Black and Blue Report
A comprehensive look at the biggest injuries of the week.

Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

by Will Carroll

Normally in an intro, I try to be a little lighthearted and work you into it. Not today. Today, I'm going to be serious. Jim Andrews, best known as the top baseball surgeon but also very involved in football -- he's worked on Chad Pennington and Drew Brees, among others -- suffered a heart attack and is currently recovering near his Birmingham base. Andrews is a hero to many in sports medicine and I've had the chance to interview him several times. I was also honored to be invited to present at his annual ASMI Injuries Conference, the only journalist to ever do so. While I won't make next week's conference in Los Angeles, I understand just what a giant the man is in the field. In some ways, his absence has brought the sports world to a halt. Here's just another wish for Jim to get well soon, something he's helped thousands of athletes do over the years. Now, let's get to it:

Carson Palmer

Carson Palmer had one of the most heartbreaking injuries in recent history last weekend, blowing up his knee on his very first playoff pass attempt. Palmer clearly had a “Terrible Triad� injury – ACL, MCL, and meniscus – from the first second Kimo von Oelhoffen rolled onto his leg and had surgery Tuesday to repair it. He'll do his rehab in California and, with Daunte Culpepper coming back from similar problems, it will be a big year to see just how far things have come with ACL surgery. While the initial reports have Palmer coming back for training camp, that's an aggressive time frame. While players have returned to function in that span, few if any have full explosion and power from the affected leg. The good news, if you can call it that, is that Palmer's not exactly a threat to run and it's his front (left) leg rather than the push-off leg. I'll be surprised if Palmer starts the season, but he'll likely earn at least some of the first year salary in his big new contract.

Indianapolis Colts

For a team that's coming off a bye week and a couple meaningless games where the starters got rested, the Colts still look banged up. That's not to mention their psyche, still shaky from the Dungy situation. Marvin Harrison is expected to play with a pair of hand injuries, but he's done that for much of the season and looked pretty good. Brandon Stokely is also expected to be available, despite a minor knee problem. Peyton Manning figures to have his line in place, with Ryan Diem back at RT on Sunday. The defense is a bigger question with the whole linebacking corps beat up and Corey Simon's foot remaining problematic and removing him from some of his expected plays.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers won. Bottom line, that's what matters, but as the Steelers and Redskins will show, injuries take their toll in the playoffs. Carson Palmer may have been the big story of the Steelers-Bengals game, but the Steelers took just as much of a beating. Quincy Morgan is out for the playoffs after breaking his fibula, while Jerome Bettis is expected to play despite a strained hamstring. Ben Roethlisberger continues to deal with a sore thumb, but going undefeated since injuring it makes me think that it's not bothering him much. With Marvel Smith seemingly healthy or at least blocking like he is, the Steelers offense will be about what they expected it to be. Whether that can do a better job of competing with the Colts that what they did in-season is another story, but I expect a much closer game than many expect.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos used the bye week to get healthy as much as they did to prepare for their eventual opponent. Just how healthy will go a long way in showing how much chance they have against the Patriots. On the defensive side, two “probables� are actually much more likely to play – Darrent Williams and Al Wilson should be on the field and only slightly limited. Williams will get more safety help, while Wilson will be playing with a smaller cast than he's been on the field with. On the offensive side, Mike Anderson appears to be full-go on a sprained ankle and Jeb Putzier, he who never sees the red zone, will be available but limited by a sore shoulder. The key pieces for the Broncos are in place, but has a team that looks so good on paper ever had less of a chance? In both conferences, the number two seed seems as weak or weaker than the wild card that just snuck in.

New England Patriots

There was a point in Saturday's game where I realized that everyone in Indianapolis had just become big Steeler fans. For most of Saturday's game, the Patriots looked like the Patriots – you remember, the ones that ran roughshod through the NFL for the past few years and not like the vulnerable ones we saw for the first half of the season. Sure, they may not be fully healthy, but they have incredible depth, something that's disguised even their most serious injuries. Richard Seymour is still a step slow, Tedy Bruschi may or may not be healed from his deep calf bruise, and who knows who the Pats might list on their injury report as “probable.� (Bruschi, as of now, isn't even listed on the report.) In the end, the Broncos know they have a buzzsaw coming to town and, with the Pats at probably their healthiest all season, this is the must-see game of the weekend.

