April Injury Report
By Mark Wimer
April 27th, 2010

After the NFL regular season is concluded each year, many of the players have surgeries and/or enter rehabilitation for a range of injuries (from nagging injuries that need arthroscopic 'clean up' to knee reconstructions) that were inflicted during the course of the previous six months. As we move past the NFL Draft and start evaluating players' fantasy prospects for the 2010 season, it is useful to be aware of the lingering injury issues that impact the offensive skill position players across the league. The below is a report detailing the significant injury issues still affecting NFL players at the offensive skill positions from across the league. Some players have reportedly completed their rehabilitations (like QB Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons) while others are still in the process of battling back to health (RB Kevin Smith of the Detroit Lions is an example of a player fighting to overcome his injuries from 2009).

Quarterbacks

ATL QB Matt Ryan spent the early months of 2010 rehabbing a turf toe injury to his right big toe. As of Wednesday, March 24 he was reported by head coach Mike Smith to be "fine".

BAL QB Joe Flacco battled a bad thigh contusion during the January postseason games: Coach John Harbaugh said on January 19, "He had a bad contusion on his thigh, on the outside of his thigh and hip area there, and it swelled up legitimately so. I think it was restrictive for him. If any of you guys have had that kind of a serious bruise, you know how much that hurts. You get on a flight, and that's when swelling starts to happen a little bit more. I think Joe showed some real toughness throughout the last five, six weeks playing through that."

BUF QB Trent Edwards struggled to stay healthy during 2009, and was inactive to close the season due to an ankle injury. Edwards addressed his injury woes during 2009 on March 30, 2010, saying "I think first and foremost I needed to stay healthy. I think I took some hits I probably should have tried to avoid. Looking back on it injuries were something I needed to change and hopefully I can physically maintain myself next year."

BUF QB Ryan Fitzpatrick played through an ankle injury to end the 2009 season - he and Trent Edwards were in-and-out of the lineup for the Bills throughout 2009 due to a variety of injury issues.

CIN QB Carson Palmer said on March 14 that he is four-to-six weeks away from throwing after having surgery on his left thumb to repair ligament damage earlier during the offseason (mid-January). Head coach Marvin Lewis expects Palmer to take part in offseason workouts and minicamps as of March 22.

DET QB Matthew Stafford (shoulder and knee injuries suffered during 2009 - the shoulder injury cost him the final four games of the season) is not running full-speed to start the team's offseason conditioning program (began Monday, March 15), but he says he is fine otherwise and expects to be able to participate fully in team workouts. Stafford said, "The shoulder feels good. The knee's coming along. I threw today full speed, felt pretty good. Obviously, it's just going to keep getting better. I'm excited to be back and ready to go." Head coach Jim Schwartz said on Tuesday, April 20 that QB Matthew Stafford has been able to do things during offseason workouts but is not 100 percent healthy at this point. Schwartz said Stafford is on schedule in his rehab.

IND QB Peyton Manning had a surgical procedure on his neck Wednesday, March 3 to relieve pain caused by a pinched nerve. The issue is believed to have been relieved by the procedure and Manning is expected to fully participate in offseason team activities.

NE QB Tom Brady exited 2009 with a variety of injuries (shoulder, finger, and rib injuries) that forced him out of the Pro Bowl. However, Brady publicly stated on Monday, January 25 that none of the injuries were serious enough to require surgery.

NYG QB Eli Manning spent the first months of 2010 rehabbing nagging right foot and ankle injuries that plagued him for most of the 2009 season. He underwent testing and a MRI in early February to make sure that the healing process was on track/going as expected.

NYJ QB Mark Sanchez is reportedly - as of Friday, April 16 - on schedule for recovery from a left knee surgery (surgery to repair the patella ligament in his left knee, performed on Wednesday, February 17). Sanchez is not ruling out the chance of taking part in a June minicamp. He hopes to be running around mid-May, but said it could be a couple weeks earlier or a couple of weeks later. He previously said he would definitely be ready for the start of training camp.

