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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Week 1 Injury Update #2
Philip Gentles
September 9, 2005

Michael Bennett, RB, MIN
Sprained Neck

Huddle Up: Vikings RB Michael Bennett will get the start this weekend after returning to practice and showing head coach Mike Tice that his neck is fine. Bennett was held out of the final pre-season game as a precaution but his neck is reportedly strong and pain-free. Tice has told reporters that he will split the carries between Bennett, Mewelde Moore and Moe Williams. So even though Bennett is healthy the running-back-by-committie approach should complicate things for those of you looking to start him this week.

Jerome Bettis, RB, PIT
Strained Calf

Huddle Up: Steelers veteran RB Jerome Bettis will not play this weekend because of a strained calf that he suffered in the team's pre-season game against the Redskins last week. A source close to the situation has told The Huddle that there is still a significant amount of swelling within Bettis' injured muscle and there is growing concern within the organization that he could be out for a few more weeks. Team officials are hoping that he will begin to show signs of recovery soon but his status for Week 2 remains a question mark. With Duce Staley slowed because of an injury of his own head coach Bill Cowher has named Willie Parker as the Steelers' Week 1 starter.

Stephen Davis, RB, CAR
Recovering from Microfracture knee surgery

Huddle Up: Panthers RB Stephen Davis continues to work with the first-team offense in practice but head coach John Fox has not named his starter. Davis, who is recovering from off-season microfracture knee surgery, made his pre-season debut last week in the starting lineup and according to team officials he did not report any discomfort in his knee during the game or swelling in his knee after the game. Davis has looked strong in workouts this week which means he will definitely be active on Sunday. Whether or not he'll start remains to be seen but no matter what happens he will likely split carries with DeShaun Foster.

Todd Heap, TE, BAL
Ankle and shoulder surgery

Huddle Up: Ravens TE Todd Heap is finally running at full speed and after making it through the team's final exhibition game without a problem he appears ready for the start of the regular season. Heap's recovery from off-season ankle and shoulder surgery was slower than expected and it forced him to miss all but one pre-season game but he's finally healthy and he will be in the starting lineup this weekend.

Travis Henry, RB, TEN
Turf Toe

Huddle Up: A bothersome case of Turf toe has kept Titans backup RB Travis Henry limited during the pre-season but he finally made his return to practice on Wednesday and despite being listed as questionable on the team's official injury report there is a good chance that he will be active for the regular season opener. The Titans have said throughout the pre-season that Henry's toe wasn't bad enough to keep him out of a regular season game but that they decided to hold him out so that it wouldn't become a lingering problem. But a source close to the situation has told The Huddle that Henry will to have to play through this injury all season. Chris Brown, who will be starting on Sunday against the Steelers, will also be dealing with a similar problem all year making the Titans backfield a fantasy nightmare. Brown and Henry are healthy enough to play right now, but there is no telling if and when their injuries will flare up and limit their playing time and production.

Trent Green, QB, KC
Surgery to repair torn knee artery

Huddle Up: Chiefs QB Trent Green returned to practice on Monday for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair an artery tear behind his left knee. According to several team officials Green is doing his usual work load in practice and he has even impressed the coaching staff with his accuracy on deep passes. He is officially listed as probable for Sunday's regular season opener but there is no doubt that he will be ready to play.

Eric Johnson, TE, SF
Partially Torn Plantar Fascia

Huddle Up: 49ers TE Eric Johnson, who missed the entire pre-season with a partially torn plantar fascia in his foot, has not practiced this week and he is officially listed as doubtful for Week 1. According to head coach Mike Nolan there is little chance that he will be ready to play this weekend. Depending on how he does in rehab over the next couple of days the team's medical staff might allow him to run with the team during pre-game warm-ups but even that doesn't mean he will play. If Johnson is your top TE start looking for another option for this week.

Kevin Jones, RB, DET
Sprained Ankle

Huddle Up: Lions RB Kevin Jones, who suffered a minor ankle sprain during the pre-season, was held out of the team's final exhibition game as a precaution. But he didn't appear on the official injury report this week and according to team officials his ankle will not be an issue when he starts this weekend against the Packers.

Jamal Lewis, RB, BAL
Ankle Surgery / Root canal

Huddle Up: Ravens RB Jamal Lewis missed three pre-season games while he recovered from bone spurs in his foot and off-season ankle surgery. Lewis is still not back to full strength and according to reports he probably won't be at 100% for the first couple of weeks of the regular season but he's healthy enough to play and he'll definitely be in the Ravens' starting lineup on Sunday. On another note he underwent a root canal earlier this week but he's already back at practice and it won't affect his playing status.

Eli Manning, QB, NYG
Sprained Elbow

Huddle Up: Giants QB Eli Manning practiced on Tuesday for the first time since spraining his elbow over 2 weeks ago and according to team officials he took part in all the passing drills without a problem. Manning was in practice on Wednesday and Thursday as well and he looked strong. He's officially being listed as probable but he's shown that his elbow is fine so expect him to start for the Giants this weekend.

Clinton Portis, RB, WAS
Olecranon Bursitis

Huddle Up: After being limited throughout the pre-season because of a lingering case of elbow bursitis Redskins' RB Clinton Portis is completely healthy and ready for the start of the regular season. The team's medical staff has done a great job controlling and eliminating the inflammation in his elbow but Portis will likely wear an elbow brace this weekend as a precaution.

