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14 Oct 2008

Black & Blue Report: October 14, 2008

by Will Carroll

I read an article this weekend saying that injuries are not up this year. I wish I could remember where, because while that point was correct, it led to an incorrect conclusion. The writer made that argument only to say that injuries are part of the game and we should just accept them. No, we should not. We should understand that the game is going to cause some injuries and be ready for them, but that there is something to be done to reduce the amount and severity of these injuries. Most importantly, we just have to take them seriously. The mockery that teams are making of the injury report is threatening to make it useless. In the cases of Kellen Winslow and Peyton Manning, the respective teams followed the rules, but still have managed to hide information in a manner that makes the integrity of the Official Injury Report break down.

Manning's case is the most troubling because it shows just how dangerous this can be. The Colts and Manning finally revealed that yes, he did have a second, more extensive surgery to remove infection from his knee after it had spread. While press reports are focused on "80 stitches," it's the lengths to which the Colts went to hide things that are stunning. In the offseason, there's no duty to report, largely because there are no games. But while Manning is telling people that he's "finally feeling healthy," people are looking back at the Week 2 OIR and noting that the unhealthy Manning wasn't listed. Mike Lombardi of the National Football Post deserves a tip of the cap because he -- and gamblers -- had some inside info. Manning is fine now, but the damage is done and Roger Goodell is going to have to decide whether this kind of organized chicanery -- which included Manning wearing a large brace on the opposite knee publicly -- deserves repercussions.

While the case of Peyton Manning's medical black ops is a clear violation of the spirit of the rules, Winslow's is a shade of grey. It was widely reported that Winslow was in the hospital with swollen testicles. This can be a result of several conditions like infection, trauma, or as a precursor to testicular cancer. The reason you cringed is the reason the Browns haven't released much information. This is perhaps the most personal injury, embarrassing, painful, and potentially life-threatening or life-changing. While the NFL requires that we know the condition of a player in regard to this week's game and his likelihood of playing, there's really no need for us to know further specifics. Unfortunately, to maintain this, we need more information. It's a real catch-22. Gamblers work game to game, but the majority of fans and fantasy players want all the info they can get. There are Web sites and television networks built on that concept. Could it work for Romeo Crennel to come out and say "Winslow was hospitalized and will miss one game, with the potential for longer?" I'm not sure, in an era where we know Vince Young was suicidal and what color panties Britney Spears is wearing on any given night. I have a bias to more info, but we also have laws and should have some common decency. As for Winslow's status, he's the very definition of day-to-day and shouldn't be counted on for this week. At the same time, you can't count him out for the season.

Getting back to the Colts, they're also short in the backfield after a pair of injuries. They couldn't hide the fact that Joseph Addai strained his hamstring early in the game against Baltimore, and everyone saw Mike Hart blow out his knee on his longest run. Addai is expected to miss at least a week with a "significant" strain and Hart's likely ACL tear is said to be "significant." Gosh, Tony Dungy is a walking thesaurus in addition to a medical resource! While the Colts are going to smile and lie, here are the facts: Addai has a moderate, Grade II hamstring strain that will keep him out between two and four weeks. Given that he heals quickly and the location of the strain is in the belly of the muscle, Addai should be back towards the low end, though he'll likely share carries with Dominic Rhodes upon return. Hart's almost assuredly out for the season, a victim of the turf, but the Colts are awaiting imaging before pushing him to IR. The team is going to look at running backs to slot behind Dominic Rhodes and should bring in some no-names to try out for the one- or two-week stint.

Can Will Carroll resist making a joke involving Tony Romo's broken pinky and Jessica Simpson? Yes, but only because there's a comment feature here. Romo's fractured finger will prevent him from making accurate throws and will cost him a month, putting the Cowboys hopes for October firmly in the hands of Brad Johnson. If you quickly flip to Johnson's projection in PFP 08, you're not going to like what you see (unless you're an Eagles fan). Romo should be back in a month, maybe a week less, but his movement in the pocket is going to work against him. I spoke with a lineman in the NFL who said that they're all conscious of moving back towards the quarterback "so he doesn't smack us on the lid and do something like that. There's an invisible line where you just go down." Romo's finger will heal, but there will be some pressure on him to get back out there quickly unless Brad Johnson can hold the rope. We'll see. In addition, Felix Jones will miss at least two weeks after straining his hamstring. Jones was healthy through college, so there's no gauge on how he heels. Again, the state of the Cowboys will affect how aggressively they move him. Working in the favor of both men is the quality of the Cowboys medical staff and their relative lack of injury.

