If we're not going to freak out about Tomlinson's toe problem, we'd better have information to back up his assertions. I spoke with Dr. Philip Kwong, one of the country's top foot and ankle specialists, and got an explanation on the issue: "Turf toe has become a generic term for pain around the great toe joint, anatomically involving bones and the ligaments which holds them in proper alignment. Problems develop when the joint surfaces do not rotate smoothly on each other resulting in stiffness and grinding pain. The misalignment may be the result of an acute injury tearing supporting ligaments and/or bone impaction with bruise/fracture resulting in asymmetrical rotation. It can also be a gradually acquired condition initially unnoticed until an injury occurs and aggravates." That much we know, though perhaps not in that detail, but what about recovery? "Recovery can vary from three to four weeks for a minor injury to even career ending. The worst-case scenario can be permanent change resulting in degradation of performance or even the end of a career."
As you can see, even the low end is much longer than the Chargers have let on here. I also asked how this affects a runner like Tomlinson. "Skill position players require explosive acceleration/deceleration and lateral movements moreso than a lineman moving mostly forward and backwards," Kwong explained. "The difference between good and great is but a moment in motion. The great toe joint must function relatively smoothly and painlessly to allow this to happen; the joints must rotate symmetrically, ligaments maintain alignment properly, and muscles apply their force efficiently." All in all, it's a pretty negative assessment for Tomlinson in all time frames. Given the solid play of Darren Sproles, the smart play would be to give Tomlinson some rest. For fantasy players, there's not much you can do but hope this is as minor as Tomlinson is trying to sell us.
That header is only half-joking, given what the OIR is expected to look like this week, with 10 players out on Wednesday's practice report. The Indianapolis media complained loudly about the early (Week 4) bye week when the schedule came out, but now they're loving it. With half the line and other key players out, the Colts are trying to limp through a key Week 3 matchup before healing up with the bye.
Despite the division matchup with the also-banged up Jaguars, the Colts don't appear to be pushing Jeff Saturday, Tony Ugoh and Dallas Clark back out on the field. While some key players are pushing for the full contingent to come back, Tony Dungy is remaining calm and focused on the longer term.
One factor in the Colts' favor is that the Jags are as beat up on the interior as the Colts, making it more of an even matchup. Another is that the Colts' halftime adjustments to the blocking schemes, ones that reportedly were phoned in by recovering line coach Howard Mudd, seemed to work against a Vikings defense that played the way many expect the Jags to challenge Peyton Manning this week.
The focus has been more on the effect of losing Bob Sanders. Some advanced measures conflict on his value, though the psychological effect on his teammates and opposing players is clear. Sanders' high ankle sprain will keep him out about six weeks, but he'll take advantage of the downtime to have a quick cleanout of his knee. It won't stretch the recovery time and will actually enforce some rest, something Sanders has had a hard time with. Remember that Sanders only played four regular season games in the Colts' Super Bowl season and that the Colts now have corners that can cover if necessary.
There's a lot being made of Roethlisberger's sprained shoulder. Mike Tomlin got into a semantical argument about sprains versus separations that I won't bore you with here. Suffice it to say that if Roethlisberger can bounce his head off a fender and not miss time, a minor shoulder injury isn't going to do much. To me, the passes he was throwing on Sunday, into a nasty wind, showed everything I needed to see. While Roesthlisberger remains somewhat risky due to the chance he takes a hit and injures the shoulder further, I'm not too concerned.
News is also good for Steelers fans on Holmes. There was some worry after he came out of Sunday's game with a knee problem. It turns out it was just a painful bruise, but that should clear up in plenty of time for him to get his full slate of targets in what should be a great matchup against the Eagles.
Remember how Fargas came out of nowhere last season after injuries and ineffectiveness ahead of him left the door open? That might be happening again, except it's Fargas who is injured this time. Michael Bush is the "out of nowhere" guy, and as of Thursday, he's the starter. What about McFadden, the breakout star of Week 2? He has a turf toe problem that is really hobbling him. "He's never been hurt, so he doesn't know what to do and [the Raiders] aren't sure how he'll respond," said one source. It's bad enough that the doctors put McFadden in a boot, though no one is ready to rule him out of this week's matchup. Of course, if you think the turf toe isn't going to be a problem, I'll invite you to go back and read the section on Tomlinson again. With Fargas all but ruled out for Week 3's matchup with a tough Buffalo team and likely a few weeks after that, Bush becomes a nice waiver wire pickup and a must-have safety net for those of you counting on McFadden's production.
One thing I like about Jon Gruden is that he doesn't wait around to tell people that someone is out. Galloway won't play in Week 3 due to a foot sprain suffered in last week's game. At 36, even a small change can throw things off. It's hard to tell exactly where Galloway injured his foot, but his lingering groin strain might be involved. One observer says that there was a noticeable limp at times, especially early in the game. While foot and ankle problems are often traumatic -- the result of a bad step or just bad luck -- the idea that Galloway fatigued and changed his gait certainly have to factor in there. Galloway did show good acceleration and speed, any sort of foot or leg problem that slows him is going to tear into his value and that of whoever is throwing the ball. It also could impact Earnest Graham, allowing the defense to creep closer to the line.
I don't normally make predictions; I suck at them and am usually wrong, so note that while I tell you to avoid Schaub this week. Coming off a distracted "bye" week, the Texans may be well-rested, but no one who has seen the team thinks they've been able to just think about football. Facing a very physical Titans team that has put a big hurt on their early season opponents -- just ask the Jags -- we're sure to see a Schwarz vs Gibbs throwdown. If we look at the patterns, that means Schaub is going to be taking some hits and will be exposed. Whether that translates into an injury or not remains to be seen, but Schaub's definitely the most risky player to hit the field this Sunday. Schaub's a solid enough QB, but the one skill he hasn't exhibited yet is the ability to make it through the season healthy.
Justin Tuck! ... Adrian Peterson has a "very minor" hamstring strain, according to reports. It's something to keep a very close eye on .... Both Jags running backs are dinged. Fred Taylor has a painful toe, while Maurice Jones-Drew has a mild ankle sprain. Both will play on Sunday ... Javon Walker didn't make it through Wednesday's practice, a very bad sign for his availability this weekend. Keep your eye on the practice reports ... Jason Witten was back at practice on Wednesday, showing no ill effects from his shoulder injury ... Expect Laurence Maroney to be in much more of a timeshare with the other three backs in New England after his shoulder injury last week ... Reggie Brown should be ready to go on Sunday, but expect him to be spotted ... Ben Watson looks ready to play this week for the Pats ... Are the Chiefs playing with the media or the injury report? Damon Huard isn't even listed and some say there was no injury, that Herm Edwards was trying to spare Huard's ego when he was replaced ... Deion Branch might be back earlier than Week 5. He's practicing but not taking contact ... The 'Ike Bye' was good for Willis McGahee, who looks to take a lot more snaps this week ... Bernard Berrian. Turf Toe. Enough said.