OAK QB Bruce Gradkowski tore his left pectoral muscle while bench pressing 250 pounds Wednesday, April 14, at team headquarters and had surgery Friday, April 16, to repair the damage, according to his agent, Ralph Cindrich. Cindrich added, "Bruce will be fine by training camp. It was a clean tear and the prognosis is good. The weight isn't an unusual amount for an NFL player, even for a quarterback. It just happened." Gradkowski is expected to make a full recovery in time for training camp.

OAK QB Charlie Frye was forced from the team's Week 17 game due to back and ankle injuries, but was re-signed to a one-year tender offer on Monday, March 15 - it appears he is past the late-season injuries.

PIT QB Charlie Batch underwent surgery on Wednesday, November 25, 2009, to repair a broken wrist. He was inactive for the rest of the season, but was re-signed this spring to compete for the #2 QB job for Pittsburgh. The recent news about the 4-6 week suspension of Ben Roethlisberger and the signing of Byron Leftwich (who has played in Pittsburgh before and knows the offense) has muddled the depth chart for the initial weeks of 2010. The Steelers are also shopping Roethlisberger for a first round pick in the draft - the depth chart at QB in Pittsburgh is very much up in the air as of April 2010.

STL QB Keith Null left the team's final game with concussion-like symptoms, according to head coach Steve Spagnuolo on Tuesday, January 5. Unfortunately, once a player suffers a concussion they are more prone to future concussions. Given the NFL's emphasis on handling concussions with great care, a predisposition to future concussions for a player is a concern for fantasy owners.

SEA QB Matt Hasselbeck struggled with a shoulder injury in the closing weeks of the 2009 season, and the team moved to add QB Charlie Whitehurst to the roster earlier this offseason via a high-profile trade with the Chargers. It is clear that the two will be in a duel for the starting QB job during training camp this year.

WAS QB Colt Brennan suffered a torn left labrum in his hip during 2009, which is why he was placed on Injured Reserve in September, 2009. Corrective surgery was performed on the injury - the arrival of Donovan McNabb in Washington this year means that Brennan is going to have time to fully recover and develop as an NFL starter behind the other QBs on the roster.

Running Backs

ATL RB Michael Turner struggled with an ankle injury late during the 2009 season. The team reported him as recovered from the injury on March 24, 2010, but the team is planning to monitor his touches. Said head coach Mike Smith on March 24: "It's important for us to do a good job of monitoring his carries for the game. We have to make sure we don't overwork Michael throughout the season. We designed our game plan to get others involved." The team limited Turner's activities during their first week of offseason workouts (as of March 27). Turner commented at that time that he hopes to fully participate in the workouts in the near future. He also said "I understand that the coaches want to take care of me, and that's for the team not just for me so that I can be around a little longer," Turner said.

ATL RB Jerious Norwood suffered from a sore hip flexor during the waning weeks of the 2009 season. He has been tendered a first-round offer by the Falcons (Norwood is a restricted free agent entering 2010).

BUF RB Marshawn Lynch struggled with a late-season shoulder injury during 2009 - he is rumored to be on the trading block for the Bills.

CAR RB DeAngelo Williams is reportedly doing well after having an offseason procedure to clean up his ankle. He is expected to make a full recovery, according to GM Marty Hurney on Friday, March 5.

CAR RB Jonathan Stewart had surgery in January to remove a bone spur from pressing into his Achilles tendon to relieve bursitis and tendonitis that had been an ongoing issue for Stewart throughout 2009. Stewart said on Monday, April 5 that he expects to be released to run in June and should be ready for the start of training camp.

CLE RB James Davis should be ready for the start of training camp, according to coach Eric Mangini on March 27. Davis was placed on IR in early October after a shoulder injury. He commented on March 25: "The rehab process went really (well). Right now, I made this my hardest offseason that I ever had because I'm making a comeback. I'm trying to get as strong as possible, stronger than I've ever been before. I know it's going to take a lot of work this offseason to get there and that's what I'm doing right now, working as hard as I can. Right now, I'm 100 percent, but I'm only getting stronger."