LaDainian Tomlinson had a nice Week 6, but then he gave us a "huh?" moment. "It felt the best it has all year," he said about his toe after the game. "The thing is, it was never getting worse." Um, L.T., last week, you said just the opposite. So knowing that we can't take Tomlinson's word for it, we have to just focus on his performance. The last two weeks show that he can be effective, if not fully effective, with the injury and that he'll surely play through it. I've been fixated on the bye week as where he might get past it, but the intervening games are each chances for him to re-injure the toe and make it bad enough that even two weeks of rest won't get him back to normal. If you're OK with the performance you've been getting from him the past couple weeks, that's what you're going to get at least through that Week 9 bye.

Willis McGahee left Sunday's game with a knee injury, and sources are again pointing to the Lucas Oil Stadium turf that also claimed Mike Hart and Marshal Yanda. The severity of the knee injury isn't known; the Ravens are awaiting imaging. Early word is that it's not "really bad, just bad." McGahee had offseason surgery on his left knee and knowing whether it's another problem with that knee or the other side is going to be key to understanding this. Either is bad, but the left would be worse. Given McGahee's inability to stay healthy in any way, shape, or form this season, it's safe to say that he's going to be in a committee going forward, though none of the committee worked well against the Colts.

The Bengals are letting Carson Palmer see some of the best doctors in the country as he searches for some answer to his elbow injury. Indications are that he's torn the UCL -- sometimes referred to as the MCL or "Tommy John" ligament -- but not enough to require replacement. Of course, a minor tear would be "structural damage," and there's some indication that Palmer might have another condition, ulnar neuritis. This is, again, something more often seen in baseball and related to Tommy John surgery. The ulnar nerve runs very near the UCL and can be irritated when the UCL swells or roughens. Having ulnar neuritis has been described as having your funny bone (which is the ulnar nerve) hit, over and over, all the time. Not comfortable and certainly not something that's going to be good for a quarterback. As Palmer continues to search for answers on his elbow, the Bengals are tearing down their season and seem willing to let Palmer rest as long as is necessary to get a high pick in next year's draft.

The Saints teased us last week that Marques Colston could be back. While Jay Glazer 180ed us on Sunday, saying the Saints never intended to let Colston play, there was plenty of indication that it was not only a possibility, but that Colston had been cleared. There were caveats in the clearance, ones that Sean Payton came back to when he made his decision Sunday, but make no mistake about it: Colston could have played and was given gametime consideration. He and Jeremy Shockey, also coming back from surgery, are both expected back this week. Shockey will be more limited than Colston, but both will factor into the Saints' game plan as they prep for a big game with the Panthers, one where a slight edge or bad matchup could be key.

Bumps and Bruises

Willie Parker is expected back this week. I'll be watching the practice reports for confirmation ... Matt Hasselbeck is definitely out again next week. His knee isn't making progress ... In a bit of a surprise, reports have Jon Kitna heading to IR. I'll keep an eye on this ... Trent Edwards is expected back this week after his concussion ... Fred Taylor left after it was suspected he had a concussion, but he passed tests and returned to the field. This shouldn't affect him going forward ... Mike Walker will miss a couple weeks with an infected knee. It could be longer if it doesn't clear up and needs surgery, a la Manning ... Calvin Johnson took a big hit and said he had blurry vision. Who's to say, though suggestions he's soft are only going to be whispered louder. One insider tried to sell me on that this week ... I called Bernard Berrian a high-risk, high-reward play on Sunday. His connection with Gus Frerotte got you the reward if you had the guts to play him ... There's more going on with Laurence Maroney than just the shoulder, but the team doesn't seem inclined to push him ... Ladell Betts' knee issues have caused the Redskins to take a long look into Shaun Alexander. Yikes ... Sam Hurd is done for the year after re-injuring his ankle ... Ravens guard Marshal Yanda is done for the year after trashing his knee on the new Colts turf ... It's time to watch for PUP returns. Players on the PUP list can begin practicing this week. Some names to watch include Ryan Lilja, Cadillac Williams, David Tyree, Joe Jurevicius, Stephen Neal, and Justin Harrell.

