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Anatomy Of An Injury - Week 7
10/14/08

This is the first in a series of weekly articles that will provide you with in-depth analysis of key injuries for the week and their resultant implications on fantasy football. This information comes straight from my perspective as a Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer for ten years. Over this time, I have seen almost all the injuries that can happen in this violent sport on the college level and how to treat them. Hopefully, this gives you a little more insight on certain injuries and what to expect. The key injuries from this week were from two players who had been injured in the week’s prior: Carson Palmer and Brian Westbrook. As I am writing this, I get word that Tony Romo has a broken pinkie. I will touch upon these and more. So, here we go:

Player: Tony Romo
Injury: Broken Pinkie
Healing Time: 4-6 weeks
Impact on the Field: It is being reported that this is a 4-5 week injury but, could very well lead to an extra week. His pinkie will be splinted in a straight position for 4 weeks and then once the fracture has healed, will be able to start gripping a ball. There is a possibility that he requires surgery, where they place a pin in the fracture site, but that will allow for the same time frames. With Dallas being so strong, they will be in no hurry to rush Romo back in fear of complicating the injury. Even if they play .500-ball they will be right in the thick of things. Old man rivers takes over which should lead to lots of dump offs and loads of Marion Barber. Witten, Owens and Barber should all miss Mr. Romo, but you canít sit any of them.

Player: Carson Palmer
Injury: Elbow - Unknown at this time
Healing Time: Unknown at this time
Impact on the Field: There is quite a bit of speculation about this injury. John Clayton has come out and said that there is some thought to this injury being season ending. Others have said that they donít want the injury to worsen, so it is a week-to-week thing.

There are two injuries possibly at play here. First and worst case is that the persistent swelling is from a torn/partial tear of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, otherwise known as Tommy John Injury. This is Cincinattiís biggest fear and if so, would cost him the year. This injury is a torn ligament that connects the inside of the upper arm bone to the inside of the lower arm bone. Of prime importance to those who throw things for a living. If compromised, you are looking at surgical intervention and about a year of recovery.

If this injury is less serious, it most likely is bursitis or a bone spur. This sac gets inflamed and stays that way with any activity involving bending and straightening of the elbow. No long-term implication if this is what it is. It is more of a nuisance than anything else. Best advice I can give you is hope for the best and make sure you have a quality backup. With Carson out, obviously downgrade the entire offense and start players at your own risk.

Player: Brian Westbrook
Injury: 2 Broken Ribs
Healing Time: 4-12 weeks
Impact on the Field: Arguably, the most painful thing a football player can play through. Ribs are involved in everything that a person does, never mind a football player. Breathing, twisting, sneezing, and eating are all painful activities. Pain killers/injections usually take the edge off and may allow more twisting, running and jumping but, still with considerable amounts of pain. This injury is truly the mark of how tough someone is. There is no further damage that can be done by playing but, limits every move a player can make.

For someone like Westbrook, who relies so much on his ability to make people miss, this is a difficult injury for him to play through. One broken rib can take anywhere from 4-12 weeks to heal. Two ribs double the pain, but the time frame remains the same. In summary, if Westbrook returns this week, he is safe to start. He will be somewhat limited but, is far too good not to be in your lineups. If he is still out, he is still in a lot of pain and will be re-evaluated on a week-to-week basis.

Player: Anquan Boldin
Injury: Fractured facial bones and sinus repair
Healing Time: OUCH! Broken facial bones are nothing to sneeze at! Sorry for my poor attempt at humor! That vicious hit three weeks ago has left Mr. Boldin hurting. They basically had to reset some of the flattened structures to allow him to breathe properly through his nose. He should be good to go after the bye week with no further risk for re-injury.

Player: Kellen Winslow
Injury: Swollen Testicles (I kid you not)
Healing Time: You tell me
Impact on the Field: In one of the most disturbing injuries I have come across in some time, comes the news of Kellenís plight. This injury could be related to violent trauma to the area or could be from a more serious internal concern. All kidding aside, there has been no news on this injury b/c of its location and the embarrassment that may come from it. If it is from straight trauma, it could be just a week to week thing. If from a more serious internal issue, most likely the year. On a side note, I have experienced this once in my career when I treated a guy in the hospital who could not physically get out of bed b/c of the size of his ďareaĒ. I am still trying to get the picture out of my head. Back to Mr. Winslow, hope for just and old fashioned kick to the groin and hope he is back next week.

Player: Matt Hasselbeck
Injury: Knee bone bruise/hyperextension/ herniated disc in low back
Healing Time: 1-4 weeks if non-surgical
Impact on the Field: This injury is from some sort of ligament damage. Could be either the MCL (inside knee ligament), ACL (connects front of lower leg to back of upper leg), or PCL (most likely and connects back of lower leg to front of upper leg). The fact that he missed last week indicates that there is a moderate level of concern. There is also been note of his back injury flaring up. To recap, he had a herniated disc that was treated with physical therapy. It had been better, but might have been aggravated by his knee injury. Tough to tell what is actually the truth. If you ask me, something sounds fishy, like they are hiding something. Anyways, the knee injury should heal relatively quickly assuming nothing is torn. With Hasselbeck out, the whole offense will take a nosedive. The thin WR corps was a weak fantasy play to begin with. Now, without their QB, expect lots of dump offs to backs and John Carlson and forget everyone else.

Player: Joseph Addai and Felix Jones
Injury: Dreaded Hamstring Strain
Healing Time: 2-6 weeks
Impact on the Field: I lumped these two together b/c they are essentially the same injury. Hamstrings strains are a slow recovery in all sports. They may be able to get back on the field quicker, but once they do, they will lack explosiveness for at least another 2 weeks if not more. Hamstrings are imperative for accelerating quickly. they give you the ability to find another gear. Since Addai has not been a home run threat and the Colt offense calls for their patented stretch play and cut, he should be productive and back on the field relatively quickly. This injury should impact Felix Jones to a greater degree b/c of his ability to hit top end speed quickly.