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12 Oct 2005

Black and Blue Report: Week 6

by Will Carroll

Five weeks in and the NFL's schedule is starting to separate the winners from those who hope to land Matt Leinart next draft. The parity of the league leaves a vast middle ground of team who have talent enough to rely on the “Any Given Sundayâ€? cliché, knowing that it could apply to them as much as anyone. The difference, what some will call luck or the breaks, is often just injury. Each team has a certain level of talent. Any joke about USC taking on the NFL is just that, as it is with any collegiate team. Keeping that talent on the field is the hard part. Team medical staffs are starting to stretch, rushing to keep up with the inevitable bumps and bruises while being ready for the devastating trauma that always seems just around the corner. Quick – name your favorite team's head athletic trainer. How about team doctor? There's plenty of room for more in-depth coverage of injuries and for a better understanding of their effect on the game.

If there's one thing I hate, it's the “team of destiny� tag. I think it was the University of Colorado back in the late 80s that really pushed me over the edge, but I won't bore you with all the hypocritical details. There was a comedian a couple years ago that talked about an athlete blaming God after he lost. You just don't hear it, because it isn't nearly as acceptable as the standard “First, I wanna thank God� speech. Natural disasters happen and as sorry as we feel and as much as we want to help, hurricanes have nothing to do with Deuce McAllister's knee. I heard every variation on this Sunday and frankly, they burn me. Every play has a risk of injury and the medical staff and player work hard to reduce the risk. Sometimes, the nature of the game or the circumstances of the play result in something terrible, like an ACL tear, as happened to McAllister. It's nothing more and nothing less than an injury. For the Saints, they'll work to find an adequate replacement while McAllister rehabs for next season. The return from ACL surgery is about 12 months to activity and 24 months to full function. Just ask Edgerrin James.

Infection seems to be running around the NFL. In a game with turf and as much physical contact, it's surprising there's not more. Braylon Edwards is hospitalized after doctors excised an infected wound on his right arm. The exact type of infection isn't known, though it is expected that it is MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). This aggressive bacteria is the same one responsible for some of the problems that Kellen Winslow Jr had. His brush with the superbug resulted in a massive weight loss and loss of conditioning. Some reports have Edwards out as much as eight weeks, but Browns sources say that is a worst case scenario with his return depending on his response to treatment. In any case, Edwards rookie season is cut short by an opposition tougher than any CB.

Even on a team that has a former starter at the no. 3 slot (and let's not forget that no. 2 Tommy Maddox was an XFL MVP), an injury to the starting QB is devastating for every team outside of Detroit. Ben Roethlisberger gave a big scare to Pittsburgh fans when he went down with a knee injury after an awkward tackle. Big Ben's knee clearly hyperextended, but MRI showed little internal damage. He'll be able to play as soon as the knee loses the swelling and tenderness, then regains full stability. That shouldn't be long and perhaps as early as Sunday. His return is even more important given that Maddox is also out with a calf injury. Maddox is likely to be available as well, making Pittsburgh's QB situation one of the more confusing ones. Who's healthier on Thursday might have more to do with who plays than who's healthy on Sunday.

It's not quite “Who's On First� but when someone emails me and says “Roy Williams is hurt,� I have to ask which one. It was the former Permian Panther and current Lions WR this time, straining his quad and raising questions about his durability. Williams missed much of last season with an ankle problem. Charles Rogers also has his problems of both the injury and substance nature, leaving the once-vaunted WR depth to be mere necessity. Williams is out for Sunday and given the slow nature of his recovery last season, expect him to take at least four weeks to be full-go. It would help if the Lions had someone to get him the ball at that point.

For any other running back, a minor injury and a bit of a limp is barely a note in a dot column for the hometown beat. With Fred Taylor, it's the sound of the first shoe dropping. Or is it? Is it possible that Taylor very simply rolled his ankle and was limping a bit, nothing more? The Jags aren't doing any tests, say they won't do any treatments beyond what Taylor normally does between games (though that's plenty) and that they expect him to practice normally. Taylor looked fine in the game, going for 124 yards of slashing and power running, just like the Taylor of old or at least the healthy Taylor of old. Don't panic. If you have Taylor on your roster, you should already have a good backup at the ready.

