Inside the Injury Report: Week 1

A look into the developing injury situations of the week, including detailed speculation on Cam Newton, Michael Crabtree and Rob Gronkowski.

After nine months of not having to be specific about their player's injuries, the weekly participation reports are back. Teams do not have to be specific about injuries, but they have to list a body part and they have to estimate how much a player practiced. That's more information than we have had all camp long for some veterans. 

So, today, the injury report is more notable for who is not listed than for who is listed.

LeSean McCoy (toe, thumb), Julio Jones (post-foot surgery), Adrian Peterson (post-abdominal surgery), Arian Foster (post-discectomy, hamstring), Montee Ball (post-appendectomy), Dez Bryant (herniated disc late 2013), Andre Johnson (hamstring), Jordan Cameron (AC sprain) and Robert Griffin III (chronic knee concerns) are all not on Wednesday's injury report. I expect that Calvin Johnson (finger, knee) will be added to this list tomorrow when the Lions, one of four teams playing Monday night, release their first injury report on Thursday.

That's not confirmation that each of those players is 100% healthy, but it's a strong indicator that none of them are on the list of players in need of maintenance days off already.

If you're just coming back to Footballguy and have questions about any of the above players, I wrote about many of them two weeks ago in the lead up to prime fantasy draft season. There are also additional detailed features on Julio Jones and Cam Newton from earlier in the offseason.

Here are the key players who were listed on today's practice participation report:

cam newton | ribs | dnp

I fully expect Newton to increase his practice participation and play this week. He's had some soreness while taking practice reps earlier this week. That's to be expected with a rib injury and there's no reason to risk more of that than necessary with a midweek practice. He'll have soreness on Sunday, especially after halftime, but this is an injury that the Carolina medical staff should be able to manage with anti-inflammatories, a flak jacket, and, likely, a game day painkilling injection near the injury itself. 

rob gronkowski | knee | limited

Gronkowski is continuing to work on football conditioning and his comfort with live contact. He's unlikely to be ready to take his usual 50-60 snaps until 3-4 weeks into the season. He'll reportedly wear a brace, which may provide a sense of stability to the knee. I think we'll see Gronkowski play 20-40 snaps in high leverage situations, including nearly all redzone snaps. He won't see 10+ targets this week, but those targets he does get will be very fantasy-friendly.

michael crabtree | calf | dnp

Crabtree had missed a little more than two weeks with a hamstring injury. That strain has apparently healed, but he's listed on Wednesday's injury report with a calf injury and did not practice. There's very little information available right now, but there's no indication that this is related to his 2013 Achilles' injury. It may not even be the same leg. More likely, it's a cascade injury that occurred while he was trying to recondition after the hamstring strain. I'll have more on Crabtree's status on Twitter as we hear more details and see his Thursday and Friday practice report. For now, consider him 50-50 to play this week and that may prove optimistic.

tony romo | back | full

Unlike the nine critical veteran skill position players I listed above who avoided today's injury report, Romo earned a mention with his back. There were reports throughout camp that Romo was still experiencing some symptoms after last year's disc surgery. Romo himself said he didn't feel fully back to form in camp, so this is not a major surprise. He's listed as a full participant, which is reassuring, and may just be a prelude to a limited designation later in the week as part of a planned maintenance schedule.

I didn't think Romo threw poorly in the preseason, but this situation warrants close tracking during the early weeks of the season. This listing may be just procedural. But the Cowboys said that Romo's surgeries were not related last year. That tells me that Romo has two potential areas with a degenerative condition in his back. If one or both are acting up after a long period of rest or he's having residual weakness from his most recent surgery, it's hard to know how he'll react after he takes a few big hits.

sammy watkins | ribs | full

Watkins took shots to the same area of his ribcage during two different preseason games last month. He needed some rest after each hit, but returned to practice quickly after both and there have been no reports of an injury worse than a bruise. With a full practice today, he can be expected to play Sunday.

charles clay | knee | limited

Clay had arthroscopic surgery this offseason. The "clean-up" procedure described usually involves a trimming of some loose meniscus, removal of other loose bodies in the joint or a combination of both. Clay had a setback in early August and missed multiple practices with swelling. He told reporters he was able to run freely a couple of weeks ago and promised he'd be available for opening weekend. There may not be anything of note with his limited Wednesday participation. If he plays as expected in Week 1, his snap count, targets and on-field mobility will tell us how likely he'll struggle through a potentially chronic condition throughout the season.

tyler eifert | shoulder | full

The Bengals do everything they can to keep the media and opposing teams from knowing the exact nature of injuries and where players are in their recovery. So, it was concerning that Eifert, who had returned to practice and played in a preseason game after injuring a shoulder in OTAs, missed the last three weeks of preseason practice. No details about the specific nature of Eifert's injury had been released. It's a great sign that Eifert is listed as fully participating today. While not a guarantee that he'll play a full complement of snaps Sunday, it's a clear indication that Eifert's shoulder injury isn't a long term issue.

kenny stills | quad | limited

Stills strained a quad muscle in mid-July and has had two aggravations since (once in late July and again in late August). It's been two weeks since his most recent setback. Aggravations are often at least as bad as the original injury and Stills missed 2-3 weeks with each of his previous issues. It's possible that he'll be cleared to play this week, but the Saints may just be cautiously increasing his workload with a target to return him to full speed workouts next week. We'll know more here by Friday.

Follow on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking injury news, updates and analysis. Check back Sunday morning for my expectations on Rob Gronkowski, Michael Crabtree, Cam Newton and all of this week's game-time injury decisions.