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News » Injury review: Hester a game-time decision 2008-09-28

Injury review: Hester a game-time decision 2008-09-28

Injury review: Hester a game-time decision 2008-09-28

Updated Sunday Morning

It's amazing to think that we're already at the quarter pole for the 2008 NFL campaign. What have we learned?

The concept that "everything changes on a dime" is somewhat easy to digest. Sprained ankles, torn ACLs and myriad other injuries have sent us scrambling to the waiver wire for an emerging option more quickly than during any season in recent memory.

We know neither Scott Linehan nor Lane Kiffin will be coaching their respective teams next season. We know one of the Ohio teams will be 0-4 after this week. We know most owners who drafted in the first half of the first round are salty.

What else do we know? Simply put, it's obvious the injury list continues to grow on an hourly basis as we get deeper into the season. I'll omit the breakdowns of Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder) and Carson Palmer (elbow), as both quarterbacks are ready for action.

You can find game-day information in the blogs of John Halpin and Roger Rotter and on-air with the "FOX Fantasy Freaks" on FOX Sports Radio every Sunday morning (10am ET-12pm ET).

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune says Adrian Peterson was a limited participant in Thursday's workout, as the second-year star continues to battle a hamstring injury. Impact: Peterson's still set to shoulder the load this week against the tough Tennessee defense. Owners can find some solace from the 116-yard, one-touchdown effort put forth by speedy tailback Steve Slaton last weekend. It should be noted that backfield mate Chester Taylor's also been slowed by a foot injury in practice this week.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Brian Westbrook missed both of the Eagles' late-week practices, forcing owners into a difficult spot this weekend. He started the week in a walking boot, but told reporters he's eager to get onto the field. Meanwhile, Donovan McNabb was back at practice to lead the first-team offense. L.J. Smith was reportedly at Friday's workout, but didn't participate. Impact: Only McNabb stands as an obvious starter of the three. The Bears will work to press the issue and get pressure on the veteran QB, but I'd still lock him in (Brian Griese, anyone?) Given Westbrook's propensity to battle through such injuries in the past, you're at the same decision point faced by LaDainian Tomlinson owners last week. The Bears-Eagles game is the Sunday night tilt, so you won't have the benefit of that "game-time" line before inserting your options from the early games. It's a tough call, but you have to bench him this weekend. I have to take the conservative position. The injury is being called a high ankle sprain, and historically that's a 2-3 week injury at a minimum. Likewise, find another option for Smith this weekend.

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The Chicago Sun-Times reports returner/receiver Devin Hester returned to practice for the first time since sustaining the rib cartilage injury against the Panthers. He was limited in practice and will be listed as a game-time decision. Impact: It appears Hester's likely set to roll this week against Philadelphia, although he's likely to be limited to return duty. That's just fine by owners of the Chicago defense (and Matt Forte owners), who anticipate a shift in field position. The Bears may be playing without Tommie Harris, who aggravated a knee injjry and sat out the practice week. Lovie Smith said it simply, "It depends on how his knee feels Sunday."

Brett Favre was listed as a "limited" participant at practice Thursday by The New York Post , but the veteran QB doesn't appear in jeopardy of seeing his consecutive starts streak snapped. Impact: Favre's reportedly still walking with a slight limp, but he's set to start against the Cardinals. If the Jets are to take the reins in the AFC East, this is an important matchup. I was encouraged to see a connection with Laveranues Coles start to develop last weekend, and I believe this could be the week that this offense clicks (we all get a mulligan for calling the breakout game for last week against San Diego).

The Bradenton Herald tells us Joey Galloway missed this week's practices because of persistent pain in his sprained foot. Galloway has been downgraded to "out" for Week 4 against the Packers. Impact: Antonio Bryant and Jerramy Stevens (10 looks in Week 3) stepped forward when Brian Griese launched 67 attempts against Chicago. They become sleeper selections for Week 4 with Galloway shelved for another week.

The Arizona Republic says defensive end Bertrand Berry will be sidelined indefinitely with a groin tear. Impact: The stock of the Jets' offensive weapons, including Brett Favre, rises with this news. Berry's already posted three sacks this season. Without such persistent pressure off of the edge, Favre will have time to operate downfield.

