Welcome back to another season of the Second Opinion feature. If you're new to the column, I'll be combining my thoughts and speculations on injuries with analysis on how those injuries will affect fantasy production and the team's likely gameday depth chart. Though this detailed column and fantasy-specific commentary will be reserved for FBG Insiders, I'll be posting a Monday morning injury review and late-week update on the FBG Second Opinion blog. I'll also be commenting on injuries on Twitter and providing quick bulletin-style posts on the blog for critical, breaking news during the week. Make sure you're watching those spaces for the latest developments.
It's official. Adrian Peterson is Clark Kent. With the exception of my friend and colleague Will Carroll, I don't think anyone expected Peterson to suit up in Week 1, much less carry the ball 17 times and nearly average five yards per carry. The numbers aren't a fluke. Peterson looked as laterally explosive and powerful as ever. It's a testament to Peterson's makeup and a strikingly smooth rehabilitation for a complicated ACL injury. The good news continued in the hours and days after the game with reports that Peterson had no residual pain or swelling in the knee. He's not completely out of the woods yet, but it's all systems go for him from here.
The news was similarly good on Trent Richardson, who appeared healthy but didn't get into a groove, and Marshawn Lynch, who played with his usual seek-and-destroy, king of the mountain attitude from the opening snap. The willingness of the Browns and Seahawks to lean on them throughout the game tells you all you need to know about the health of those two backs – and what their coaches think about their backups.
Inside the Injury Report
It looked ugly, but Fred Jackson may have avoided serious injury after a high-low hit nearly blew out his knee last week. Multiple sources reported that Jackson's injury was a strained LCL, the ligament on the outside of the knee. That's an unusual injury for a football player. A football player is much more likely to be hit on the outside of the knee and stretching/spraining the inside ligament (MCL), than to be hit on the inside of the knee and stretching/spraining the outside ligament (LCL).
Jackson's injury was a direct blow to the front of the knee / hyperextension injury. That mechanism also can injure the LCL, but also commonly damages other surrounding muscle tendons, ligaments and cartilage structures in a region orthopedists refer to as the posterior lateral corner (PLC, if you'll excuse the alphabet soup of abbreviations) of the knee. The MRI, though apparently inconclusive on the severity, reportedly showed only damage to the LCL. That's a great sign for Jackson, as PLC damage would require a much longer period of rehabilitation and is often associated with long term knee pain and instability. The recovery timetable for most high grade LCL strains is often vague. Expect Jackson to miss at least four weeks, but more likely six and possibly eight – and that's if there isn't more evidence of PLC damage / instability noted as the re-evaluation process progresses.
The Bills will use Tashard Choice, but C.J. Spiller is likely to get the vast majority of the work in Jackson's absence. Spiller could potentially have Jamaal Charles like value in this role, but will likely settle out closer to Reggie Bush. Consider him a strong RB2 option and hope he holds up to the increased usage.
Greg Jennings strained his groin against San Francisco and Mike McCarthy said he was "not feeling very good" after the game. Jennings wasn't able to practice Tuesday, a much bigger issue than usual given the Packers' short week of preparation for their Thursday night game. Unless Jennings practices fully on Wednesday, expect to hear that he's a game time decision. If he plays, it's likely his snaps will be limited. Keep Jennings on your bench this week unless you've no other options.
The Chargers still aren't sure when Ryan Mathews will be cleared for contact. Though it's possible we'll hear that Mathews gained clearance for Wednesday's practice, Norv Turner's Tuesday morning comments strongly hinted that it may not happen until next week. Don't be discouraged yet. Week 3 is a little over six weeks from Mathews' injury. That was always a reasonable estimate for his return. Conditioning won't be an issue for Mathews and there will be no surprisingly successful backup to steal touches when he returns. If you don't own Mathews, it's worth trying to take the temperature of his current owner and see if an extra week off for Mathews makes your league mate impatient enough to deal.
Jake Locker suffered a separated left shoulder (aka AC sprain) making a tackle after throwing an interception last week. Though he felt he could've returned to the game, the Titans were cautious and allowed Matt Hasselbeck to finish the game. The injury is to his non-throwing shoulder and Locker should be able to play with some added padding and painkillers this week, but his throwing motion could still be limited. If he's able to practice fully by Friday, consider him a boom-bust QB2 in San Diego this week.
