As many had predicted, Brett Favre started for the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. He didn't finish, but it wasn't his ankle that took him out of the game. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans announced last week that wide receiver Kenny Britt would not miss any more playing time for disciplinary reasons. Unfortunately, he likely will miss significant playing time as a result of injury. And the Indianapolis Colts, well, they still found a way to win despite the overwhelming number of injuries to their skill position players that continued Monday night.
With six teams on bye again Sunday, fantasy owners need to get a jump on their waiver-wire competition. Here are some names to keep an eye on after Week 8.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans: Britt did not start the Week 7 contest after his alleged involvement in a bar fight but was electrifying for two-and-a-half quarters nonetheless. Fantasy owners were happy to hear that Britt would not miss any more playing time for disciplinary reasons and looked forward to an even more productive Week 8. But it didn't happen. Britt was forced out of the game in the first quarter by a right hamstring injury that looked to be serious when it happened. Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean reported that Britt was seen "grabbing his hamstring" during practice throughout the week. Perhaps it was a sign of something bigger lurking under the surface, but it was not enough to keep Britt from practicing full speed all week leading up to Sunday's game.
Although Titans coach Jeff Fisher has indicated that Britt is expected to miss some time with the injury, he does anticipate his return. According to The Tennessean, Fisher said, If it was a season-ending injury, I would tell you right now it is season-ending. No, it is not." Fisher went on to say that there would be more information after the Titans' Week 9 bye and that until then, the plan would be to treat Britt's injury "very aggressively."
Fantasy owners know from experience that serious hamstring injuries require time, above all else, to heal and should seek a replacement now.
Zach Miller, TE, Oakland Raiders: Miller has been such a fantasy star at the tight end position that his numbers from Sunday -- or lack thereof -- came as a bit of a shock. Miller was limited last week by a foot injury that obviously compromised him during the game. The day after the game, Miller was seen on crutches, clearly a measure to take pressure off his painful arch.
Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that coach Tom Cable expects Miller to play against the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend. So what are fantasy owners to expect? It's hard to imagine that a painful arch will be significantly improved within a week, although the early unloading (not putting weight on the arch in order to alleviate stress on the area) may help. It would not be surprising to see Miller held out of practice early in the week. Late-week practices would go a long way toward inspiring confidence that the pain will not severely restrict Miller again in Week 9. Stay tuned.
Ryan Torain, RB, Washington Redskins: Despite his early success while filling in for the injured Clinton Portis, one of the concerns about Torain has been whether he could stay on the field. Not that his talent was ever in question, just his durability, given his history of serious injury. Fantasy owners can now be legitimately nervous, as Torain was forced to exit Sunday's game early with a left hamstring strain.
According to The Washington Post, Torain felt the hamstring pull on the final running play of the second quarter. After the game when Torain was asked whether the injury was serious, he responded with "hard to say." The Post reported that an MRI revealed no structural damage, and head coach Mike Shanahan is hopeful that Torain will be ready for the team's next game after the bye week. In the event he is not able to go, it likely would be Keiland Williams, who stepped in when Torain went out Sunday, to get the Monday night start.
Portis, who suffered a Grade III groin tear in Week 4, "took a couple plays in practice" Tuesday, according to Rich Campbell of the Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star. Although his new activity is encouraging, there is still a lot of work to be done before Portis is ready to return. Increased speed and agility work as well as tolerance of full practice will all have to come before he returns to play. The Post notes that Shanahan does not expect Portis in the lineup the week after the bye, although a definitive timetable has not been laid out.
Other injury notes heading into Week 9:
• In addition to losing Britt in Week 8, the Titans saw quarterback Vince Young leave the field early with an aggravation of his previous ankle injury. The Tennessean reports that Young is likely to rest most of this week while the team is on bye but could return to practice next week. It's much too soon to write Young out of the mix for Week 10, but fantasy owners will want to keep an eye on whether he's back in practice to start the week.
• Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin caught his left foot in the turf and had to be assisted off the field in the first quarter. He ended up returning to the game shortly afterward but was clearly limping in pain following the game. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Harvin said of his ability to last the entire game, "It probably was adrenaline that got me through." Now that the adrenaline has worn off, it will be a matter of seeing just what Harvin can do on that ankle as the week goes on to determine whether he can play.