Chicago Bears

My pal “B� is stoked that the Bears have made it this far. It's interesting to look at this team as one of the examples of why team health – or at least team health planning – can be all the difference in the NFL. Two key injuries would hurt many teams, but the Bears got a bit lucky there with both injuries hitting positions of depth. There is usually one or two players on a team where the dropoff is so brutal that it would end a season and one or two more where the depth simply isn't there in the salary cap and free agent era. It'd be interesting to know if coaches and GM's game planned around those slots, keeping those players protected or reducing their risk. Brian Urlacher is the biggest example of the irreplaceable player, but how would you protect a fly-around, heat-seeker like Urlacher? So far, it hasn't been a problem.

The Bears will be essentially healthy when they hit the field on Sunday. Hunter Hillenmeyer and Mike Brown will both be back on the field after missing several end-of-season games. Cedric Benson will be in the running back mix, though will likely see no more than the nine carries he got in Minnesota. The bye week and meaningless Week 17 games gave the Bears enough time to get key players like Charles Tillman, Thomas Jones, and Muhsin Muhammad healthy. It just didn't give them enough time to get Rex Grossman a few more games of experience.

Carolina Panthers

Once Steve Smith showed he was healthy in Week 1, we should have known something was coming. Broken bones heal and, as Aaron Schatz has said before, the quicker we get more injury information into our KUBIAK player projection system, the better. Smith is healthy and really, that's all they need. DeShaun Foster has played extremely well for the last few weeks despite his injured toe. Despite being listed as “questionable,� I'd have to question why he wouldn't do what he's done the past couple weeks, Bears defense not withstanding. Injury-prone Dan Morgan barely played last week, but the defense didn't suffer. He'll be questionable as well for this weekend's game, but don't expect him to make much of an impact, whether he's on the field or the sidelines.

Washington Redskins

Here's why the bye is so important. The Redskins won their game, albeit in very ugly fashion, and came out so banged up that the Seahawks have to be thinking this is almost a second bye coming up. The brutal injury to Renaldo Wynn sums up the game for the Skins – ugly. Wynn broke both the radius and ulna in his right forearm and while he should make a full recovery, the pain was pretty clear and was a tough way to start the playoffs. The rest of the team is banged up, it seems, from Shawn Springs' groin to Chris Samuels' chronic knee problems that cause him to play only in games. The most worrisome problem is the continuing breakdown of Clinton Portis. With both shoulders and his wrist hurting and likely headed for offseason surgery, every Portis carry is a danger zone. Portis is reporting losing the feeling in his arms and can't be counted on to get deep in the game. Add in Mark Brunell's immobility and you have the recipe for another offensive funk. The Skins season has to be considered a success, especially for Joe Gibbs, but the price they pay for it might be high.

Seattle Seahawks

Wow. I've got nothing to report here. The Seahawks are not only healthy, they're almost pristine, something unheard of in the NFL. Sure, Darrell Jackson is still something of a question mark with his season-long knee problem, but it's not like they haven't learned to live without him. If health counts for much in the NFL, the Seahawks have to be everyone's favorite now. Of course, that probably means they'll rack up the injuries this week, just to even out the pigskin karma.

Bumps and Bruises

Drew Brees is recovering well from Thursday labrum surgery, mentoned above with Dr. Andrews. He'll be ready for the season, though I'm going to watch closely to see what he's able to do prior to training camp. If he's not throwing by June, get concerned … If you only watched the Rose Bowl, would you really want Reggie Bush several picks higher than LenDale White? … One thing to keep an eye on in the next week is the rush to surgery. Players that have held off having procedures done during the season often try to get it done as quickly as possible, though some will wait a few weeks if the injury won't prevent them from taking a couple weeks of vacation. It's interesting to see which players hit the table that we barely knew were hurt … Gutsy performance by Byron Leftwich last weekend on an ankle that clearly wasn't ready.


43 comments, Last at 14 Jan 2006, 4:20am

1 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

Jose Cortez will be kicking off for the Colts - and based on the Week 17 Arizona game (I was there), he is a HUGE improvement over Rayner. Out of the 4 KOs they had - 3 times the Colts held the Cards inside the 20, and the 4th time the Cards started on their own 25. It was the best performance of the year by the Colts KO coverage squad and the KO specialist.

2 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

"The key pieces for the Broncos are in place, but has a team that looks so good on paper ever had less of a chance? In both conferences, the number two seed seems as weak or weaker than the wild card that just snuck in."

What a BS comment on the Broncos. We will hand the Patties a loss. Simple as that.

3 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

Will, going against other FO predictions, really likes the Patriots this week. I wonder, is he subscribing to the magic beans theory, or does looking at injuries give a better prespective on the Patriots change from week 9 to now. Or this merely the over-reaction of a shell-shocked Colts fan?