CHI RB Matt Forte (knee) underwent arthroscopic knee surgery early in the month of January. As of March 24, Bears head coach Lovie Smith said RB Matt Forte will be the starting running back initially but that he will be in competition with RB Chester Taylor.

CHI RB Garrett Wolfe had shoulder surgery on January 8, 2010. Wolfe said on April second that he expects his shoulder to be fully healed in about four weeks. Wolfe has been limited during offseason workouts so far this year.

DAL RB Marion Barber III may face a reduced role during 2010, according to comments from GM Jerry Jones on Tuesday, January 26: "We have had an injury issue there at the end of each of the last two seasons. That may have something to do with the amount of time we can give the other backs. That could impact that decision." Barber struggled with a sore knee at the end of 2009.

DAL RB Tashard Choice suffered a concussion during December of 2009 - concussions/treating concussions properly are a point of emphasis for the NFL these days, and unfortunately a player is more prone to suffer future concussions once they've been concussed in the past.

DET RB Kevin Smith (knee surgery and shoulder injury) said on his blog Thursday, March 25 that the rehab from his reconstructive knee surgery is on schedule but that he does not have a timetable on his return. He said he can do almost everything except running in the post. Smith will almost certainly not be ready for training camp due to the late date of his initial injury (torn ACL in his left knee, placed on IR December 15, 2009), and he may miss the beginning of regular season while on the Physically Unable to Perform list. He is also trying to rehab a shoulder injury. The first round selection of rookie RB Jahvid Best by the Lions speaks volumes about Smith's prognosis for 2010.

GB RB DeShawn Wynn went on IR October 21, 2009 due to a knee injury. He was not tendered an offer, but reportedly hopes to re-sign with Green Bay as of Wednesday, March 17.

HOU RB Steve Slaton underwent surgery for a nerve problem in his spine on Thursday, February 11. On February 18 coach Gary Kubiak said RB Steve Slaton is doing well after undergoing surgery. Kubiak added, "I wish I could describe exactly what they did, but he will be in OTAs, he'll be in all the offseason work. He will not be able to be a part of any contact and should be cleared for training camp, so all systems are go. There shouldn't be anything holding him back as long as he recovers correctly." This is an ongoing rehabilitation that fantasy owners will want to watch carefully.

JAX FB/RB Greg Jones went on IR Thursday, December 17, 2009 due to a high ankle sprain. He's struggled with injuries throughout his career and will likely be in a fight for a roster spot entering the 2010 training camp.

KC RB Jackie Battle was placed on IR October 15, 2009 due to a shoulder injury. He was re-signed by the team on Friday, March 5, which is a strong indication that the shoulder injury is no longer a concern.

KC RB Kolby Smith was placed on IR December 5, 2009 due to an ankle injury. However, he was re-signed by the team on Wednesday, February 24 so presumably his ankle isn't a worrisome issue entering 2010.

MIA RB Ronnie Brown said on Saturday, February 13th that he is ahead of schedule in his rehab from foot surgery even though he has not been able to jog yet. He believes he will be fully cleared for training camp. However, Brown was arrested for DUI in Georgia on March 21, reportedly with a blood alcohol content of over .15 (the legal limit in GA is .08). It remains to be seen what the impact of his DUI arrest will have on Brown's availability for the 2010 season. Brown has not signed his tender offer as of April 21, 2010.

MIA RB Patrick Cobbs was placed on IR on October 14, 2009 due to a torn ACL in his knee. He's in the process of rehabilitating the injury as of April 2010.

MIA RB Ricky Williams ended the 2009 season hampered by a shoulder injury. On Tuesday, April 20, 2010 Williams was reportedly excited about playing football and is looking to play beyond the 2010 season. "Obviously this season is going to have a lot to do with that," Williams said, "but right now I feel I could do it."

