Week 1 of the 2011 NFL season isn't even fully in the books yet and the injury bug has already taken a significant toll on some teams in the league. If you're a fan of the St. Louis Rams in particular this morning, the fate of three key players - QB Sam Bradford, RB Steven Jackson, and WR Danny Amendola - will significantly impact the outlook of a season that had so much promise just a day ago.
Here are the key injuries from the week so far, and their potential impact:
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (finger)
Initial x-rays on Bradford's right (throwing) index finger, which was injured in the fourth quarter of the Rams' 31-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, were negative; however, there have been reports that Bradford suffered at least temporary loss of sensation in the finger. Bradford, whose hand appeared to hit Cullen Jenkins' helmet while throwing a pass, was confident after the game that he would play in the team's Week 2 contest against the New York Giants. The key for Bradford's prognosis is whether the loss of sensation lasts into the week. If this is the case, and the rising star has suffered nerve damage, it would not necessarily keep him from taking the field but could affect his grip and overall accuracy throwing the ball. If Bradford misses any time, A.J. Feeley would start in his absence.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (wrist)
The Bengals were one of the surprise winners in Week 1, but the 27-17 win over the Cleveland Browns was tempered by the right (throwing) wrist injury to rookie QB Andy Dalton. Initial tests on the wrist, which Dalton injured at the end of the first half on a hit by Browns DT Phil Taylor, were negative and Dalton stated his grip was not affected by the injury. The true test, however, will come in the next days: if Dalton begins to suffer pain, swelling or decreased range of motion due to swelling and inflammation, his prognosis for Week 2 at the Denver Broncos would be in serious jeopardy. Although not a great fantasy option, Bruce Gradkowski will get the start if Dalton can't go.
Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams (quadriceps)
Rams fans have heard this all too often in recent years: the St. Louis RB left Sunday's game with an leg injury. This time it was a strained right quadriceps on the team's first offensive play, a 47-yard TD run. Jackson did not return to the game, and given the nature of injuries to the muscles of the upper leg, the outlook for Jackson's return to action this weekend against the Giants is questionable. Given his injury history, fantasy owners may want to consider picking up backup RB Cadillac Williams for Week 2, at least.
Mike Tolbert, San Diego Chargers (knee)
Tolbert, a revelation for the Chargers in their 24-17 win over the Minnesota Vikings, scoring three touchdowns on the day, limped off the field in the fourth quarter with a right knee injury. Although by all reports the injury appears to be minor, with any knee injury there is potential for swelling and decreased range of motion in the next 24-48 hours, and Tolbert is scheduled to have a precautionary MRI today to rule out structural damage. With Ryan Mathews the potential beneficiary of any carries Tolbert loses due to the injury, fantasy owners of both should keep a close eye on the results of the MRI and Tolbert's practice availability this week.
Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams (elbow)
Amendola, who had emerged as a top receiving target for Bradford, suffered a gruesome dislocation of his elbow in the 4th quarter of the Rams' loss on Sunday. Initial reports had Amendola out at least 8-10 weeks, if not the entire season. In at least 15 percent of cases, elbow dislocations may be associated with nerve injuries that can result in long-term deficits without prompt treatment, which includes reduction of the joint (putting the bones back in place, either manually or surgically). Furthermore, compartment syndrome, a condition in which pressure from swelling or internal bleeding results in severe pain or decreased blood flow, may develop in the forearm or biceps requiring emergency surgery. For all of these reasons, and pending further evaluation, it would appear most likely Amendola's season is over, increasing the fantasy value of WR Mike Sims-Walker.
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints (clavicle)
The Saints receiver fractured his clavicle (collarbone) in the 4th quarter of the team's 42-34 loss to the Green Bay Packers last Thursday night. One thing is known: the injury typically takes about four weeks to heal, and Colston will miss the rest of September at least. The unknown: what will the Saints do to help their ailing receiver corps, which includes injuries to Colston and Lance Moore (groin). Rumors of signing Randy Moss have swirled since Thursday: keep your eyes open, as he could be a significant waiver wire acquisition for fantasy owners needing to upgrade their WR position.
Kevin Walter, Houston Texans (shoulder)
Walter, who suffered a dislocation and fracture of his left shoulder in the first half of the Texans' 34-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts yesterday, is out at least 10-12 weeks, if not the remainder of the season. Shoulder dislocations can often be treated conservatively without surgical intervention but require a lengthy period of immobilization followed by rehabilitation to restore normal range of motion in the joint. Because the risk of recurrent dislocation is particularly high in the shoulder, care is usually taken to make sure athletes are not rushed back into action, putting the rest of Walter's season in serious jeopardy. WRs Jacoby Jones and Bryant Johnson will likely see increased playing time due to Walter's absence