Since I wrote The Juice in 2005, things have changed some in the world of doping, but the presence of masking agents is a troubling sign for the NFL. That several players -- perhaps as many as 20 according to some reports -- are using a prescription diuretic points to widespread violations.
The typical refrain of "tainted supplement" doesn't carry much weight here. While there are reports of this specific diuretic being used in a diet supplement, the drug was put there on purpose. In addition, that supplement is not on the NFL's "blessed" list of supplements that are monitored and approved. I asked Anthony Roberts, the author of "Anabolic Steroids and Beyond", about what these findings tell us. "It's use as a masking agent for various banned substances is well established," He told me. "It is a very strong diuretic and therefore, a good masking agent for steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs."
The diuretic used is also a "loop diuretic," one that stays in the system for a longer time and isn't simply excreted, meaning it needs supervision to be used properly. This is a serious problem and with big names coming to light, the NFL's drug policy is going to come under fire if not handled properly. Four-game suspensions seem likely for the players caught. Just don't let someone tell you "it's just a water pill." It's a masking agent, meaning something's going on that needs masked. Let's get to the injuries:
Joseph Addai RB IND: With the Monday night game, Addai gets an extra day to meet Tony Dungy's policy of "no practice, no play." Addai is unlikely, at best, to see any action and has more healing time before he can get back to his feature role.
Willie Parker RB PIT: The setback with his MCL appears to have been significant enough to re-start the clock on Parker. He's out this week, with next week in question, as well.
Warrick Dunn RB TB: A couple weeks after a resurgence, Dunn is back on the bench. He's technically a gametime decision for playing, but even if he does, he's going to be nothing more than a change-of-pace back.
Carson Palmer QB CIN: Palmer's search for a doctor to tell him he should have Tommy John surgery appears close to an end. His season is likely done.
LaMont Jordan RB NE:Chris Rose is the announcer that will get to try and keep Benjarvus Green-Ellis' name straight. Jordan's calf injury kept him out of practice this week and will give Ellis and Kevin Faulk the RB slots this week. Expect Faulk in on passing downs.
Sammy Morris RB NE: See above, just sub in "knee" for "calf."
Deion Branch WR SEA: Listed as questionable on the OIR, I can clear up that question for you: Branch won't play as his heel is still hobbling him.
Steven Jackson RB STL: It looks as if Jackson is headed to the inactive list. The Rams are playing it conservative with his quad strain. While this hurts for this week, it's the smart play towards having a healthy Jackson for the second half.
Antonio Pittman RB STL: With Steven Jackson hurting, Pittman has to be frustrated that he isn't healed completely after his fractured fibula. He'll try to play despite it, though it's more likely that Travis Minor will get the carries if Jackson can't take them.
Kellen Winslow TE CLE: He's not suspended, but he also isn't playing this week. Still healing up from his infection, Winslow doesn't have the stamina or the comfort to be ready to play this week, though things look positive for next week.
Anquan Boldin WR ARZ: Boldin is considered likely to play this week, now that the team's cleared him to have contact despite plates and wires in his head. It's officially a game time decision, but all sources agree that Boldin's in the gameplan as WR2 with Larry Fitzgerald.
Chris Chambers WR SD: It looks as if London's just for sightseeing with Chambers. Sources tell me that he may not play in order to give him three weeks off before his next game, combined with the bye. The ankle is making progress and he could play in a limited role, so I'm putting him in the 'gametime' slot to follow the possibility.
Ike Hilliard WR TB: Hilliard is listed as a gametime decision after a concussion, but the rumblings are that the team and the league are a bit at odds how to present this. It's a big game for the Bucs, so this one figures to go as late as possible.
LaDainian Tomlinson RB SD: Tomlinson says he's over the toe injury that's held him back, but it also forced him out of practice on Wednesday. There's some whispers that with the bye week coming up, the Chargers will lighten LT's load, hoping the extra rest will help him actually get over the injury.
Brian Westbrook RB PHI: The question isn't whether he'll play, but if the knee and ribs are enough to keep him from getting the feature load. He might not get quite as many carries as normal, but it doesn't look like it will be much less.
Darren McFadden RB OAK: McFadden's toe still isn't 100 percent or close, but he's been playing well with it.
Jerricho Cotchery WR NYJ: Cotchery's shoulder is sore, but he'll play. With Coles hurting, this could be a great matchup week for Chansi Stuckey.
Laveranues Coles WR NYJ: Coles is a bit more banged up this week, but listed as just "probable." That's a bit odd, even for Eric Mangini's reporting.
Justin Gage WR TEN: Gage was back at practice this week and in a bit of a surprise, had left the knee brace behind by Friday. He's not full-go, but he'll play.
Joey Galloway WR TB: This is probably the week Galloway will make his season debut, but not his first start. Expect Galloway to play lightly, if at
Willis McGahee RB BAL: He's banged up and sharing touches in the Ravens' committee, but he still chairs the committee at least.
Kevin Curtis WR PHI: Curtis is back after hernia surgery and is said to be as close to full-go as possible. His role is a bit unclear, but he's still a solid option.
Jeremy Shockey TE NO: Shockey did the splits early in last week's game. That's unwise so soon after hernia surgery, but it wasn't intentional. Some scar came loose, but the damage was minimal.