Fred Jackson's injury absence opens door for Spiller in Buffalo
Week 2 kicks off the NFL's new full-season slate of Thursday games. Unfortunately, there has always been a full slate of injuries. Let's get to them.
While both teams came out of Week 1 relatively healthy, the Thursday games impact recovery more than anything. On the front end, the short week challenges those who need maintenance like Brian Urlacher, then offers a couple extra days on the back end, helping those same players. It's not a pure balance, since the schedule-makers like big games on Thursday for obvious reasons. The Packers will be without Greg Jennings, who hasn't had time to heal up from a mild groin strain. Expect him back for Week 3, but in the meantime, James Jones, and not Jody Nelson, who should get more looks. The Bears are relatively healthy aside from Charles Tillman, who's a GTD-. If Tillman is out, that could free up things for Aaron Rodgers.
Jackson will miss a month with his Grade II sprained LCL. His knee ligament will not need surgery, but Jackson can't function without lateral stability. It could be braced, but that tends to slow a player down and is still risky. Jackson insists he'll miss a month or less, which is nice optimism. He's not a shifty-juky running back, so if he loses a bit of lateral movement, he won't be too bad off. The worry is that C.J. Spiller establishes himself and steals touches from Jackson when he returns. Look for when Jackson begins to run again for a clearer indication of when he's going to return. Cutting laterally will be the last thing to come and will indicate full health.
The terms "high ankle sprain" and "low ankle sprain" are confusing things for a lot of people. They're really not similar injuries and have very dissimilar rehabs. The high ankle sprain was named to keep from saying syndesmosis, which is the correct sports medical term. It will take Skelton some time to heal up from his sprain, which occurred in the anatomical ankle. The worry initially was that he had a fracture in the lower leg, but a sprain isn't better here either. Ligaments respond differently and are tougher to get a read on than bones, which can be checked quickly and easily. Skelton is likely out around a month, but a lot depends on how the ankle responds and how quickly he regains strength in the ankle. Bracing and taping can help, but for a tall pocket passer, there's a lot of function that will need to come back organically before he can get the ball back from Kevin Kolb.
Quarterbacks don't like throwing picks. They get angry and do dumb things like make tackles. Locker made the pick and the tackle, but it may have cost him more than a bad stat. During the tackle, Locker's arm got caught in an awkward position and appeared to separate or dislocate. Given the lack of internal damage, it's more likely the former, which is lucky for Locker and the Titans. It's his non-throwing arm, but a quarterback can't play with it. The off arm is involved in both the balance of the throwing motion and often is where a QB lands when he's sacked. The Titans won't be able to get Locker back out there until he can safely do both of those, which could be sooner than most expect. Locker is expected back at practice and looks like he's going to be close for the start on Sunday. Watch to see how much Locker and Matt Hasselbeck split the first-team reps for an indication of where the coaching staff sees Locker.
I'll be wrong soon enough, but almost everyone expected Peterson to be "limited" in Week 1. They were wrong. Peterson was too tempting, and yes, too healthy to hold back. He's not back to normal, but he's not so far off that we can maintain that ACL injuries still are a 12-month process. Peterson is healthy -- now, and for the coming weeks. Treating him as anything other than an elite back is a mistake and expecting some "minor leg injury" to come up is a mistake as well. If you believe that minor leg injuries are predictable, please tell me who'll go down in Week 2?. Expect Peterson to get more carries this week, probably around 25.
We're all caught up in Griffinmania, but part of his success in Week 1 was his receivers getting open, finding seams and adding yardage. Garcon's 88-yard game-breaking catch was a big part of that big part, and the play erased a lot of questions about his big contract. Garcon left early with a bruised foot, the likely result of being stepped on while he planted. The hard Superdome turf was certainly a contributing factor since grass would have some give. Garcon should be able to play in Week 2, since bruises heal up pretty predictably. Keep in mind that he'll be playing on turf again, which could inhibit some cuts. Those can be game-planned out, though it does make things harder. Expect Garcon to put up good numbers this week and be a real test for Janoris Jenkins.
Maclin came into Week 1 poised for a breakout. He had a healthy offseason, and by all accounts, a great camp. Michael Vick seemed ready and DeSean Jackson would keep Maclin from getting too many double-teams. Maclin did get the targets and looked very close to elite, coming in just shy of 100 receiving yards despite a disappointing offensive day for the Eagles. But he also came out of the game with a strained hip flexor. Maclin is questionable for Sunday's game with Baltimore, but the Eagles will be aggressive with him. He'll be a GTD+ and could be limited if the strain keeps him from getting a good first step or separation. Maclin is a risky play against a tough defense. His absence would also cost Vick and Jackson.