Patrick Daugherty

Football Daily Dose

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Peace And Quiet

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wednesday was a day without headlines.

Yes, Aaron Curry was dealt to the Raiders, and yes it was revealed LeGarrette Blount (knee) and Julio Jones (hamstring) likely will not play this weekend, but for a Wednesday smack dab in the middle of the season, it was almost eerily quiet.

Of course, this is a good thing.

When Arian Foster went down before the season even began and Jamaal Charles was lost for it three weeks later, it appeared 2011 would be a year marred by injury more than any other before it.

Foster, Beanie Wells, Marques Colston, Peyton Hillis, Steven Jackson, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant were just a few of the legion of stars to miss games during the season’s first four weeks.

But in reality, 2011 has proven to be a remarkably healthy year. The fact that we’re entering Week 6 with only two players among this year’s top 100 by average draft position, Charles and Kenny Britt, lost for the season is remarkable.

It’s good fortune that’s unlikely to last, but for one week at least, we can revel in unusual quiet as the season enters into its separation period.

With Blount out, Earnest Graham will be the man taking his place in the Bucs backfield.

Graham is already in the middle of one of 2011’s more peculiar campaigns. Stuck behind one of the league’s most bruising workhorse backs, Graham has carried the ball just 18 times for 84 yards. But the same workhorse he’s stuck behind has also proven incapable of making an impact in the passing game, leaving all the work to Graham.

What’s he done with it through his first five games? Haul in 23 catches, more than Dwayne Bowe, DeSean Jackson and Mike Williams, to name a few.

Of course, he’s posted just 143 receiving yards, but the point is Graham is somebody that should have already been firmly on the radar in PPR leagues. Now he’s one of Week 6’s most intriguing fill-ins.

It’s doubtful the Bucs will lean on Graham the way they do Blount. He’s carried the ball just 38 times in his past 17 games, and has not surpassed 20 totes in a game since 2008. But he’s been effective when given the chance the past two seasons, averaging 4.82 yards on his 38 carries. Going up a against a run-of-the-mill Saints’ run defense, he’ll be a solid play in all formats and above-average one in PPR leagues.  

While Blount was all but ruled out on Wednesday, Julio Jones (hamstring) was officially ruled out.

It’s a tough break for a player who’s been one of the league’s most productive rookies. Through five games, Jones’ 25 catches are tied for 19th in the league while his 358 yards are 18th.

His loss is also ill-timed for a Falcons offense struggling to find its identity early on this season. The only one of Jones’ numbers that’s been unimpressive is his 14.3 yards per catch, which is good for just 47th amongst pass catchers. It’s not emblematic of the way he’s played, however, but of the state of the Falcons’ passing attack.

Despite dedicating their offseason to making their offense more explosive, it has been anything but through five weeks. It’s hard to see how Matt Ryan and company will be able to take a step forward in Week 6 without their dynamic rookie.

The good news is, Jones was able to work out on Wednesday, and the Falcons are optimistic he’ll be able to return in Week 7 against the Lions. With Atlanta then going on bye in Week 8, that means, at worst, fantasy owners will be stuck with an absent or limited Jones for only two weeks. He remains a must own in all formats.

Starting in his place this weekend will be slot-man Harry Douglas. A popular sleeper before the season, it’s hard to recommend him as a fill-in considering he’s caught just 11 passes for 80 yards.

Part of the reason news on the injury front has been so quiet this week is because one of the league’s most banged up teams is on bye.

Ryan Mathews (calf, root canal), Vincent Jackson (hamstring), Mike Tolbert (concussion) and Antonio Gates (foot) all sat out of Chargers practice on Wednesday. However, all four are tentatively expected to give it a go in Week 7, with only Gates looking like a question mark.

This is despite the fact he’s been targeting Week 7 as his return since his foot first acted up in Week 2.

On Tuesday, he spoke cautiously about his health. "I can't make any predictions because I don't want to hold up to that, especially with the way it's been going. Fluctuating up and down.”

The future Hall-of-Famer did say he’s felt "a lot better" of late, but that he would not return before feeling "at peace" with his foot structurally.

There’s still good reason to believe Gates will return when scheduled and dominate like he has most weeks since becoming a full-time starter in 2004. But if you’re an owner, it’s clear you need a contingency plan in place.

One player receiving good news on Wednesday was Rashard Mendenhall, who was not on the Steelers’ injury report and able to turn in a full practice.

One week after sitting out against the Titans, he will take the field against the Jaguars and look to boost his anemic 3.0 yards per carry against the league’s 10th ranked run defense.

He could be in for one more week of frustration, but with Arizona on the docket for Week 8, it’s hard to believe he’ll remain so down for much longer.  

Even with Tebow-mania now firmly taking hold in Denver, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Wednesday that the Broncos are unlikely to trade backup Kyle Orton ahead of next week’s deadline.

The news is not surprising considering Orton’s odious $7.379 million and lackluster play this season. What is surprising is the fact the Broncos kept him in the first place. Not trading him during trading camp is looking like one of the sillier non-moves in recent history.

Lee Evans (ankle) practiced in a limited fashion Wednesday. He should be able to take the field for the first time since Week 2 this weekend. … Brandon Jacobs (knee) failed to return to practice. The odds we see him before the Giants return from their bye in Week 8 appear low. … Jason Hill (thigh) was limited in practice Wednesday, but should be active against the Steelers on Sunday. … Aaron Hernandez (knee) participated in Patriots practice Wednesday, and appears to have moved on from his sprained MCL. … Joseph Addai (hamstring) did not practice, further decreasing the odds he takes the field this weekend. … Percy Harvin (ribs) practiced in a limited fashion, a good sign that he’ll be active this weekend.  

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