Here's a sentence that you probably never thought you'd see: After being carted off without feeling in his legs, Michael Boulware is expected to play Sunday. That's right, the bruised spinal column that had Boulware in an ambulance isn't enough to keep him off the field. Reports have Boulware actually walking out of the hospital after tests. The injury to his lower back is reportedly still painful and that seems worrying. I won't secondguess the medical staff on this one. NFL medical staffs watch spinal injuries as closely as can be done, so if he's cleared to play he's going to be healthy. At least I hope so.

If you've never seen Dat Nguyen play, you've missed one of the most amazing things on a football field. I was at A&M when Nguyen ran the Wrecking Crew and to see the devastation that an undersized, soft-spoken Vietnamese kid could create was simply awesome. Like Zach Thomas, he was a middle linebacker out of the Big XII that did nothing but make plays. Nguyen hasn't had quite the success of Thomas, but he does have an actual neck, so let's call that a draw. Unfortunately, it's that neck that's injured, the dreaded chronic stinger. The confusing reporting on this injury comes mostly from Nguyen's own agent, who told the Cowboys that Nguyen would be out for the season. Since Nguyen's been playing with the situation roughly the same since the initial injury in late September, it's unclear what if anything changed. Nguyen might be slowed a week, but don't bet on it.

Thomas Jones finishes out the full cycle of knee ligaments this season for the B&B. We've had each of the other three ligaments that provide stability – anterior cruciate, posterior cruciate, and medial collateral – so Jones gets the dubious honor of being the first lateral collateral injury of the season. Getting all four by Week 5 shows just what a weak link the knee is. Chiseled athletes can have all the muscles they want; the knee is still only as strong as a band of fibrous collagen. Jones LCL sprain is a “Grade I+� according to Bears sources, so it's not terribly serious and he's likely to play some on Sunday against the Vikings, though Cedric Benson figures to get the bulk of carries. The knee shouldn't hamper Jones appreciably beyond this week, though giving Benson a chance might limit his workload down the line.

The good news is that given the opportunity with Ahman Green out, Najeh Davenport was able to have a breakout game with a couple of touchdowns by the second quarter. The bad news is that he didn't make it past that second quarter, breaking his right ankle. Davenport had surgery on Monday, ending his season with an IR move. The Packers have just been crushed by injuries so far this season. Almost every team has an adequate backup at most positions. Where it gets bad is multiple injuries, forcing the team to go down the depth chart. (Think of last year's Tennessee secondary, or any team that ever employed Spergon Wynn.) Davenport should be able to return without significant limitations for 2006; ankle injuries, even with surgical intervention, tend to heal normally. One medical source did question Davenport's unique size/speed combo as potentially problematic for an ankle, having to both be mobile and support his weight.

Sometimes, a player just needs a challenge. Apparently, taking over for Randy Moss wasn't enough. Nate Burleson wants to overcome not only a sprained left knee, but a strained right shoulder. Out since Week 2, it's unknown how Burleson injured the shoulder, but with the WR listed as “questionable� for this week, it's actually an upgrade. Burleson's status is as up in the air as the Vikings playoff hopes so even if he plays, don't expect #1 WR type numbers as he breaks back in and attempts not to break down again.

Bumps And Bruises

I never thought I'd have to write about a coach here in the B&B. Mike Martz is taking the season off to recover from an infection that has spread to his heart. Any infection is serious and the stress of coaching is no help when Martz is focused on getting healthy. Martz should make a full recovery and expects to coach next season, but with infections, almost anything can happen. Our best wishes to Martz in his recovery, as with any injury … Kurt Warner is expected back in two weeks. The Cardinals will have a decision to make at that point since Josh McCown is throwing so much, Dennis Green is worried about pitch counts … So just how bad was Duce Staley's knee injury? He's still out and unlikely to be the feature back, but it's more Willie Parker than injury cover up according to team sources.

