by Will Carroll
Before we get into an update on preseason injuries, let's remind everyone about the new Football Outsiders feature that will help you injury-proof your fantasy football team once we get to the regular season: "Twinjuries," the Twitter Sunday morning injury feed.
"Twinjuries" is the fastest way to get you the injury updates you need. Before the game, before you set your fantasy lineups, Brad Wochomurka and I will be working the phones and watching the wire to make sure you have up to the second info. "Sunday Morning Med Check" was a popular feature at both ESPN and SI, but Twinjuries will be better -- why? Timing. A Twitter post takes seconds, while an article has to be written hours before. It's the same great info you've come to rely on, given the Steve Austin treatment - better, faster, stronger.
"Twinjuries" comes free with a subscription to FO Premium, or you can buy it separately for five dollars in the FO Store. That page has details on how to add your Twitter username to your FO user account.
It does turn out that getting onto Twinjuries is going to have to work a little differently from how we had it originally. Here's what you need to do: If you are a subscriber to FO Premium, or if you pay separately for Twinjuries, you also need to send a follow request to @Twinjuries. We will then approve your follow request, provided you are a Premium or Twinjuries subscriber.
Onto the injuries...
Jonathan Stewart: The saddest of words in football are "if healthy." I mean, how many times have we said that about Brett Favre? No one questions Jonathan Stewart’s production or talent; they only question his ability to stay healthy. The Panthers took the chance on him last year after he slid slightly in the draft due to a known toe problem. This offseason, it has been his foot again, but at the back this time with an Achilles strain. Stewart remains sidelined by the condition, as he has since the offseason. It's not healing quickly, if at all, and there's some concern about whether he'll be ready or at least in condition when the games start for real. A red zone back who can't push with one foot is a real problem, especially when the cause is chronic. The worry is that getting him back too quickly will snap the Achilles, but at this pace, that might be a risk the team has to take to make sure he's ready for next season. Stewart has to go way down on draft boards, which ironically makes him an interesting risk vs. reward play.
Knowshon Moreno: There are names I hate to try and type. "Gostkowski" comes to mind, as do a lot of Samoan names, and we can't forget how many people Ben Stiller-ize the name "Favre." Typing "Knowshown" just makes me smile. It's ridiculous in a cool way. Still, I wish I didn't have to type it here. At least I have some good news. After his first preseason action, Moreno was limping off the field with a knee sprain. He was "lucky" in a relative sense, with a minor sprain of his MCL. He'll miss a couple weeks, but be ready to play after that. It will cost him in camp, but with a plethora of options, Josh McDaniels' Broncos backfield is looking a lot like Mike Shanahan's did. LaMont Jordan is the likely beneficiary here, but a change might keep Moreno from wearing down early. Long-term, Moreno has never had serious health concerns before and this shouldn't affect his overall production.
Bernard Berrian: So Brett Favre is back. Joy. I've seen a bit too much of him over the last year and I'm not going to expect much, especially if he doesn't have much to throw to. Bernard Berrian is a pure speed player, so it's more important for him to be healthy than it is for him to have timing and reps. That means that the Vikings can afford to keep him on the sidelines all the way to Week 1 if need be. The Grade II hamstring strain is very low, nearly in the belly of the muscle, so the medical staff will have to be careful to bring him back slowly. This area is most taxed under rapid deceleration, something that isn't essential for Berrian's style. I wouldn't change him on draft boards because his role, even with the injury and a new quarterback, seems to hold steady.
Marques Colston: It's clear that some people just don't understand microfracture, or perhaps they just don't understand football. Marques Colston had microfracture surgery, which is a procedure done arthroscopically, but calling it "minor surgery" is just ... well, it's not correct. (Brett Favre's tendon severing? Also not minor.) Colston is back at practice and running, but no one who has seen him says he looks 100 percent. There's still some pain and swelling, with that latter part being the bigger issue right now. The Saints play the majority of their games on turf and that could be hard on Colston's knee. One of the worries a doctor warned me of is that knees can act a bit like sprained ankles: "They're fine when you stay on them, but swell rapidly if you get off." We've seen that often in basketball, but it looks like Colston's going to need a bike on the sidelines and, more importantly, in the locker room. If there was a way to sub in for a guy at halftime in fantasy, this would be the place.
