Inside the Injury Report: Week 3

A look into the developing injury situations of the week, including detailed speculation on Jamaal Charles, A.J. Green and Jordan Cameron

I've already likened this week's injury list to a bad informercial. There's a clear, "But, wait, there's more!" feel to the injury report these past two weeks. 

I pulled over 40 offensive names off the injury report as I started to prep this column. When I start that far behind in the first hour of an urgent care shift, there's only one thing to do. Shift into triage mode. There's just not enough time to give each player the full treatment they may deserve, so I'm going into triage mode this week.

First, two key Thursday Night Football concerns:

roddy white | hamstring | questionable

White didn't practice all week with a hamstring strain of unknown severity. Mike Smith and Julio Jones have both been optimistic about White's status for Thursday night's game. I'm not so certain.

White said he was "good" in the locker room after Sunday's game. And he's been active many times with serious injuries previously. So, I think it's probable he'll be active tonight. But he hasn't taken a single practice rep and he hasn't met with the media all week. White told us last year during his ankle woes that we'll know when he's feeling right when he's back to a full practice. That happened last week after his knee injury. It's decidedly not happened this week.

While that may be a function of the shortened week of practice, it's still critical information. I think it's very hard to argue that White will be close to full strength on Thursday.

Fantasy expectation: White's Week 3 status is a lot like that of Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall last week. He's not healthy enough to play to his full potential, but he may be out there anyway. Consider White a boom-bust WR3 and look hard at other options if you have them.

doug martin | knee | questionable

Martin was held out of last week's game, presumably because the Buccaneers wanted him available Thursday night. But Martin continues to be limited by his injury and is in danger of sitting out Thursday's game. At minimum, there continue to be rumblings that Tampa Bay wants to get Bobby Rainey more involved.

If Martin is inactive tonight, there's still room to think the Bucs see him as the lead back, i.e. he's too injured to play. If he's active and rotates with Rainey, I think it's a sign he's healthy enough to go but the depth chart is in transition. Neither situation is promising.

Fantasy expectation: If Martin is active, he's a flex play only, as it's likely he'll see a heavy rotation with Rainey.

Now for the rest of the injury report.

I'll start with the two groups of players who aren't high priority -- those who are likely to miss multiple weeks and those who are didn't practice (or were limited) but are likely to play in Week 3 -- then return to the group that warrants our closest attention. There will undoubtedly be players in the "likely to play" group who become game time decisions later this week. I'll have more on those players as their status becomes more defined on Twitter and in the Sunday AM injury column.

RULE THEM OUT FOR WEEK 3

These five players have already been ruled out of this week's game or will be shortly. I've covered the majority of them in earlier columns, some extensively. When they get closer to returning, they'll be covered in the Followup Appointment section of the Monday feature.

ROBERT GRIFFIN III SUBTALAR DISLOCATION (EXPECTED TO MISS ~ 5-8 WEEKS)
KNOWSHON MORENO ELBOW DISLOCATION (EXPECTED TO MISS 4-6 WEEKS)
RYAN MATHEWS MCL SPRAIN (EXPECTED TO MISS 4-6 WEEKS)
BEN TATE KNEE SPRAIN (EXPECTED TO MISS 2-4 WEEKS)
TAVON AUSTIN MCL SPRAIN (EXPECTED TO MISS 2-4 WEEKS) 

TENTATIVELY EXPECT THEM TO PLAY

A large group of players did not practice or were limited on Wednesday.

Many have injuries they've played through in the past. Kelvin Benjamin (knee), Rob Gronkowski (knee), Antonio Gates (hamstring), Marshawn Lynch (back), Andre Ellington (foot), Toby Gerhart (foot/ankle), Arian Foster (hamstring), Alshon Jeffery (hamstring), Brandon Marshall (ankle), Joique Bell (knee), Tony Romo (back) and DeAngelo Williams (quad) could all turn into game time decisions, but are probably in a better place than some of their counterparts. 

Dez Bryant (shoulder), T.Y. Hilton (groin), Kyle Rudolph (abdomen), Julian Edelman (back), Shane Vereen (shoulder), DeSean Jackson (shoulder) and Greg Olsen (calf) are currently limited by newer injuries. Hilton may be the most concerning of this group and will be on my list to closely monitor this week.

jamaal charles | ankle | dnp 

Charles' Monday MRI was reportedly negative. That's a little misleading. The MRI certainly showed damage to the ligament injured in high ankle sprain. I believe the "negative" report is simply telling us that Charles has no major structural issues in his lower leg, i.e. no small fractures, no complete ligament tears. Andy Reid hinted that Charles' high ankle sprain isn't severe, which would back up my read of the MRI comment.

