Adam Levitan

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Head Games

Friday, September 07, 2012

Austin Collie is a tougher man than me.

If I had sustained three concussions in roughly two seasons, you can be sure the fourth one would put me down for awhile -- perhaps even cause me to hang up the cleats. Especially when one of those concussions (Nov. 7, 2010 vs. Eagles) left me motionless and unconscious. At the very least, I’d be wary of going over the middle.

So when Collie sustained his fourth concussion in 22 months on Aug. 19, logic followed that he’d be out weeks, months or the season. But Collie and the Colts seemingly had other ideas.

“It's part of the game,” he said Thursday. “That's the sacrifice I think we all knew we were going to make coming into the NFL. When we do get older, there are going to be some aches and some pains.”

Collie stunningly returned to a full practice Monday and was pronounced a “full go” by coach Chuck Pagano. On Wednesday, Pagano was asked if Collie was really going to play Week 1 and he said, “Still yep.” That was enough for a lot of us, leading to a potential WR3 tag for Sunday’s game against the Bears.

After all, Collie was shaping up as an every-down receiver in a potentially pass-happy and productive offense. He showed great chemistry with Andrew Luck early on. There was a lot to like.

But on Thursday, Collie tapped the brakes. He said he actually hasn’t been cleared by doctors to play in a game. He was downgraded from a “full” participant in practice to a “limited” participant.

“It’s just a day-to-day thing,” he said. “There’s no definite timetable. Whatever the doctors say, whatever the coaches say, I’m going to obey.”

So now we have a whole bunch of mixed signals and uncertainty, something we’re used to with concussions (see Best, Jahvid). Collie sounds confident about his chances of getting cleared, so there’s no reason for owners to cut bait. But he’s back to a stash rather than a starting option. And maybe that’s a good thing for him.

It was pretty obvious that David Wilson was going to have a major role on Wednesday night. His first-quarter fumble quickly killed that idea.

“This is not the preseason, you know?” coach Tom Coughlin said Thursday. "It doesn't matter whether it's loosy-goosy, high and tight, whatever. You got to hang onto the ball."

The concern is that Wilson’s fumble problems are nothing new. He fumbled seven times at Virginia Tech last season, losing four of them. He’s going to have to earn the staff’s trust back slowly now.

Trying to get a read on Marshawn Lynch’s (back) status ahead of Sunday? That’s going to be hard, because the Seahawks don’t even know what the deal is with Beast Mode.

“We really won't know until the end of the week unless something changes," coach Pete Carroll said. "The process that he's gone through, he's aerobically in good shape, we need to get him back his football legs and get him enough reps to do that. We'll continue to progress throughout the week. … I can't call it for you now."

Lynch returned to a limited practice Thursday, setting himself up for a game-time call. If owners are going to roll the dice, they need to have other late-game or Monday night options at the ready.

Ryan Mathews (collarbone) has the right attitude about his injury. He’s working as hard as he possibly can and badly wants to play in Week 1. It’s just not going to happen.

Mathews still hasn’t been cleared for contact, meaning he can’t get any full-team work in. It sounds like coach Norv Turner is ready to roll without his top back.

"I don't have a schedule," Turner said. "He'd have to get the reps necessary to prepare for a game, and he's not at that point yet."

Turner has previously hinted at a workhorse role for Ronnie Brown if/when Mathews can’t go.


Josh Gordon will be the No. 3 wideout behind Greg Little and Mohamed Massaquoi in Week 1. … Redskins OC Kyle Shanahan suggested he will use a hot-hand approach at running back. Shocker. … Bucs OC Mike Sullivan confirmed that LeGarrette Blount is a “complimentary back.” It’s Doug Martin’s show. … There are no limitations on Jamaal Charles’ snap count for Week 1. … Kevin Walter remains locked in as the starter opposite Andre Johnson. If your league rewards points for blocking, buy up.

As discussed in Monday’s Dose, Rashard Mendenhall (knee) is ahead of schedule but won’t play Sunday night. Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman will share the load. … Brandon Jacobs (knee) is looking doubtful. Good news for Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. … If he’s active Sunday, Adrian Peterson is looking at 5-10 carries. … Dustin Keller (hamstring) should be fine, but is a weak play at less than 100 percent. … Jonathan Stewart (ankle) missed yet another practice. Give DeAngelo Williams another boost. … Arian Foster popped up with a sore knee, but should be fine for Sunday. Will this mean Ben Tate gets an extra series or two to himself? Perhaps. … Trent Richardson (knee) will start Sunday, but how much he plays is a question.

Denarius Moore (hamstring) is headed for a game-time call. If he can’t go, Rod Streater will start. … Stevie Johnson’s groin woes appear to be bordering on chronic now, but he’s expected to gut it out. … Steve Smith (foot) has practiced in full all week. … Justin Blackmon (ankle) returned to practice. Owners can breathe a sigh of relief. … Marques Colston (foot) got in a limited practice. He’s on track.

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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