Marcel Shipp, RB, ARI
Fractured fibula and dislocated ankle

Huddle Up: Cardinals RB Marcel Shipp, who missed the entire 2004 season after fracturing his fibula and dislocating his ankle in his left leg, has made a complete recovery and has looked strong during the pre-season. But he's been fighting with rookie J.J. Arrington and veteran James Jackson for playing time and according to head coach Dennis Green Arrington will get the start the weekend. Green did go on to say that Shipp would get some carries but at this point it looks like it is Arrington's job to lose.

Duce Staley, RB, PIT
Torn lateral meniscus

Huddle Up: Steelers RB Duce Staley is listed as questionable for Week 1 action and he will likely be a game time decision as he continues to recover from knee surgery. Staley had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee about a month ago and while he believes he will be ready for Sunday's pre-season opener head coach Bill Cowher told reporters that he won't start even if he dresses. With Jerome Bettis out Cowher has named Willie Parker as the starter so even if Staley is activated he probably won't have much of an impact.

Brandon Stokley, WR, IND
Dislocated Shoulder

Huddle Up: Colts WR Brandon Stokley is being listed as probable for Week 1 action and according to reports he will be active for Sunday's regular season opener. Stokley missed the entire pre-season after dislocating his shoulder when he collided with a teammate during a passing drill at the Tokyo dome while the Colts prepared for their pre-season debut against the Falcons. He's since made a quick recovery and was finally cleared to return to practice with his teammates earlier this week. A source close to the Colts has confirmed with The Huddle that Stokley will have his shoulder taped and that there is a good chance that he will be wearing a brace which will limit the motion in his arm. Whether or not it affects his productivity remains to be seen but at least he'll be on the field.

Lee Suggs, RB, CLE
High Ankle Sprain

Huddle Up: Browns RB Lee Suggs is listed as doubtful and he will likely miss this weekend's regular season opener because of a high ankle sprain that he suffered in practice three weeks ago. Suggs was in a protective boot for two weeks and although he no longer wears the boot he has not been able to take part in a full practice since the injury and he doesn't appear ready to play. An official decision on his status for the game won't come until sometime this weekend but don't expect him to be active. A starter has not been named for Week 1 but team officials expect Reuben Droughns and William Green to split the carries.

Ben Troupe, TE, TEN
Surgery to repair fractured foot

Huddle Up: Titans TE Ben Troupe, who is recovering from off-season foot surgery, returned to practice on Wednesday and he hopes that he will be ready to play in the regular season opener this weekend. Erron Kinney had already been named the starter, but head coach Jeff Fisher told reporters that Troupe could be activated for the game if he demonstrates in practice that he is in good shape and has a complete grasp of the offense. According to team officials Troupe's foot is no longer a problem but the Titans won't hesitate to hold him out if they don't believe he is completely ready.

Roddy White, WR, ATL
High Ankle Sprain

Huddle Up: Falcons rookie WR Roddy White returned to practice on Wednesday first the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain nearly a month ago. White, who had his injured ankle heavily taped, looked like he was back to full speed during passing drills and according to head coach Jim Mora he will be ready for Week 1 action. White is a talented receiver and he could have a big impact on offensive at some point this season but he will start the year working with the special teams so his time on the field will be limited.

IDP Update

Falcons' DLs Patrick Kerney (strained groin) and Brady Smith (neck surgery) have both returned to practice after missing time during the pre-season because of injury. Neither player was listed on the team's official injury report and according to team officials they are both expected to be a big part of the Falcons defense in Week 1. Broncos' DL Courtney Brown, who missed more than a month after dislocating his left elbow during training camp, practiced as full speed on Wednesday and Thursday and he's expected to play in Sunday's game against the Dolphins. Brown will split playing time with Ebenezer Ekuban. Panthers' DL Julius Peppers has not completely recovered from a sprained ankle and he's currently being listed as questionable but according to team officials he will have his ankle taped and he will be ready to play on Sunday against the Saints. Colts' DL Dwight Freeney, who spent most of the off-season and training camp recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, is back to full strength and he will be in the starting lineup on Sunday. Freeney did miss practice on Thursday because of a sore foot but head coach Tony Dungy said that injury is minor and that it won't affect his status for this weekend. Redskins' LB LaVar Arrington will be active on Sunday but he won't be starting. Arrington, who is trying to work his way back from multiple knee surgeries, will enter Week 1 as a backup behind Warrick Holdman. The team's medical staff is pleased with his recovery but they believe he's a couple of weeks away from being at full strength. So they plan to limit his involvement in the defense early in the season until he demonstrates that he has regained the confidence in his knee and that he is back into football shape. Chargers' LB Shawn Merriman, who is recovering from a sprained PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) in his left knee, will likely miss this weekend's regular season opener and he could be out at least another week. Merriman has said on several occasions that he will be ready to go but head coach Marty Schottenheimer has told reporters that nothing has changed with his status and that he doubts Merriman will play. Steelers' LB Joey Porter, who had been out since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery back on August 10, returned to complete and unrestricted workouts this week and although he is being listed as questionable for Week 1 team officials still expect him to play. Packers' LB Nail Diggs, who is still recovering from a sprained MCL, did not practice on Thursday. Diggs is officially being listed as questionable but there is little chance that he will be ready to play this weekend. Broncos' DB Champ Bailey has been limited throughout the pre-season because of a strained hamstring. The injury kept him out of several exhibition games but he returned to practice on Wednesday and he reported feeling good following practice on Thursday and unless he suffers a setback he will start of the Broncos on Sunday.