I feel your pain. My team in the Facebook Experts League is 0-5. I imagine that a lot of you out there are doing a bit better, but some of you, well things haven't gone our way, have they? My much-criticized pick of Felix Jones is paying off, but pretty much everything else isn't. Peyton Manning has been just better than Tom Brady, but Brady's out. I can't find a second running back that will put up consistent numbers, forcing me to hope that Ryan Torain will end the Mike Shanahan RB madness in a couple weeks. My receivers are a jumbled mess, but you know what's not getting me? Injuries. At least in my area of expertise, I'm doing OK, and there are still eight weeks left for a comeback. Maybe. Let's get to the injuries:
Say it with me: turf toe lingers. By trying to play through it, Tomlinson put himself at risk for precisely the kind of exacerbation he has now by trying to play through an injury that could have been healed up by a week, maybe two, of rest. The unusual re-injury, in which someone stepped on his foot while he twisted, isn't the right mechanism for more turf toe, though with the connective tissue already injured, that additional stress could do damage. To two doctors I spoke with, it sounds more like a self-reducing dislocation compounded with lax connective tissue. Yeah, that's bad. Tomlinson will continue to play through it, but there's little chance of him being more than effective and much more of a chance that we see the type of performance we saw last week. There is the bye week coming up in a few weeks which could give him just enough room to heal up, but Norv Turner's going to have to think about the team's longer-term needs. Darren Sproles has shown he can be an effective runner, though there's no weak game coming before the bye week.
Westbrook has always been injury-prone, especially given his chronic knee problems. The thing is that he's always been able to be effective playing through the injuries. Westbrook came back from his ankle sprain to play and quickly broke two ribs. Related? One source says yes. "He went to cut and just stopped," indicating that maybe he wasn't quick enough or "buckled" as he tried to cut. I didn't see the play so I can't add much here, but it's reasonable. With two fractured ribs, it's a pain tolerance issue, but the schedule might come into play. The Eagles' bye is Week 7, so sitting Westbrook next week gives him three weeks to heal up if they go that route. It's the smart plan, though in a tough NFC East, every game counts a lot, especially coming off a tough loss.
It was a vicious hit, but not a dirty one. There is a difference and one that is necessary to understand. Adrian Wilson didn't "lead with his head", but in today's game, with bigger, stronger, faster players playing at the bleeding edge of human capability and tolerances, we're going to see this more. Edwards found himself on the turf, unconscious, and still groggy by the end of the game. The Bills have a capable replacement in J.P. Losman, but Edwards has outplayed Losman and losing him is a loss. Concussions are tough to judge and the Bills are playing this very carefully. Edwards came to practice Wednesday, but was sent home. Teammates reported afterwards that Edwards seemed normal, but it's difficult to judge at this point. With the bye week at a lucky point for the surprising Bills, we probably won't get a solid read on this before next week.
"We don't do that." That's what Mike McCarthy told Peter King when asked about painkillers and Rodgers. Unlike virtually every team, the Packers will not let a player play if painkillers are required to get him out there. It's my understanding that they will use them if the players can play and painkillers make them more comfortable. Rodgers was able to show in a pregame warm-up that he could play through it, and while he couldn't throw deep a lot, he saved his bullets and threw when he needed to. Rodgers won't practice much this week, if at all, but stayed upright enough thanks to holding a RB in on most passing plays that he's no worse off now than he was going into the game. Sources tell me that Rodgers is "a bit better" and has a bit more freedom of movement in his shoulder this week. If that's true, given his results last week, he's a good play though he does have risk of re-injury.
Elbow injuries in baseball tend to come from repetitive use or overuse. In football, they come from getting smashed by a 300-pound guy with closing speed. That's how Griese came up sore enough to come out, giving Jeff Garcia the opening he needed to escape Jon Gruden's doghouse. For Griese, he may have escaped structural damage, but he's also got a sore shoulder to contend with. There's almost no chance that he'll be ready to play on Sunday, and his performance despite winning isn't going to shoehorn him in anyway. Griese and Garcia will continue to serve at the whim of Gruden. It's not exactly a "Shanahan Hates Fantasy" situation since neither of them is a great fantasy option anyway.
Speaking of elbow injuries, Palmer came through his start pretty well. He threw effectively, though several people indicated that he seemed a bit wilder than normal. Those of you that follow my work on baseball know that control is one of the first signs of an elbow injury, but with the knowledge that Palmer doesn't have a significant tear of the elbow ligament, I think we can discount this a bit. As Palmer gets beyond the acute phase of the injury, we'll have to make sure he's not maintaining this exhibited loss of control, though it's much tougher to judge in football than baseball. Palmer was back at practice on Wednesday so it appears Palmer is past this to the point where you can safely use him from week to week.
The Steelers never told us what the actual injury to Parker was, but it's clear now that he tore his MCL. It matches all the symptoms and with the small brace that Parker was seen wearing at his return, it looks like he'll be much more of the North-South runner he excels at being than jittery. There should be no concern starting Parker once the team comes back from the bye. Mewelde Moore's performance last week wasn't enough to keep Parker off the field. While Moore is still likely to see a measure of touches, Parker is back as the clear feature back, and without Rashard Mendenhall as a challenge, the Steelers have to keep Parker healthy, something that may be tougher than many notice.
The bye week gave the Raiders time to get a bit healthier, though it's always hard to read what the Raiders are doing. Fargas was back at practice and with Darren McFadden still hurting, Fargas is even more needed. It's likely to be part of a rotation or committee with McFadden and Michael Bush, but Fargas -- at least this week -- should be chairing the committee. Groin injuries do have a tendency to recur, but sources tell me that Fargas is "as close to 100 percent as he could be" and that the team feels very safe in playing him. The committee approach is just a talent thing, rather than the more normal need to protect a player from overexposure.
The Saints and Drew Brees are putting up big passing numbers despite missing their top two pass-catchers. That should improve once Shockey returns, which could be as soon as their next game, with Colston not far behind. Colston, coming off thumb surgery, isn't expected back this week, but is likely for the Week 7 game. That's right in line with initial expectations for recovery, though a solid showing in practice has some thinking he might be a week ahead. Shockey is on schedule as well, coming back from surgery to correct a sports hernia. Both operations have good records for holding up and getting the player back to a productive level quickly. If either is on the waiver wire, grab them now and look for Brees to get a bit of a bump as well. It could also open up the interior running game, helping Deuce McAllister as he continues to return from his knee problems.
Roddy White has a head injury that occurred in practice. Reports are mixed, but it seems he may have run into a wall at the Falcons' indoor facility ... Eddie Royal's targets went to Brandon Stokely last week and probably will again this week as Royal fights an ankle sprain ... Kevin Curtis is going to play this week, but in very limited situations. He'll be full go after the bye in Week 7 ... Donté Stallworth finally looks ready to get into the Browns lineup. They need all the WR help they can get ... Matt Schaub is healthy again and will start after the Sage Rosenfels meltdown experience ... Three linemen missed practice, including both tackles, for the Panthers. It could be another good running week for them, but a bad week to count on their passing game ... D.J. Hackett just can't stay healthy enough to live up to his numbers. It's a knee sprain this time ... Kerry Collins should get Justin Gage back this week. Gage is expected to be the WR1 and get his normal targets ... Jon Kitna didn't practice on Wednesday, after leaving last week with back spasms. Dan Orlovsky appears ready to start ... Anthony Gonzalez is a coin flip for this week after suffering a concussion. The Colts will decide early whether or not he will play, but don't expect them to have him heavily in the gameplan ... Anquan Boldin isn't playing this week, despite some wishcasting from the media.