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Anatomy Of An Injury - Week 13

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.

After last week’s forecast that Brandon Jacobs would start, I realized that I will never again predict someone’s game-day availability when their team is in first place and the player is in a contract year. Jacobs was in no way going to put himself or his team at risk for further injury. Sometimes, strange things occur like a player waking up with swelling in his knee. Untimely and unpredictable injuries can happen at any time and leave us all reeling with secondary and tertiary options. I suppose this plays into the appeal of fantasy football. The way fantasy football plays into your emotions and leads you from peaks to valleys can be something that we all crave. The way you analyze and overanalyze match-ups and players stats, only to have a crazy scenario like an injury on the first series of game, wipe away any potential for points. It is a beautiful world that we live on.

I will recap the greatness of the Giant offense, review this week’s injuries and touch upon some old injuries.

Player: Brandon Jacobs
Injury: Knee Swelling
Healing Time: 1-2 weeks
Impact On The Field: Obviously this injury and Plaxico’s injury had little impact on the Giant offense. The success of this unit is based on the strength of the offensive line and the Giant offensive scheme. They can put people into the lineup and they perform as if they had been starters all along. Getting back to Jacobs, his MRI came back negative. His left knee felt o.k. all week. On Sunday, his knee swelled up after 2 light days of practice. For the rest of the season, this probably means very little. For his long-term health, this probably means very little. But, this is a scenario that could always be there with Jacobs. His physical style leads to violent contact. Although the MRI was negative, sometimes this does not paint the true picture. There could be a flap of cartilage floating around in the knee that does not come up on the MRI. If there is one thing that I have learned over the years, it is that knees do not swell for the heck of it. Something is wrong in there. Again, it probably does not mean much for the rest of the season because he can play through swelling. I would not be surprised at all if he had his knee scoped…….after he signs his long-term deal of course. You will need to check back all week to make sure he plays this weekend. No more predictions here. I learned my lesson.

Player: Plaxico Burress
Injury: Hamstring Strain
Healing Time: 2-6 weeks
Impact On The Field: Plax somehow was able to give it a go for Sunday’s game only to re-injure his hamstring after one series. There is nothing worse than getting one series of stats from a player, then watch him leave the game with an injury. I was very surprised to even see him start this game. Hamstring strains take time to heal as you have heard me say all year long in this column. One can’t sprint, run hard or cut with a hamstring strain. And, one can re-injure it at any time if it is not fully healed. I would think they sit him for a week or two with the Giants current situation. They may not need him for a while and they obviously have people that can fill the void.

Player: Brian Westbrook
Injury: Knee, Ankle, Ribs
Healing Time: Rest of the year
Impact On The Field: His broken ribs, ankle sprain and knee sprain have left him playing in pain and have slowed his production. He is 29 years old and this year could be a lost one for him and his Eagles. He has a myriad of injuries and worse yet, has lost his backup for a little while. So, there is no relief in sight. All the injuries are ones that he can play through assuming he does not continue to re-injure them every week. It sounds like he is really beat up and needs some time to rest, but the Eagles do not have that luxury because every game counts and they have the misfortune of having to play on Thanksgiving. I would expect him to play, but much less than 100%. He is the heart and soul of this offense and if he is out there, he must be active.

Player: Kevin Smith
Injury: Knee sprain, Shoulder sprain
Healing Time: 1-3 weeks
Impact On The Field: The rookie that Matt Waldman has so rightfully predicted would be productive has really come on as of late. But, unfortunately his high carry rate the last few weeks combined with the monstrous total from last year, are starting to catch up with him. He has not suffered anything major, but all these little nagging injuries are preventing him from being fully healthy. First, it was a groin strain and then he sprains his knee, now his shoulder is hurt. The guy is practicing hard, playing hard and now his body is starting to wear down. He is playing very well against good defenses, but I fear that his playing time could be curtailed. The Lions are such a mess that I do no think that they will jeopardize his future at the expense of 5 games. But, this is the Lions so anything goes.

Player: Mark Bradley
Injury: Calf strain
Healing Time: 2-4 weeks
Impact On The Field: He has turned into a nice wr3 and has developed chemistry with Tyler Thigpen. He was drafted in the 2nd round by the Bears, but injuries led to his release. He obviously had talent and the injuries were the only thing holding him back. He has meshed very well in the KC offense and somehow, that whole unit is playing very well. I can’t believe a Herm Edwards’ offense is throwing it as much as they are. It is hard to believe, but I will leave that point for another day. Bradley pulled his calf muscle and could miss this weekend’s game. I don’t think he will be out too long though. The calf muscle can heal relatively quickly without risk for re-injury.

Recapping 2008

I just want to take a moment to recap some of the bigger injuries from earlier in the year. Reggie Bush continues to be hobbled with his knee injury. He had relatively minor surgery, but is still unable to play. This injury is one that seems to be lingering and it should not. He has a little more wear and tear than you would expect for a 25-year-old guy. Bush is explosive and possesses innate lateral movement. His dynamic ability has been touted for some time, but this could be a player that at the end of his career, you look back and feel like there always could have been more.

Next, someone needs to get Carson Palmer better medical advice. The Bengals have been viewed as an inept franchise for sometime. The poor drafting, acquiring questionable character players and now interesting medical decisions plague this team. Reports have been released that Carson Palmer’s tendon has been separated from the bone. If this is the case, it is no doubt, 100% a surgical issue. Tendons do not miraculously reattach to bones. The Tommy John surgery is the one in question. This surgery takes a good 10 months at least to allow full return to competition. If so, the longer he waits, the more he jeopardizes the start of next season. I feel like I am missing something and I probably am. I can’t fathom that they would play with the long-term health of their millions-of-dollar franchise quarterback. Those are all facts. So, maybe the condition is not as bad as they are letting on. But, if it is, this should be the only decision. I hope I am wrong.