A number of fantasy stars went down in Week 5, and the news on at least one of them is not too encouraging.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley underwent arthroscopic surgery Tuesday and it looks as if he could miss the remainder of the season. While it's possible he could return, his fantasy season is essentially done, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners (including, ahem, yours truly) who invested heavily in his talent. Finley did not disappoint but his knee failed to cooperate. The prognostic timetable in advance of Finley's surgery was that he would miss 3-6 weeks. After surgery, however, that timetable became a projected 8-10 weeks. According to Greg Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Finley had a lateral meniscus tear and repairing it (as opposed to removing the torn meniscus) became an option, hence the expanded timetable.
Following meniscus repair, rehabilitation is much more conservative in an effort to protect the repaired tissue and ensure better healing. Even 10 weeks is optimistic in the case of a repair. The repair option is chosen, when possible, to try to preserve the long-term health of the knee as complete removal of a meniscus is associated with degenerative (arthritic) changes in the knee. Considering long-term health is the goal, there is no reason to rush a player back during the recovery process and potentially jeopardize the outcome. The Packers may ultimately decide to place Finley on injured reserve, something that is being evaluated in the context of the entire team's needs. Fantasy football owners can make the move to replace Finley on their rosters right away.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: Rodgers did not practice Wednesday, which was not surprising given that he suffered a concussion just last Sunday. At that time coach Mike McCarthy told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Rodgers was going through the protocol the team has in place following such injuries, adding, "I probably won't know his situation until [Thursday] morning, as far as his availability for the game, let alone practice."
Apparently, Thursday brought some encouraging news as Rodgers returned to practice. It's worth monitoring how Rodgers responds to the increased activity before penciling him into the start position. If he tolerates the activity well and returns for more Friday, then a Week 6 start is looking good.
Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles: Vick has indicated that he is feeling better this week following his Week 4 rib cartilage injury. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Vick says that he has "his throwing motion back." While Vick has certainly increased his activity in the last few days, he has not yet returned to practice. Vick maintains that he does not need to practice in order to play, but the risk remains that the injury could be easily aggravated by contact. He has not been ruled out for Sunday's game, but it would be surprising to see him back in Week 6.
Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: Could the consecutive starts streak end at 289? It's at least a topic of discussion this week as Favre is reportedly battling tendinitis in his throwing elbow. Generally speaking, tendinitis in that area refers to inflammation of the common extensor tendon, a wide band that represents the "common" attachment of the wrist extensors just above the elbow. In addition to extending the wrist, the extensors are involved in grip. In the case of a quarterback, ball control and delivery is affected by the function of this group of muscles. Tendons are the tissue that anchor muscle to bone, so when muscles contract, the contractile energy is transferred through the tendon to the bony attachment, resulting in movement. The bottom line: If Favre throws, he's stressing the injured area. With rest being the best form of management, the question naturally arises as to just how much rest Favre will require. Coach Brad Childress told reporters that the team will limit Favre's practice reps in an effort to rest the elbow, and Favre told reporters he would consider sitting out a game or two if the condition worsens.
Really? Are we to believe the man who has played through an MCL sprain, ulnar nerve irritation, a partially torn biceps tendon, chronic ankle pain and various assorted other ailments might consider sitting for some tendinitis? It seems highly doubtful that Favre would sit because of pain alone but he might sit (emphasis on "might") if he feels that his condition would present a liability to the team. After Monday night's loss to the Jets, Favre lamented that some passes got away from him late in the game because of the elbow. Managing the elbow condition becomes the name of the game here because complete recovery is not likely to occur in-season and the Vikings' bye week has come and gone. It's certainly a situation worth watching for fantasy owners, but until a Sunday comes and goes without Favre on the field, it's hard to imagine him sitting out a game.
Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, Cleveland Browns: We noted the injuries to both quarterbacks in Tuesday's blog and the outlook is no better for either of them to return this week. In fact, coach Eric Mangini is indicating that the team is leaning toward Colt McCoy getting the start. According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Mangini said Thursday that "the lean is more pronounced."
Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns: As noted in Tuesday's blog, Hillis aggravated his quad strain Sunday, and he had not practiced through Thursday. That, however, will not keep him from Sunday's game, according to Mangini. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Mangini expects Hillis to be available Sunday but also notes that newly acquired running back Mike Bell is "a fit for the plays we have for Peyton." Sounds like the Browns wanted Hillis-specific insurance. There's no doubting Hillis' toughness, but there might be some doubt as to whether he can be Hillis-like in the presence of this injury. And the Browns have the Pittsburgh Steelers on the docket this week. This could be a risky week for Hillis fantasy owners.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers: It seemed as if Mathews was out of the woods with regards to his ankle injury, but that does not appear to be the case. Lingering soreness in the ankle has kept Mathews from practicing fully, and this week Mathews was not in practice at all Wednesday. Coach Norv Turner has hinted over the past two weeks that the goal is to have Mathews functioning like a feature back but not at the risk of setting him back. If Mathews is not able to fully practice during the week, he is not likely to be placed in that role. Mathews' ability to play Sunday does not appear to be in jeopardy, but he could very well be sharing the job with Mike Tolbert. Fantasy owners just love hearing that.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: Although we have not heard specifics about Johnson's injury, we have heard enough to be concerned about his status this week. Johnson was present at practice Wednesday and Thursday but he has not been able to make much use of his right arm. On Wednesday, he ran routes but caught no passes. Johnson told reporters that his range of motion was not quite all the way back. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Johnson remained limited in Thursday's practice, still heavily favoring his right arm and catching passes primarily with his left. If Johnson is still struggling with overhead motion, it's unlikely that he is back to form by Sunday. We should learn more after practice Friday, but with the Lions heading for a bye next week, it would not be surprising if Johnson rests Sunday if there is no further progress.
Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones, Houston Texans: Johnson appeared to emerge from Week 5 relatively unscathed and will no doubt forge ahead into Week 6. Johnson's ankle is not perfect but that didn't stop him from being the top receiver for the Texans last week. Jones and his calf are another matter. Jones, who did not practice last week, was not back in practice Wednesday and is being called day-to-day at this point.
Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts: Collie, despite being in a protective boot most of last week, did end up playing Sunday and appeared to run well. Collie was back in the boot to start the week, however, and did not practice Wednesday, which reminds us that he is not fully recovered. Based on his routine last week, there is no reason to worry just yet about Collie's Sunday availability. Garcon did not practice Wednesday either, but there were no reports of a setback after his return to the field Sunday. Gonzalez, who has missed multiple weeks with a high ankle sprain, did limited work Wednesday and could be on track for a return this week.
The lineup for the Colts' receivers should also become clearer after Friday practices.
In Indianapolis, there are questions at running back as well as receiver. Joseph Addai, who suffered an injury to his neck and shoulder area last week, participated in limited practice Wednesday and Thursday. It appears that he will be available this week. Teammate Donald Brown is back in practice after a hamstring injury also, but he is still limited.
Eagles running back LeSean McCoy did not practice Wednesday, but expect him to be in the action this week. After all, if he could play as well as he did just one week after cracking a rib, there's no reason to think he'll be hampered this week. Keep in mind that former Browns running back Jerome Harrison, recently acquired by the team for Mike Bell, is around to back up McCoy as needed.
New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas has yet to return to practice, thus putting his status for this week in doubt again. While he has not been ruled out, it's worth noting that the Saints added former Seahawks running back Julius Jones to their roster. Coach Sean Payton assured reporters that the move was just for "depth" and not a reaction to the play of Chris Ivory or Ladell Betts. Meanwhile, Reggie Bush is still sidelined with a broken fibula and has yet to run outdoors. This weekend marks the four-week mark since Bush's injury (he originally projected himself to be back in four weeks), and he is hoping to return in the next week or two. We'll see how he advances in terms of activity, but the original six-week projection still appears likely.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski does not look like he will have recovered enough from his shoulder injury to take the field Sunday. He did not practice Wednesday, and Jason Campbell is taking the first-team reps. Running back Darren McFadden is still not fully recovered for this week's contest after sitting out Week 5. He did return to the practice field Wednesday, but Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports coach Tom Cable says Michael Bush will remain the starter this week with McFadden's hamstring not yet 100 percent.
Lions running back Jahvid Best did not practice Wednesday but was back Thursday. The day off may have been a proactive rest day, as there has been no word of any setback. While Best is likely still dealing with some level of discomfort, he certainly has been pressing forward and playing each week. His performance in Week 5, while not outstanding, was certainly improved from the prior week so the hope is that he will continue to trend upward.
Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno did not practice Wednesday but got back on the field Thursday. It's too early to determine his Sunday status, but moderate practice is quite different from a full game.
See you at Friday's 3 p.m. injury chat and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 6 in the Saturday morning blog!