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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Week 3 Injury Update #2
Philip Gentles
September 23, 2005

David Akers, PK, PHI
Strained Hamstring

Huddle Up: Eagles PK David Akers, who suffered a hamstring strain in his plant leg (non-kicking) during last Sunday's game against the 49ers, was back kicking field goals on Wednesday and he did several kickoffs on Thursday and according to the coaching staff he looks strong and ready to play. Akers was so impressive that he made a 55-yard field goal during Thursday's practice and while he complained of soreness after doing a little running he has improved and there is a good chance that he will be active and kicking in Week 3 against the Raiders. The Eagles did add kicker Todd France to the practice squad this week in case Akers can't go but it looks like he services won't be needed.

Tatum Bell, RB, DEN
Sprained Ankle

Huddle Up: It looks like Broncos RB Tatum Bell, who sprained his ankle in Week 2 action, will be a game-time decision against the Chiefs next Monday night. Bell's ankle is still a bit swollen and it continues to give him trouble when he jogs so he probably won't practice at full speed this week. According to head coach Mike Shanahan the team's medical staff isn't sure if Bell will be ready to play on Monday but they don't expect the injury to be a problem past Week 3. Mike Anderson will start against the Chiefs but he's also hurt (torn rib cartilage) so the Broncos brought back RB Quentin Griffin as a precaution.

Jerome Bettis, RB, PIT
Strained Calf

Huddle Up: Steelers RB Jerome Bettis has not played this season because of a strained calf and it looks like he won't be ready until at least Week 5. Bettis has not practiced this week and remains doubtful on the Steelers' official injury report. His calf has gotten stronger but it gets really sore following activity and the team's medical staff doesn't want to risk making the injury worse so they will continue to keep him on the sideline until he is completely healthy. The Steelers have a bye coming up in Week 4 so they hope that gives Bettis enough time to get ready for their Week 5 game, but even when he returns he will have to battle Willie Parker and Duce Staley for carries.

Chris Brown, RB, TEN
Mild Concussion

Huddle Up: Titans RB Chris Brown, who was knocked from last Sunday's game against the Ravens with a concussion, has already returned to practice and despite being listed as questionable on the team's official injury report head coach Jeff Fisher expects him to start this weekend against the Rams. Brown will be the official starter and should get a majority of the carries but look for Travis Henry to be a big part of the Titans' running game as well.

Nate Burleson, WR, MIN
Sprained PCL

Huddle Up: Vikings WR Nate Burleson, who is listed as doubtful on the team's official injury report because of a sprained knee, will probably miss Sunday's game against the Saints. An MRI on Burleson's injured knee revealed a sprained PCL and while the team hasn't revealed the severity of the sprain head coach Mike Tice told reporters that Burleson wasn't doing very well. A timetable has not been set for his return and according to team officials he will not be allowed to return until he demonstrates that he's back to 100%. If Nate is unable to play look for Travis Taylor to step into the starting lineup opposite Marcus Robinson with rookie Troy Williamson seeing time as the third receiver and an active Koren Robinson to be the team's number 4.

Bubba Franks, TE, GB
Knee contusion

Huddle Up: Packers TE Bubba Franks, who suffered a knee contusion in last Sunday's game against the Browns, has not practiced this week and will likely remain on the sideline for the remainder of the week as he continues to recover. An MRI done on Franks' injured knee did not show any ligament or cartilage damage and although being diagnosed with just a contusion the swelling and discomfort in his knee will probably keep him out of this weekend's game against the Bucs. Head coach Mike Sherman told reporters that Franks will likely be a game-time decision but even so there is little chance that he will be playing. If Franks is deactivated look for David Martin to get the start.

Marvin Harrison, WR, IND
Sprained Wrist

Huddle Up: Colts WR Marvin Harrison was held out of practice on Thursday because a sprained wrist that according to head coach Tony Dungy occurred "a while ago." Apparently Harrison has been dealing with a sprained wrist since the start of the regular season and a source close to the Colts told The Huddle that he aggravated the injury during workouts on Wednesday. He's listed as probable on the official injury report and he will likely be in the starting lineup this weekend but it sounds like this is becoming a lingering problem. We don't know how severe the injury is or if it has been affecting his performance but let's just hope it heals before it becomes a season-long issue.

Priest Holmes, RB, KC
Shoulder Contusion

Huddle Up: Chiefs RB Priest Holmes, who missed an offensive series last weekend against the Raiders because of a shoulder contusion, is not listed on the team's official injury report and according to head coach Dick Vermeil he will be active and in the starting lineup in Week 3 against the Broncos. Holmes told reporters that outside of being a bit sore he was feeling great and that his shoulder was no longer an issue. This is great news if you have Holmes on your roster. He'll have to share carries with Larry Johnson but as long as he continues to get 20 carries a game he will be very productive and among the top fantasy running backs in the NFL.

