Marc Bulger, STL – Fractured Pinkie Finger
Rams’ QB Marc Bulger, who fractured the pinkie finger on his throwing hand 3 weeks ago, has been throwing the football in practice and it looks like he will play in Week 1. Bulger threw the ball during pregame warm-ups prior to the team’s final exhibition game and according to reports he looked good. As planned he did not play in the game. Bulger has seen a gradual increase in his passing workload over the last couple of weeks and he appears to be doing fine. He admitted that his finger won’t be completely healed for the start of the regular season but he has said that it shouldn’t affect his ability to throw. Since the finger is still healing he will have it wrapped on Sunday. According to reports he is still throwing the ball with a lot of zip, but it remains to be seen how it will affect his accuracy.
Matt Cassel, KC – Sprained MCL
Chiefs’ QB Matt Cassel moved about “gingerly” in practice on Monday and his status for Week 1 against the Ravens. Cassel, who is recovering from a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee, took the field on Monday wearing full pads but he was limited to individual drills and he appeared to be favoring the injured leg on a couple of occasions. Head coach Todd Haley told reporters that “it was good that he (Cassel) was out there” on Monday however he said that he didn’t know what his status for Sunday’s game was and that he probably wouldn’t know until later on in the week. Cassel is still at least two weeks away from being back to full strength, but he is close to being healthy enough to play. This could come down to a game-time decision, but even if he plays you might want to bench him as he faces a tough Ravens’ defense on a gimpy leg.
Kyle Orton, DEN – Compound Dislocation of the Index Finger
QB Kyle Orton’s status for Sunday’s regular season opener against the Bengals remains a question mark as it appears that he will likely have the stitches in his injured finger for at least another week. Orton recently suffered a compound dislocation (the dislocating bone punctures the skin) of his right index finger during a pre-season game and although the training staff was able to reduce the dislocation on site the resulting laceration required a number of stitches. The affected joint is still feeling sore, but it shouldn’t be a problem. The real issue is the laceration and the stitches that not only make gripping and throwing the ball uncomfortable, but there is a chance that the laceration could reopen. Orton will try and practice today (Tuesday) and we should know more about his Week 1 status later on in the week. If Orton can’t play Chris Simms would be next in line but his status is also in question because of an ankle injury.
Carson Palmer, CIN – Sprained Ankle
Bengals’ QB Carson Palmer played in only one pre-season game this year because of a sprained ankle. But he was held out of the final two exhibition games as a precaution and team officials expect him to start this weekend against the Broncos. Palmer has been practicing for over a week now and although he missed the pre-season finale he still took part in pregame warm-ups and according to those in attendance he moved around comfortably and threw with confidence. Palmer recently told reporters that his ankle was in great shape and that he was “full go” for Week 1. Palmer should be a full participant in practice this week and he will in the Bengals’ starting lineup on Sunday.
Matt Schaub, HOU – Sprained Ankle
Texans’ head coach Gary Kubiak is hoping that QB Matt Schaub will be able to practice with teammates on Wednesday and be ready in time to play against the Jets in Week 1. Schaub is recovering from a sprained ankle and according to initial reports the injury was not considered serious. But he isn’t cutting at full speed yet and with less than a week to go before the first regular season game it is looking less and less likely that he will be 100% in time. Kubiak told reporters this weekend that Schaub had shown signs of improvement and that he spent the entire weekend working with the medical staff. They are trying hard to get him ready for the Jets so keep an eye on his progress in practice this week and check back with The Huddle on Sunday morning for a final update on his status.
Reggie Bush, NO – Strained Calf
Saints’ RB Reggie Bush missed a large portion of the pre-season because of a strained calf muscle. But after returning to the practice field on Monday it looks like Bush will be ready to play in Week 1 against the Lions. Bush, who has also dealt with discomfort in his surgically repaired knee during training camp, was scheduled to get a few carries against the Dolphins in the team’s final pre-season game last week. However with Pierre Thomas dealing with an injured knee the medical staff decided to hold Bush out as a precaution. Bush took part in individual drills on Monday and he should see an increase in workload and inclusion in team drills as early as Wednesday. Head coach Sean Payton has insisted for some time that Bush is healthy and that the only reason he has missed practices and games is because the team is trying to preserve him for the season. Bush will have a diminished role in the offense this year, but if Thomas isn’t active on Sunday look for Bush to get a few more touches against the Lions
Kevin Jones, CHI – Torn Ankle Ligaments
Bears’ backup RB Kevin Jones has been placed on Injured Reserve and will miss the entire 2009 season after an MRI on his injured ankle revealed multiple torn ligaments. Jones left last Thursday’s pre-season game in the first quarter after twisting his ankle at the end of a carry. He was carted off the field and although X-rays in the locker room where negative he was diagnosed with a serious ankle sprain. An MRI the next morning not only confirmed the diagnosis, but it showed that two ligaments were torn. Jones will likely need surgery to repair the damage and since his recovery could take anywhere from 3 – 6 months the team decided to place him on IR.