But a mild high ankle sprain is a finicky thing. Some players -- Andre Johnson and Matt Forte in past seasons, Toby Gerhart last week -- can muddle through well enough. Others -- C.J. Spiller and Roddy White last year immediately come to mind -- struggle to change direction and accelerate for weeks despite being cleared to play.

I think the Chiefs will play it safe with Charles this week. Knile Davis is playing well and the last thing the Chiefs need is a lingering injury to Charles for the next 1-2 months. What's not yet clear is whether we're looking at a 1-2 week absence for Charles or a 3+ week rest.

a.j. green | toe | dnp

I wrote on Monday that the PFT tweets about Green were confusing, misleading and, probably, outright unfounded speculation. Green essentially confirmed my suspicion while talking to the media at his locker on Wednesday. He told reporters that his toe had been bothering him for two weeks and it wasn't right in pregame warmups. Later, he used the words "big toe." That isn't absolute confirmation that Green has turf toe, but it's close enough for our purposes.

Green also said in no uncertain terms that if he was close enough to be cleared to play this week, he would. He specifically said that there's no way he'd sit out because the Bengals have a bye in Week 4. Take that for what it's worth, but he seemed sincere. His practice participation will help our decision-making on Sunday. If you're filling out a daily lineup that locks on Thursday, avoid Green. Otherwise, we'll know more on Friday.

carson palmer | shoulder | limited

I tweeted and wrote extensively on Palmer on Sunday and Monday. There's enough video evidence and player / coach commentary to believe that Palmer has a brachial plexus nerve injury. It's probably too much to say that Palmer's recovery timetable is indefinite -- he will recover -- but it's not at all incorrect to call it open-ended.

Players with similar injuries have routinely missed 3-4 weeks as the nerves heal themselves. There is nothing the medical team can do to accelerate that process. All that can be done is to limit further stress on the area. Palmer was limited in practice but hasn't thrown in two weeks. I don't think there's any chance he plays in Week 3. Don't expect to see Palmer back in Week 5 unless we hear that he's throwing by the end of next week or early the following week.

jordan cameron | shoulder | limited

Cameron continues to refer to himself as day-to-day. It's a good sign that he was practicing on Thursday, though just limited.  Thursday and Friday participation reports are key here. I'm not comfortable handicapping Cameron's odds without them. If you must decide by Thursday night, err on the side of Cameron sitting.

mark ingram | hand | out

I don't know what a "displaced fracture above the thumb" is -- above your thumb is air. Semantics, yes, but it's hard to speculate about Sean Payton's timetable (week-to-week) and the media's timetable (3-4 weeks) without more details.

Most likely, Ingram has a Bennett's fracture. That injury is above the thumb in the sense that it's closer to the wrist and more of a hand injury (as was first reported) than a thumb injury. Early timetables for recovery on that injury are very often in the 3-4 week range we heard on Monday.

Ingram will miss at least two weeks to allow the fracture stabilization process to begin. After that, his return will be based on the size of the splint needed and whether Ingram can carry, catch and block effectively. Players with similar injuries in the past have missed four weeks. New Orleans has a bye in Week 6. I don't expect to see Ingram until Week 7.

eric decker | hamstring | MNF

Decker won't have his first practice until Thursday. Rex Ryan was hopeful when meeting with the media on Wednesday and Decker said he didn't have an MRI to assess the severity of the re-aggravation. All three are positive signs for his availability for Monday night. But Decker is far from out of the woods here. He's fresh off an aggravation of an injury that's bothered him since camp and he'll have to get through whatever practice reps he'll take this week without another setback.

vernon davis | ankle / knee | dnp

Jim Harbaugh told reporters the team felt they "dodged a major bullet" with Davis, who reportedly has a bone bruise around his ankle rather than a mid-high grade ankle sprain. A bone bruise will still be painful to play through, however, and it may keep Davis from practicing altogether. Consider Davis a game time decision for now.

maurice jones-drew | hand | dnp

Jones-Drew didn't practice on Monday and told reporters he's preparing to play. At least one beat writer believes he will. That's a reasonable expectation, but we still don't have enough information about his injury to know for certain. Track his practice participation and media comments closely.

jordan reed | hamstring | dnp 

My rule of thumb with mid-grade hamstring injuries that hold players out for multiple weeks is this: If a player misses more than a week of practice, expect him to be out at least another week once he finally begins practicing again. I think it's unlikely that Reed, who didn't practice at all last week, will play in Week 3. It's possible Washington is waiting until Thursday to test the hamstring for the first time, but 48 hours of practice and observation is likely not enough for them to feel comfortable risking him on Sunday.

cecil shorts | hamstring | limited 

Here's the flipside of the hamstring rule discussed above. Shorts tested his hamsting last week, was observed for any setbacks through the week and is now back to a limited early week practice. He may not be ready to return in Week 3, but he's much closer to a line that has him increasing his participation as this week progresses in anticipaton of a return.

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