NE RB Fred Taylor suffered from an ongoing ankle injury during 2009, and was in and out of the lineup for most of the season. On February 5, 2010, Taylor said he expected to return for the 2010 season, and that he had something to prove this year due to his injury woes during 2009.

NO RB/FB Heath Evans underwent season-ending surgery on his knee Thursday, October 29, 2009. It remains to be seen how he'll bounce back from the procedure.

NYG RB Ahmad Bradshaw reported on April 15, 2010 that he has started running on his surgically-repaired feet (broken bones in both feet) and ankle - the surgeries were done in early January, and his rehabilitation appears to be right on schedule (and perhaps a bit ahead of schedule).

NYG RB Andre Brown reported on March 26 that he is not feeling any pain from the ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered last season (he was placed on IR September 1, 2009 due to the injury) and that he has been able to run at full speed. He said it will probably take him a while before he will be able to run without thinking about the injury. Brown said he should be ready for organized team activities.

NYG RB Brandon Jacobs underwent knee surgery on Friday, January 22 to correct a torn meniscus cartilage in his knee. Jacobs stated on Friday, February 5 that he should have had surgery on his knee after he injured it in Week 1 instead of allowing it to affect his play for the rest of the season. Jacobs said he probably would have missed four or five weeks but would have been fully healthy when he returned. Jacobs is expected to be ready for minicamps and training camp later this year.

NYG RB Danny Ware ended the 2009 season on a sour note due to a concussion that limited his effectiveness in Week 17. "Of course he had the unfortunate incident at the very beginning of the season. Then he came back and got nicked again. So he really hasn't had the time or the extended - to be honest with you, in special teams when he was back, he didn't do much. He didn't provide us with a lot. And Gartrell (Johnson), when given the chance, flies around. So Danny is - we are trying to make him understand a lot of things about consistency and about what our expectation levels are, no matter what spot we are in. And hopefully he is going to learn that," coach Tom Coughlin said regarding Ware on December 30, 2009.

NYJ RB Shonn Greene said on Friday, April 16 that he is 100 percent healthy after suffering some torn rib cartilage during the playoffs. He has completely recovered from the injury, has been taking part in the team's offseason program and is looking forward to training camp.

OAK RB Darren McFadden missed the Week 17 game during the 2009 season due to a knee injury. He is expected to battle for the every-down job during the coming year (if the team doesn't use a high pick on another running back).

PIT RB/FB Frank Summers was placed on IR Tuesday, September 29 due to a back injury. His rookie season was curtailed due to the injury - we'll see if he can bounce back during 2010.

SEA RB Leon Washington said on Thursday, April 15 that head coach Rex Ryan told him his role could increase when he shows he is completely healthy from his broken leg. Thomas Jones has moved on to Kansas City, leaving the top spot in New York wide open entering 2010. However, Washington was traded to Seattle during the 2010 NFL Draft. Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum praised Washington's "unbelievable work ethic" and maintained that he would "never bet against Leon Washington," but Tannenbaum also suggested that there was a question whether hed be ready for the start of this season. In mid-April, Washington still was only allowed to participate in straight-line running and could not cut nor could he move laterally.

STL RB Steven Jackson said in an interview with CBSSports.com on Tuesday, February 9, 2010, that the back injury that caused him problems toward the end of the season - he missed a game in Week 16 against Arizona and also missed the Pro Bowl - was still bothering him in February. "My back is still giving me problems," Jackson said. "It's herniated discs. Anyone who has that injury knows it isn't any fun. You just have to rehab it, and I'm trying to avoid surgery. I've seen three different doctors on it, and they all said that surgery is not needed. It's one of those things I have to just gut it out and really rehab." Jackson added "I'll be ready for training camp." This is a situation that fantasy owners will want to monitor closely once July/August rolls around. Bad backs are notorious for becoming nagging injuries that haunt some players long after the initial injury occurred.

