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Anatomy Of An Injury - Week 11
11/12/08

This is a weekly column that will provide you with in-depth analysis of key injuries for the week and their resultant implications on fantasy football. This information comes straight from my perspective as a Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer for ten years. Over this time, I have seen almost all the key injuries that can happen in this violent sport on the college level and how to treat them. Hopefully, this gives you a little more insight on certain injuries and what to expect.


It was an unfortunate week of football injuries with some major implications. Before I get to that, I would like to encourage all of you to continue with e-mail questions. I have gotten some really interesting e-mails regarding injuries. I would be more than happy to answer them, just keep the personal questions to a minimum. It is really hard to answer medical e-mails without all the pertinent information.

Player: Ryan Torain
Injury: Torn ACL
Healing Time: 6+ months
Impact On The Field: This was a personally crushing blow for my dynasty team. With the news that half the Denver backfield was on IR, Torain would have a golden opportunity to dominate the carries over the second half of the season. I felt with his schedule and Denverís inability to run the ball in the first half that he would be given an opportunity to succeed. He was off to a good start on Thursday night when his knee bent backwards on a hit.

He was able to put some weight on it right away which is a good sign but, the MRI came back positive for an ACL tear. This guy has had some really bad luck over the last 18 months. First, he endured a Lis Franc Injury which requires a screw to be inserted into his mid-foot to support the arch of his foot. It is a long rehab process because one is unable to fully weight-bear on their leg. Therefore, one is unable to train for football activities. Then, he suffered a dislocated elbow in the preseason when he landed awkwardly. This injury is not a severe one when you put it up against some of the other ones that he has experienced but, it still takes away from his game preparation which is important for a rookie.

Now, he tears his ACL. Typically, when someone experiences as many injuries as he has, you would think he was injury-prone. I think more of injury-prone athletes as ones who experience muscle strains. There is something to be said about the great athletes such as LT who have such good balance which prevents them from being in dangerous athletic positions. My instinct tells me that Torain was not ready for a full load yet, because he has been rehabbing for such a long period of time. It is the fatigue and muscular imbalance that may put an athlete in compromising positions. Nevertheless, Torain will come back from this injury and should be ready for the first regular season game next year. Of course, this IS Denver and I am sure he will have new competition for the running back spot. The main implication here is that Cutler will be putting the ball in the air 35+ times a game. There has been talk of going 5-wide and abandoning the running game. Cutler should provide top-3 passing numbers the rest of the way with all the main culprits: Marshall, Royal, and Scheffler putting up big numbers.

Player: Jonathan Stewart
Injury: Plantar Fascitis
Healing Time: 2-8 weeks
Impact On The Field: There is a running joke in my dynasty league that if I draft a rookie RB they will suffer a major injury at some point in their career. I guess this is the luck of an athletic trainer. This guy canít stay healthy either. He has what is called Plantar Fascitis. We all have a band of tissue that extends from our heel to our toe joints. This band of tissue supports our foot and enables the foot to prevent from collapsing when we stand up. It can get inflamed if there are abnormal mechanics, tightness in surrounding tissues or land hard on your heel.

As you recall, Stewart also experienced Turf Toe which required surgical intervention. The dude has bad feet. It may be time for some orthotics. This injury takes time to heal and with any other foot injury, the course of action is staying off of it. This is why he is in a walking-boot. DeAngelo Williams will shoulder the load and can look forward to consistent #2 RB stats.

Player: Kyle Orton
Injury: Potential High ankle sprain
Healing Time: 1-2 weeks
Impact On The Field: The severity of Kyle Ortonís ankle injury appears to be completely over-blown. He did suffer a high ankle sprain, just not a very severe one. There was minimal ligament damage which means that the joint will not separate when weight is placed through it. He should be back on the field this week. He has provided a nice spark to fantasy lineups with his consistent touchdown production. He has been very adept at spreading the ball around to the open receiver and not turning it over. Even with this injury, I would expect his statistics to be in the ballpark of where they were prior to the injury.

Player: Willie Parker
Injury: Torn labrum in shoulder
Healing Time: Requires surgery but can play with it
Impact On The Field: Willie Parker is another one that can not seem to stay healthy. He is 210 lbs and that may be a reason that he is unable to carry a full-load without an injury occurring. He must have been hit awkwardly or landed on his arm a certain way that damaged the cartilage in his shoulder. The labrum provides stability and cushioning to the shoulder joint. When damaged, it is only repaired through surgery.

Parker should be able to play through the injury without a reduction in stats. This injury is not a big deal for running backs as it would be for other positions such as offensive line or quarterbacks. The problem for Parker is that these repeated injuries are jeopardizing his long-term future. The Steelers drafted Rashard Mendenhall this year, and he is also out for the year with an injury. Because he is a bigger back and more likely to carry the load, I would anticipate Mendenhall getting the majority of carries next year with Parker being more of a third-down back.

Player: JaMarcus Russell
Injury: Knee tendonitis
Healing Time: 4-6 weeks to heal fully
Impact On The Field: I am only updating this injury because he was held out of the game on Sunday. He should have ZERO impact on fantasy lineups because he has not been very good and the Raiders have very little talent surrounding him. This injury occurs simply from overusing it. From what I have read, he has worked much harder this last off-season. In the past, it was reported that he was very lazy with his training regimen which was one of the reasons that he has had weight issues. Now, with him training harder, he will be more susceptible to overuse type injuries because his body is not used to all the extra work. This is why players that do a lot of running that have a tendency to be overweight entering training camp are typically higher risks for injury. Russellís career is a long-way from being fantasy relevant at this time, because of his own inadequacies and the lack of talent at the wide receiver position.

Player: Clinton Portis
Injury: Knee Sprain, Bone Bruise
Healing Time: 1-2 weeks
Impact On The Field: This is a late addition to the injury summary. Clinton Portis had a full week to heal from this injury yet, was still limited in practice. He appeared to be somewhat limited with his running but, was able to return to the game two weeks ago. It does not appear that his knee suffered any structural damage and probably is a pain issue that is limiting his ability to run. I would anticipate him playing this weekend in the huge division match-up against Dallas. Put him in your lineups.

Lastly, I will give a few updates on players. Matt Hasselbeckís strength in his leg has normalized so he will attempt practicing this week and see if he can give it a go on Sunday. He has a bulging disc in his back that may require surgery in the offseason.

Deion Branchís heel injury has allowed him to start practicing again. He had a bone bruise to his heel which left him unable to put weight on his foot. He will resume his number one wide receiver role and will provide good numbers the rest of the way assuming Hasselbeck is the quarterback. Jerry Rice and Cris Carter combined could not help Seneca Wallaceís passing numbers. Hope that Hasselbeck is back for all the Seattle skill players.