According to Oakland coach Lane Kiffin, Darren McFadden continues to feel significant pain as a result of his "turf toe" issue. Meanwhile, Justin Fargas didn't participate in Thursday's workout because of his groin injury. Impact: McFadden will split time with Michael Bush, who's been impressive during his playing time this season. McFadden will receive a painkilling injection prior to the game and is expected to start. I suspect that Bush takes on a significant role as well, perhaps taking any goal-line chances. Both are worthy of Flex roles this weekend against the Chargers, as you know the Raiders have no choice but the run the ball 35-40 times.

The Baltimore Sun reports Willis McGahee continues to be affected by the eye injury sustained during last week's win against Cleveland. He contended that the Browns sought to injure him, but the league dismissed the allegation. Impact: In any event, McGahee's vision issues have cleared to the point that he's been cleared for Monday night football against the Steelers. The presence of Le'Ron McClain in a backfield split is disconcerting, and Pittsburgh's defense isn't exactly soft. If I had the option, I start McClain over McGahee. If I'm only McGahee, he's no better than a RB3 or Flex slot this week.

Bruising tailback LenDale White injured his shoulder during Thursday's workout, but The Tennessean reports he should be ready to assume his share of the workload split against the tough Minnesota interior. Impact: It's certainly a tough matchup, and given the split situation with Chris Johnson, fantasy owners should be considering the insertion of other options into their RB2 and Flex slots. White remains a goal-line vulture who may earn a smallish yardage total with one or more touchdowns. If you can play the matchup game, get after it.

The paper also tells us receiver Justin Gage returned to the practice field during the middle of the week. Impact: Barring a setback during warmups, owners can safely return Gage to the No. 3 WR role against the Minnesota secondary.

David Patten of the Saints missed another practice because of a groin injury, per The Times-Picayune , making him unlikely to participate in the Week 4 matchup against San Francisco. Impact: Patten would have made for fantasy gold in PPR leagues following the loss of Jeremy Shockey (sports hernia), but Drew Brees will now look to the combination of Reggie Bush and Billy Miller to pick up the slack. Lance Moore also makes for an interesting option in deeper leagues. Patten will be a game-time decision, so those holding hope for his availability will need to lock it down to FOXSports.com for the latest information.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports wide receiver Bryant Johnson's been limited in this week's workouts because of a sore hamstring. Impact: Johnson's expected to be available for J.T. O'Sullivan for this weekend's trip to New Orleans. He's a nice sleeper option if ready to work against the Saints secondary, but keep an eye on the Sunday gameday reports.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette says cornerback Al Harris has been sidelined by a serious spleen injury, per Packers coach Mike McCarthy. Impact: The team isn't ruling him out for the season, but Harris will miss a significant period of time. There will be additional pressure on the linebackers to help second-year player Tramon Williams adapt to life as a starter opposite Charles Woodson.

The Jacksonville Times reports Maurice Jones-Drew didn't participate in Thursday's practice because of a sore ankle. Impact: The paper says Jones-Drew's expected to participate in Week 4 against the Texans, and I anticipate another huge game to help the Jaguars even their record at 2-2.

It's not an injury move, but The Washington Times reports veteran lineman Jon Jansen will reclaim his starting job against the Cowboys this weekend. Impact: Jansen's being reinserted to slow the pace of the Dallas front four, who have gotten tremendous pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Clinton Portis will continue his strong running, and Santana Moss usually comes up big against Dallas. Jason Campbell's an intriguing sleeper play this weekend.

Finally, I wanted to send my heartfelt condolences to Matt Bryant and his family on behalf of my family. Bryant lost his three-month old son earlier this week. As the father of a newborn myself, there's no news story coming down the wires that compares with this for me. Impact: Bryant may not be available for Sunday's game against the Packers. No determination has been made as of yet, but the team is mulling its options should Bryant be unavailable.

Lock it down to FOXSports.com for all of the latest player and team news as the countdown to kickoff approaches. John Halpin and Roger Rotter will dispense lineup advice in their blogs, and you can find me on the airwaves of FOX Sports Radio from 7am-9am PT (10am ET-12pm ET).

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 28, 2008

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Ken Amato Name: Ken Amato
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