The Training Room: Week 7 Injury Updates
On The Mend
Dez Bryant (Jones Fracture): Bryant continues to work his way back after foot surgery, with this week putting him at 6 weeks since his surgery. Although many aren't completely ruling out his return this weekend, I find it highly doubtful the Cowboys bring him back this quickly if the medical staff feels he could aggravate his foot. Even though Dez is running in a straight line, the cutting and change of direction will be the true test to see how his foot reacts. Projection: Bryant misses one more week and returns for Week 8. Remember Marvin Jones tried to come back from the same injury earlier than expected and he ended up having a setback and missed the entire 2014 season. The Cowboys medical staff will try and avoid that scenario at all costs. Those with Dez should continue to be patient as he should be a huge boost for teams down the stretch, especially when Romo returns.
Brandon LaFell (Foot Injury): I still have no clue or any in-depth insight as to what Lafell is dealing with. LaFell is eligible to return from the PUP this weekend against the Jets, but it is difficult to determine how healthy he is to give a great recommendation on him. Projection: LaFell is active for Week 7. Total dart throw. If you own him, I'd wait a week or so to make sure you feel confident in rolling him out there. He'll make an immediate impact once he does return, but his health and conditioning are the main concern.
Eddie Lacy (Sprained Ankle): The only reason why Lacy is in the column is due to Coach McCarthy's comments that Lacy is still banged up. Although Lacy wasn't on the Week 6 injury report, the ankle sprain that he suffered in Week 2 seems to still be bugging him. Projection: Lacy starts Week 8 after the bye. The bye week for the Packers couldn't have come at a better time for Lacy and his fantasy owners. The time off should allow Lacy to get some treatment for the ankle and rehab it to regain strength and stability in his ankle. Although James Starks could continue to cut into Lacy's snaps in the short term, that should change once Lacy feels more confident in his ankle.
T.J. Yeldon (Groin Strain): Yeldon was trending in the wrong direction as he got closer to this past weekend, and he was finally declared inactive on Sunday. Groin injuries can be tricky due to the pain experienced with cutting and change of direction movements. He'll continue to be day-to-day. Projection: Yeldon misses one more week. Yeldon needs to practice at some point this week to have any confidence he'll suit up this weekend against the Bills. With Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson in the backfield, the Jaguars might hold out Yeldon to avoid any setbacks.
Tyrod Taylor (MCL Sprain): The Bills took it to the wire with Tyrod last week, with some local reports stating Tyrod tried convincing both the coaching and medical staff he was able to play this past weekend. Taylor will likely continue to be limited in practice this week to manage his reps, but is looking more likely to have the green light against the Jaguars. Projection: Taylor starts Week 7. Having Taylor back with Shady McCoy will be a nice boost for a Bills offense that are all of sudden without their two starting WR's.
Matt Jones (Turf Toe): Jones will be more day-to-day than week-to-week as he works his way back from turf toe. Jones didn't seem close to making an appearance in Week 6, so he could end up being a game-time decision if he progresses enough this week. Projection: Jones misses two more weeks and returns for Week 9 after the bye. The Redskins have Alfred Morris to handle the majority of the carries with Chris Thompson coming in on passing downs, so there's a chance they give Jones more time to get to full health.
DeSean Jackson (Hamstring Strain): DJax's setback last Thursday made him not only unable to play this past Sunday, but now puts into question this upcoming weekend as well. Owners who have him should continue to hold out hope he makes a big impact once he returns, but for now, you'll just have to continue to be patient. Projection: Jackson returns for Week 9 after the Redskins bye. I know it's not what fantasy owners want to hear, but DJax's game is built on speed and requires a healthy hamstring.
Marques Colston (Separated Shoulder): Colston will continue to be day-to-day as he makes his way back from a separated shoulder. Strength and stability around the shoulder, and pain tolerance will be the main issues for Colston, with the possibility he wears a shoulder harness to help with the stability aspect. Projection: Colston is active for Week 7. Colston should be able to return to the playing field, but there is no question he'll be limited if he does suit up. Willie Snead has emerged as one of Drew Brees' favorite targets, so I wouldn't expect much from Colston.
Eric Ebron (Bruised Knee): Ebron should be close to returning from a bruise knee he sustained two weeks ago. Projection: Ebron will be a game-time decision and will be active for Week 7. Ebron might've suffered a setback late last week as he wasn't able to practice Friday, but should be able to progress enough to test out his knee prior to this Sunday against the Vikings.
Ben Roethlisberger (MCL Sprain): Big Ben has particpated and performed well with individual drills and other activities last week at practice. Projection: Roethlisberger starts Week 7. WIth Mike Vick out and Landry Jones slated to start this upcoming week against the Chiefs, the Steelers and their positional players are hoping Ben returns ASAP. Even with a plus matchup for Jones against the Chiefs, I don't think Steelers fans want to sweat out another win without Big Ben.