• Favre was able to move well enough to start Sunday but ended up leaving the game after suffering a chin laceration that required eight stitches to close. Initially it looked as though the injury could have been much worse, but there were reportedly no broken bones. As for his ability to go in Week 9, Favre offered this: I'm ready to play next week," Favre said. "Nobody knows my body like me. I think I'll be all right, ready to play next week." He was right last time. Whom Favre will throw to with Randy Moss gone and Harvin ailing might be the bigger question this week.
• The Colts saw yet another running back leave a game due to injury. Mike Hart, who got the start Monday night in place of the injured Joseph Addai, left the game with an ankle injury. Hart was expected to undergo an MRI on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Donald Brown saw his first game action in a month, but his playing time was limited. It will probably come close to game time again before we know who will run the ball for the Colts in Week 9.
• Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson showed his toughness Monday night as he continued to play despite aggravating his right ankle late in the game. As we've been saying all along, this ankle injury is a perpetual source of pain for Johnson based on the demands of his position and the physical way he plays the game. In the absence of taking multiple weeks off to let it fully heal -- which Johnson is not going to do -- the ankle has the potential to flare up during a game. As long as he can play and fight through it, he will. So expect Johnson to continue to tough it out unless or until it becomes physically impossible for him to run.
• Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was harassed all day Sunday, and it finally caught up to him. He suffered a concussion in Week 8, but although coach Pete Carroll sounds very optimistic about his return, Hasselbeck will have to meet all postconcussion medical criteria to be cleared to play. It doesn't help matters that tackle Russell Okung suffered another high ankle sprain, this time to his left side. The Seahawks have indicated that this injury appears less serious than the right ankle injury that sidelined Okung earlier in the season, and they hope to have him back in practice this week. We shall see.
• In other Raiders news, Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that coach Tom Cable expects wide receiver Louis Murphy to miss another game to continue healing from his chest contusion. Although Murphy told the San Jose Mercury News he felt fine Sunday, he understood why the team held him out of contact. Said Murphy, "... with me coughing up blood and having internal bleeding, they didn't want to take any chances with that." Understood. Meanwhile, quarterback Bruce Gradkowski says his injured throwing shoulder (AC sprain) is now feeling better. Cable has maintained all along that Gradkowski is the starter when healthy.
• Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver aggravated the quadriceps injury that has been nagging him the past few weeks. Driver limped off the field Sunday, and after two consecutive weeks with no receptions, it is no surprise to hear that he will not play in Week 9, according to Bill Michaels of WTMJ radio in Milwaukee.
• The San Francisco 49ers managed to eke out a victory in London but lost tight end Vernon Davis in the process, as he aggravated the ankle injury that had deemed him questionable entering the week. No official word on how serious this setback is, but according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Davis doesn't seem to think it's serious. The team is on bye in Week 9, so he could get some extra rest, but the Chronicle reports Davis plans to "run some routes" this week. Let's see what he actually does first, but the early news sounds encouraging for Davis' availability in Week 10.
• Michael Vick is expected to start at quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Vick has returned to practice and, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, said he experienced "no soreness at all" with throwing. That's good news, but it's a far cry from taking contact. Vick's rib cartilage injury has the potential to cause him discomfort at the very least and severe pain at the worst, depending on the amount and type of contact he absorbs in any given game. So although the plan is for Vick to start, fantasy owners should keep insurance handy in the event there is a setback. Meanwhile, teammate DeSean Jackson has returned to limited practice after his concussion. His response to activity will be taken into account daily, and his status could come down to the wire.
• New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush was not able to return to the amount of activity he predicted last week, placing his status for this week in that much more jeopardy. Bush still has many hurdles to cross before returning to game play. Teammate Pierre Thomas appears to be even further from returning, as he was placed back on crutches last week and is doing no football activity. Thomas' situation appears murkier than it did a few weeks ago. It is worth keeping a close eye on their activity as the week progresses.
We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses with much more to come on Thursday.