Posted by: Will Carroll on 12 Oct 2005

29 comments, Last at 30 Dec 2012, 4:21pm by Alallieptsext


by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 12:22pm

From the "When it rains it floods out the town" Department -- Pats RB Kevin Faulk has a potentially career-ending heel injury (click my nickname for a link).

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

I am so happy we've all progressed to the era of "it is now clear Joey Harrington sucks and we can freely work in snide comments about him in whatever point we are trying to make." This is a special time for me as a Lions fan.

I quickly regarded Detroit's Roy Williams to be the real deal. I'm starting to worry about this multiple nagging injury scenario developing for him.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 1:37pm

Chalk Duce Staley up to the disgruntled ex-Eagle gets injured and is never seen from again with his new team curse.

Jeremiah Trotter (back in the Nest), Hugh Douglas (out of football), Brandon Whiting (out of football), Bobby Taylor (out of football), Freddie Mitchell (out of football) have all lead the way on this. Duce Staley now appears to have joined the list, as has AJ Feeley. Troy Vincent tried mightily to join in last year but managed to battle back. Carlos Emmons and John Welbourn have been flirting with injury, and Welbourn is currently suspended for steroid abuse, while Emmons is injured again. Corey Simon, Ike Reese, Derrick Burgess and Jermane Mayberry should watch out.

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 1:47pm

Re: 2

Thanks for the laugh. That's one of the most hilarious things I've ever read on this site. It is also a special time for me as a Lions non-fan living in MI.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 3:06pm

My real problem with Harrington-bashing is that unlike most guys I want to bash, by all accounts Harrington is a really nice guy and is really positive about everything.

I dunno, I guess I just feel sorry for him.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 3:18pm

Has any analysis been done as to what the average games missed per season, due to injury, by opening game starters, has been for the past ten years or so, and what the trend lines are?

by Joey Blue Skies (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 3:18pm

"We're lucky to have the kind of depth that we do at receiver. Kevin Johnson and Mike Williams are both very capable and talented guys and I'm comfortable with either of them on the field."

by SJM (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 3:24pm

Anybody know anything about Michael Clayton? That guy sure fell off the face of the earth (and my fantasy roster).

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 3:52pm

The Pats also put Chad Scott on IR today.

by Fred (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 4:34pm

Anybody got current news on Julius Jones? I've read "ankle sprain," "high ankle sprain," and "knee injury" - all on the same website... Gotta pick up Tyson Thompson but would have to cut either Colbert or Stallworth. Which one?

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 6:29pm

To paraphrase the Globe's Michael Reiss, do you think that Belichick was amused about the way the Falcons treated Vick re: the injury reports?

Here's the Pats' Wednesday report:

Chad Scott (CB) Out/IR - Shoulder
Kevin Faulk (RB) Out - Foot
Matt Light (T) Out - Ankle
Tully Banta-Cain (LB) - Probable Knee
Troy Brown (WR) Probable - Foot
Matt Chatham (LB) Probable - Knee
Corey Dillon (RB) Probable - Ankle
Randall Gay (CB) Probable - Ankle
Jarvis Green (DE) Probable - Shoulder
Marquise Hill (DE) Probable - Ankle
Larry Izzo (LB) Probable - Thigh
Willie McGinest (LB) Probable - Finger
Tyrone Poole (CB) Probable - Ankle
James Sanders (S) Probable - Ankle
Guss Scott (CB) Probable - Knee
Richard Seymour (DE) Probable - Knee
Duane Starks (CB) Probable - Thigh
Tom Brady (QB) Probable - Right Shoulder

by Carl (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 6:34pm

"Has any analysis been done as to what the average games missed per season, due to injury, by opening game starters,"


"has been for the past ten years or so,"

No. The data reporting is different.

"and what the trend lines are?"

See above.

by noahpoah (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 6:50pm

This has very quickly become my favorite column on this site. This is not to denigrate the other columns, most of which I read regularly and enjoy very much, but to compliment The Black and Blue Report.

