News and Notes (8/13): Mathews, Jennings, Bishop, Peterson, Leshoure, Dunlap

Ryan Mathews was very optimistic in his first press conference after surgery last week, meeting reporters without a sling and suggesting he’ll beat the 4-6 week estimate given by Norv Turner. None of this is unexpected, of course. The next player who publicly states that he thinks it’ll take longer than expected to return to play will be the first. And one of the reasons that fractured clavicles are now aggressively treated with surgery is to allow for a quick return of range of motion and successful early rehab. Though Marques Colston was cleared for contact just two weeks after his surgical fixation last year, I still think it’s much more likely that Mathews’ return is closer to six weeks than four.

Fantasy note: I still think the backlash on Mathews in fantasy drafts is severe. It seems that Mathews fell to the third round in many drafts this weekend and as late as the fifth in others. I get the argument that Mathews has a red flag as an injury risk for many and there’s no guarantee that he’ll not have a setback when he returns from the fractured clavicle, but I still think there’s an excellent chance that Mathews gives you 12-14 games of elite RB1 production. I’m still considering him in the mid-late second (if not earlier) and would consider him a gift in the third round or later.

According to Mike McCarthy, the process to get Greg Jennings back on the field after a concussion early in camp is “not going as well as Greg would like.” Though it’s generally easier to dismiss minor injuries during the first two weeks of training camp for a veteran player for whom health is more important that reps, a concussion can’t be dismissed as easily as a mild muscle strain. Jennings is expected to return soon, but his near two week recovery period from this injury could be an issue if he suffers another head injury early in the season.

Desmond Bishop suffered a serious hamstring injury and knee sprain last week. That prompted questions from readers who wanted to know how a player could suffer an injury to the back of the thigh and a knee sprain at the same time. Though the Packers haven’t released specifics on Bishop’s diagnosis, what they have said and the mechanism of Bishop’s injury make it likely that both injuries are near the back of the knee. A hyperextension like Bishop’s could cause both a tear of the hamstring tendons near the lower leg bones and a sprain of the PCL. Torn PCLs are rarely repaired surgically and a ruptured hamstring in that location is generally associated with a 3-4 month recovery period. If that’s the case, Bishop could be back late this season depending on how easy it is to repair the tendon.

Fantasy note: D.J. Smith won’t have the upside that Bishop had – primarily because he’s not as effective and productive in coverage and the Green Bay backers are very likely see an above-average number of coverage snaps – but Smith proved last season that he can be a solid LB2 option in an every-down role.

This is a critical time for Adrian Peterson, who was activated off the PUP list last weekend. Though he’s clearly made every effort to get himself back into prime condition, the first week in pads after an extended layoff is the time a player is at highest risk of conditioning and cascade injury. The speed of live action in pads cannot be simulated in individual rehab and Peterson’s body will get its first chance to respond to a play developing in front of him with an unknown outcome. Expect the Vikings to bring him back slowly.

What once seemed to be a minor hamstring injury for Mikel Leshoure continues to linger. He’s yet to be cleared for practice and may not be until next week. Leshoure says he’s ready and hopeful but allowed, “I’ll be out there when I get out there.” The delay may not impact Leshoure’s production this year, but it’s not ideal for an inexperienced player recovering from a serious injury who needs repetitions for conditioning and practice in the system.

The Bengals rarely give out specific information on injuries, but the open-field knee injury suffered by Carlos Dunlap looked like an MCL sprain – especially since there was no concern for an ACL tear after the game. Later reports confirmed that Dunlap would not need surgery and put a four week timetable on his return. Dunlap has never been a quick healer, however, and if he has a Grade 3 tear, he may not be back for closer to six weeks. Either way, it’s disappointing for Dunlap, who was finally getting a look as an every-down defensive end.

Andre Johnson made it through his first week of practice since straining his groin early in camp without a setback. Ed Dickson’s imaging studies showed no damage around his shoulder capsule after his subluxation last week. The Colts are waiting to comment on Pat Angerer’s foot injury until after a MRI today, but there seemed to be concern in the locker room after yesterday’s game. (Edit: Angerer has a fractured foot, will have surgery and is expected to be out for at least six weeks.) Ryan Williams is expected to see his first live game action this week. His practice time has been scaled back but it’s been termed precautionary.

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