Adam Levitan

Injuries in Depth

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Grant's Tomb

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


We're through one week of the NFL season and there has already been a ton of carnage. It's a reminder of how fragile a fantasy football season can be. In one 16-team league, I was counting on Matthew Stafford as my QB1. Sigh. But no one is going to feel sorry for you or wants to hear you whine. Understand the injuries and move on.

For help digesting some of the wreckage, we chatted with Dr. Brian Eckenrode, a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist and the sports team leader for GSPP Penn Therapy and Fitness at the Penn Sports Medicine Center in Philadelphia.

Editor's Note: To see projections, rankings for Week 2, target reports, Dynasty stock watch and much more, get the 2010 Season Pass!

MICHAEL BUSH
Injury: Bennett's fracture in left thumb
Timetable: Unknown

What is a Bennett's fracture? It's a fracture at the long portion of thumb bone. It's where the base of the bone meets the rest of the wrist.

Could he play with a club on his hand? A lineman or linebacker could, but I believe it's Bush's dominant hand. I'd expect him to miss at least four weeks from the time of the surgery (late August).

What's the aggravation risk? Once it's healed, it's healed. He should wait to have enough strength back to be comfortable carrying the ball. If he comes back too quickly, he could be a fumbling risk.


Rotoworld opinion: Bush's absence allowed Darren McFadden to seize control of the starting gig. Look for Bush to return to a limited "change-of-pace" role.

LARRY FITZGERALD
Injury: Sprained MCL in right knee
Timetable: Expected to play in Week 2

Are you surprised that he is still complaining about this sprained MCL almost four weeks after it happened? Well, we clearly didn't know the severity of the MCL sprain. How long the ligaments take to heal all depend on the severity.

What's his outlook going forward now that he's playing but seemingly limited? I wouldn't expect him to miss any games, but I wouldn't expect him to be completely pain free either. He could very well be limited in practice. For now, he's going to have to battle through it.

Can it heal without rest? A bye week would certainly help his recovery time. He's going to play 60 minutes on it next week, and that may aggravate it a little bit. If they had a bye week this week, I think he'd feel MUCH better with just that time off. (Editor's Note: The Cardinals' bye is Week 6.)


Rotoworld opinion: This is not a serious injury, but it is concerning that it has lingered. Dr. Eckenrode's opinion that the knee will get stronger with just a little rest makes us think Fitzgerald will produce better results as the year goes on.

RYAN GRANT
Injury: Torn ligament in right ankle, fracture near his knee.
Timetable: On crutches for 10-12 weeks, out for season

How serious is this injury? It sounds to me like some version of what Terrell Owens had in 2004. Essentially he has a high ankle sprain. When you have a high ankle sprain, there's a membrane that separates the two lower shinbones. Basically it tears up through that and actually the force of it causes a fracture just below the knee. So the energy gets transferred up through the leg. And that's why there's a fracture up there.

Will this affect his status for next season? No, he should be fine.

Will he be able to return at 100 percent? Yes, especially since he's got a whole year to recover. It would be different if it was the playoffs or late in the year, but here he can take his time with the rehab.


Rotoworld opinion: Grant has been a reliable, rugged runner for the Packers. But there's a strong possibility this is the end of the line for him in Green Bay. We don't see him as a difference-maker and he is set to earn too much money in 2011.

MATTHEW STAFFORD
Injury: Right (throwing) shoulder
Timetable: Out indefinitely. Exact timetable unclear

The Lions reportedly fear that Stafford could miss 4-8 weeks with a Grade II sprain of the AC joint. First of all, what does that mean? The AC joint is sort of the end of the shoulder. Grade II is the severity of it. Grade I is more of a sprain. Grade II is a little bit more pronounced, a few more ligaments are harmed.

There are three main ligaments that hold the AC joint together. Grade 1 they are all stretched a little bit. Grade II one could be torn and the others are stretched. Grade III, there's a separation there. Note that if his shoulder popped in and out it's different than if his AC joint popped in and out.

It's obviously more concerning that his throwing shoulder is damaged? Absolutely. He'll need full range of motion without pain in order to throw. That's going to take a few weeks.

When he does return, will his arm strength be limited? No, because typically the muscles aren't affected. It will be more about how he takes hits. It's really nothing to do with strength, outside of not being able to throw for a few weeks.


Rotoworld opinion: We'll wait to hear from Dr. Andrews before dropping Stafford, but this doesn't sound good. Most owners can safely dump the former breakout candidate.

BEANIE WELLS
Injury: Knee bruise or sprain suffered on Sept. 2.
Timetable: Expected to play this week

It's been less than two weeks since the initial injury. What does it tell you that he missed Week 1 and is now on track to play in Week 2? It's such a vague diagnosis. If he got hit on the front of the kneecap, basically that kneecap banged into the bone. That can cause pain from both in front of the knee and behind the knee. It can painful for people. It can also be something like a helmet to the leg or if he landed on the side of his knee.

Could he be limited? Hard to say. But since he didn't play last week, I wouldn't expect something like 20 touches this week. He may need to be eased in.

Rotoworld opinion: After Tim Hightower fumbled twice last week, the coaches will be anxious to get Beanie back in there. Look for an even split this week before Wells gradually assumes control of this backfield.

The Upenn rehab specialists interviewed in this story have not examined the athletes discussed. Their statements are general guidelines regarding their experience with injured athletes, and should not be taken as medical opinions.


For more information on Brian Eckenrode, PT, DPT, OCS and GSPP Penn Therapy and Fitness, visit phillyrehab.com.

Editor's Note: For early rankings every Tuesday morning and full projections updated all week, in addition to our award-winning Season Pass.


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Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
Email :Adam Levitan



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