Fantasy Football

Injury review: C. Johnson could be out

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Michael Harmon

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We're now hitting the sweet spot of the NFL season. We have a pretty good gauge of what to expect from most teams at this juncture. Obviously, there will still be point barrages and power outages to leave us scratching our heads, but generally speaking, we have a rough idea of each team's capabilities. The plug-in matchup play game is being executed against the Raiders, Rams, Browns, Chiefs and several other opponents. Interestingly, fantasy owners now get to apply that strategy to the Titans, a longstanding top-tier defensive unit that's fallen on hard times. Conversely, you're literally penciling gaudy numbers each week for the likes of Peyton Manning. Well, you can't do it this week, as he's on a bye. But you get the point. Still, the old phrase "any given Sunday" reverberates in your head. Things change on a dime in this game, and that's what keeps us glued to our screens and holding out hope for the upset special. I'm turning back to the locker rooms to close out this week's coverage with a review of notable injuries for Week 6. I'll begin with the defending champion Steelers, who may return key components on both sides of the ball. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette advises that running back Willie Parker's been able to practice this week despite still feeling the effects of turf toe. He'll return to the backfield against the Browns, but Rashard Mendenhall's success in his absence casts a cloud over the potential workload split. The paper also writes that safety Troy Polamalu's participated in back-to-back practice sessions and should be available for Sunday's game against Cleveland. Polamalu told reporters he's not yet at full speed, but that he's ready to return following a four-game absence. The Detroit Free-Press reports that Matthew Stafford missed Thursday's practice because of the knee injury sustained against the Bears in Week 4. Daunte Culpepper will likely return under center against the Packers. Culpepper will likely be without top option Calvin Johnson, who's dealing with a knee injury of his own. He hasn't practiced this week despite the "not serious" tag placed on the injury last week. Bryant Johnson becomes a possible plug-in starter for fantasy owners this weekend against Green Bay. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch tells us that Marc Bulger's practiced this week and will return to action Sunday against Jacksonville. He'd been sidelined by multiple injuries, and this is a glorious spot to return against a struggling Jacksonville defense. Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri underwent surgery to remove a piece of cartilage from his right knee, per The Indianapolis Star. . The veteran kicker's expected to miss 4-8 weeks of action, prompting the Colts to sign longtime Ravens kicker Matt Stover. The New York Daily News reports that Jerricho Cotchery's been unable to practice this week because of his hamstring injury. He's considered doubtful for Sunday's game against the Bills. Speedster David Clowney would step into the starting lineup opposite Braylon Edwards in his absence.

The Times-Picayune reports that Saints running back Mike Bell's participated in all practice sessions this week and will return against the Giants. Pierre Thomas is still the lead back, but Bell likely sees a share of the workload against the imposing visitors. The Denver Post reports that Correll Buckhalter's returned to practice after missing Week 5 because of an ankle injury. Even if he's available to Josh McDaniels, he's now clearly the second option to rookie Knowshon Moreno. Jamal Lewis has been available for the Browns during this week's preparation for Sunday's tilt against the Steelers, per the Cleveland Plain Dealer . He returned from a hamstring injury to carry the ball 31 times for 117 yards in a snooze-inducing win over Buffalo in Week 5. The Chicago Sun-Times advises that wide receiver Devin Hester's practiced fully this week after being slowed by neck and shoulder injuries prior to the Week 5 bye. Nick Harper of the Titans underwent surgery to repair his broken right forearm, per The Tennessean . The veteran cornerback's expected to miss 4-6 weeks. His injury means the Patriots will face a young and inexperienced pair of cornerbacks on Sunday. Tom Brady owners are banking on the Titans' weak play in the secondary to continue. The paper also reports that defensive end Jevon Kearse left Thursday's practice because of a foot injury. He was deactivated last week and will likely miss this Sunday's matchup against the Patriots. The Titans' inability to generate sustained pressure on opposing quarterbacks has left the secondary exposed, and his 2009 struggles are a huge part of the equation. The Washington Times reports that Redskins tackle Chris Samuels has been sidelined all week because of a neck injury and will miss Sunday's game against the Chiefs. His absence will force Chris Cooley to serve in more of a blocking capacity this weekend, as he did in Week 5. Fantasy owners should temper their expectations regarding Cooley, even with such an advantageous matchup on the slate. Also in Washington, Phillip Daniels is hopeful to return to the lineup after tearing his right biceps in Sunday's loss to Carolina. Albert Haynesworth's been limited by an ankle injury during the practice week, but he's expected to start. If you have any last-minute injury questions or need help with a sit-start question, you have plenty of options on Sunday morning and throughout the weekend. Nate Lundy, Peter Burns and I are answering your calls, texts and Tweets during the "FOX Fantasy Football" show on FOX Sports Radio (XM 142 and between 10am-12pm ET/7-9am PT on Sunday. Hit the Twitter-verse at or You can also log in and chat with Roger Rotter on Sunday morning. He'll be breaking down all of the games and updating those pesky injury reports with his sit-start thoughts from 11am-1pm ET/8-10am PT on

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