In the post-Belichick era of NFL football, the Lions are hardly alone in being stingy with injury information.
All around the league, straight answers are harder to come by than a Chris Johnson carry that goes for longer than two yards.
But the campaign of misdirection and subterfuge Detroit has engaged in with regards to Matthew Stafford’s hamstring/hip/glute issue has been a bit much.
Fantasy owners and Lions fans just want to know two things: which part of Stafford’s body is hurt, and will he play on Sunday?
But apparently looking to keep the Vikings guessing, coach Jim Schwartz is intent on making Stafford’s status harder to crack than the enigma code.
Paying homage to the locked-out NHL, the Lions have let slip just two facts: Stafford has a lower-body injury, and may or may not play.
Schwartz has offered up no comment after no comment, while the ailment was mysteriously switched from “hamstring” to “hip” on Wednesday’s injury report. This, after Stafford originally said he wasn’t sure if it was his hamstring or glute that was bothering him. No mention of hip.
The situation hit a low in this Monday radio interview, where a highly-coached Stafford offered up he “wasn’t really sure” what hurt, and “my leg hurts.”
Again, this sort of inanity isn’t particularly unique to Detroit. Rookie Colts coach Chuck Pagano would tell the assembled media one of his players was “day-to-day” even if you could see the bone sticking out of his leg.
What is unique is this sort of inanity when the team has pledged to make a decision by Friday. If the only thing there is to gain through lies, lies and more lies is keeping your opponent on its toes, why not keep lying until Sunday’s coinflip?
Only Jim Schwartz has the answer. Thankfully, we’ll (supposedly) have one by Friday. The smart money is on Stafford playing, no matter what his injury turns into tomorrow, or what he forgot yesterday.
This Week In Mystery Ailments
Another Wednesday, another round of “Wait, when did he get hurt?”
New additions to the injury report included Tom Brady, Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. Thankfully, the outlook for all three remains sunny.
Brady was listed with a shoulder ailment, an “injury” that often limited his practice time in 2010. Brady has dealt with shoulder issues for years, but they’ve yet to prevent him from playing in a game. That will remain the case in Week 4, regardless of his practice status the next two days.
Considering his injury history, the news jumped out a little more with McFadden — who was limited with a shoulder issue — but he looked no worse for the wear during the portion of Raiders practice open to the media. McFadden should return to full practice this afternoon, and be ready to roll as your RB1 for Sunday’s game against the Broncos.
Bush’s (shoulder) status is the most mysterious, though he did get in a limited session in yesterday’s unofficial practice. He’ll likely be good to go for today’s first official session. At least for the moment, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be active against the Cowboys on Monday Night Football.
As The Bills Turn
On Monday, it was Fred Jackson’s (knee) arrow that was pointing up, and C.J. Spiller’s (shoulder) that was pointing down (if only for Week 4).
Wednesday, their fates seemed to be heading in opposite directions. Jackson "wasn't overly pleased" with how his knee responded to his first practice since Week 1, and hinted what was beginning to look like a sure thing in his Sunday return is now up in the air.
Spiller, meanwhile, continued to heal “faster than expected,” and could return as early as this afternoon.
It’s a supremely muddled fantasy situation, and one that calls for owners to hold onto handcuff Tashard Choice just a little bit longer as things further clarify.
To The Wells One Too Many Times
For three years, it was Beanie Wells’ knees that gave him problems. Wednesday, he was felled by a toe.
That is, only temporarily. Wells has been sent to injured reserve with the “designated for return” tag. It still means he’ll be lost for at least the next eight weeks, and that Ryan Williams will get a chance to run with bell-cow duties after stinging the Eagles for 83 yards on 13 carries Sunday.
The man who was born as Chris is still only 24, and boasts loads of pure running talent. But at least for 2012, the lights have been turned out on his fantasy relevance.
Best-case scenario for Beanie’s long-term outlook? Cedric Benson 2.0. That’s not a bad thing.
Running Back Quick Slants: Roy Helu (Achilles) pre-emptively quelled some Sha-nanigans by landing on injured reserve. … Willis McGahee (ribs) was limited. He could be on a “questionable/game-time decision” trajectory. … Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) practiced in full, and will start Sunday’s game against the Eagles. It remains to be seen how he’ll divvy up carries with Andre Brown. … Reggie Bush (knee) sat out Dolphins practice, but could return as early as this afternoon. … Steven Jackson (groin) was held out of Rams practice, but is fully expected to start against the Seahawks’ second-ranked run defense Sunday. … Joe McKnight’s next Running Back Quick Slants appearance? It’ll be in Cornerback Quick Slants. … Just over his hand injury, Bernard Scott is now dealing with an ankle ailment. He’s more buried than ever behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis. … Matt Forte (ankle) resumed practicing, but coach Lovie Smith cautioned he still has “a long way to go.” It’s doubtful he plays Monday. … Evan Royster’s (knee) status remains uncertain.
Receiver/Tight End Quick Slants: Pierre Garcon (foot) was limited for the second straight Wednesday. His status remains up in the air, and fantasy owners should plan on being without him for the third consecutive week. … Jeremy Maclin (hip) got in a near-full practice, and remains on track to return Sunday. … Kenny Britt (ankle) and Jared Cook (shoulder) both missed Titans practice, but coach Mike Munchak is “hopeful” they’ll return before Friday. Most signs point toward Britt playing Sunday. … Stephen Hill (hamstring) missed practice, and is looking doubtful for Week 4. … Brandon Lloyd (thigh) was removed from the injury report. … As was Marques Colston (foot). … Greg Jennings (groin) was limited after escaping Monday’s loss without setbacks.
Depressing Chris Johnson Stats Of The Week: Coach Mike Munchak was “encouraged” by Johnson’s Sunday performance. Johnson rushed for 24 yards on 14 carries. That’s 17 yards fewer than teammate Jake Locker gained on his longest carry, and nine yards fewer than Joique Bell gained on five carries. … Johnson has 600 fewer rushing yards than the Saints have allowed. … You have to go halfway down Page 2 of ESPN.com’s “NFL Player Rushing Statistics” to find Johnson’s name. … He is 65th in the league in rushing, sandwiched between QB Alex Smith and Ryan Mathews, who has 10 carries. … 10 quarterbacks have more rushing yards than Johnson. ... If you doubled CJ4-11K's 45 yards he'd still have one less yard than...Tashard Choice.
We hope those guns are oiled, Ed.