Now that I've been reading it for a few weeks, it seems amazing to me that this perspective on the game has typically merited only terse injury reports with little in depth consideration of what types of injuries are more or less common and what the effects of particular injuries will likely be for a given team.

Hooray for Will!

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 7:42pm

Quick – name your favorite team’s head athletic trainer.

Steve Antinoupolus. I actually am pretty sure I butchered that last name. The team just calls him "Greek".

by Malene, Cph, Dk (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 9:10pm

ok, this is fun... fellow pats fans?

Bertram Zarins still around?

and whoever followed Ron O'Neill - is it still Kirk Brumels?

I seem to recall names at these positions being tossed around a bit more in sports reporting years ago - now these people are not even on the team homepage... what gives?

Hey Belichick, maybe if you gave a few more shoutouts to these people in press conferences, they'd start working on getting the injury list to fit one page...

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 9:55pm

Quick – name your favorite team’s head athletic trainer.

Mike Woicik, I believe.

by Malene, Cph, Dk (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2005 - 11:51pm

see, that's the thing. Players mention Woicikk a lot, but I thought he was more of a personal trainer type (he's title is conditioning coach, right?) - I didn't think he would be counted as part of the medical staff. I dunno...

by Jim A (not verified) :: Thu, 10/13/2005 - 1:22am

Re: staph infections, there apparently has been a rise in community-associated MRSA cases among athletes in recent years thought to be spread in locker rooms. The link on my name details a case involving Sammy Sosa, and the referenced article from SI mentions several NFL players who had it, including Junior Seau and Ben Taylor. In 2003, there were eight cases among St. Louis Rams linemen and several 49ers players apparently picked it up after playing the Rams. In rare cases it can be fatal as was the case with a Lycoming College (Pa.) wide receiver. Athletic trainers are beginning to preach better hygiene, particularly when wounds and bandages are present, as well as meticulous disinfecting of locker rooms.

by PerlStalker (not verified) :: Thu, 10/13/2005 - 3:33am

re #14
Kibbles, I did the same thing. "Name your team's trainer. Ok, Steve Anti.. Antinop... How the Frack to you spell the Greek's name?" :-) Greek is almost as well known as some of the players.

by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 10/13/2005 - 8:59pm

My real problem with Harrington-bashing is that unlike most guys I want to bash, by all accounts Harrington is a really nice guy and is really positive about everything.

I dunno, I guess I just feel sorry for him.

I think some guys just need a change of scenery. Baltimore and Detroit should swap Boller for Harrington straight-up, just to see if a change will help.

It sure would be nice to be a rookie QB in a strong system like Pittsburgh.

by Purds (not verified) :: Fri, 10/14/2005 - 2:22am

Re: #11

No sympathy from anyone (here or otherwise) about Bellichick being misled about Vick's injury, or any opposing team injury. That list you posted from week 6 looks just about the same as his list from week 5, and 4, and 3 ... Brady is ALWAYS on that list, and always plays. It's about time someone toyed with what Mr. Bill thinks of as his special playground. Let's remember, it was Mr. Bill's injury reporting actions that led to media access for mid-week practices, not Mora's.

by ABW (not verified) :: Fri, 10/14/2005 - 3:24pm

Purds, the reason it's funny is because up until now this season the vast majority of Patriots players are listed as questionable. But this week they are all listed as probable...same as Vick last week...get it? That's a little football coach humor for you there. Those crazy coaches and their jokes...