STL RB/FB Mike Karney was bothered by a neck injury during the closing weeks of the 2009 season, but he played through the injury.

TB FB B.J. Askew went on the Non-Football Injury list on Tuesday, October 20, ending his 2009 season. Askew was involved in a car accident that injured his neck and back. He was working to rehabilitate those injuries as of April 2010.

TB RB Clifton Smith was reportedly feeling good after being placed on Injured Reserve with a concussion on Wednesday, December 16. "I'm feeling great. I'm perfectly fine. There's nothing wrong," Smith said at the time. "I feel like I can play, but they shut me down just to be cautious." Unfortunately, once a player suffers a concussion they are more prone to future concussions. Given the NFL's emphasis on handling concussions with great care, a predisposition to future concussions for a player is a concern for fantasy owners.

TB RB/FB Earnest Graham ended the 2009 season on IR due to a toe injury, but he is expected to be back in the mix at RB/FB during the 2010 season.

TB RB Derrick Ward struggled with knee and thigh injuries during the closing weeks of 2009, but appears to be healthy entering 2010 minicamps and OTAs - head coach Raheem Morris said on Friday, April 9, "We've got to find ways to make Derrick a more productive player this year. We have to do a better job all around of getting him more opportunities." Morris added, "We talked about the running game before and some of the games getting out of whack because you put too much on your quarterback. We can't let that happen."

WAS RB Willie Parker was hampered by a shoulder injury to close the 2009 season in Pittsburgh, but has moved on Washington and is in the mix for the starting RB job there. There was evidently a lot of bad blood between Parker and coach Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh (to the point that Parker preferred sitting out the 2010 season to playing in Pittsburgh again this year), and the player is hoping for a new start in Washington.

WAS RB Clinton Portis was cleared by a concussion specialist to participate in offseason workouts on Thursday, March 11, 2010. On March 24, head coach Shanahan addressed Portis' position entering 2010 - "He was 205 or 210 pounds and averaged (nearly) six yards a carry for two years (with the Denver Broncos). That's what I expect him to be - in great shape and doing the things he's always done with me. He knows he's got to be lighter, sure. I think we'll know as time goes on (what Portis's playing weight should be). ... I haven't talked to him about it, but I would say that he'll probably be shooting at 210, 212, 214 range. I think Clinton knows what's best for him and his body, what type of offense we run with the zone blocking scheme that gives him the best chance to be successful." Portis is locked in a battle with Larry Johnson and Willie Parker for the top job during the new Shanahan regime in Washington.

Wide Receivers

ATL WR Roddy White had some knee woes during December of 2009 and was limited in practices at that time. The injury didn't require surgery, but it is worth paying attention to how much participation White manages during the offseason workouts.

ATL WR Harry Douglas, who tore up his knee in training camp last year, is progressing and should be ready for training camp, according to head coach Mike Smith on Wednesday, March 24.

ATL WR Brian Finneran (knee) did not need surgery to repair the knee injury he suffered during the 2009 season (he landed on IR in December). Head coach Mike Smith said on February ninth that Finneran is resting the injury so he will be ready for the team's minicamp. The team signed Finneran to a one-year contract on February 11. Finneran has a history of knee injuries, which is something to keep in mind when evaluating his 2010 prospects.

BAL WR Anquan Boldin was limited by ankle and knee injuries during January's postseason, but he was able to pass his physical and joined the Ravens via trade in March. Apparently, he's over the injuries that affected him earlier this year.

BUF WR James Hardy started 2009 on the PUP list due to a January 2009 surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. He did practice and play with the team late in 2010, and the team indicated on March 23, 2010 that he'll have an opportunity to compete for a starting WR job this year. We'll see if his repaired knee will hold up to the rigors of a full training camp later this summer.

BUF WR Steve Johnson missed the final game of the 2009 season due to an ankle injury. The coaching staff announced on Tuesday, March 23 that Johnson would have the opportunity to compete for a starting job during 2010, which indicates that the ankle injury is no longer an issue.

