After three NFL seasons of kicking off from the 35-yard line, what has been the impact on touchbacks, returns, field position, scoring and injuries? Also, is this rule responsible for a record number of big comebacks?
26 Oct 2005
by Will Carroll
Really? They played football on Sunday? Pardon me for not noticing. I spent my weekend at the World Series, watching FOXSports' Ken Rosenthal and Kevin Kennedy sit through a 30 minute Ozzie Guillen chatter-fest. I guess the rest of the world doesn't shut down for the Series like I do. Still, my phone was ringing Sunday during the game, so I'll use this space to apologize to all my football friends calling in with info on the big injuries of the day. Like football and Starbucks, injuries never slow down just because I'm busy. I think I'll be watching football rather than the World Series next Sunday as football becomes my full-time vocation for a while. Let's get right to it:
Ahman Green is done for the season after tearing his quadriceps tendon, where the quadriceps â€“ the muscle group that makes up the thigh â€“ connects to the patella. It's a potentially devastating injury and one that I couldn't find a comparable for to help me gauge a return and its effect on careers. It will be interesting to see if surgery will be necessary. Given Green's age and workload, he appears to be along the lines of Terrell Davis, felled at the start of his downslope. Discussion with a pair of doctors and an NFL trainer confirmed my suspicions â€“ none thought he could return to his previous level, with the trainers saying he didn't think he could return at all. Green's work ethic has been questioned before, something that can significantly impact a rehab. The Packers will be forced to go third string and might be looking longingly at Reggie Bush, praying he's there long enough for the Packers to grab him.
As if the Packers don't have enough problems, Robert Ferguson will give Brett Favre one less target. He'll miss at least four weeks after suffering a Grade II tear of his lateral cruciate ligament. (Quick anatomy lesson: lateral means away from the midline, while medial means closer to the midline. The midline is the imaginary line that would split your body into equal halves from head to toes. In practice, lateral tends to mean outside.) The LCL isn't a common injury due to the mechanism needed to stretch the ligament to the breaking/tearing point, but that same unusual mechanism â€“ a hit to the inside of the knee, bending it outward â€“ makes it less likely to recur once he's able to get back. Where it will affect him is making cuts. The left knee sprain will make him less likely to cut sharply to his right. Take note, DBs.
A dislocated wrist is not only painful, but for any corner, makes â€œjamâ€? coverage nearly impossible. With bigger receivers, corners out on the island are already at a disadvantage. Trying to play with one of the main weapons taken away or at least severely limited could be devastating. Dre' Bly dislocated his wrist playing against the Browns and if he doesn't have to have surgery, which would essentially end his season, he could be so limited that he's nearly valueless. The Lions are already without Fernando Bryant for the season. Losing both starters would be a tough hurdle to overcome. If Bly does come back, his matchups will have to be watched and he could become more of a nickel or even a specialist in zones.
There's a pattern here. Just as a talented, touted player starts playing well for the Lions, he gets hurt. Is it the turf? No, the team is injured as much on the road as they are at home. Is it the staff? No, it doesn't appear there are more injuries here, just more significant ones. The latest victim is Shaun Rogers and he actually got away easy with a mild sprain of his MCL. Rogers could play, though an interior lineman actually has more of a risk of recurrence due to the stresses on the knee and the who-knows-where nature of the trenches. One guy falls the wrong way or pushes Rogers just right while his ligament is weak and he's headed for surgery. Shaun Cody should give Rogers plenty of time to rest. Perhaps he can read the next bullet point for some inspiration.
If the Pats just turned in their roster rather than an injury report some week, I don't think the league office would fine them. There hasn't been much difference as the Pats have faced injury after injury and worse, theory after theory trying to explain it. Some are interesting â€“ PEDs and the effect of so many playoff games â€“ and some are ludicrous â€“ the loss of the co-ordinators and barometric pressure in Massachusetts. Whatever the cause, we know that the Pats are the type of organization that will look for it, find it, and fix it if possible. The latest injury problem is affecting DL Richard Seymour and that, of course, affects Aaron Schatz, who is the second most famous man to wear a Seymour jersey on Sundays. (Read the site bios.) Seymour is due back after missing two weeks with a sprained MCL and after a 4-6 week prognosis, some are worried he's rushing back. This is the second MCL sprain Seymour has had, so let's note that there's likely some chronic laxity there. Good bracing and some good luck should keep Seymour healthy, though his explosiveness will probably take the full six weeks to come back.
