Injuries During Stretch Run Are a Real Pain in the Roster

Atlanta's Michael Vick, who has a career-high 19 touchdown passes, appears ready to play despite a groin injury suffered last Saturday, but it could limit his productivity.
Atlanta's Michael Vick, who has a career-high 19 touchdown passes, appears ready to play despite a groin injury suffered last Saturday, but it could limit his productivity. (By Rob Carr -- Associated Press)

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By Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 21, 2006

A sore groin forced Michael Vick out of Saturday's game in the closing minutes. The next day, Steve McNair departed early in the first quarter with an aching hand. The Jaguars lost Fred Taylor in the first quarter and Maurice Jones-Drew in the fourth. Marvin Harrison has had tingling in his left hand for nearly a month, and Colts teammate Joseph Addai rolled his ankle in the third quarter.

That recent spate of injuries leaguewide has many fantasy owners wincing as well. Apart from a coach resting starters in meaningless games down the stretch, few circumstances irk owners as much as late-season ailments to front-liners.

For fantasy teams still in the postseason, the news is mostly positive regarding the status of some important players.

Vick appears ready to play Sunday, though he probably will not be at full strength. Vick has a career-high 19 touchdown passes this season, but the aching groin will limit his mobility, so don't expect a bundle of fantasy points from him.

As for McNair, all indications are he will play three days from now when the Ravens travel to Pittsburgh. Coach Brian Billick said he could have inserted McNair back into the game Sunday but that he elected not to as a precaution. McNair departed the 27-17 victory over the Browns early in the first quarter after 254-pound linebacker Andra Davis stepped on his throwing hand. The former league co-MVP took snaps on the sideline but did not reenter the game because a cut on his hand became irritated.

The Jaguars remain in the hunt for a wild-card berth, but fantasy owners who were counting on Taylor this week may need to make other plans. Taylor aggravated a right hamstring injury on a 35-yard gain in the first quarter, pulling up in the open field on what appeared to be a sure touchdown.

Owners who have Taylor should not be the least bit shocked if he does not play this week. In nine seasons, Taylor has played a full season twice, most recently in 2003. He has missed seven games over the past three seasons.

Taylor's backup, Jones-Drew, appears more of a certainty. Jones-Drew has 764 rushing yards, 379 receiving yards, 731 return yards and 13 total touchdowns. He may not have the national name recognition of Reggie Bush, but Jones-Drew certainly is having a more productive rookie season overall.

Addai is another promising rookie who probably will play through injury Sunday. Colts Coach Tony Dungy told reporters that Addai, who leads all rookie running backs with 917 yards, does not have the dreaded high ankle sprain but rather a "basketball-type sprain. It's sore, but I think he should be okay."

Harrison, who was voted to his eighth straight Pro Bowl, has endured the tingling sensation in his hand for a month but has not missed practice time or a game en route to 82 catches for 1,180 yards and nine touchdowns.

Mark Maske, NFL News Feed

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