5 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

"Ben Roethlisberger continues to deal with a sore thumb, but going undefeated since injuring it makes me think that it’s not bothering him much."

Well, the team has been undefeated since the first game after his thumb injury when they lost to the Bengals.

6 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

With respect to Bruschi, Belichick is in full subterfuge mode.

Last week Bruschi was in full pads and participating in the team stretching exercises (which is the part of practice BB lets the media see) every day. Then come the Jags game, ABC says at the top of the broadcast that Bruschi took no reps during the week, and a couple of days ago the Herald said that the "word from the locker room" was that (again) while Bruschi was in full gear whenever the media was around, he didn't practice beyond that.

Then this week, on the same day it was reported that Bruschi only did calf stretches (instead of the full stretching exercises) and was seen jogging with a limp, he was taken off the injury list altogether.

7 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

4: Does that mean New England will bring back the old Pat Patriot unis for the game? Maybe Denver should bring back the Orange Crush look in return.

9 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

QB a "position[] of depth" on the Bears? I suppose when the #1 is replacement level the dropoff to the #2 can't be that big, but still. Having to start Kyle Orton for 13 games would be brutal enough to end just about any team's season - pretty much any team that doesn't have an insanely dominant defense.

10 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

Shelley, I call them Patties out of respect to the game patty-cake (sp?) and its my signature insult that I have been using for a few years now over on the Broncos message board. ;-)

13 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

RE 8

James Harrison is doubtful and will not play against the Colts. He will be replaced by Andre Frazier when Haggans and Porter need spelled and Rian Wallace will replace harrison on special teams.

14 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2


Bruschi definitely thought he was playing in that game. Belichek told him he couldnt play right before the first snap, and he flipped out.

During the pregame, he WAS running, and was moving fine. He participated in all the drills. (unless bellichek had someone else wearing his uniform, which really woudlnt surprise me that much)

Having seen that, I have a hard time believing he hasnt been practicing.

16 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2


No please do NOT bring back that INTENSE, BLINDING, ORAGNGE back

that had to be the ugliest uniform ever. Ugh....

wel maybe not come to think about it...
the original Tampa Bay colors were pretty putrid as well

17 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

Dan: They went from an about average QB to a slightly below average QB. Huuuge drop off. I'm willing to bet that the drop is mostly due to fewer dropped passes due to a happy Muhsin Muhammed. I had a couple games I charted where the WRs would have 3-4 dropped passes in just one half.

So yeah, they are deep; aside from RB and line, their offense generally sucks at most levels.

18 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

Can some one inform portis that you don't have to run shoulder first into every linebacker you see in your path. I've seen every redskins game this year and he takes unnecessary abuse.

19 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

Well, I think way too many people are using the Pats/Broncos contest earlier this season to help project this contest. Will's injury beat helps him realize that the Pats team playing this weekend isn't the same team that played earlier this year. That said, I give the Broncos a better chance than he does.

20 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

RE: #18
Charles, send him some Edgerrin James game film. He's learned (from Marvin Harrison?) the benefit and career-extending uses of ducking, taking a knee, taking a glancing blow, and heading out of bounds.

Now, a manly man like Joey Porter might take issue with such tactics... but it sure makes the trainiers' jobs much easier. And in 10 years when James can actually bend down to pick up a toddler, rather than collapsing in writhing pain, it will all be worth it.

21 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

I think using Patty-cakes as a nickname for the champs on the Denver Donkey message boards is not very biting or hurtful. This has got to be related to the IN-COM-PLETE chant you hear at Invesco/Mile High when the WR's drop an easy pass. Another jumbo-tron insult for the true VIP-box dwelling football fans in D-town. Come on Jay, the nickname is "Patsies", not Patties. That sounds more like a cheesesteak or something. You Colorado natives can do better than that!

22 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

I recall reading that Palmer didn't actually tear the meniscus - is this the sort of thing where there's always meniscus damage, and when they say 'no tear' it just means 'no significant damage'? Or is it possible it wasn't torn?

23 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

Fnor, are you calling Orton slightly below average? According to the numbers on this site he was AWFUL! Average to awful is a big drop off.

25 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

#17 Fnor:

At least according to DVOA, you're really wrong - they went from one of the 3 worst QBs in the league to someone who is the definition of replacement level.

Orton was bad. He wasn't just slightly below average. He was BAD.