CAR WR Steve Smith was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve Friday, January 1, due to a broken left forearm. He is expected to recover fully (broken bones are usually actually stronger when a break is fully healed).

CHI WR Earl Bennett had knee surgery during the month of February and could miss a portion of the team's offseason workouts due to his rehab of the surgery. His absence from the workouts may put him behind the curve learning Mike Martz's offense.

CHI WR Devin Hester battled a variety of injuries during the 2009 season - shoulder, calf, and ankle injuries - and he commented on Friday, February 5 that the injuries slowed him down and affected his playing ability. He said he suffered the shoulder injury during a preseason game but played with it during the season. He said the calf and ankle injuries took away his speed. Hester will not need surgery on his shoulder injury but said he is not able to lift weights because he needs to get his shoulder stronger.

CHI WR Johnny Knox was bothered by an ankle injury at the end of the 2009 season, and didn't play in Week 17. However, he was added to the Pro Bowl roster as a return man for the NFC - he appears to be recovered from the ankle complaint.

CLE WR Brian Robiskie was inactive during Week 17 of the 2009 season due to an ankle injury.

CLE WR Syndric Steptoe missed the 2009 season due to a torn labrum in his shoulder. We'll see if he can avoid further injury during offseason workouts and minicamps.

DET WR Nate Burleson was held out of the final Seattle game during 2009 due to a sore knee, but was signed to a five-year, $25 million contract with $11 million guaranteed by the Lions on March 5. Presumably, his knee is not an issue given the size of the contract he was awarded.

DET WR Calvin Johnson struggled with a knee injury during the final weeks of 2009. He acknowledged on Friday, March 19 that "The big thing for me this year is to stay healthy so I can be out there every Sunday so I can help."

GB WR James Jones ended the 2009 season with two torn ligaments in his right ring finger. Jones played through the injury, claiming that it didn't affect his catching ability. He's working on rehabilitating the injury as of 2010.

Ex-GB WR Brett Swain went on IR on October 27 due to a serious knee sprain suffered in Week 7 of the 2009 season.

IND WR Anthony Gonzalez should be ready for the start of training camp, according to Colts owner Jim Irsay, on Thursday, March 25. Gonzalez missed the 2009 season due to an ongoing knee injury issue - he tried to practice for a regular season game in Week 16, but ended up going on IR Thursday, December 24.

JAX WR Jarrett Dillard broke his ankle during Week 10 of the 2009 season, but is expected to contribute more to the team during the 2010 season after showing some flashes of ability prior to his injury.

Ex-KC WR Devard Darling was placed on IR September 1, 2009 due to an undisclosed injury (rumored to be a knee injury) - he was released by the team on Wednesday, March 3, 2010.

MIN WR Percy Harvin reported on Sunday, April 11th that he is still struggling with migraine headaches from time to time. "It's off and on," he noted. "Still working them out. Hopefully we'll keep working at it... it's just something that hopefully I can contain." Harvin was the rookie of the year during 2009 despite his migraine headaches.

NE WR Sam Aiken suffered a head injury in the Patriots' Wild Card playoff game Sunday, January 10.

NE WR Brandon Tate underwent minor knee surgery after he was placed on injured reserve before the Week 10 (mid-November) loss to the Colts. He is expected to fully participate in the offseason conditioning program with the team.

NE WR Wes Welker was reportedly doing well in his recovery from a torn ACL as of Thursday, February 25, but he was not expected to be ready for the start of the 2010 season (his surgical repair was performed on February 2, 2010, and the time frame on recovering from a knee reconstruction is usually 12 months, though some players manage to return to the field sooner). On Friday, March 12 it was revealed that Welker is also recovering from a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder - but the knee/ACL injury remains the primary obstacle regarding his return to the field.

NYG WR Mario Manningham suffered from a shoulder injury during the final weeks of the 2009 season, and was inactive during Week 17 as a result.

