Mending ComplicationsFriday, October 12, 2012
This is what’s supposed to happen when you come back from an ACL tear in less than 12 months. You’re supposed to feel a little sluggish. You’re supposed to have complications, workload limitations and compensation issues. You’re not supposed to do what Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson have done over the last five weeks.
Rashard Mendenhall came crashing back to earth on Thursday night, managing just six yards on six carries against the league’s No. 28 rush defense before leaving with an Achilles’ tendon injury.
There were no specifics available immediately following the game, but I’m guessing that this “new” injury is related to Mendenhall’s ACL tear. Perhaps one leg wasn’t as strong as the other, resulting in some extra strain. It’s standard for most athletes coming off major leg injuries.
Regardless, it’s not a rupture or an overly serious injury. Mendy never went to the locker room, instead hanging out on the sideline with his helmet off. The Steelers called him “questionable” to return, but he never did even though Isaac Redman (ankle) also went down. They finished the loss out with Baron Batch and Chris Rainey.
It’s just one of those nicks that players coming off ACL tears often get. And that should concern owners.
STEELERS at TITANS RANDOM THOUGHTS
* Kenny Britt had a pretty bad game. He broke off routes when he wasn’t supposed to, dropped at least three passes and caught just four of the 11 targets that came his way. Still, the Titans showed faith by sticking with him and he clumsily secured the game-tying touchdown. Britt finished with a 4/62/1 line and he can only get better.
* After Mike Wallace burned the Titans for a 82-yard touchdown in the first quarter, they rolled all coverage his way. He ended up with just one more catch for 12 yards and four total targets. Antonio Brown was peppered with screens and finished with a 4/20/0 line on 10 targets.
* Chris Johnson had his best game of the season. He ran with intensity and went north-south more often than east-west. I wouldn’t be “selling high” here just because there aren’t that many three-down backs left in the NFL. Johnson is average at best, but the touches will be there. Still, note that he failed to convert a first-down goal-line chance from the 1-yard line. Jamie Harper came in and converted on second down.
* Jared Cook has to be among the most underutilized players in the NFL. The Titans seem to know it too, but he’s just not the primary read on enough plays. Cook caught all four of his targets for 54 yards Thursday night. The athletic freak has now has produced 23 catches for 291 yards and two touchdowns on just 32 targets this season. The guy is always running wide open.
NEWS OF THE DAY #1
It’s easy for a coach to say that he can never have enough playmakers at one position. Bills coach Chan Gailey is seeing where that can be a negative.
Both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are proving to be backs that prefer to be “the man.”
“I don’t know how to solve that problem when you have two great players at the same position,” said Gailey. “If one of them all of a sudden gets a hot hand then it’s easy to figure out. Going into a game you have two great players and you want to play them as equal as possible and then you see how the game is going, that’s what you do.”
In Week 5, Jackson got 22 snaps and Spiller got 24. It’s the kind of usage that will frustrate both fantasy owners and the players themselves. Until another injury hits or Gailey finds a real hot hand, we can’t consider either back more than a weak RB2.
NEWS OF THE DAY #2
Ryan Mathews has served his time.
The Chargers haven’t announced it officially yet, but Mathews is expected to start Monday night’s game against the Broncos.
“He’s made the progress we’d like,” said coach Norv Turner.
Mathews had the shackles on him the last two weeks, but still picked up 221 total yards with a touchdown. It’s scary to think what he could do with 20-25 touches plus all the red-zone work every week. The only running backs I’d rather have for the rest of the season are Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy.
NEWS OF THE DAY #3
Coach Mike McCarthy is putting his running back cards on the table. Alex Green is going to get the first shot, but everyone is going to get a chance. That means James Starks, Brandon Saine and goal-line option John Kuhn.
“I have no time for competition. We're going to take the hot hand,” McCarthy said. “Alex and James both got reps today (with the starters) and so did Brandon Saine. The first carry will be Alex Green. He's a little farther ahead than James is right now and that's the way we'll go.
Green tore his ACL in Week 7 of last year and struggles in pass protection. Owners shouldn’t be confident that he can get a hot hand here.
INJURY QUICK SLANTS: RUNNING BACKS AND TIGHT ENDS
Aaron Hernandez (ankle) is on track to return Sunday after another limited practice. … La’Rod Stephens-Howling (hip) will play Sunday, but William Powell is a better fantasy bet. … Peyton Hillis (ankle) probably won’t be back until after the Week 7 bye. … Ben Tate (toe) remains on track to return Week 6. … The results of Jahvid Best’s concussion tests are due Friday. The fantasy world holds its collective breath. … Martellus Bennett (knee) is looking very limited at practice. He’s a poor fantasy bet this week. … Jermichael Finley (shoulder) is headed for a game-time call at best. Will be hard for owners to wait considering the 8:30 pm start.
INJURY QUICK SLANTS: WIDE RECEIVERS AND QUARTERBACKS
Percy Harvin’s hamstring tightened up on him during practice, but it’s not a major concern. … Robert Griffin III practiced again. It would be a surprise if he’s not under center and running around as usual come Sunday. … Greg Jennings (groin) isn’t going to come back this week. He wants to be 100 percent. … Jon Baldwin (hamstring) was downgraded to out of practice Thursday. Look for Steve Breaston to start. … Hakeem Nicks (knee, foot) got some limited work in. He’s headed for a game-time call on Sunday. … Matt Cassel (concussion) won’t play Sunday. Brady Quinn will start and projects to produce similar efficiency. … Titus Young got back in practice, but the Lions are blaming his knee woes for slow production.
DEPTH CHART QUICK SLANTS
The Raiders didn’t dump the zone-blocking scheme during their bye week, but they spent a lot of time tweaking it. Don’t be selling low on Darren McFadden. … OC Kevin Gilbride is the latest to say the Giants are trying to get David Wilson more touches as soon as possible. Andre Brown (concussion) hasn’t been cleared yet. … Coach Rex Ryan reiterated his confidence in Shonn Greene. As usual, Ryan’s words mean little when he’s talking up his own players. … Cecil Shorts has earned a promotion ahead of Mike Thomas. He’ll start in place of Laurent Robinson (concussions) when the Jags come out of their bye. … Mewelde Moore (ankle) is healthy and ready to rock as the third-down back this week. Delone Carter will support starter Vick Ballard.