Injuries are big factor this week

Eleven weeks into the NFL season, injuries are beginning to pile up and a quirk in the schedule for Week 12 doesn’t help matters.

The NFL, like last season, has scheduled three games on Thanksgiving, which means eight teams, including the two teams that played on Monday Night Football, are operating on short weeks. Less rest means a diminished chance for a lot of players to suit up this week. Among some of the walking wounded who may not be ready on short rest: Packers RB Ryan Grant (ankle), Lions WR Calvin Johnson (back), Jets WR Laveranues Coles (ankle), Cowboys WR Patrick Crayton (foot), Colts WR Marvin Harrison (leg), Falcons QB Byron Leftwich (tailbone), Broncos RB Travis Henry (knee) and Titans QB Vince Young (quadricep).

Throw in all the other injuries for teams on regular rest and this week can be a real battle to field a roster. Where can you find some help? I’m glad you asked:

Who can I pick up to help on the short week?

Answer: Dust off ol’ Reuben Droughns and sneak him into your lineup. With Brandon Jacobs out and Derrick Ward likely out, Droughns will carry the load for the Giants this Sunday against Minnesota. The matchup isn’t great — the Vikings are giving up the least amount of yards per game (74.4) on the ground in the NFL — but the Giants’ offense is coming off of a dismal performance against the Lions and you know Tom Coughlin has ripped into them this week during practice. At wideout, Sam Hurd, who is likely to start in place of Crayton today, would make a nice play against the Jets. At quarterback, A.J. Feeley may be a sneaky play if your desperate this week. With McNabb likely out, Feeley will take on a tough Patriots’ defense Sunday night, but the Eagles will throw early and often to try and keep up with New England, and with Brian Westbrook to throw to, Feeley may put up 250 yards and a couple of scores.

Why did Priest Holmes re-retire?

Answer: To boil it down, he basically was afraid of being paralyzed. After retiring in 2005 because of neck and back issues, he felt some of the symptoms during Sunday’s game that doctors had warned him about. Due to that he felt the only smart thing to do was quit. All of this means that the Kolby Smith Train, which I’ve been riding all season, finally pulled into the station. Smith, who had eight carries for 17 yards and three catches for 34 yards last Sunday, will take over the rushing load for K.C. until the return of Larry Johnson, which could be 3-4 weeks away at the earliest. With inexperienced Brodie Croyle under center, the Chiefs will want to run the ball and Smith should benefit from that, especially this Sunday against the Raiders.

When is Javon Walker coming back?

Answer: If someone was shortsighted enough to cut him, Broncos WR Javon Walker might be a nice pick up and play this week. After being benched with a knee injury for eight weeks, he’s been practicing with Denver this week and is likely to play at Chicago. The Bears have a weak pass defense — as the Seahawks demonstrated last Sunday — so Walker could have a triumphant return to the lineup this Sunday.

What’s up with Shaun Alexander?

Answer: The Seahawks announced Wednesday that their star running back will sit out another game this Sunday. That makes three in a row, and with Maurice Morris filling in nicely — he’s rushed for 87 games and a touchdown in each of the past two games — Holmgren may not be hurrying Alexander back into the lineup to risk further injury. The worst scenario for Alexander owners is that when he comes back, Holmgren may decide to have him split carries with Morris (which is looking more and more likely). Either way Alexander’s value has plummeted since he was taken early in the first round of most fantasy drafts. As for Morris, he’s a great play this week when the Seahawks travel to St. Louis to take on the 2-8 Rams.

Where is Adrian Peterson’s rehabilitation?

Answer: It looks like the NFL’s newest star running back is also a quick healer. After early reports put him out up to four weeks, Peterson was running on a treadmill in water earlier this week and took the field on Wednesday for light individual drills. The Vikings upgraded Peterson’s “long shot” status for Sunday’s game and said he may play against the Giants. Most likely Peterson will sit out Sunday, but it looks like he’ll be ready to go in Week 13, much to the delight of Peterson owners.

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