Eric Johnson, TE, SF
Torn Plantar Fascia

Huddle Up: The 49ers will be without Eric Johnson for the remainder of the season after the TE, who was recovering from a partially torn plantar fascia, re-tore the same muscle during a light workout on Monday. Johnson isn't scheduled to undergo surgery as the team's medical staff wants to see if it can heal on its own but he's already been placed on Injured Reserve and they don't expect him to be at full strength for at least another 3 months. Steve Bush and rookie Billy Bajema filled in for Johnson in Week's 1 and 2 but look for the newly acquired Trent Smith to be the starter this weekend against the Cowboys.

Byron Leftwich, QB, JAX
Strained Groin

Huddle Up: Jaguars QB Byron Leftwich is listed as questionable on the team's official injury report because of a groin injury but he made his return to practice on Thursday, took part in the all the drills and according to team officials he should be ready to go on Sunday against the Jets. Leftwich looked good passing the ball and didn't appear to have any trouble moving. He did feel a little bit sore following practice, which is normal, but the team's medical staff wants to see how he feels today. If the soreness limits his involvement in practice today it means that he isn't quite ready yet but head coach Jack Del Rio is confident that Leftwich will be able to take part in all of practice today. An official decision on his availability for Week 3 probably won't be made until Leftwich takes pre-game warm-ups but unless he suffers a setback look for him to be in the starting lineup on Sunday.

Michael Lewis, WR, NO
Torn ACL and MCL

Huddle Up: Saints WR and kick returner Michael Lewis has been placed on Injured Reserve and will miss the remainder of the 2005 season after tearing the ACL and MCL in his knee during last Monday night's game against the Giants. Lewis was injured when his foot got stuck in the turf during a kickoff return in the fourth quarter. He is scheduled to undergo reconstructive surgery as soon as the swelling in his knee subsides. The Saints have signed WR Nate Poole who will take Lewis' spot on the roster but look for Donte Stallworth to be used as a kick returner.

Curtis Martin, RB, NYJ
Sprained Knee

Huddle Up: Jets RB Curtis Martin returned to practice on Thursday and according to team officials he will be starting this weekend against the Jaguars despite a knee injury. Head coach Herman Edwards told reporters that an MRI on Martin's injured right knee came back negative and while that isn't exactly true the damage to his knee is minor and it shouldn't keep him out of action. A source close to the Jets has told The Huddle that the MRI actually revealed a minor sprain but no cartilage damage. There was also some mild swelling within the joint but according to the source if Martin can deal with the pain like he has in the past he should be OK. Martin will likely be fitted for a brace and he could end up sharing carries with Derrick Blaylock so this probably a good week to bench him if you have another decent option. But if you have to use Martin at least you enter the weekend knowing that he is healthy enough to play.

Donovan McNabb, QB, PHI
Strained Groin / Bruised Sternum

Huddle Up: The Eagles expect QB Donovan McNabb, who is dealing with a couple of nagging injuries, to play this weekend against the Raiders. McNabb is already dealing with a bruised sternum that according to team officials will remain a problem for at least a few more weeks. On top of that he is also trying to recover from a strained groin that apparently occurred in the first half of last Sunday's game against the 49ers. Head coach Andy Reid told reporters that McNabb's groin felt OK on Monday but that it tightened up overnight and it required treatment on Tuesday. He was held out of practice on Wednesday and continued to receive treatment but he was able to practice on Thursday. McNabb is still being listed as questionable but everyone within the organization expects him to play. He won't be anywhere near his best but he will still put up good numbers against the Raiders so unless he is downgraded over the next few days make sure he is in your lineup.

Itula Mili, TE, SEA
Intestinal Blockage

Huddle Up: Seahawks TE Itula Mili practiced on Wednesday for the first time since he suffered an intestinal blockage nearly two week's ago and while he doesn't appear on the team's official injury report his availability for Week 3 remains a question mark. Mili has dropped 20 pounds since he began to experience intestinal problems and although the team's medical staff has cleared him to play he isn't close to being in football shape so don't be surprised if he is deactivated for the game. If he is active he won't be much of a factor as Jerramy Stevens will be in the starting lineup.

Terrell Owens, WR, PHI
Strained Groin / Abdomen

Huddle Up: Eagles WR Terrell Owens was held out of practice on Wednesday because of a nagging groin and abdomen injury but he returned to the field on Thursday and according to team officials he will definitely be playing this weekend against the Raiders. Owens has been dealing with this injury for a very long time and has performed at a high level despite it so don't let this prevent you from starting him.

Duce Staley, RB, PIT
Torn lateral meniscus

Huddle Up: Steelers RB Duce Staley, who has not played since training camp after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his knee, will probably make his 2005 debut this weekend against the Patriots. Staley practiced all of last week and according to reports he hasn't missed a single rep in practice this week. After seeing Staley in practice on Thursday head coach Bill Cowher said that there was a "good chance" that he would be active on Sunday but even if Staley plays Willie Parker will be in the starting lineup and he should get a majority of the carries so keep Staley out of your fantasy lineup this week.

