Mini-Camp Injury Report: Top Fantasy Concerns

By Chris Burrows

To the relief of beleaguered owners who saw the downfall of their league when Tom Brady’s knee was crushed by Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard in the first week of the 2008 season, Brady is now listed as probable for the start of training camp. Although the NFL record holder for touchdown passes in a single season is still in a knee brace and skipped some early voluntary team workouts, his surgeon expressed astonishment in early June at his rate of recovery and Brady has thrown some practice passes to his new weapon—Randy Moss—the self-described “best wide receiver of all-time, hands down.” Though Moss has yet to deliver on that promise, it’s safe to put Brady back in at No. 1.

Brian Westbrook won’t be as lucky. He underwent surgery to remove bone fragments from his right ankle and is listed as questionable for the start of training camp. The Eagle’s RB is recovering, though, and Philadelphia’s head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder reassures that Westbrook will be ready when the regular season starts up. Westbrook is too talented and is surrounded by too much potential not to keep on eye on his status leading up to fantasy drafts.

Limping off the field during a practice in early June, Ben Roethlisberger worried fans only to reappear at practice the very next day wearing a knee wrap. His “injury” put him on the “probable” list for training camp but it looks like he’ll be just fine and ready to defend his team’s title when the season ramps up.

Bills Head Coach Dick Jauron explained that Marshawn Lynch sat out a practice date in mid-June for foot x-rays after being stepped on. The good news is that the x-rays were negative, and Lynch’s foot is fine. However, Lynch won’t play until week 4 because of a three game suspension incurred in 2008. Buffalo’s starter at RB, Lynch will need to make up for lost production over those first three games.

It seems like nobody wants to play in Denver—Brandon Marshall included. Marshall’s improving hip injury and odd behavior probably aren’t doing much for him either. The impressive receiver threw up big numbers in 2008 but an injured hip and a bad attitude have kept him away from the practice field. Marshall skipped a mandatory minicamp and meetings and is considered questionable for the start of training camp, but the WR participated in light drills and running at his June 19 high school camp.

Matt Forte is still sitting out practices in Chicago with a hamstring injury but is expected to be available for the start of training camp. Forte can be counted on for major stats if he recovers gracefully. He’s a No. 1 choice for RB.

Veteran WR Derrick Mason is still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and is listed as questionable for the start of training camp. For fantasy owners this should be a big concern for the 35 year old Mason. He’ll likely be a dependable backup fantasy RB but shouldn;t be highly sought after. Four Baltimore WRs somehow made the injury list but are all probable for camp for Joe Flacco to make a name for himself again in 2009.

Adam Vinatieri, who underwent hip surgery in the off-season, is questionable for the start of training camp as the Colt’s kicker. Probably not a top choice for the fantasy draft especially considering this new development combined with an effective offense under Peyton Manning that doesn’t afford many kicking opportunities and his status as a 13 year league veteran.

Despite undergoing a hip repair in the off-season that reportedly still gives him pain, Kurt Warner has been taking part in team workouts in Arizona and will report for the start of training camp. This only slightly tarnishes his reputation in the desert as he is surrounded by offensive phenoms. He should still be included in the upper echelons of the fantasy draft.