Maybe it just seems like players under the franchise tag get injured more than other players. The Raiders lost their franchise who's hardly the franchise, Charles Woodson. Woodson's good, but hardly dominating. Woodson had a knee injury earlier in October, so it's hard to tell how this might or might not be related. Fibulas tend to heal pretty quickly, especially in football, so the six to eight weeks Woodson is expected to miss will likely be on the lower end. Watch for reports of his running. The fibula is non-weight bearing, so once he's stable and pain-free, the return comes quick.
The injury to Vinny Testaverde is a confusing one, if you don't understand the underlying anatomy. Despite his advanced age, it's not a broken hip he has, but musculotendonous problem in his lower calf. It's alternatively reported as a strained calf and a strained Achilles, but actually, both are correct. The Achilles tendon is an extension of the gastrocnemius muscle â€“ what we call the calf so as not to twist too many tongues â€“ and the invisible line between the two is often confusing. Is it the low calf or high Achilles? Sometimes, it's the same thing. For Testaverde, any injury that reduces mobility isn't a significant concern and arm strength isn't either. At this point in his career, it's his experiences and proven-veteranness that the Jets want. If he can get on the field, the Jets will put him there over Brooks Bollinger.
The Jones boys figured to be among the elite in the NFL Running Back Club. (Is there one of those, like the QB Club? Is there a secret handshake for that and does Jim Sorgi know it?) Instead, the Jones boys are busts that are killing fantasy teams across the country. Julius Jones at least has the excuse that he's dealing with a high ankle sprain. After missing two games, Jones doesn't look to be any closer and seems headed for the four-week mark before returning to practice and a while after that to games. Even then, Jones won't be as quick, won't be able to make as sharp of cuts, and won't be the back you thought you drafted until â€¦ well, perhaps next season. That's not to say he can't be effective and help the Cowboys. He's just not going to make Jerry Jones forget Emmitt Smith just yet.
Randy Moss made it through a game without getting injured. Better still, he did it without aggravating the series of painful but not serious injuries that he suffered in last week's brutal fall. This leaves him, in Norv Turner's words, â€œno worse than he was.â€? Is that really so good? Moss was limited, though he did score a touchdown. If limited is what you expect from Moss in the next couple games, you won't be disappointed. This is Randy Moss though, and no one that drafted him expected limited. Injuries have a better chance of covering Moss than most corners. This is an interesting play for fantasy players. Moss' injuries will heal with time and he is useful while he heals. It might be a time to try and sneak in a trade for Moss if you can be patient.
If you remember our discussion about high ankle sprains from last week, you'll be ahead of the game when it comes to Ed Reed. He missed Sunday's game against the Bears and won't make next week's game against the Steelers either. In fact, the information we have about Reed, the timing, and his injury suggest he might not be back for another few weeks after that and if he does manage to convince Billick to let him in the game, he will have reduced speed and mobility. Reed's game isn't predicated on speed, but he does need to make those explosive bursts to create those big hits that are the basis of his game.
Marc Bulger is throwing. Watch for reports on him going downfield with some throws. If he can do those by Thursday, he'll start for the Rams â€¦ Julius Peppers broke his hand against the Lions and returned to the game. It's not quite â€œcut it offâ€? but don't try it at home â€¦ Terrell Owens' mild shoulder sprain didn't seem to slow him or reduce his ego â€¦ Expect kicker David Akers back on the field next Sunday. He may not kick off. (Ed. note: Well, that explains signing Jose Cortez, who kicks off well but can't hit field goals.) â€¦ Reports from Jacksonville have Fred Taylor as â€œfull go.â€? No word on whether that's full go for Taylor or full go for a normal, healthy player â€¦ Jeff Fisher is my new favorite coach. He used the term â€œbrachial plexusâ€? properly in discussing Chris Brown and his stinger â€¦ Ray Lewis has a torn quad. Watch to see if he's held out of practice this week â€¦ Dan Morgan will play with his shoulder strapped to his body to keep it from dislocating again. Still, he'll play. That's just crazy â€¦ Is there a name more fun to scream out at the top of your lungs than â€œTebucky Jones!â€? If so, I don't know it. Sadly, we'll have no reason to yell it since he's on IR now after tearing his pec.
29 comments, Last at 28 Oct 2005, 6:05pm by Tom