers: Stewart seemed to make it through Sunday's contest just fine despite missing the preseason because of a sore Achilles. The key will be managing this issue over the course of the season since it is not likely to disappear until the season is long over. To that end, Stewart did not practice Wednesday, which appears to be a precautionary maneuver to protect his foot and ankle. Watch Stewart's activity as the week progresses, but expect him to play Sunday.
Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts: The Indianapolis Star is reporting Gonzalez suffered a posterior cruciate ligament sprain and is expected to miss at least four games; the early goal is for him to return just after the Colts' bye week (which is Oct. 18). There were signs from the outset that this injury was on the serious side. Gonzalez went down untouched, which is not uncommon with the more serious anterior cruciate ligament and PCL sprains. Team president Bill Polian indicated that Gonzalez sprained knee ligaments (as in more than one), and while Polian expressed relief that the injury was not season-ending, this certainly suggested a more complex scenario. If Gonzalez did indeed suffer additional damage, even to another less-significant knee ligament, it further compromises the joint stability and makes it that much tougher to rehab.
We have seen other receivers suffer PCL sprains during the season, and it has hampered their effectiveness, even after their returns (which take, on average, four to six weeks). Houston Texans' receiver Andre Johnson suffered this injury in 2007 and missed seven games. In 2008, Minnesota Vikings' receiver Sidney Rice sprained his PCL and seemed a step slower upon his return.
So why the difficulty? Well, the PCL complements the ACL and contributes to overall joint stability. It is much more complicated to repair and consequently is not always surgically treated, especially if the injury is anything less than a Grade 3 or complete tear. The consensus is that most athletes can be functional once the ligament has scarred in to heal. If problems persist, the athlete might undergo offseason surgery to clean up the area, but in the meantime, he or she tries to play through it. A damaged ligament, however, means the body must compensate for that instability, and it can take extended time, even an offseason, for that to occur. In other words, Gonzalez might be able to return, but whether he can function at the level he was at to start the season is, as of now, unknown.
What does that mean for fantasy owners? Well, Gonzalez will be out for more than a month, so an immediate replacement is in order. But that replacement might be permanent, because not only could Gonzalez's recovery timetable change, but it also remains to be seen how effective he will be when he returns.
Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals: It might still be a guessing game when it comes to Boldin's Sunday status. Boldin was active in Week 1, but he did essentially nothing, as predicted. Boldin, who had not participated fully in practice since late August, clearly was not himself, and he notched only two receptions. That said, there might have been some pressure for Boldin to play because Steve Breaston, somewhat surprisingly, could not (apparently, his knee swelled up Sunday morning). Boldin practiced Wednesday, but Breaston was limited to the walk-through, according to the East Valley Tribune, so it does appear Boldin will get the nod. We will keep an eye on practices throughout the week to get a better indicator before Sunday.
Kevin Walter, Houston Texans: Walter, who sat out Week 1 with a hamstring strain, appears good to go in Week 2. He practiced fully Wednesday and indicated he was ready to play. According to the Texans' Web site, coach Gary Kubiak seems to agree with Walter, even adding that the receiver will start. One fewer guess to make leading up to Week 2 games.
Be sure to check my Saturday blog for post-Friday NFL injury report updates on all your fantasy players heading into the weekend.
Note: Catch Stephania's injury chats Tuesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to noon ET, as well as Sundays from 10 to 10:30 a.m. ET. And check out Fantasy Football Now on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. ET to kickoff for last-minute inactive announcements, rankings and more!