Posted by: Will Carroll on 14 Oct 2008

24 comments, Last at 19 Oct 2008, 9:40am by Whatev


by el plaga :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 5:15pm

Could someone elaborate on the invisible line, offensive lineman thing? was will talking about a dallas o-lineman saying that, or is that a random o-lineman just talking in generalities?

by Will Carroll :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 9:49pm

It was a generality.

by Temo :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 5:31pm

"Jones was healthy through college, so there's no gauge on how he heels."


by Demond Sanders (not verified) :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 6:51pm

"Manning is fine now, but the damage is done."

What damage are you referring to, Will? His injury had very little bearing on the Colts recent struggles. We all knew he'd be a little rusty from missing camp, but it was the inept O-Line that really hurt the team. Peyton has played fine, even in Week 1 against the Bears (257 yds, 1 td, 0 ints). In the first month he's led three killer comebacks as well as a blowout of the Ravens.

Lombardi was right about Manning's two surgeries, but so what? His overall point was off the mark. He claimed the knee was a HUGE short-term and long-term concern for the Colts. Clearly that was not the case.

by Temo :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 8:13pm

Actually, his game against the Bears, as I remember, was below replacement value. He required 48 passes for those 257 yards.

by laberge (not verified) :: Wed, 10/15/2008 - 7:18am

I am pretty the damage Will was referring to involved the integrity of the injury reporting process.

by Buzz (not verified) :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 7:06pm

Got to agree with Demond on this one. No damage done in the case of Manning. I dont see how it is anywhere different than LT's toe last year in the playoffs or any of the other 20-30 players with similar issues each week and no where near the issue of Brady's sore shoulder. Was Manning at 100%? Clearly not, but what about Brady in week 1 before he went down with his injury, I dont think you could seriously consider him 100% either. Nothing to see here unfortunately because I like a good controversy as the next person

by Greg (not verified) :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 8:09pm

Will, this is twice you've said 'Mike Hart was a victim of the turf'. My question for you, because I'm obviously not as educated as you, is 'Victim of the turf' a euphamism for 'Took a direct hit from a helmet to his knee'?

If this isn't what you meant, could you elaborate, I've seen the play multiple times, it wasn't a 'hit and knee buckled' turf play.

Keep up the stellar work, imo.

by Will Carroll :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 9:54pm

You're looking at the wrong spot. Yes, he took a helmet to the knee, but he was injured because his foot "stuck". On grass, his foot would have shifted back and the ACL wouldn't have blown.

by Wait, what? (not verified) :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 8:48pm

"[I]n an era where we know Vince Young was suicidal[.]"

Do we know that? I've seen a number of things alleged with regard to VY's mental state, but none of them cited any diagnosis of any mental illness, mentioned hospitalization for same, or noted any instance of definitively suicidal behavior. (His mama being worried about him doesn't count.) Nor has Young himself been credited with any reference to possible suicidal thoughts as far as I know.

I realize this quote is in the same sentence as a comment about Britney Spears that is obviously meant as a joke, and so maybe you only intended it to be humorous. However, in a column that covers injuries (where mental health of players can be included as appropriate), with a specific bent on cutting through inaccurate terminology and explaining players' afflictions, to attribute suicidal thoughts to a player on the sketchiest of evidence strikes me as slightly irresponsible.

I hate to single out one phrase of a column that I enjoy and generally find very informative, but there it is.