When I wrote last week's column, Austin Collie looked certain to return from his latest concussion. He had fully participated in practice that morning and had been termed a "full go" by Chuck Pagano. The Colts and Collie won't say whether something happened during that practice or if he had a recurrence of mild neurologic symptoms, but Collie didn't practice fully the rest of the week and was inactive on Sunday. The circumstances here are odd. Collie was already tempering expectations during interviews after Wednesday's practice and it's strange that he'd have been allowed to speak if the concussion was thought to be a major issue. It's also strange to argue that Collie was safe for contact on Wednesday, but held out the rest of the week as a precaution. For now, consider Collie week-to-week rather than day-to-day and trust him in your lineup only after he practices fully through Friday's practice.
The Titans expect Kenny Britt back this week after serving his one week suspension and say they expect to have him available for 20-25 snaps. Unlike the Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and Trent Richardson situations last week, don't expect the Titans to deviate too much from that plan. Britt is a known risk for muscle strains and he'll likely be eased back into certain down and distance packages only. He may take a few more snaps in high leverage situations if he's feeling good, but he won't be a full time player until at least Week 3. San Diego cornerback Quentin Jammer may be limited / out with a hand injury, but consider Britt a boom-bust WR3 only this week.
I'm not the best lip reader, but it looked like John Skelton told his teammates that he broke his leg. The medical staff was clearly worried about the same thing as they immobilized the leg in an air splint on the field and carted Skelton off. It was later reported that x-rays were negative and a later MRI apparently showed no findings consistent with a high ankle sprain. We've seen various timetables for Skelton's likely return – anywhere from 2-4 weeks to a minimum of six weeks. If Skelton is truly dealing with a low ankle sprain only, we could see him back by Week 5. However, this wouldn't be the first time the team looked reporters in the eye and gave false or incomplete information about an injury. I think we can expect to see Kevin Kolb under center for at least the next 3-4 weeks.
Around the Training Table
I expect Jason Witten to be in much better condition this week and at full strength after trying to return just 24 hours after gaining clearance for contact after his spleen injury. The rub with Witten isn't injury-related now, it's predicting how often the Cowboys will use him as a blocker. With Kevin Ogletree establishing himself as a trustworthy slot option, Witten's targets may continue to suffer.
Jeremy Maclin is dealing with a hip flexor strain and a hip pointer. The flexor strain will likely be the more limiting of the two injuries, but both injuries will put him at risk of compensatory issues and/or some missed snaps this week.
The always helpful Mike Shanahan added to the confusion around Pierre Garcon's foot injury as only he can, saying the injury was "kind of like turf toe, but not his toe." X-rays were negative, but foot strains can be a multi-week issue. Watch the mid-week injury reports to get the best handle on Garcon's status.
Local observers seem to be optimistic that Jonathan Stewart returns this week. I was always a little skeptical that Stewart's injury was a simple ankle sprain. We're now nearly three weeks into his recovery. If he's unable to return to practice, at least in a limited fashion, by Wednesday, his availability for Week 3 might be in question as well.
Nate Washington may have suffered a leg contusion last week, but it sure looked like he suffered a concussion after being laid out by Jerod Mayo. The Titans and Washington seemingly went out of their way to be vague about the potential head injury. Expect Washington to miss practice early this week while he quietly navigates the post-concussion practice protocol.
Colin McCarthy tried to play through his ankle injury last week, but couldn't continue. The mechanism of injury looked much like a high ankle sprain, though not obviously severe. Practice reports will provide more information, as the Titans have yet to release the results of McCarthy's imaging studies.
Denarius Moore is expected back this week after being on the verge of returning Monday night. Moore will be at risk of another aggravation in practice this week, but he's safe to consider a boom-bust WR3 if he makes it through consecutive full practices this week.
The Falcons have Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel, but will definitely feel the loss of Brent Grimes, who suffered an Achilles injury last week and is done for the year.
There's been very little information released about the knee injury suffered by Rashad Jennings last week and it was apparent when or how it happened during the game. As of Wednesday morning, the MRI results had yet to be reported, but Mike Mularkey said the injury wasn't likely to be serious. With Maurice Jones-Drew back, don't expect Jennings to be rushed back into the huddle.
Bernard Scott could return from his broken hand this week but BenJarvus Green-Ellis looked strong against the Ravens and it is unlikely Scott sees more than a handful of snaps.
The loss of Scott Wells with a broken foot and Rodger Saffold with a neck strain will put still more pressure on Steven Jackson to avoid tacklers in the backfield. The stars just never seem to align for Jackson, who I think is one of the most talented backs in the league.
Though this will be the most extensive and detailed Second Opinion feature each week, I'll also be writing a Monday morning injury review and a Sunday morning update on the FBG Second Opinion blog and doing segments on the Tuesday waiver wire and Thursday Live Audible podcasts. We welcome all suggestions and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel. Thanks for reading.