Doc Talk: Week 10 injury analysis

To learn why offensive linemen are the toughest men on the football field and how the Steelers’ line will perform despite a rash of injuries, click on the video above.

CAROLINA PANTHERS at TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (foot)

Jock to Doc Take: Williams has been sidelined with this injury since Week 8 but is making progress. He DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE on Wednesday or Thursday. Other notable Panthers running backs were not active Wednesday and Thursday as well: Jonathan Stewart and Tyrell Sutton. Last week against the Saints, Carolina QB Matt Moore was knocked out of the game and has now been placed on IR. John Fox will rely on a rookie quarterback this week, so the running game will be very active. Williams has promisingly shed his boot and resumed walking without a limp, but hasn’t been cleared for practice. It’s uncertain whether he’s able to make cuts yet on his sprained left foot. At this point it looks as if Mike Goodson will get the call at running back for Carolina.

Health Rating: DeAngelo Williams @ 50%

CINCINNATI BENGALS at INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Bengals LT Andre Smith (foot)

Jock to Doc Take: Although the Bengals’ Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco were inactive for Wednesday’s practice, the injury that should concern the defending AFC North champions the most is the injury to their offensive tackle. Smith was limited in practice Wednesday, but was involved enough to have his foot stepped on in a pass protection drill. Tests have revealed a fracture in the foot, which is the same foot that kept him out most of his rookie season. The current foot fracture may very well end his season. Smith did not participate in Thursday’s practice and he is not expected to play this week.

Health Rating: Andre Smith @ 30%

DALLAS COWBOYS at NEW YORK GIANTS

Cowboys LB Bradie James (knee)

Jock to Doc Take: The Dallas linebacker DID NOT PRACTICE on Wednesday. James has been dealing with a sprained PCL in his knee for weeks and could just be taking some time to rest for Sunday’s game. Given he was on the field full go for practice Thursday, that indeed appears to be the case. He should play without difficulty this weekend.

Health Rating: Bradie James @ 80%

DETROIT LIONS at BUFFALO BILLS

Bills LB Shawne Merriman (calf)

Jock to Doc Take: In his first practice with the Bills after being picked up off waivers last week, the former All-Pro linebacker pulled up with a strain in his lower right leg. “Shawne put 10 pounds (of pads) on his body and went out there and had a little strain, and we didn’t want to chance anything,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “So we’re getting it checked out completely, and we’ll see what happens from there, but it wasn’t anything major.” Despite Chan Gailey’s words, I am sure the Bills are questioning the move to claim Merriman off wavers given his immediate injury once on the practice field.

At the same time Coach Gailey also sounded as though he knew minor setbacks could crop up, knowing Merriman was not yet in football shape coming off of San Diego’s injured reserve list.

“What happens is everyone gets their expectations so high,” Gailey said. He admitted that Merriman’s chances of playing this weekend are not looking good following the injury, especially with limited knowledge

Health Rating: Shawne Merriman @25%

HOUSTON TEXANS at JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Texans TE Owen Daniels (hamstring)

Jock to Doc Take: Texans’ tight end was inactive in Week 9 against the Chargers and DID NOT PARTICIPATE in practice Wednesday or Thursday. He has been listed as questionable for this weekend’s game, but won’t be rushed back as replacement tight ends Joel Dreessen and James Casey combined for 114 yards on 10 catches. I doubt he plays this week, as I don’t think he will play unless he gets a full week of preparation.

Health Rating: Owen Daniels @ 40%

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS at DENVER BRONCOS

Chiefs WR Dexter McCluster (ankle)

Jock to Doc Take: The do-it-all wide receiver was LIMITED IN PRACTICE on Wednesday as he was last week. His injury is listed as a high ankle sprain, so it is hard to tell the degree of severity. He was again limited in Thursday’s practice, and after missing two weeks should return to the field this weekend. The Chiefs sincerely miss McCluster’s presence, as they are 1-1 since he has been inactive. Although his numbers aren’t huge, McCluster’s speed and versatility demands defenses’ attention.

