The latest injury updates for Week 4

Tomlinson's been practicing for the first time since spraining his ankle, but don't automatically assume he'll be in the lineup against Pittsburgh.

"I want to play in this game," Tomlinson said. "But again, that's dependent on how the ankle does. I think having the bye week definitely helps us both ways, playing and not playing. I think we're going to wait and see."

The thinking is that after suffering through nagging ailments all of last year, LDT and the Chargers are taking extra precautions to make sure the ankle is 100-percent healed when he does comes back. Which means that with a bye week looming in Week 5, and a physically violent defense on tap, prepare to be without the studly RB a little while longer.

On the bright side, the Chargers run game has been absolutely atrocious without Tomlinson (2.4 YPC on 49 carries), and they're a lousy 1-for-11 in the red zone, an area the single-season touchdown record holder excels in. The opportunity for fantasy success will be waiting for Tomlinson whenever he decides he wants to play again.

Parker had his toe rolled up on late in the third quarter last week, and gained just seven yards on five carries afterward. On Wednesday he admitted the injury was "very painful," but that "it shouldn't be an issue." With all due respect to "FWP", I completely disagree with that assessment, especially considering how we saw both Darren McFadden and Tomlinson have their season derailed by the dreaded big toe sprain last year.

The obvious benefactor if Parker's wheel becomes a major issue is Rashard Mendenhall. Although he wasn't given any carries last week -- a result of being off his "details" in practice -- Mike Tomlin insists that Mendenhall is not in his doghouse. Just the same, I'd still put a claim in on Mewelde Moore.

Gore incurred two separate injuries to his right leg on Sunday; an ankle strain and a rear foot sprain. He's done for the next three weeks, at least, with the earliest return date being October 25 at Houston. In the meantime, there's not a better add in all of fantasy football than Glen Coffee. Of course, if you don't own him by now and he's still available, I'm guessing you're playing in a league with your mother-in-law and her baking club. If that's the case, it's time to step your game up, big fella.

Portis missed practice this week with soreness in his calf after taking a swift kick to the calf muscle against the Lions. He was already dealing with extremely painful bone spurs in both ankles, and it's starting to appear the massive workload Portis handled over his career is finally catching up.

He's balked at sitting in the past, and I expect to see him in the lineup against Tampa Bay, but how much he'll play, and how effective he'll be, are still up for debate. Personally, I'm picking up Ladell Betts, and keeping a safe distance between Portis and my starting lineup for the foreseeable future.

I said it last week, and I'll say it again; you simply won't know the true status of any Patriots player until a couple of hours before game time. For what it's worth, both Welker and Moss practiced this week (albeit on a limited basis), and are good bets to see the field in a very crucial matchup against the Ravens.

Not only was Bradshaw inactive at practice on Wednesday, he was seen wearing a protective boot over his right ankle and foot. Apparently it's not from a recent injury, but rather lingering pain from an old ankle sprain accompanied by general soreness in his foot. Bradshaw doesn't sound overly concerned with the irritation (His direct quote was, "I'll be playing. Definitely."), but astute fantasy owners need to monitor situations like this, and be aware of who will step in should their player be forced to sit.

In this case, the man to know is Gartrell Johnson. The rookie had six carries for 23 yards last week, and would be a decent Flex play if Bradshaw's foot/ankle were to worsen. Also, he looks like the Predator, which for some reason makes me like him more than I probably should.

All you need to know about Bowe's potential for suiting up this week is evident in this Todd Haley quote;

"Anytime you're talking about a hamstring, especially with a skill position, you've got to err on the side of caution because those things can end up being a long-term thing if you're not careful."

And careful the Chiefs will be. Why wouldn't they? It's not like they're going to beat the Giants this week, with or without "Over the Dwayne Bowe." Bobby Wade will get the start in his place, and while he has eight catches for 85 yards and a touchdown in two games with Kansas City, he's not worth your time in such a tough matchup.

Barber desperately wanted to play on Monday night (probably out of fear of being "Wally Pipped"), but the Cowboys did the prudent thing and kept him sidelined. He practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday, and still hasn't run full speed since injuring the quad.

The Barbarian will most certainly be a game-time decision -- my guess is he's in uniform against the Broncos, but it'll be Tashard Choice who sees the majority of action. If you need a reference point, take a look at what a backfield featuring a hampered Barber and a healthy Choice (Healthy Choice, much better than Lean Cuisine, don't you think?) looks like.

Jim Schwartz has said Smith will be a game time decision, but I've got a feeling that's just posturing on his part. In addition to the speculatively serious shoulder injury (the Lions are being extraordinarily tight-lipped on the exact nature of the injury); Smith also "tweaked" his knee early in last week's game.

As if that wasn't indication enough that Smith could be sidelined for an extended period of time, the Lions worked out a slew of running backs this past Tuesday. Assuming Smith can't take the field against the Bears, the backup will be Maurice Morris, with Aaron Brown acting as a third down specialist. Blech.

Bell was limited to riding a stationary bike in practice, and his sprained knee will prevent him from adding to his team-leading 229 rushing yards this week. Actually, his sprained knee coupled with Pierre Thomas' healthiness will probably prevent him from being rosterable again this season (5...4...3...2...1. Did you see that? That was Bell's 15 minutes of fantasy fame expiring).

Just when you thought Jones was all set to become the most dynamic back in the fantasy universe, he sprained his PCL, and is now likely out until mid-October. In just nine career games, Jones has already dealt with significant hamstring, toe and knee injuries; not a good sign if you had any hope of relying on the breathtaking back to be a consistent producer this season. What a shame, because if Jones ever received 20 carries in a game, he'd be a virtual lock to rush for 200 yards (based on his career 9.4 YPC anyway).

Chris Ryan is a staff writer at Want to prove you know more than anyone, even the experts? Then register for the UPSET CHALLENGE, the new and unique office pool game that gives you the opportunity to earn ultimate bragging rights!

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