Patrick Daugherty

Football Daily Dose

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First Practice for Foster

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Eighteen days, 27 Rotoworld blurbs and one tweeted X-ray later, Arian Foster finally returned to Texans practice on Wednesday.

Although he was officially limited, he received starter’s reps, putting him firmly on track to take the field against the Dolphins this Sunday.

But that wasn’t even the best news. That came from HC Gary Kubiak, who said he will not take things slow with his workhorse runner if he’s active this weekend. "If he can play, you play. There won't be being careful with him."

It’s the best possible scenario for the legions of fantasy owners who conspired to make Foster the first off the board by average draft position this summer.

That is not to say there still isn't the possibility that Foster feels a twinge on Thursday or Friday and decides not to give it a go. This injury was an aggravation of an earlier one, after all.

But all signs are pointing toward Foster being in your lineup instead of Ben Tate, Willis McGahee or whomever else you were forced to start in place of your first-round pick last weekend.
Editor’s Note: For early rankings, exclusive projections, chats, the Running Back Report and much more, check out the Season Pass!

The news wasn’t as good in St. Louis, where one-time workhorse Steven Jackson was prevented from practicing by his quad injury.

S-Jax has shown a consistent ability to play through pain since coming into the league in 2004, including in 2010, where he shrugged off groin and finger injuries en route to his sixth straight 1,000-yard campaign.

But already forecast for decline this season after racking up 1,878 carries before his 28th birthday, this appears to be an ailment Jackson won’t be able to tough out.

In his absence, the Rams are going to go with an even more worn down back in Cadillac Williams. Granted, Caddy did an excellent job filling in for Jackson in Week 1, taking the ball 19 times for 90 yards while hauling in five catches for another 49 yards. But those kind of numbers won't be repeated by a player who has averaged only 3.8 yards per tote during his 71-game career.

Cadillac will be playable in all formats against the Giants, just know he’s almost certainly already turned in his best performance of 2011, and it didn’t even include a touchdown.  

Jackson may be trending toward the Week 2 inactives list, but his teammate Sam Bradford appears headed for his 18th straight start.

An injury concern coming into the NFL after a pair shoulder impairments cut short his electrifying college career, Bradford sent the scare of a lifetime through Rams fans when he left last Sunday’s game with a finger injury.

Thankfully, crisis appears to have been averted. In the words of his HC Steve Spagnuolo, Bradford is already “over the hump” and ready to turn in a full week of practice.

So we know Bradford will play on Monday Night Football. What we don’t know is, who will he throw to?

Bradford’s favorite target, Danny Amendola, though already light years ahead of where we thought he would be after he dislocated his left elbow on Sunday, is extremely unlikely to suit up against the Giants despite his pleadings to the contrary.

That leaves either veteran Mike Sims-Walker or rookie Greg Salas to pick up the slack in the slot. Apparently, it will be Salas.

This is in spite of the fact that Salas is coming off both a drop-marred preseason and Week 1. Anyone in the slot in St. Louis will be worth a look in PPR leagues — Amendola’s 123 targets were 20th in the NFL last season — but getting Salas into your lineup before he’s proven he can catch the football without it bouncing off his hands every other time he handles it could be a recipe for a zero-point day from your WR3 spot.

When we last saw Brandon Stokley, he was leaving an indelible mark on one of the internet’s greatest websites.

Before that, he was seemingly conjured out of thin air by Peyton Manning, who found Stokley for 68 catches, 1,077 yards and 10 touchdowns in an out-of-nowhere, and ultimately fluky, 2004 season.

Now, he’s a 35-year-old wideout coming off a quiet 31-catch campaign with the Seahawks looking to solve the Giants woes in the slot.

Tasked with a simple job — go over the middle of the field and catch the ball — in an offense that likes to throw, it’s possible Stokley has enough left in the tank to make one last run at fantasy relevance.  

What’s much more possible, however, is that like frantic Gus Johnson touchdown calls on CBS, the 13-year veteran will soon be out of the league. 

Few players had a more disappointing Week 1 than third year Titans TE Jared Cook. Despite the fact that Tennessee took to the air 34 times against the Jaguars, Cook was targeted just twice, making one catch for seven yards. It was an unexpectedly dismal day for a player predicted to lead the Titans in catches by one of their top beat writers.

Thankfully, Titans HC Mike Munchak appeared just as baffled by the afternoon as fantasy owners did, and has pledged to get Cook more involved. “We definitely feel like he’s still a weapon,” Munchak said of his breakout candidate. “(We just) weren’t able to use (him) the way we hope to use (him) going forward.”

It’s fair to question how serious Munchak really is about getting Cook the ball considering he had every reason to on Sunday, but it would also be ludicrous to give up on someone coming off such a promising preseason after just one bad game.

When Harry Douglas was targeted just four times in Sunday’s loss to the Bears, it came as a surprise to many who thought the third-year wideout would be one of the biggest beneficiaries of Atlanta’s new-found commitment to the pass.

Now we know it wasn’t by design. The Falcons’ slot receiver has a concussion, and is a long-shot to play against the Eagles this weekend. He’s worth holding onto in PPR formats, but it could be weeks before he’s ready to make an impact.   

Mike Tolbert (knee) practiced and “looked fine” on Wednesday, and is in no danger of missing Week 2. … Hakeem Nicks (knee) didn’t practice, but is expecting to by week’s end. … Mohammed Massaquoi unexpectedly showed up on the Browns’ injury report with a hamstring injury, but was still able to practice in a limited fashion. He should be fine for Sunday. … Fresh off a one-catch, four-yard performance, Michael Crabtree sat out of 49ers practice on Wednesday as his chronically injured foot continued to give him fits. The third-year player’s salary and draft position should ensure that he still has plenty of chances left in San Francisco, but fantasy owners have no reason to be as patient. … Lance Moore (groin) was back at Saints practice on Wednesday and “running fluidly.” He’s a good bet to play against the Bears. … “Questionable at best" to play against the Broncos this weekend, there’s less reason than ever to start Andy Dalton in your two-QB league.  

Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for He can be found on Twitter .
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