Knowshon Moreno, DEN – Sprained MCL
Broncos’ head coach Josh McDaniels expects rookie RB Knowshon Moreno to play in Week 1, but he hasn’t said how many carries he expects Moreno to get. Moreno missed a number of practices and several games this preseason because of a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee. But he has since made a full recovery and McDaniels said that Moreno was healthy enough for game action last week. Moreno could split carries with the first-team offense in practice this week and although he might not be the official starter in Week 1 against the Bengals he could end up getting a majority of the touches at running back. And if his knee holds up it will only be a matter of time before he becomes the starter and the team’s primary ball carrier.
Willie Parker, PIT – Strained Hamstring
The Steelers’ might not be looking to sign RB Willie Parker to an extension, but according to head coach Mike Tomlin he will be the team’s unquestioned starter in Week 1 and if healthy Tomlin expects him to be the featured back this season. Parker missed the team’s preseason finale because of a minor hamstring strain but team officials have said that he was held out as a precaution. Parker will likely return to practice today or tomorrow and he will be in the starting lineup against the Titans on Thursday. According to Tomlin Parker will be the primary ball carrier this season and unless he gets hurt we won’t see much of Rashard Mendenhall. But Parker has a tendency to get hurt and miss games so don’t be surprised if Mendenhall gets at least a couple of starts this season.
Jonathan Stewart, CAR – Achilles’ Tendonitis
Despite not practicing in nearly a month and missing all four pre-season games Panthers’ RB Jonathan Stewart has declared himself ready for Week 1. Stewart has been out because of a lingering Achilles’ tendon problem and according to reports he has visited with orthopedic specialists at least twice seeking outside advice. Stewart claims that his lack of involvement in training camp and the pre-season was precautionary and that he expects to play against the Eagles. His official status for Week 1 is unknown but several local newspapers in Carolina have reported that the team is preparing to play without him. Obviously if Stewart is absent from practice this week it reduces his chance of playing. But even if he is active expect him to play a small role in the offense.
Pierre Thomas, NO – Sprained MCL
The latest on Saints’ starting RB Pierre Thomas is not promising. Pierre, who has been out with a sprained medical collateral ligament in his knee, did not practice on Monday and according to reports he was seen walking with a limp in the locker room. He apparently told a reporter that his knee was about 65% healthy and he called himself questionable for Week 1. Head coach Sean Payton also revealed on Monday that that Thomas was also dealing with a laceration that he suffered while jumping over a fence. The laceration isn’t a big deal (although it makes you wonder why he would be jumping a fence with his knee the way it is), but it looks like his sprained knee will keep him out of action this weekend. Payton hasn’t ruled Thomas out for Week 1 but if the reports on this condition of his knee are accurate it’s only a matter of time before he does.
Chris Wells, ARI – Sprained Ankle
Cardinals’ rookie RB Chris Wells missed a large portion of training camp and the early part of the preseason because of a sprained ankle. But Wells has played well since returning and head coach Ken Whisenhunt has hinted that Wells could see a lot of action in Week 1 against the 49ers. With Wells out nursing the ankle injury Tim Hightower got most of the work with the first-team offense and he played well enough for Whisenhunt to call Hightower the starting RB. But Wells impressed the coaching staff in his first game back from injury and Whisenhunt is now saying that Wells could have a large role in the running game. Wells is clearly the more talented back, but don’t be surprised if he ends up splitting carries with Hightower this season.
Donnie Avery, STL – Foot Stress Fracture
Rams’ WR Donnie Avery has made an unexpectedly quick recovery from a stress fracture in his foot and after playing in last week’s exhibition game he appears to be healthy and ready for the start of the season. Avery experienced soreness and discomfort in his foot early in training camp and after being diagnosed with a stress fracture team officials weren’t sure if Avery would be ready in time for Week 1. But Avery promised to make a quick recovery and sure enough he was practicing after just two weeks and a week later he was cleared to play in the preseason finale. Avery recently told a reporter that he “runs fast but heals faster” and he wasn’t kidding. According to reports he is looking as quick as ever and if all goes well he should have a good game against the Seahawks.
