Teams still finding their way in treating potential head injuries
Week 10 brings conflict to football families and fantasy players as the NFL Network starts its run of Thursday games this week with a California clash between the Raiders and Chargers. In some households, the game or
Ward quickly passed his concussion testing this week and should be fine to play on Sunday in Cincinnati. Stinger? What stinger? The Steelers seem to have forgotten all about the stinger they said Ward suffered after his hit by Ray Lewis. It's no better than the "dirt in the eye" line the Eagles gave a few weeks ago regarding a hit on Michael Vick that left the Eagles QB visibly wobbly. There's simply no reason for it. If a team believes they gain an advantage by not saying concussion and leaving it open in the other team's mind, why say anything? A simple "Hines Ward is being evaluated by medical personnel and is questionable to return" says enough and isn't a weasel's way out. I'm not sure how much sideline reports like this make it to the other team. I'm sure teams notice that Ward (or anyone) is out and they'll get some eyes on him, but diluting the concussion message with misdirection isn't helping anyone.
If there's some balance for the Ward situation, it's Keller. While I remain skeptical about using officials as concussion monitors, it worked well in its first test. After Keller made his ridiculous leap and landed hard, one of the officials apparently asked the Jets to take a look at him. He was evaluated on the sidelines, cleared, and returned later. Most notably, he was tested and cleared. There's
We'll close out the head trauma trilogy with Best, who looks to be returning at some point after recurrent post-concussion symptoms had some discussing shutting him down. Best could be at practice this week, though he remains very unlikely to play come game time Sunday against the Bears. Sources tell me Best is "mostly symptom free," but the team and Best's entourage is worried about exertion and that dreaded "next hit." Best has been told that whether that hit comes next week or next year, there's not a significant difference, so unless he decides to walk away altogether, it's not going to help him to sit out now. Best is very likely out for Week 10, but once you see him back at practice, he'll be very close.
Sometimes, no change is good news. Sometimes it's not. The Giants are getting both of those this week. There's no real change in Bradshaw's status with his fractured foot. He won't need surgery, but until the foot heals properly, he'll be at risk for further damage and slow the healing a normal timeline. There are still some trying to sell that he could play on it, but that doesn't seem likely for another 10 days or so. The Giants won't rule him out until later in the week, but expect Brandon Jacobs to be back in the lead role. Nicks was expected to be back, but he didn't make the progress the team had expected. He's still not running well and could miss another week with his hamstring strain. If he's not running routes normally by Friday, Tom Coughlin seems inclined to wait and go with Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz again.
So what version of the Johnson story are the Texans selling this week? Is it the "mysterious procedure will get Johnson back quickly?" No, that one's well past it's expiration date and any connection with fact. Is it the "normal recovery, running at practice?" No, that one got found out quickly when "running" didn't go hand in hand with "accelerating" and "routes." An ineffective player is no better than an injured player, and Johnson would have been that for the last couple weeks while the Texans were repeating the "he's close" mantra and the press was buying in. Now, with one game before the bye week, the expectation is that Johnson will be out again, given the full rest and hope to be 100 percent by Week 12's return. The problem is Johnson hasn't done much differently the last two weeks, indicating a lack of progress. There are estimates out there that he's at 70-80 percent, but his acceleration is coming back much more slowly. Johnson hasn't shown anything that makes me think he's going to be effective enough to be a must-play WR1, this week or three weeks from now. I hope that something changes.
(Do not let
There's some mystery about what exactly is wrong with Clark, but I guess the rats are still leaking at the Colts complex. Early reports were Clark had an Achilles injury, but given what my sources are telling me, and Jim Caldwell's statement that Clark is a "quick healer" -- which is not factual, by the way -- it seems now that it's a severe foot/ankle sprain significant enough to have made surgery a very real consideration for the first 48 hours. Initial testing was mixed and images unclear, but by Tuesday, the Colts were relatively sure that Clark had escaped the worst of it. He's definitely out this week and will remain in the boot for a couple more weeks as Caldwell's healing theory is tested.