Lee Suggs, RB, CLE
High Ankle Sprain

Huddle Up: Browns RB Lee Suggs, who missed the first two games of the regular season because of a high ankle sprain, was practicing at full speed on Wednesday and Thursday and according to team officials he will probably make his season debut this weekend against the Colts. Suggs continues to get his ankle taped but he no longer experiences pain when he runs and he's looked good cutting and change directions when running the football. Now Suggs will likely be the Browns number 3 RB this weekend behind Droughns and Green and could be used on kick returns so don't expect him to have a big game. However prior to the injury he was the team's number one running back so if he can stay healthy it's only a matter of time before he takes the starting job away from Droughns.

Michael Vick, QB, ATL
Strained Hamstring

Huddle Up: Falcons QB Michael Vick, who left last Sunday's game against the Seahawks with a hamstring strain, made it through practice on Thursday without a problem and has since been upgraded to probable on the team's official injury report. Now Vick will still get treatment on his hamstring before and after every practice but according to team officials it looks like Vick will start this weekend. The question of course is how will this affect his mobility. Vick is a better QB when he's on the move and he's actually more accurate when he's out of the pocket. So if this injury keeps him from running it could be a long day for the Falcons offense.

Reggie Wayne, WR, IND
Dislocated Finger

Huddle Up: Colts WR Reggie Wayne dislocated a finger on his right hand during a seven-on-seven drill on Thursday. The medical staff was able to reduce the dislocation and after having it taped Wayne was able to return to practice. Finger dislocations happen all the time in the football and usually don't affect performance so don't expect this to be a problem for Wayne this weekend.

Carnell 'Cadillac' Williams, RB, TB
Strained Foot Muscle

Huddle Up: Bucs RB Cadillac Williams, who returned to practice today after being held out earlier in the week because of a strained muscle in his left foot, is listed as probable on the official injury report and according to head coach John Gruden he will be in the starting lineup this weekend. Cadillac's foot was placed in a protective boot earlier in the week and he continues to receive treatment on the injured muscle twice a day but his strength, range of motion and stability have improved every day and despite feeling a little bit sore his ankle is very close to being ready. Team officials don't expect him to take part in a full practice today or Saturday but he will be active and ready to go on Sunday against the Packers.

IDP Report

Titans' DL Albert Haynesworth, who had to leave last Sunday's game against the Ravens after spraining his left knee, did not practice on Wednesday and Thursday and he remains questionable for Week 3 action. Haynesworth had an MRI on his injured earlier in the week but head coach Jeff Fisher told reporters that he was not going to release the results to the public. Based on reports he looks like a game-time decision so you won't know if he will play this week until sometime on Sunday. DL Adewale Ogunleye remains questionable for this weekend's game after missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday because of an ankle sprain. Ogunleye told reporters that he is anxious to get back on the field but he continues to rehab his ankle and the team's medical staff isn't sure if he will be available on Sunday.

Packers' LB Na'il Diggs, who was out for over a month after tearing the MCL in his knee during the pre-season, was able to practice on Wednesday and Thursday and according to team officials he will be back in the starting lineup this weekend. Vikings' LB Darren Sharper, who also suffered damage to his MCL last weekend, was limited in the practice on Wednesday and Thursday. But the team is calling the injury a mild sprain and he is listed as probable on the official injury report meaning there is a good chance the he will be playing on Sunday against the Eagles. Bills' LB London Fletcher, who sat out practice on Wednesday because of a strained hamstring, returned to the field on Thursday and took part in linebacker drills. Fletcher is still being listed as questionable but team officials expect him to be ready on Sunday.

Bills' DB Lawyer Milloy, who had surgery this week to repair a fracture in his thumb that occurred during last Sunday's game against the Bucs, has not been able to practice this week but head coach Mike Mularkey said that there is an outside chance that he could be cleared to play this weekend. Milloy's thumb is currently in a cast and if he plays he would have to get the cast padded. But don't expect a decision on his status to be made until gameday. Panthers' DB Mike Minter, who was supposed to miss at least 1 week after straining his calf muscle last weekend against the Patriots, returned to practice on Thursday and according to team officials there is a chance that he will be active this weekend against the Dolphins. Minter was actually optimistic about his chances of playing despite telling reporters earlier in the week that he didn't think that he would be ready. Unfortunately his calf won't be at full strength so even if he is active his role will be limited. Minter could be ready, but the Panthers could be with DB Ken Lucas. Lucas missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday because of a shoulder injury and the team isn't sure if he will be able to play on Sunday. They will know more later on today but it looks like Lucas will be a game-time decision.