26 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

God...we should make a new religion called Patriology. Seriously, the sportswriters of America have this huge groupthink going on about the Pats. They have no substance to any of their arguments for the Pats, they just simply accept them as true. They keep bringing up the Super Bowl years for them. They place everything on the magical Belichik and superhero Brady.

Did anyone else notice that this is not last year?
New England is now 5-6 against teams with winning records this year (including Jacksonville who are now 3-4 against teams with winning records).
The Broncos? 7-3.

There is a reason that the Broncos are rated second in the DVOA ratings, and the Pats are a paltry 8th.

27 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

19, 26: Thank you. Where's the crack pipe that these people are on? Yes, I'll admit that they are MARGINALLY better with the previously injured players. However, I will not take the idea that their "run defense was far better in the 2nd half" argument. Look who they played!?! Beating up on Buffalo, NYJ, Jacksonville et. al. does not make for a superior run D.

Anyway, I was at the 1st game (and the Monday nighter in 03), and anyone who even saw it knows that it wasn't even close to what the score said. NE has trouble with Denver and in Denver particularly. In 03 they barely beat us and our D wasn't half of what it is now...oh, and who was our QB that day...Riiiiiiiight, Danny Kannell.

29 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

While saying that Pats fans are obnoxious is so redundant it borders on collapsing in on itself like a black hole, saying that the Pats are a different team with their injured players back on is absolutely true. I don't put a lot of stock in Dillon/Faulk being a particularly big bonus for them; their running game appears to be as anemic as ever. But on defense, they are markedly improved, and a lot of the hit on DVOA they've taken is because their overall passing DVOA was so low.

I don't mind that Pats supporters are saying that they're a changed team. Because they are, like it or not, and statistical and qualitative analysis both back that up. I still feel that they have a lot of exploitable matchups on their cornerbacks though, and I think that this is where Denver makes or breaks their game. Denver will have some running success (KC ran fairly well against the Pats with their newfound defense, and KC and Denver compare well in terms of how well they can run) but it is whether Jake Plummer can actually do well against bad corners that I suspect will decide the game.

30 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

Re: 26

Now I'm a Pats fan, and I'm embarassed by the crush of support they're getting this weekend, I can barely fathom it, as optimistic as I am about them pulling out a victory.


To argue that there is no substance to arguments supporting the Patriots (there are legitimate arguments) is silly. To follow that up by arguing that all pro-Patriot analysis can be summed up by "they won it before" is either ignorant or... umm... just wrong. Yes there are people with half a brain who think it's significant the Pats were winning games 4 years ago. But even the most rabid Pats fans had mostly resigned themselves to a first round and out scenario before their play of the last 5 or 6 weeks.

If you were, perhaps, making some counter-argument to those fans saying that although they've played better lately they haven't played well enough (or against such tough competition) to garner such respect... I could hear you. But suggesting that the Patriots losses at the beginning or middle of the season provide any more indication about their current status than wins from last year is... silly.

31 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2


As I have said in other threads I am not predicitng a Pats win UNLESS one thing happens.

- Jake "the Snake" Plummer goes and reverts to his ex-Cardnial ways. He has Matured quite a bit under coach Shanahan and I think he was a good fit for the type of Offense they run there. "Run first Pass later". However like I have also said in previous threads Jake has been shaky a couple of times this year, I have used the Thanksgiving Day game against Dallas as proof. I will enjoy watching this game because it sould come to be one of the greatest football games ever played, and the Coach and team who has prepare the best along with outhinking thier opponenet on the fly the best I feel has the true chance of stealing this game.

Tom Brady has nothing else to prove, he is and will always be one of if not the best quaterbacks of the new milenium(sp?) he has 3 rings and a ton of endorsemetns to prove that. He has along with coach Belichick guided the New England Patriots to 3 out of the past 4 superbowls.

Now with that said this is not your "typical" patriots of years past, you can not replace a Weis and Crennel overnite and expect to have the same kind of sucess. New schemes means new plans and how well they adjust to what Denver throws at them will depend on how well the OC and DC can adjust on the fly. to be honest with you I think that the Pats faced a Jax team that was overwhelmed with the whole "Playoff" athmosphere. Think about how we are anaylzing this game right now that has not even been played yet. all of us have a opinion and all of are willing to voice that opinion at the expense of being embarrassed by another. The playoffs are magnified by both the press and by fans to the point way beyond obsession that it boggles my mind how the teams can still prepare and wins games with the Media always down your throat trying to get that juicy little detail about what they are planning to do...

