Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

CoxMar15.jpg

» Varsity Numbers: Honing in

Bill Connelly again looks at which college football teams the F/+ ratings are sure about, and which teams remain a mystery (led by Appalachian State).

26 Oct 2005

Black and Blue Report: Week 8

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 – the muscle group that makes up the thigh – 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 – 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 – a hit to the inside of the knee, bending it outward – 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 “jam� 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 – PEDs and the effect of so many playoff games – and some are ludicrous – 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 – what we call the calf so as not to twist too many tongues – 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 … 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, “no worse than he was.� 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.

Bumps and Bruises

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 … Julius Peppers broke his hand against the Lions and returned to the game. It's not quite “cut it off� but don't try it at home … Terrell Owens' mild shoulder sprain didn't seem to slow him or reduce his ego … 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.) … Reports from Jacksonville have Fred Taylor as “full go.� No word on whether that's full go for Taylor or full go for a normal, healthy player … Jeff Fisher is my new favorite coach. He used the term “brachial plexus� properly in discussing Chris Brown and his stinger … Ray Lewis has a torn quad. Watch to see if he's held out of practice this week … 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 … Is there a name more fun to scream out at the top of your lungs than “Tebucky Jones!� 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.

Posted by: Will Carroll on 26 Oct 2005

29 comments, Last at 28 Oct 2005, 6:05pm by Tom

Comments

1
by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 10:55am

I've often thought the large number of Pats injuries were a combination of the Pats playing so many starters on special teams (which is a lot rougher on players than normal play), the bad field at Gillette (although they've only had two home games so far, so maybe that's not a factor with this year's injuries), and the fact the the Pats coaching staff is probably taking their time and not rushing key players back early in the season so they'll be healthier late in the season.

2
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 11:26am

I wonder if at some point teams start adjusting how fast they want injured players back on the field based on their draft startegy next spring. The Packers must realize by now that, even in the NFC Central, being without two running backs and two wide receivers renders their chances of recovering from a 1-5 start pretty slim. I gotta believe that Donald Driver, who isn't exactly a young Jerry Rice to begin with, is going to get the same treatment over the next few weeks that the Vikings showed him in the second half, after Ferguson was out.

With third stringers at running back and wide receiver, and an ineffective defense, is there an impact on how fast the Packers want center Mike Flanagan and Ferguson back on the field, in their desire to draft Reggie Bush?

Of course, perhaps teams are starting to grasp that having a top-five pick is no great award, given the current CBA. Any chance that a new CBA will address that issue?

3
by Corey (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 11:35am

Nothing about Gary Baxter?

4
by mitch (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 12:02pm

Is Cadillac Williams back at full strength?

5
by Led (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 12:10pm

Will: Any word on the mysterious injury to Testaverde's hands that prevent him from holding onto the ball whenever he gets hit? Thanks.

6
by Dotrat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 12:15pm

Will Torry Holt be one of the recipients of those potential Bulger tosses this Sunday?

7
by Xian (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 12:29pm

As a Packers fan, I find myself wondering the same about Flanagan/Ferguson, etc. Additionally, though, I'm curious about whether or not they'll even bother keeping Flanagan. Admittedly, he's a pretty darn good center, but he's been injured a lot, and he's not young either...something like 33? 34?

And yeah, even though he had a Pro Bowl year a couple years ago, there's no way that Driver is going to be able to make up for the loss of his fellow starters. If it was J-Walk and not Driver, that might be a different story.

I'm not really in the know, but I'm guessing we won't see a new CBA as soon as next year.

8
by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 12:30pm

More fun than Tebucky Jones? Kimo von Oelhoffen (bad Austrian accent required)

9
by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 1:12pm

I imagine it would be fun to yell (and intentionallly mangle) Laveraunes.

10
by b-man (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 1:20pm

With missing two weeks and the bye, Seymour really has had almost 4-weeks off.

Will turns on the "CBA" light. Seeing this beacon of distress, Carl will soon come to the rescue.

11
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 1:30pm

Hey, Will Carroll raised the spectre of the Reggie Bush sweepstakes, and how much ya' gotta pay him is the key issue as to whether ya' want to win the prize or not. Being an NFC Central fan, I'm having a tough time deciding who I want to come in last! Is it good or bad that Green and Ferguson are out? Who knows?!

12
by Chris Owen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 2:51pm

Pedantic correction:

The C in LCL or MCL stands for collateral, as in accompanying or supportive. Cruciate means cross-shaped, and the C in ACL and PCL stands for cruciate because the ACL and PCL cross over one another. Initial media reports made the same error.

13
by Bubba (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 5:09pm

Holt's injury is a strain of the PCL. Anyone have an idea on his status for Week 8?

14
by Rowdy (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 5:27pm

Also fun to say: Troy Polamalu. And Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala.

Come to think of it, Aaron Smith is a lot of fun to yell out, too.