Karlos Williams (Concussion): I honestly didn't think Williams would still be dealing with lingering effects from his concussion, but it just goes to show you no concussion is the same and no player will progress the way you think. Projection: Williams misses Week 7 and returns for Week 9 after the bye.
Jordan Reed (Concussion): Reed continues to work through the league's concussion protocol, and to prevent me from sound like a broken record, he'll be week-to-week until we know more. Projection: Reed misses 2-3 more games. Reed's history of concussions is what leads me to believe his return will continue to be slower due to lingering symptoms that might be present.
Victor Cruz (Calf Strain): Cruz has been on this list before, but had a setback with his calf a few weeks ago that required an injection to help expedite the healing process. Art Stapleton from The Record reported Cruz is no longer dealing pain in the calf, which is an excellent sign his return is close. Projection: Cruz misses one more week and returns for Week 8. The Giants will give Cruz one more week to get his calf as ready as possible.
Bottom Line: Although the Titans aren't ruling out Mariota for this week, I find it highly unlikely he'll play. Mariota did show his toughness as he continued to play through the knee injury after it happened, but that won't be the case this week if he's having lingering pain and stability issues in his knee. Consider him week-to-week as I don't think the Titans are willing to risk their franchise QB's health.
Projection: Mariota misses 2-3 weeks. Mariota has played through this injury before at Oregon, but again, I don't feel the Titans want to rush him back until he's fully healthy. They'll make sure he's close to full health before coming back.
Bottom Line: Allen will be day-to-day for now, and his practice participation will go a long way in helping fantasy owners feel comfortable using him this weekend. Indications of soft tissue injuries during a game is when a player goes out, tries to come back, but the irritation to the tissue prevents the player from returning at the level he wants to perform at. That seemed to be the case with Allen.
Projection: Allen starts Week 7. Rivers has been peppering Allen with targets since the season started and there is no indication that is going to change, even with Antonio Gates back from suspension. The only concern here is an in-game aggravation or his hip stiffening up in warm ups that could alter his status.
Bottom Line: Sanders will be week-to-week for now, but the Broncos being on bye could pay huge dividends in his recovery.
Projection: Sanders starts Week 8 when Broncos come out of their bye. Sanders' AC sprain is considered mild, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he'll be 100 percent when he returns. I would use Randall Cobb as prime example of how AC sprains have a tendency to linger -- even if it's deemed mild.
Bottom Line: Maclin will be day-to-day as he will begin to work through the concussion protocol to return to the field.
Projection: Maclin misses Week 7. Concussions are becoming more difficult to predict as independent neurologists who have to clear players are cautious in terms of recovery timetables. There's always a chance Maclin could return this week, but until we get a better picture of where his health is, I would make other preparations in case he can't go.
Bottom Line: Watkins will be week-to-week as he is currently wearing a boot to reduce further irritation to the ankle.
Projection: Watkins misses 2-3 weeks. If you hadn't noticed by now, Sammy has had a tough run with the injury bug since coming into the NFL. Although Watkins hasn't had many major issues, the small injuries have had a tendency to linger, which has limited his effectiveness when trying to play through them. Watkins traveled with the team to London, but there shouldn't be any optimism he'll play, as he'll likely be ruled out sooner than later. Those hoping this would be the year Watkins breaks out will have to continue to wait.
Bottom Line: Robinson will be day-to-day as the Jaguars are in London to face the Bills. X-rays were negative for a fracture, so that is the best news possible. He could be dealing with a bone bruise, which could limit his mobility, but check back to see what his status is.
Projection: Robinson will be a game-time decision and will start Week 7. Swelling and pain will be the main limiting factors when it comes to Robinson's leg. There is a chance the Jaguars might go as far as to not have Robinson practice at all this week in order to get the leg to full strength.
Bottom Line: Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before Vick showed up here in this column. Vick stated he has a slight tear in the hamstring muscle, which can mean a number of things in terms of severity. He'll be more week-to-week than day-to-day at this point in his career, as he's had trouble returning from injuries quicker than the normal timetables.
Projection: Vick misses 2-3 weeks. This will be more about who backs up Big Ben than if Vick will return to the starting role. You can feel safe in dropping him now, not only because of the injury, but also because he just hasn't been very good this year.
Bottom Line: Harvin has already been ruled out for the Bills Week 7 game in London, so there is some concern about what he is dealing with. Harvin had a torn labrum in his hip in 2013, and although I'm not sure if it is the same hip he had surgery on, it's not a good sign.
Projection: Harvin will miss at least 2-3 weeks, if not more. Jason La Confora reports Harvin could miss significant time, which always brings into question if Havin doesn't progress and still has issues after a few weeks, whether or not he'll opt to have surgery. The Bills will turn to Chris Hogan, Robert Woods, and will lean heavily on Charles Clay to pick up the slack with Watkins and Harvin both out.