NFL Week 8 injury report: Felix Jones, Jordy Nelson headline list of ailing stars

Doug Pensinger

The wear and tear of the NFL season is starting to take a toll on some of the game's biggest stars. Will Ahmad Bradshaw, Jordy Nelson, Jimmy Graham and others be able to play this week?

It’s only Saturday, and a number of key players have already been ruled out for Week 8 in the NFL. Among these: Aaron Hernandez of the Patriots, Jake Locker of the Titans, DeMarco Murray of the Cowboys, and Troy Polamalu of the Steelers. Here are some other key injuries, and their impact, for the rest of this week’s games:

RUNNING BACKS

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants (foot)
NYG (5-2) @ DAL (3-3), 4:25 p.m. ET

Bradshaw expects to play in tomorrow’s showdown with Dallas despite being limited in practice this week due to a bone bruise of the foot that has hampered him for much of the season. The Giants’ RB took on a smaller proportion of the workload in last week’s win over Washington due to the injury, but he was effective when on the field while totaling 65 all-purpose yards and a rushing touchdown. If Bradshaw cannot play against Dallas, backups Andre Brown and David Wilson would share carries for New York.

Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts (knee)
IND (3-3) @ TEN (3-4), 1 p.m. ET

Brown, who missed the last two weeks following arthroscopic surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his knee, returned to practice this week and will be a game-time decision for tomorrow’s divisional battle at Tennessee. Even if Brown takes the field tomorrow, he is likely to split carries with Vick Ballard at RB, minimizing his fantasy value. Brown should be a better fantasy play in later weeks after he recovers fully from the surgery.

Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys (knee)
DAL (3-3) vs. NYG (5-2), 4:25 p.m. ET

Jones, who took over running back duties for the injured DeMarco Murray in last week’s win over Carolina, suffered a bruised knee late in the game and missed the final two series for Dallas. While Murray has been ruled out of tomorrow’s game against the Giants with a sprained foot, the good news for Cowboys fans is that Jones has returned to practice this week and appears set to get the start. Backup Philip Tanner is likely to see action at RB as well, although with Jones back in the fold his fantasy value is limited.

Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns (ribs)
CLE (1-6) vs SD (3-3), 1 p.m. ET

The Browns’ rookie RB, who entered last week’s game against Indianapolis with a rib injury suffered in Cleveland’s Week 6 win over Cincinnati, was removed in the second half of the loss to the Colts due to pain in the rib cartilage and chest. Richardson admitted after the game that the pain associated with the injury was "worse than what people think it is," although he did admit to thinking he could have played in the second half. Richardson has been limited in practice this week and is considered a game-time decision for tomorrow’s game at San Diego. Pain tolerance is usually the biggest hurdle to overcome when dealing with rib injuries, which often take weeks to fully heal. There were rumblings this week in Cleveland that the team might consider sitting Richardson through the team’s Week 10 bye to ensure a full recovery.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers (hamstring)
GB (4-3) vs. JAC (1-5), 1 p.m. ET

Nelson suffered a hamstring injury in practice Wednesday and has been unable to participate since, calling into question his availability for tomorrow’s game against the Jaguars. Hamstring injuries are notoriously slow to heal, often requiring one or more weeks of recovery, and players who return before full recovery are prone to aggravation. If Nelson is unable to play tomorrow, WRs James Jones and Randall Cobb will make excellent fantasy plays against the Jacksonville defense.

TIGHT ENDS

Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints (ankle)
NO (2-4) @ DEN (3-3), 8:20 p.m. ET

The Saints’ TE suffered a sprained ankle in the Saints’ Week 5 win over San Diego and after a Week 6 bye, he missed last week’s win over Tampa Bay. There are conflicting reports regarding the severity of the injury, with some expressing concern that Graham may have suffered a high ankle sprain. The recovery time from ankle injuries is notoriously slow due to the complex nature of the joint itself.

A high ankle sprain involves injury to the syndesmotic ligaments of the ankle, whichare responsible for holding the lower ends of the tibia and fibula (lower leg bones) together. Injuries to these ligaments are usually more serious than to other areas of the ankle, causing significant pain and difficulty bearing weight. The severity of and prognosis for recovery for ankle sprains are often a source of confusion, primarily due to misunderstanding over what exactly the different "grades" of sprains actually mean.

In brief:

  • A Grade 1 sprain is a mild sprain that occurs when there is slight stretching and some damage to the fibers of the ligament. Individuals can usually place pressure on the foot and walk afterward.
  • A Grade 2 sprain is a moderate sprain where a partial tearing of the ligament occurs. If the ankle joint is examined and moved in certain ways, abnormal looseness (laxity) of the ankle joint occurs.
  • A Grade 3 sprain is a severe sprain in which a complete tear of the ligament occurs. If the examiner pulls or pushes on the ankle joint in certain movements, gross instability occurs.

If in fact Graham suffered a high ankle sprain, it is likely to be a Grade 1 sprain, which, could require anywhere from 1-4 weeks of recovery time; a Grade 2 or 3 sprain, in which there is some degree of looseness of the ankle joint, could take longer and even require surgery if the tear is complete. If he is unable to play tomorrow night against the Broncos, backup David Thomas would get the nod at TE.

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