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Week 4 injury review: Best hopeful
There are a handful of storylines surrounding this week’s action.
• Donovan McNabb returns to Philadelphia for a NFC East showdown.
• The Ravens and Steelers rekindle their AFC North battle.
• Four teams take a week off (Vikings, Cowboys, Buccaneers and Chiefs).
• Seemingly every running back in the NFL appears on the injury report.
Let’s get started in Detroit with the "Offensive Rookie of the Month."
Jahvid Best returned to practice on Thursday after missing a pair of workouts because of a sprained toe. Best told reporters that the injury has improved and that he "hopes to play" this weekend against the Packers. The "hope to" doesn’t inspire much confidence against a tough Green Bay run defense.
Detroit wide receiver Nate Burleson has been sidelined all week because of an ankle injury. There was hope that Burleson would offer a solid No. 2 option opposite Calvin Johnson. The Lions have turned to tight ends Tony Scheffler and Brandon Pettigrew in the passing game.
Ryan Mathews practiced fully on Wednesday after missing the Week 3 loss to Seattle because of an ankle injury. His return is good news for fantasy owners in a week where rosters have been depleted because of bye weeks and innumerable injuries to running backs.
While Mathews’ return is exciting for fantasy owners, starting guards Louis Vasquez and Kris Dielman were unavailable for practice. Vasquez sustained a sprained MCL is will likely miss several games. Dielman has been ill, although he may return in time for Sunday’s game.
Cleveland quarterback Jake Delhomme returned to the practice for the first time since sustaining a sprained ankle in the opener. He’s still favoring his ankle, per the The Associated Press, and will likely be a game-time decision. Coach Mangini reiterated that Delhomme is the starter, if available.
Cincinnati tailback Cedric Benson returned to practice on Thursday after missing Wednesday’s workout because of a knee injury. Benson’s clearly in a good spot this weekend against the Cleveland run defense that may welcome back nose tackle Shaun Rogers. He has ankle and hip injuries, but returned to practice on Friday.
Pierre Thomas was back on the practice field on Friday, according to The Times-Picayune, thereby increasing the chances that he’ll be available on Sunday. Thomas’ role is unknown. Ladell Betts, Christopher Ivory (dealing with a knee injury of his own) and DeShawn Wynn would be in line for touches if Thomas is unavailable. Betts had been running with the first unit in Thomas’ absence.
Drew Brees has been sporting a brace on his left knee in practice, but he’s been a full participant this week. Brees absorbed a blow from John Abraham late in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Falcons.
Ray Rice returned to practice Thursday. Rice had missed Wednesday’s practice because of a bruised right knee. Rice has emphatically declared himself ready for the divisional battle against the Steelers. Injury aside, Rice isn’t a huge play for fantasy owners in this matchup, but it’s awfully difficult to sit him down if active.
Andre Johnson missed practice again on Thursday because of the high ankle sprain that was re-injured against the Cowboys. Coach Gary Kubiak told reporters that Johnson will be a game-time decision for Sunday’s road trip to Oakland and a one-on-one battle against Nnamdi Asomugha. "He did run some," is the most encouraging phrase of Kubiak’s discussion of his top option. Unless he’s shut down altogether, Johnson still cracks your lineup, though your expectations are lowered.
Steven Jackson of the Rams missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday because of the groin strain sustained against the Redskins. Jim Thomas of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch advises that Jackson has been unable to run this week, and the bruising tailback advised that his range of motion is limited, thereby making cutbacks and directional transitions difficult. This may come to a game-time decision, but I’d be surprised to see Jackson take the field at this point. Kenneth Darby rates a play at the RB2 slot or a flex run.
Arizona wideout Steve Breaston underwent surgery to repair torn meniscus in his right knee. Ken Whisenhunt hasn’t ruled out Breaston returning to action in Week 5, but he’s likely out until after the Week 6 Bye.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis will miss Sunday’s game against Buffalo because of his hamstring injury.
Darin Gantt of The Carolina Observer notes that tackle Jeff Otah, who has been sidelined because of a knee injury, will not likely return until Week 7 at the earliest.
Denver tailback Knowshon Moreno will sit out a second straight week because of a hamstring injury. Laurence Maroney and Correll Buckhalter will split carries once again, with Maroney receiving the larger workload, according to the Denver Post. The run game has sputtered, so owners will need to run on faith if they’re to insert Maroney into their lineups against the Titans. He’s possibly a flex option.
Pierre Garcon and Donald Brown, both sidelined with hamstring injuries, sat out Friday’s workout, reports Mike Chappell of The Indianapolis Star. Neither player has practiced this week. Fellow receiver Anthony Gonzalez has already been declared “out.”
Mario Manningham was hurt in Week 3 against the Titans and was originally believed to have sustained a concussion. Manningham returned to practice on Thursday and appears set to take on his usual role for Eli Manning against the Bears on Sunday night, reports The New York Daily News.
Center Shaun O’Hara’s return to the field isn’t happening anytime soon. He remains unable to practice because of a left ankle injury and visited a foot specialist during the week. O’Hara’s absence is huge with a stout Chicago run defense on tap.
Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that second-year linebacker Larry English will miss 4-to-6 weeks after undergoing foot surgery. English’s injury leaves the San Diego linebacking corps thin heading into this week’s game with the Cardinals, as fellow linebacker Shawne Merriman is a game-time decision because of a calf injury.
Finally, I circle back to the running back position for one last run. The Washington Post reports that Clinton Portis was limited in practice this week because of an injury to his right wrist, but that he’s expected to start against Philadelphia.
Portis told reporters that he considers himself the lead back in Washington, but his drop-down issue during Week 3 and the emergence of former Denver tailback Ryan Torain last week may change the depth chart in short order. Mike Shanahan said as much following Sunday’s loss to St. Louis).
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