15
by mm (not verified) :: Wed, 10/26/2005 - 10:30pm

re: Bulger

Let the Ryan Fitzpatrick era begin. Yuck Fale.

16
by just another steve (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 12:12am

As a Packer fan and someone who had Ahman Green on my FFL, his injury sucks. However, he's not the first Packer to suffer a similar quad injury. In 2001, DTs Steve Warren, who had a lot of potential, and Santana Dotson, who was actually pretty decent, had similar injuries. Needless to say, neither had much of a career afterwards. Since two DTs could come back after such an injury, I can't imagine Ahman Green doing so.

17
by bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 12:40am

Fnor,
I break out my monocle and my Colonel Klink accent when I discuss Kimo von Oelhoffen. A riding crop and a few flunkies to swat if they don't bring me my beer fast enough always add to the effect.
This also comes in handy for saying Steve Grogan's name (or anybody named Logan) the way Klink used to say "Hooooogan!?"

18
by masocc (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 2:29am

TACO WALLACE!

Bold prediction: TACO WALLACE! will be a great fantasy #2, borderline #1 receiver for the Packers. You heard it here first.

19
by Arkaein (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 10:36am

One more Packers tidbit, former third stringer and current starter Tony Fisher just had laser surgery to repair small holes in his retina from getting poked in the eye against the Vikes. Fortunately it sounds like he should be fine to play Sunday.

20
by dbt (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 4:05pm

Thomas Jones is running pretty well, whatever his impact on fantasy leagues. Or did you have someone else in mind when you mocked "the Jones boys"?

21
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 5:23pm

Given Green’s age and workload, he appears to be along the lines of Terrell Davis, felled at the start of his downslope.

Wow, harsh. I know NFL careers are getting shorter and shorter for RBs, but the fifth season is now the start of the downslope?

Please note: I'm only arguing Davis. I think it's clear to everyone that Green wasn't just on the start of his downslope, he was pretty far along it.

22
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 5:56pm

The Pats just placed CB Ty Poole on IR. I wonder if that's a prelude to activating Bruschi for Sunday's game?

23
by B (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 5:58pm

Re #21: Well, 28 is the start of a RB's downslope, so if he comes into the league at 23, the fifth season would be about right. Incidently, the downslope for QBs is typically 32.

24
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 6:21am

Re #23: That might be true for average RBs, but I feel like elite RBs tend to last longer before hitting their downslope. I mean, Barry Sanders walked away after his 10th season and football fans everywhere were lamenting the fact that he walked away while he was still in his prime (he'd just gained 2000 yards in his 9th season, after all). I understand that Sanders was sort of a special case, but I feel like all the HoF-caliber RBs were in their prime for a lot longer than the non-HoF RBs (and whether you think he deserves to get in or not, Terrell Davis *is* in the Hall of Fame discussion).

Ditto that for HoF-caliber QBs. Probably also for HoF caliber WRs, although WRs are the hardest to judge. Just what is it that makes a WR a HoF-caliber WR? I think there's really only one thing that guarantees a WR first-ballot entry into the HoF, and that's having the name "Jerry Rice".

25
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 10:29am

I think Sander's ability to last as long as he did, or have as long a prime, was due to the fact that he was able to avoid taking big hits. Other guys who have lasted forever like Emmit Smith and even Bettis share this tendancy. It's not something I noticed with Terrell Davis. I don't nececarrily think this should disqualify him from being in the HoF, but it indicates he didn't have many years left at the top. I'm sure for QBs and WRs, too, you could find a coorelation between the number of hits they take and the length of thier carreer.

26
by Opiwan (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 11:37am

For those that have seen Team America: World Police, the name that's the most fun to yell out loud is clearly thus...

MATT DAMON!

27
by Bubba (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 12:38pm

(re: #20)

dbt: I think he's referring to Julius Jones and Kevin Jones - both of whom were supposed to be HUGE this year...

28
by Paul (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 12:41pm

Re 15
One of the 'announcers' in NFL 2k5 mangled Troy Polamalu's name but it was always fun to say it that way. So every time he get a tackle in the game and the game would say his name, I would echo it. Annoyed my wife thoroughly. Also note the real Madden's mangling of Roethlisberger's name on MNF. Sounded more like Rothelsberger when Madden says it. But I imagine a thread with announcer quirks and errors would hit 1000 replies in under an hour.

29
by Tom (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 6:05pm

I was highly optimistic about my fantasy team's chances at the beginning of the season, with a starting backfield of Deuce McAllister and Julius Jones, along with a WR combo of Michael Clayton and Darrell Jackson. Right now I'm starting Chris Brown (who's also hurt) and Patrick pass at RB and Lee Evans (who's been a huge asset with Buffalo's QB situation) and Keyshawn Johnson at WR. I believe I'm on the way to establishing a record for fewest pts. (if there is one) for a season in the league I'm in. I empathize with Ted Thompson and Mike Sherman.