Chaz Schilens: Who? Yeah, I would have been right there with you a month ago, wondering who the heck Chaz Schilens was. A 2007 seventh-round pick for the Raiders (which isn't going to put you on too many fantasy football draft boards, at least not this decade), Schilens had moved up quickly due to an impressive camp. Now, he's got a broken foot and is done for at least two months, if not longer. He broke the fifth metatarsal, the outside of the foot and the one under the most stress during cutting. Wide receivers can adjust, cutting the other way or running straight, but even so, part of the stress of acceleration goes to the outside of the foot. Schilens will be a step slow this year and likely lose that place on the starting depth chart he had through camp. It doesn't make Darrius Heyward-Bey or Javon Walker (who's still on PUP himself) better options, but it might shift a few more carries/touches to the Raiders' running backs.
Marc Bulger: I have this idea for a glove for a quarterback. It's pretty much the same thing they wear in cold weather, but it has a small, light pocket of D3O on the outside. It wouldn't prevent all the problems that quarterbacks have when hand meets helmet, an inevitability in today's game, but it might protect them or minimize the damage, which is what "protection" is all about. Marc Bulger might want to test one of those after his throwing hand caught a bad break -- literally. Bulger fractured the pinky finger of his throwing hand and will miss a couple weeks. He should be fine in time for Week 1, but he'll miss some work with his receivers and the timing that the teams are always trying to work on. For a new coach, this is another challenge. Look for the team to shift some of the workload to Steven Jackson, especially early.
Kurt Warner: John Clayton says it will take a year for Kurt Warner to be "100 percent." I'm not exactly sure what he means here. Is that maximum healing or return to function? Either way, based on the information we have, it really shouldn't take that long. Warner -- or anyone having this type of hip procedure -- should get some immediate relief with slow, regular improvement. That's the very basics; otherwise the surgery wasn't necessary. Warner says he's uncomfortable when stationary, which again, doesn't make a lot of sense. The pressure on the hip is greater with activity, though the static pose of standing could be uncomfortable in that this position might be where the cartilage deficit is located. With the way Warner was moving, I'm not sure we can expect him to be mobile enough. Even in shotgun, Warner's footwork was problematic. (Interesting to note that Warner is actually two years younger than Brett Favre.)
Alan Faneca: The Jets won't have Brett Favre standing behind the line this season and it's growing more clear that Mark Sanchez will be. Sanchez hasn't locked down the position, but whether it's Sanchez or Kellen Clemens, the key for their development will be line play. The more a quarterback is upright, the more he can do the things he needs to do, like run through progressions, get good throws off, and gain confidence. To do that, he'll need a healthy line. Alan Faneca has long been very good, but there's a direct relationship that has been shown by my brothers here at FO between line consistency and line productivity. The longer linemen are together, the better they are in most cases. The middle of the Jets line isn't one that can be bull-rushed, but technique in the NFL has changed. I spoke with one current NFL lineman who told me "If you can't grab, you can't play." Faneca's surgically repaired middle finger on his tackle-side hand is going to be hurting him in this respect. With solid players on either side, Faneca and the Jets are likely to adjust some schemes. "He'll be pushing into a switch," the lineman explained, "which will work unless they overload the left side."
Bumps and Bruises: Carson Palmer has a mildly sprained ankle. It shouldn't affect him long term ... There are some in Panthers camp who are much more worried about Steve Smith's shoulder than they're letting on. "He has to be physical," one source who watched him practice this week told me, "or he's average. He's also used to bullying DBs." ... Willie Parker is going to be part of a rotation, but back spasms this early in camp might make his role even lighter ... Cadillac Williams won't play for a couple more games, but his rehab from a ruptured patellar tendon is going "better than expected." He'll have a chance to contribute, but only as an RB2 or RB3 ... Sammy Morris has been held out of practice. Undisclosed injury or is he on the trading block? ... Lions are doing the smart thing, bringing Brandon Pettigrew back slowly from a quad strain. He should be fine by Week 1, but the lack of reps might hold him back. Pairing him with a late-bye TE1 is a smart play ... Raheem Brock should be fine by Week 1 despite the surgery on his hand. He can play in a cast ... The Eagles line is very beat up, not good for integrating new members ... Lots of questions about Michael Vick and his ability to come back. Conditioning was never an issue with Vick, but there's just no comparison for missing that much time in that way.