Incidentally, why is it Belichick who gets vilified for this so much? It's not like all the other coaches in the league are choir boys when it comes to the injury report. I know Belichick pushes the envelope when it comes to the injury report - I just don't think he's particularly worse about it than plenty of other coaches in the league, and I'm pretty sure Carl's statistics back me up on that.

by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 10/14/2005 - 4:13pm

Again, you are reading the injury report like a fan reads it, not as a GM, writer, coach or professional gambler reads it.

by PatsFan (not verified) :: Fri, 10/14/2005 - 6:30pm

Belichick vs. NFL, day 2 :-)

Offensive tackle Matt Light -- out
Running back Kevin Faulk -- out
Outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain (knee) -- questionable
Linebacker Monty Beisel (finger) -- questionable
Receiver Troy Brown (foot) -- questionable
Outside linebacker Matt Chatham (knee) -- questionable
Running back Corey Dillon (ankle) -- questionable
Cornerback Randall Gay (ankle) -- questionable
Defensive lineman Jarvis Green (shoulder) -- questionable
Defensive lineman Marquise Hill (ankle) -- questionable
Linebacker/special teams ace Larry Izzo (thigh) -- questionable
Outside linebacker Willie McGinest (finger) -- questionable
Cornerback Tyrone Poole (ankle) -- questionable
Safety James Sanders (ankle) -- questionable
Safety Guss Scott (knee) -- questionable
Defensive lineman Richard Seymour (knee) -- questionable
Cornerback Duane Starks (thigh) -- questionable
Quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder) -- probable

(so, will everyone be listed as Doubtful tomorrow?)

by Purds (not verified) :: Fri, 10/14/2005 - 8:34pm

AWB and PatsFan:

You have enlightened me to this week's comedy. Thanks.

As to Mr. Bill being villified, I think it boils down to this: Whenever his team wins, the media likes to scream that NE won because of Bill's genius, his counterintuitive decisions. If they lose, well, it's not Mr. Bill's fault, it's that he's had too many injuries. Look at the leads for last week's win:

USA TODAY/AP lead: "The New England Patriots squandered a couple of big leads. That was merely a setup for Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri, who pulled out one of their typical last-minute wins.

Brady threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns before Adam Vinatieri kicked a 29-yard field goal with 17 seconds left to lead injury-plagued New England past the Falcons 31-28 on Sunday."

SEE, the Pats were "injury plagued." Okay, but no mention of Vick being out? Well, they get around to it, but they bury this little tidbit that might have helped Mr. Bill's squad: "The Falcons were hurt by potentially season-ending injuries to middle linebacker Ed Hartwell (Achilles' tendon) and cornerback Chris Cash (arm). Also, Kerney was limited to passing situations after hurting a side muscle."

Now, I have no problem with that lead, except that here is the USAToday/AP lead from their loss two weeks ago:

"Injuries finally caught up with the New England Patriots. San Diego's explosive offense added to the misery."

So, if Bill wins, he's leading a heroic charge by his brilliance (though at least this lead gave credit to Brady and AV), but if his team loses, it's because they were injured.

It's like the Bruschi thing. Does anyone think he wasn't planning to come back? Mr. Bill will probably get credit for the foresight to not put him on IR. But, we knew all along he'd come back.

But no one rightly villifies Mr. Bill in the media for oddities that don't work out, like the supposed way Seymour was injured (playing FB).

Mr. Bill is a great coach, but he's treated as an untouchable by the mainstream, and thus there is resentment.

by Purds (not verified) :: Fri, 10/14/2005 - 8:36pm

Oh, I should add: Mr. Bill HAS been the best coach in football, and I have no reason to doubt he will be again this year. However, the villification is almost a rejection of the media fawning, not of Mr. Bill himself.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 10/19/2005 - 9:56am

#20 ("I think some guys just need a change of scenery.")

I couldn't agree more. That's why my spurious "genius prediction of the week" is that a quarterback taken in the first round of the 2002 draft will succeed in Detroit in 2006. If not Detroit, then maybe Chicago or Cleveland.

Joey Harrington, on the other hand, just plain sucks.

by Jorge Antinopai (not verified) :: Thu, 03/30/2006 - 2:31pm

Hola necesito ubicar a Steve Antinopoulos
por favor si te puedes comunicar conmigo
Esperando que te puedas contactar
saluda cordialmente
Jorge Antinopai
Viña del Mar - Chile

by Alallieptsext (not verified) :: Sun, 12/30/2012 - 4:21pm

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