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Packers may limit Rodgers; more fantasy football injury news

We're testing a new format for the Injury Report this week. My goal is to always get you the best information on the injuries that affect your fantasy team (or your favorite team). I want to provide you with the right info as well, with enough context to use it in making informed decisions. Please let me know what you think of the new format by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page.

Lewis left Sunday's game grimacing in pain. It wasn't the image we'll remember of Lewis, one of the great linebackers in the history of the NFL, but it may be one of the last. An MRI confirmed the diagnosis of a significant strain of his triceps. The three muscles located at the back of the arm function as the primary extenders, the muscles that help a defender push a blocker off, help stabilize the arm when grabbing, and help catch a player as he falls are certainly key for any linebacker. The strain was not a complete rupture, but was significant enough that any further play would damage Lewis' arm even further and perhaps reduce function later in life. The location of the strain is not known publicly, but is key to whether Lewis could return. Muscle is difficult to repair. Surgeons often compare trying to sew muscle to trying to "sew your steak back together after you cut it."

One surgeon, Dr. Andrew Blecher, told me before Lewis' surgery that "if there is a tendon avulsion or rupture, then surgery could have Lewis back in six months. A complete triceps rupture is rare. If it is a complete muscle rupture, then it is a career." The problem is that at least one and possibly two of the three muscles had significant to complete tears. Lewis had surgery on Wednesday. Surprisingly, the Ravens designated Lewis to return, making it possible for Lewis to come back, if only to make sure he leaves on his own terms.

Quarterbacks

Kevin Kolb has more than a rib fracture. He has a sternoclavicular sprain, along the lines of what sidelined Danny Amendola just a week ago. This is a very strong joint with little movement, so it requires a violent, powerful hit to dislocate it. Kolb's dislocations are at multiple points, so this one could take a couple weeks to recover from. John Skelton steps in to the QB1 slot.

Aaron Rodgers is dealing with what sources tell me is a mild calf strain. The Packers' medical staff is going to be very cautious with it to keep it from becoming any more of an issue. Rodgers' mobility might be limited some this week, which could change the game plan slightly.

Jake Locker is out for this week's game against the Bills, but he is back at practice on a limited basis. His shoulder should be fine soon, giving him the QB1 slot back over Matt Hasselbeck. There remains some recurrence risk.

Running Backs

DeMarco Murray is out until Week 8, at least. Murray injured his foot when it hit the back of one of his blocker's feet. It has been called a sprain by the Cowboys, but there has been no clarification as to what or where the sprain is or how serious. Felix Jones will hold the slot, but most agree that Murray should be back quickly.

Rashard Mendenhall has an "irritated Achilles tendon." That's not a very medical description, but is in line with what I was told last week by a source. He told me that Mendenhall's injury was "like a cramp." Tendons don't tend to cramp, but he was indicating that it was a transient, controllable situation. Expect Mendenhall back in the RB1 role quickly after he sits out Week 7.

Trent Richardson was said to have a "flank injury," which sounds like the Browns are treating players like cattle. It could have been worse, but rib injuries aren't going to help any running backs out there. Richardson has a mild strain of the cartilage between his ribs. The team will be conservative with him, but with a new rib protector he's likely to be back out in his normal role for Week 7. A lot depends on pain tolerance (and pain killers.)

Bilal Powell dislocated his shoulder against the Colts, while Joe McKnight has a mild high ankle sprain. Powell could be back as soon as Week 8, but the bye in Week 9 might push the Jets to hold him out through it. McKnight should be back more quickly, though this week is in question. That means Shonn Greene is the RB1, period, over the next couple weeks.

Wide Receivers

Pierre Garcon had a setback last Friday and just was not at a place where the medical staff could say that he would stay healthy the entire game. A limping receiver isn't going to help Robert Griffin III, and let's face it, they played well without Garcon. Again. He's starting to frustrate some in Washington as this foot bruise/sprain continues to linger. He's a big question mark again this week.

Hakeem Nicks was back on the field in at least a limited capacity this week, but the real issue is recovery. Both his foot and knee are still an issue after activity. He was limited Wednesday, which is a worry. How he responds by Friday's practice will be a better indicator, but it is clear he's still well under 100 percent and Victor Cruz is the de facto WR1.

Brandon Lloyd isn't on the Official Injury Report, but this is your weekly reminder that the OIR is about playing, not injuries. Lloyd, as of Wednesday afternoon, was expected to play. His sore shoulder may still cost him some targets, so it's worth watching if he remains a full participant throughout the week.

Greg Jennings continues to miss practice time as the Packers try to heal up his strained groin. The re-injuries appear to have caused this to go well beyond the original "mild" strain. Any reports of progress are going to have to be measured against any evidence of progress on the field. Until then, Jennings is a bad fantasy play.

Brian Hartline finally got shut down last week, showing just how good the Rams secondary is right now. Hartline left without a target and with a strained quad that should heal up by the time the Fins are back off bye.

Tight Ends

Jimmy Graham has rumors spinning around him that claim his ankle sprain is actually a high ankle sprain. The team is denying the rumors, going as far as saying that Graham will play this weekend. He's still a bit of a risky play and worth watching on Sunday morning, but I don't think the Saints want to run afoul of another league rule. Sources tell me Graham's ankle is "Grade II-plus but under control." Graham did not practice on Wednesday.

Aaron Hernandez came back and was useful, but he wasn't ready to play to his standards in Week 6. He should continue to ease back in, though with Rob Gronkowski also hurting, the Pats would like to see that easing happen quickly. Hernandez's ankle had no setbacks, while Gronkowski's hip remains a big concern for the Pats over the longer term.

Defense

Lardarius Webb might have a bigger effect on the Ravens' defense than losing Ray Lewis did. The Ravens are deeper at linebacker than cornerback and much of Lewis' effect is inspirational. He can still do that from the sidelines. Webb's ACL sprain will require surgery and cost him the rest of the season. He should be able to return by the time camp opens next season.

Terrell Suggs came off the PUP list, but don't mistake that for being game-ready. The Ravens had a slot available when Lewis and Webb went to IR, so this is more about Suggs being able to practice than being ready. His Achilles is healing well and he may be ready for some limited game action in a couple weeks.

Ed Reed has a torn labrum in his shoulder. That would be bad if he was a pitcher, but he should be able to continue playing through it for the injury ravaged Ravens.

Troy Polamalu has been ruled out for Sunday's game as he continues to struggle with a calf strain. Paired with a related Achilles issue, Polamalu is just not able to get any acceleration or change directions. He could be out a couple more weeks.

James Harrison revealed he is one of a handful of players wearing Unequal's Kevlar padding inside his helmet. This real world test is not scientific, but will carry a lot of weight with players around the league.

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