Adam Levitan

Football Daily Dose

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Foster's Fury

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

We don’t know exactly when Peyton Manning will be back on the field because no one knows the answer to that. All we can do is look at his reported symptoms and timetables to help us understand what is going on.

To get a better idea of Manning‘s issue and Arian Foster's hamstring, we chatted with Brian Eckenrode, PT, DPT, MS, OCS and sports rehabilitation specialist for GSPP Penn Therapy and Fitness at the Penn Sports Medicine Center in Philadelphia. For more info on GSPP and the Penn Sports Medicine Center, head to


Injury: Neck surgery May 23 to repair a bulging disk
Current status: Not practicing, out indefinitely

Manning reportedly has weakness in his triceps, back soreness and his velocity is down. What does that tell us? Usually that indicates that he had some pressure on the nerve as it exits his neck, which is nothing to take lightly.  It may be that that his first surgery was to remove a portion of the of the cervical disc which was impinging on a nerve which innervates his shoulder and arm.  By removing a portion of the disc out, this will in theory take the pressure off the nerve.  Now that the pressure has been removed, it will still take some time for the symptoms (pain/weakness) to resolve.  Worse case scenario is that there is something more going on that was worse than thought as evidenced by his second procedure and continued issues.

What we don’t know is how weak Manning is compared to his normal strength. If it’s weak enough where it's noticeable, that’s a big deal.

The Colts are saying Manning needs to wait for nerve regeneration. How long could that take? It depends on the extent of how bad it was. They usually say a nerve takes about a millimeter a day to grow. That’s going to take some time. It also depends on where the nerve has been injured. If you kind of think of it like he’s got a kink in a garden hose somewhere along the way where the flow is impaired. So he’s got some nerve conduction going through the muscle but it’s not quite where it needs to be. It could take months, or even a year or two, for that to resolve. It all depends on the extent of it.

Sometimes people have weakness and numbness, some people just have weakness and some people have pain related with this. He can play through a certain amount of pain, but the fact that he doesn’t have a certain amount of strength is concerning.

If Manning were to need yet another procedure on his neck, how long would be out? Oh, he’d be done for the year, or at least a good chunk of the season.

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Injury: Aggravation of hamstring strain
Current status: Questionable for Week 1

You’ve had a chance to see the MRI that Foster tweeted last week? You can certainly see the areas of inflammation. The white on the MRI is fluid. So he’s got quite a bit of it. Of course, this is only one slice of an MRI. When they do an MRI, it’s multiple slices. This is only part of the picture. The MRI doesn’t always indicate the severity of the injury. You could have an MRI that looks like this and be fine.

Is a hamstring the worst muscle group for an athlete to strain? I wouldn’t say it’s the worst one, but for someone at his position, the acceleration and cutting and shifting you have to do is a little hard when you don’t have your hamstring at full strength. Now if he was a marathon runner, he might not have an issue because he won't be sprinting and using his power.  If Foster does play this week, he’s unlikely to have the same acceleration.

Injury: Cracked rib
Current status: Practicing, fully expected to start Week 1

NFL players can play with cracked ribs all the time, right? Right. It depends on the severity and the location. If Cassel can throw, he’ll be OK. It’s more about pain tolerance than anything else.

Will a flak jacket hinder him at all? It’ll restrict a little bit of motion, but with the way it is cut around the shoulders he’ll be fine. If he takes a hit there, he’ll definitely feel it, but the vest will lessen the blow.

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We finally have some clarity in the Packers’ backfield. The answer: No clarity…yet.

The coaches have announced that the plan is to give Ryan Grant and James Starks equal reps in Thursday’s opener against the Saints. It’s going to be a hot hand, possession-by-possession kind of committee -- making neither back a great fantasy play.

But thinking long term, Starks is the clear winner here. Grant entered camp as the starter and it was his job to lose. Well, he lost it. Starks is gaining on the declining veteran, who is likely still struggling to regain form off last year’s severe ankle injury. Those that haven’t drafted yet should be moving Starks well ahead of Grant.

David Garrard’s roster spot -- and $8.075 million contract -- appeared to be safe after Blaine Gabbert showed little in the preseason and cut-down day passed on Saturday. Nope. In a shocker, Garrard was cut Tuesday, just five days before the season opener. Luke McCown will start and Gabbert will back him up.

The outlooks for the Jags’ skill players isn’t affected greatly. In seven career starts, McCown has averaged 203.2 yards passing with a 8:9 TD-to-INT ratio. His record in those games is also 1-6. Nevertheless, McCown isn’t tentative and has had some huge preseasons in Jacksonville for what that’s worth. Mike Thomas, Marcedes Lewis and Maurice Jones-Drew don’t deserve downgrades.

Meanwhile, Garrard could be an upgrade for a team like San Francisco, Seattle or Miami. The outlooks of players such as Michael Crabtree, Sidney Rice or Brandon Marshall could soon be on the rise.

The Bears released their official depth chart for Week 1 and Roy Williams was listed ahead of Johnny Knox. To me, that doesn’t mean all too much. The Bears are realizing that Knox is the better player and figure to get him in the game quickly. After a few weeks, it will be Knox’s name on top of that depth chart. Devin Hester is the starter at flanker, but isn’t a fantasy option outside of return-yardage leagues.

LeGarrette Blount will not play on third downs as Earnest Graham has won that job. … Delone Carter has beaten out Donald Brown for the backup running back gig. … Ryan Torain enters the season as the No. 3 back behind Tim Hightower and Roy Helu. … Chris Johnson says he already has Chris Palmer’s new offensive scheme down. He’s ready for a full workload. … Fred Jackson has won the starting running back job, as expected. Not much upside though with C.J. Spiller lurking and a woeful offensive line. … Keiland Williams could be headed for a short-yardage and goal-line role in Detroit. He’s their only big back. … DeMarco Murray is ahead of Tashard Choice as Felix Jones’ backup.

The Niners’ depth chart lists Ted Ginn “or” Braylon Edwards opposite Josh Morgan. And Michael Crabtree (foot) says he’ll be ready by Sunday. In other words, avoid at all costs. … Aqib Talib is expected to shadow Calvin Johnson Sunday. … Andre Roberts has beaten out Early Doucet for the No. 2 receiver gig, but figures to play in a rotation. … Brian Robiskie will start opposite Mohamed Massaquoi. Greg Little will come off the bench for now. … Brady Quinn is ahead of Tim Tebow for the backup gig. … Dan Bailey may give way to David Buehler on long field-goal attempts. It’s a bad fantasy kicking situation. … Brandon LaFell is listed ahead of Legedu Naanee opposite Steve Smith.

Lance Moore (groin) did not practice Tuesday. He’s headed for a true game-time decision Thursday in a poor matchup. … Steve Smith Eagles (knee) will only have a limited package of plays to start the season. He’s off the radar. … Miles Austin (hamstring) continues to be on track to play, but is scheduled to square off with a healthy Darrelle Revis. … Emmanuel Sanders (foot) is a full go as he begins his push for a gradually increasing role.

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.
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