With all of that said I will be in front of my TV with the TiVO at the ready so I can analyze the game along with being able to savior the feeling of what I feel could be and just might be the best football game ever

32 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2


Will says the price for the Skins might be high. What exactly does that mean? Are we talking about possible long-term or chronic problems that the Skins could have avoided by missing the playoffs, and if so, for which players?

I'm guessing Portis is the most serious, but Samuels and Springs have had problems for years and their issues this season came up months ago. And Brunell was probably going to be replaced by Campbell at some point next year anyway.

Oh and I like Wynn, he's a solid guy, but don't mistake him for a pass-rusher. Evans will only be a small drop-off.

33 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

If the Pats do manage to pull it off, how much heat does Shanahan take? The "Hasn't won a playoff game since Elway left" contingent will be howling.

34 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

RE 33

If the Pats (genuflect) do beat the Broncos, I'm sure the howls will be large. So many people are saying this is the best Bronco team in a long time.
However, how many Super Bowls did Dan Reeves and John Elway lose together? I think Broncos fans know you can be good and still lose and so are patient. Of course, that was a different owner and maybe a different era. Maybe that is lost.

36 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

Click my name.

CINCINNATI — Carson Palmer's knee injury was "devastating and potentially career-ending," involving numerous ligament tears, a shredded ligament, damaged cartilage and a dislocated kneecap, his surgeon said Thursday.

Paulos, an orthopedic surgeon who has worked with the U.S. Ski Team since 1983, replaced the anterior cruciate ligament, which runs through the middle of the knee and provides stability. He said the medial collateral ligament, which runs along the side of the knee, was damaged "real bad."

"On a scale of 1 to 3, it was a 4," he said. "It was off the chart. It was pretty badly damaged _ shredded is the better term."

The kneecap dislocated when Palmer was hit, damaging tissue around it. There also was some cartilage damage, he said.

Paulos was able to repair the knee without removing pieces of cartilage or soft tissue, a good sign.

37 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

#33, while people may be howling if the Broncos lose, they'll NEVER get rid of Shanahan. There are simply NO good coaches just floating around available for the grabbing. Green Bay hires McCarthy as HC? What? Is this in some way better than Sherman?

Shanahan is still young, aggressive, and obviously wants to win the Super Bowl. He'll keep getting the Broncos into the playoffs forever, and maybe eventually he'll win the Supe. Remember, with 32 teams in the league, every team should win it just once in 32 years.

Love him or hate him, he's there to stay. (I personally think he's a bit goofy. He wanted Deltha O'Neil to play WR, and when O'Neil said no, he got rid of him. And O'Neil tore up the league in Cincy this year.)

38 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2


Remember Eddie Kennison? I think some guys simply can't stand playing for a coach they hate. Kennison played better than before under Vermeil. On the other hand, some players do pretty well for themselves in a crime and punishment environment like on a Parcells team. With Shannahan, it's more of a mental discipline crime/punishment environment, and to lesser extent than the Cowboys.

39 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

Well, I am certainly not with the howlers. I think Shanahan is a terrific coach with perhaps not enough people who stand up to him in the talent evaluation area, which is not uncommon with coaches after they win a Super Bowl. You ain't going to go out and easily find somebody better, though.

40 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

As I've read many times, if you want to be the champ you have to beat the champ. Two years of spankings from the Colts in the wild card round and the onus is on you to prove something, whereas injuries or no, the Patriots have proven that they can go all the way. A few times.

I don't care that not many people give the Broncos much of a chance. The Broncos went 8-0 at home, and are as healthy as could be asked for, this time of year. This is as good a chance as we're going to get, to break the playoff win drought. And, unlike some, I don't think Cincy would have been better... the Broncos never seem to do well in shootouts.

As for Shanahan, I'd love the nay-sayers to point out a superior, available replacement. And in any case, Pat Bowlen has said, many times, that Shanahan has that job as long as he wants it.

42 Re: Black and Blue Report: Playoffs Week 2

RE: Bruschi...I saw something last week and I'm wondering if anyone else caught it. Near the start of the 2nd half there was a Jax pass near the sideline. Chad Brown made the tackle near where Bruschi was standing. Right away Brady came up to Bruschi and asked him a quick question. Bruschi looked at him and shook his head no. It all happened in a couple of seconds.

It appeared to me that seeing Brown in the game surprised Brady so he asked Bruschi if he could go. If this is the case it would reasonable to assume that there was at least a chance for Bruschi to play last week.

I replayed this sequence about 20 times until my wife threatened to leave me. I'm wondering if anyone else saw it.

(Genuflects removed for readability.)