Bernard Berrian, MIN – Strained Hamstring
WR Bernard Berrian’s status for Week 1 is unknown as he has missed a large part of the pre-season because of a strained hamstring. Berrian reportedly took part in pre-game warm-ups prior to the team’s final preseason game and he was reportedly seen running without a problem this past weekend. His health has definitely improved, but right know we don’t know if he is ready to play. Keep a close eye on the practice reports this week and check back with The Huddle on Sunday.
Anquan Boldin, ARI – Strained Hamstring
Cardinals’ WR Anquan Boldin did not play in the team’s final preseason game because of a strained hamstring, however team officials expect him to start on Sunday against the 49ers. Boldin’s hamstring has improved and although he was held out of practice on Monday he was reportedly working hard off to the side under the supervision of athletic trainers. Boldin recently told reporters that the post-workout hamstring soreness that had bothered him is no longer there. He could be cleared to practice with the team on Wednesday and Thursday and barring a setback he will be in the starting lineup in Week 1.
Mark Clayton, BAL – Partially Torn Hamstring
There were early concerns that Ravens’ WR Michael Clayton would miss the start of the regular season because of partially torn hamstring. However the good news is that Clayton has responded well to the gradual increase in practice workload and team officials are optimistic that he will be cleared to play in Week 1 against the Chiefs. Clayton made his return to practice about 2 weeks ago and his hamstring has held up well. He did not play in the team’s pre-season finale but Clayton insists that he could have played. Injuries like this can linger if not given enough time to heal so even if Clayton is on the field for the first game of the regular season don’t be surprised if his playing time is limited.
Santonio Holmes, PIT – Strained Hamstring
According to reports Steelers’ WR Santonio Holmes will be ready for the start of the regular season after returning to practice on Sunday. Holmes was inactive for the team’s final preseason game because of a strained hamstring. However Holmes said that the injury was not serious and that the team was just being cautious. Team officials expect Holmes to be a full participant in practice this week and start on Thursday against the Titans.
Greg Jennings, GB – Mild Concussion
As expected Packers’ WR Greg Jennings has been cleared to start this upcoming weekend against the Bears. Jennings suffered a mild concussion during the team’s third exhibition game and he was held out of the preseason finale as a precaution. Jennings did not immediately leave the field after getting hurt but he admitted that he lost consciousness for a couple of seconds. The headaches and dizziness subsided just a few days after the incident and he was allowed to take part in limited practice three days after suffering the injury. Needless to say things have continued to go well for Jennings and after being evaluated by physicians on Monday he was cleared for contact and cleared to play in Week 1.
Hakeem Nicks, NYG – Hip-Flexor Strain
Giants’ rookie WR Hakeem Nicks spoke with reporters following last Thursday’s exhibition game and he told them that his strained hip flexor was fine and that he would ready for Week 1 of the regular season. Nicks reportedly began to experience discomfort in his hip flexor in the third quarter and he was pulled from the game as a precaution. Nicks spent a lot of time in the training room this weekend getting treatment, but the coaching staff expects him to practice with the team on Wednesday. We’ll know more about his status based on his performance in practice this week.
Terrell Owens, BUF – Turf Toe
Bills’ WR Terrell Owens missed more practices and pre-season games than the team would have liked, but his toe appears to be OK and he will be in the starting lineup for Week 1. Owens jammed his toe during the Hall-of-Fame exhibition game early in the preseason and was in and out of practice for over two weeks. He returned to full practice early last week but he did not play in the preseason finale as precaution. Owens has called his toe a non-issue and team officials believe that he will be ready for the start of the season. As I’ve said before T.O. has played through turf toe problems several times in his career. If the toe problem lingers you can expect him to miss practices between games but it shouldn’t affect his productivity.
Kevin Walter, HOU – Strained Hamstring
Texans’ WR Kevin Walter should be ready for Week 1 despite missing practice and the preseason finale because of a strained hamstring. Head coach Gary Kubiak told reporters that the injury was minor and that Walter was “day-to-day.” Walter has worked with the training staff the last couple of days and according to reports his leg looks fine. He will likely try and take the field with teammates on Wednesday or Thursday and if his hamstring holds up he will be in the starting lineup opposite Andre Johnson on Sunday against the Jets. Check back throughout the week for updates on his status.
Nate Washington, TEN – Strained Hamstring
Titans’ WR Nate Washington is working very hard in hopes that he will be ready for Thursday’s regular season opener. Unfortunately his injured hamstring isn’t strong enough yet and team officials aren’t expecting him to play. Titans’ head coach Jeff Fisher hasn’t ruled him out yet, but Washington did very little in practice on Monday and he admitted that his leg was about 80% strong. He’ll probably try and do a little more in practice today and he might take part in the walkthrough on Wednesday but he’s a game-time decision at best for Week 1. Even if he is active his playing time will be limited, so keep that in mind when setting your lineups this week.