NYG WR Hakeem Nicks had a "clean-up" surgical procedure on his right wrist in January, 2010. He is expected to be fully recovered by training camp.

OAK WR Darrius Heyward-Bey said on Monday, March 15 that his formerly-injured foot is healthy. Heyward-Bey missed the last month of his rookie season with foot problems, and was generally a disappointment in his rookie season (nine catches for 124 yards and one TD during 2009).

STL WR Donnie Avery suffered a concussion during the season finale, according to head coach Steve Spagnuolo. Spagnuolo said Monday, January 4, that Avery's symptoms had cleared. Unfortunately, once a player suffers a concussion they are more prone to future concussions. Given the NFL's emphasis on handling concussions with great care, a predisposition to future concussions for a player is a concern for fantasy owners.

STL WR Keenan Burton suffered a knee injury on Sunday, November 15, 2009, that required surgical repair. He is in the process of rehabilitating his injury as of April 2010.

STL WR Laurent Robinson is trying to return from the high ankle sprain and a fractured fibula that cut short his 2009 season (suffered in Week 3 of the 2009 campaign). However, reports on Saturday, April 3rd indicated that while Robinson has been jogging and catching passes during offseason workouts, he is still not able to run at full speed or make cuts.

SD WR Legedu Naanee struggled with a foot injury during the closing weeks of the 2009 season - he was inactive for the season finale as a result of the injury.

SEA WR Mike Hass, signed to the active roster from the practice squad on Saturday, December 26, 2009, was scheduled to undergo offseason shoulder surgery in January 2010.

TB WR Sammie Stroughter was placed on Injured Reserve on Monday, December 21, ending his 2009 season. Stroughter suffered a broken foot during Week 15. On Monday, March 22, 2010 Stroughter spoke about his ambitions for the coming season: "That's my focus, to be there as much as possible to help the team on first and second down, when I can play outside," Stroughter said. "Then I can move to the slot on third down ... I'm going into the voluntary workouts like I'm the man - period, point blank. Whatever role I have, I'm going to be the best, being the team's No. 1."

WAS WR Devin Thomas was hampered by an ankle injury to end the 2009 season, but appears to be recovered entering the 2010 OTAs and minicamps.

Tight Ends

ARI TE Ben Patrick struggled with a head injury to end the 2009 season, but did play in the Cardinals' playoff run during January 2010.

BAL TE Todd Heap struggled with a bad back for most of the Ravens' January playoff run. He did play in the games, but has had an increasing number of nagging injuries over the past few years.

BUF TE Derek Schouman landed on IR September 22, 2009 due to a knee injury suffered during week two of the regular season. He was tendered an offer and signed it on April 8, 2010, so presumably his knee is healing properly - Schouman is likely to be the backup to Shawn Nelson entering 2010's training camp.

CIN TE Jermaine Gresham joined the Bengals in the first round of the NFL draft. He is currently rehabbing a torn right ACL (September 2009) and has also torn his left ACL previously (high school injury).

DAL TE Martellus Bennett suffered a concussion in mid-December of 2009 and was inactive in Week 15 as a result. Concussions/treating concussions properly are a point of emphasis for the NFL these days, and unfortunately a player is more prone to suffer future concussions once they've been concussed in the past.

DET TE Brandon Pettigrew is rehabbing from knee surgery he underwent near the end of the 2009 season (December 22 surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee). Pettigrew said on Tuesday, February 16 that he plans to do what he can during offseason workouts without risking his health. If Pettigrew isn't up to speed by training camp, Will Heller or the newly acquired Tony Scheffler (via 3-way trade with Den/Phi) are likely to start in his place while Pettigrew continues his rehab. The time frame for rehabbing a torn ACL fully is usually around one year (some players manage it in eight months, though). Stay tuned on this one, folks.