(Please note that if there is concrete evidence of Vince Young being suicidal that I have missed, I withdraw all of the above with apologies.)

by Will Carroll :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 9:56pm


If that's not enough for you ...

by Dales :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 9:43pm

"Can Will Carroll resist making a joke involving Tony Romo's broken pinky and Jessica Simpson? Yes"

Will Carroll resisted the urge? That's a shocker!

by Demond Sanders (not verified) :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 10:37pm


I see the step you are talking about. But I'm curious how you decided that Hart blew his knee there instead of on the helmet-to-knee hit?

I'm not saying you are wrong, but it by no means looks conclusive to me.

by Whatev (not verified) :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 10:47pm

I don't have the play in front of me but what I think he's trying to say is just that it's the fact that his foot got stuck against the turf that allowed the helmet-to-knee hit to cause the injury. If his foot hadn't been stuck then the leg would've just been shoved aside, probably with no more than an irritating bruise.

by Greg (not verified) :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 11:59pm

I still haven't seen the 'foot stick' or the 'knee buckle', but I think that's beside the point. He wasn't a 'victim of the turf'. He was a victim of a helmet to the knee. It wasn't some freak 'woah, he tried to make a cut and his knee buckled' or 'he slipped on a mcdonald's bag and put his hand through a TV, damn turf' type of play. If you're on grass or sand or something that has a ton of give, and you're running full speed and an NFL safety is running full speed towards you, and then he dives at your knee and hits you with the crown of his helmet, what are the chances that you're going to have a booboo?

And for the record, I'm not pissin or moanin about the hit, I'm just sayin that guns don't kill people, people kill people.

by Whatev (not verified) :: Sun, 10/19/2008 - 9:40am

Okay, well, think about the difference between karate chopping a wooden board that's supported at both ends and one that's only supported at one end. You can hit both the same way, and yet something very different happens in each case.

by Will Carroll :: Wed, 10/15/2008 - 3:22pm

Demond -- it's the same play! The hit was clearly the factor, but had his foot not been "stuck" in the turf, it would have hurt, but it would likely have not blown out his knee.

by Staubach12 :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 11:30pm

I'd just like to point out that saying Romo has a broken pinky is misleading because it makes it seem as if it is a bone in the extended part of the finger was broken. Romo broke his right fifth metacarpal bone, which is the "pinky" bone in the palm of the hand (connected to the wrist). This is better news for Cowboy fans than if he had broken one of the small bones in the finger.

Here's some more information on the injury:

  • http://www.blueandsilverreport.com/2008/10/13/location-of-romos-fracture...
  • http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/news.cfm?id=F716528F-C40F-99BC-DC74055...
  • Any thoughts, Will? I'd like to hear a more educated opinion on the difference between these two types of breaks.

    by Mike W :: Tue, 10/14/2008 - 11:33pm

    Will, I read LDT's comment as meaning that the toe never got worse throughout the game.

    by Scott P (not verified) :: Wed, 10/15/2008 - 12:41am

    Lucas Oil Stadium has Field Turf. 9 other teams play on Field Turf & 5 others have some kind of artifical turf-- so that's almost half of the league.

    Just because a couple of players have hurt their knee at The Luke doesn't mean it's due to the turf. It's not like they are forcing guys to play on the old hard-as-concrete surface they replaced at the RCA Dome about 5 years ago. As far as I know, Field Turf is as good as you can get when grass is not an option.

    by spencer (not verified) :: Wed, 10/15/2008 - 10:52am

    This was clearly written before the Hasselbeck news of his bulging disc causing his leg issues. The reports indicate he's out this week but what about the upcoming weeks? Disc problems are usually not one week things. Is he droppable for someone like Bulger/Garcia?

    by Richie :: Wed, 10/15/2008 - 12:16pm

    Hey, Britney Spears is voluntarily disclosing her underwear color (when she wears any at all).

    by anotherpatsfan :: Wed, 10/15/2008 - 1:21pm

    Enough about Winslow's testicles == any info on Joey Galloway?

    by Minja (not verified) :: Wed, 10/15/2008 - 4:57pm

    Any more news on McGahee? Will he miss any time? Any idea what type of injury it might be (strain, sprain, ligament, meniscus, etc.)?