Health Rating: Dexter McCluster @ 75%

MINNESOTA VIKINGS at CHICAGO BEARS

Vikings WR Percy Harvin (ankle, migraine)

Jock to Doc Take: Have we seen a more courageous performance in the past few week than Percy Harvin’s? It was evident he was in complete agony the past couple of Sundays, but he has still been a major contributor to the Vikings offense. On Wednesday, Harvin DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRACTICE because of a migraine, something he has suffered from a lot this season. He was unable to practice Thursday as well. I think Harvin will find his way onto the field and provide Brett Favre with another target. Last week, it was reported that head coach Brad Childress and Harvin got into a heated argument about whether the receiver should get an MRI on his ankle.

Health Rating: Percy Harvin @ 80%

NEW YORK JETS at CLEVELAND BROWNS

Browns QB Seneca Wallace (ankle)

Jock to Doc Take: Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy got his third career start last week and won over many Browns fans with a win against the New England Patriots. McCoy was listed as the third string quarterback in the beginning of the season, and it will be interesting to see what move head coach Eric Mangini makes if Seneca Wallace is good to go this week. Wallace had LIMITED PARTICIPATION in practice Wednesday and Thursday, and it looks like he has made significant progression with his ankle sprain. I think he plays this week, but he does not see the field but rather backs up Colt McCoy.

Health Rating: Seneca Wallace @ 70%

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS at ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals RB Chris “Beanie” Wells (knee)

Jock to Doc Take: It was reported before game time last Sunday that the running back would play through the injury, but ended up only seeing one carry. Wells DID NOT PARTICIPATE in practice on Wednesday or Thursday because of ongoing swelling issues with his knee. I think Wells may be on the active roster but will see limited action again this week.

Health Rating: Chris “Beanie” Wells @ 65%

ST. LOUIS RAMS at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Rams RB Steven Jackson (finger)

Jock to Doc Take: The Rams stud running back was LIMITED IN PRACTICE on Wednesday and Thursday. Jackson suffered a broken left ring finger back in Week 7, but the injury hasn’t stopped him from playing since. Jackson has been given more than 20 carries in each game in the past five weeks, and expect the same heavy dose against the 49ers this week.

Health Rating: Steven Jackson @ 85%

TENNESSEE TITANS at MIAMI DOLPHINS

Titans QB Vince Young (ankle)

Jock to Doc Take: Titans gunslinger Vince Young DID NOT PARTICIPATE in practice on Wednesday, which is a bit of a concern because Tennessee is coming off of their bye week. Young was able to return to practice Thursday. Head coach Jeff Fisher remained optimistic about Young’s ankle injury, noting that he plans on giving Young the bulk of the reps on offense in Friday’s practice.

Health Rating: Vince Young @ 80%

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS at PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Patriots QB Tom Brady (right shoulder, foot)

Jock to Doc Take: The All-Pro quarterback DID NOT PARTICIPATE in practice Wednesday because of an unspecified foot injury, the Boston Globe reported. Brady is usually listed on the injury report each week for his right shoulder, but this foot injury is new. This is the first practice Brady has missed all season, but he didn’t seem to concerned when he addressed reporters. "I think we took quite a beating from our coach here the last couple days," Brady said. “It will be great to try to get back on track this week." I expect Brady to light it up this week after practicing well on Thursday.

Health Rating: Tom Brady @ 80%

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES at WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Eagles QB Michael Vick (ribs)

Michael Vick made his return to the field last week after being injured in Week 4 against the Redskins. Vick had a stellar performance against the Colts last week, completing 17 of 29 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the ball effectively and threw a pass 60 yards in the air out of his end zone with little noticeable effort. Vick is ready to go and made statements about taking the Eagles to the Super Bowl. If you have Vick on your Fantasy team, start him.

Health Rating: Michael Vick @ 85%

Health Ratings: So what do the numbers mean?

100-85% = NFL players are tough and despite injuries still perform at a high level. Let’s be honest, when is an NFL athlete really physically 100%…practically never. With a rating in this range expect players to perform at peak levels.

70-85% = In this range a players performance will be affected but they can still get the job done.

55-70% = Players with a rating this low will require assistance to do their jobs. The team might be better served by placing these warriors on the inactive list. Only some All-Pro’s can get the job done when rated this poorly.

40-55% = These players need some more time to heal. Unlikely to be active unless miraculous healing occurs or my rating was based on erroneous information.

25-40% = Players will not play but show signs of recovery opening the door for a return to the active roster the following week.

< 25% = Players will not play and there is concern that additional games may be missed.