HOU TE Owen Daniels, during an interview on Sirius NFL Radio on April 13th, said he is coming along very well in his rehab from a torn ACL. Daniels said this was the third torn ACL he has suffered, and this was also the smoothest recovery. His goal is to be running at full speed by June 1. While he said he will be held out of OTAs during the summer, he plans to be ready for the start of training camp.

HOU TE Joel Dreessen was scheduled for offseason shoulder surgery according to head coach Gary Kubiak on Monday, January 4. Owen Daniels is rehabbing his torn ACL currently, as well - the Texans' TE position is banged up but healing as of April 2010.

IND TE Tom Santi ended the 2009 season being placed on IR Saturday, January 2, 2010. He was suffering from a back injury and couldn't get it healed in time for the postseason run.

JAX TE Marcedes Lewis was unable to play in the Jaguars' final game of the year during 2009 due to cracked bones under his right eye that needed time to heal. He should be OK for organized team activities during the offseason.

KC TE Brad Cottam underwent surgery on his cracked vertebrae Wednesday, December 23. His rehabilitation is ongoing as of April 2010.

NE TE Rob Gronkowski was added to New England in the second round of the draft on Friday, April 23. He missed the 2009 season due to a back injury/surgery but has been cleared to play and is reportedly fully recovered from the back issue. With Ben Watson now in Cleveland, Gronkowski will be expected to contribute sooner rather than later.

NO TE Jeremy Shockey struggled with a knee injury throughout the playoffs, but he did participate in the Super Bowl victory (and scored a TD during the game).

OAK TE Zach Miller was concussed at the end of the 2009 season (and also had a concussion earlier in the season), and he missed Week 15 on the inactive list as a result (Sunday, December 20). Unfortunately, once a player suffers a concussion they are more prone to future concussions. Given the NFL's emphasis on handling concussions with great care, a predisposition to future concussions for a player is a concern for fantasy owners.

PHI TE Cornelius Ingram is recovering on schedule from his torn ACL (left knee, torn August 8, 2009 - the second ACL tear in his left knee, each injury separated by 12 months). Ingram said on Monday, April 12 that his recovery is going well and that he should be healthy for Week 1.

PIT TE Sean McHugh underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Wednesday, August 26, 2009. It was described as a cleanup procedure at first, but then the team placed McHugh on IR Saturday, September 5, terminating his 2009 season. It remains to be seen if he can retain his roster spot entering 2010 minicamps.

STL TE Daniel Fells suffered a ligament sprain in his right knee and fractured his right leg on Sunday, December 20, 2009. However, he was re-signed by the Rams on Wednesday, March 10 to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. Presumably, the team determined he has recovered from his injuries before re-signing Fells.

TEN TE Jared Cook suffered a concussion in early December 2009. The team envisions him becoming more prominent in the offense during 2010, but it is worth noting that A) Bo Scaife received a $4.9 million tender offer and B) Cook has a history of concussions, which is something to be aware of given the heightened concern/treatment regimen the NFL has mandated for players who have concussions.

WAS TE Chris Cooley's 2009 season was ruined by a broken ankle. He had surgery to place three pins in the ankle on Wednesday, October 28th, and wasn't able to get back in the game during 2009, ending the year on Injured Reserve (Monday, November 30 the team made his IR move official). Fred Davis played very well in Cooley's absence last year, so there may be a positional battle brewing in training camp at TE.

Place Kickers

ATL PK Matt Bryant suffered a hamstring injury late in the 2009 season (Week 16) - Atlanta also has Steven Hauschka on the roster at PK entering 2010. There may be a training camp battle for the PK roster spot.

IND PK Adam Vinatieri underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on October 14, 2009, and wasn't able to play in the Super Bowl in February (Matt Stover handled the kicking duties for the Colts in the Super Bowl). We'll see if Vinatieri can bounce back from his sub-par 2009 - if his knee is finally healed properly.

SF PK Joe Nedney suffered a left hamstring injury on Sunday, December 20. The injury doesn't seem to be a concern heading into 2010.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to wimer@footballguys.com.