News and Notes (8/20): Collie, Jennings, Mendenhall, Sproles and more

Austin Collie evaluated for concussion
The Colts confirmed late this afternoon that Collie did suffer a concussion after taking a forearm from Larry Foote last night. He’s being called day-to-day, but Collie’s observation period is sure to be of interest to many around the league after two concussions sidelined him for the final seven games of the 2010 season and left many wondering when, not if, he’d suffer another. The forearm-to-helmet impact may have looked minor, but that’s not a good indicator for how severe the injury may be or how long any symptoms may last. (See this post on concussion and the accompanying sidebar for more detail on why.) For now, as with any player with a history of significant concussions, consider Collie sidelined indefinitely despite the day-to-day report. Hopefully, the news on Collie will continue to be positive.

Jennings is the latest NFL player to suffer a more severe concussion before recovering from his last. Who will be next?
(Photo by Elvis Jennings)

Greg Jennings returns to practice
Jennings is the latest example of why athletes must be observed closely for symptoms of head injury. After returning to the practice field two weeks after sustaining a concussion during the Packers’ intrasquad scrimmage early in camp, Jennings revealed that he likely had a mild concussion two days previously.

Jennings’ comments yesterday yet again underscore the education that must continue to be a priority with players. “I got hit Wednesday, finished practice. The next day, headaches in practice, didn’t think anything of it. Then Friday, I probably re-aggravated it. But whatever.”

Though Jennings acknowledged that while he makes it “sound like it was minor…it really wasn’t, honestly,” he also seems to dispute or misunderstand that he had two separate concussions – the second within 48 hours of the first and more severe.

The first hit – a hit in which Jennings apparently split his nose open – doesn’t seem to have been an easily missed, innocuous play. And so the disconnect continues between what is said by the league and many of its players about more vigilance and more respect for head injuries and what actually occurs on the sideline and locker room. Jennings appears to have fully recovered. Here’s hoping the next player who goes back on the field before having fully recovered from a head injury can say the same.

Rashard Mendenhall activated off PUP
The timing of Mendenhall’s activation is interesting. Adam Schefter is reporting that the Steelers don’t expect Mendenhall to be ready for at least four weeks and possibly longer. But this move allows Mendenhall to practice to whatever extent he is able, a decision that could have him back 2-4 weeks earlier than if they had left him on the PUP list. I think that says much more about what the Steelers think about the on-field play and durability of both Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer thus far in camp than it does Mendenhall’s readiness. I doubt we’ll see Mendenhall taking a majority of the Pittsburgh carries until the second half of the season at the earliest.

Trent Richardson progressing well
Richardson’s rehab after surgery to repair a small cartilage injury is reportedly going so well that he may be considered slightly ahead of schedule. That’s good news for Cleveland fans and fantasy football owners who want to see him back by opening weekend. Expect the Browns to challenge him more over the next two weeks to get him back into football shape, but it’s unlikely he’ll take any preseason snaps.

Darren Sproles will be held out another week
The Saints haven’t released any specifics on the knee injury Sproles suffered against the Patriots on August 9, including whether or not Sproles has had a MRI to further evaluate the injury. Though Sproles had his legs caught underneath him on his final two plays before leaving, there didn’t appear to be an obvious severe mechanism and Sproles trotted off the field without a limp. It’s certainly possible that the Saints are being cautious with Sproles. There’s no need to worry unless and until Sproles isn’t able to practice next week.

Jermaine Gresham sprained his knee
The information offered by Marvin Lewis on Gresham’s knee injury is – as usual – confusing and vague. Lewis called Gresham’s injury a knee sprain that isn’t quite as bad as that suffered by Carlos Dunlap but worse than that suffered by Rey Maualuga. I speculated earlier that Dunlap’s injury mechanism looked like an MCL sprain. The mechanism isn’t as clear on the television broadcast in Gresham’s case, other than to note that it’s a hyperextension injury. Given Lewis’ comments, expect Gresham to miss between two and four weeks.


Vincent Brown broke his ankle against Dallas this weekend, but reports suggest that he did not suffer an associated high grade high ankle sprain. Had Brown needed surgical fixation of a high ankle sprain, his return to play estimate would have been longer than the 8-10 weeks currently forecast. Assuming no complication in his rehab, Brown should be back full speed before the end of the season.

Beanie Wells looks likely to make his preseason debut this week, but multiple sources have noted concerns about his decisiveness and ability to cut in practice. It’s hard not to wonder whether Wells is fully recovered from his January knee surgery and his first live game action will be a major test. Meanwhile, Ryan Williams was willing to stick his foot in the ground and cut upfield last week and kept his feet well after stumbling through trash on another carry. It’s still too early to suggest that the patellar tendon injury is behind him, but his progress continues to be reassuring.

David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton both suffered injuries that could keep them out for extended periods last weekend. Hawthorne, who has had knee problems in the past and missed practice earlier in camp with a hip flexor strain, needs surgery to repair a torn meniscus and could be out 3-6 weeks. Jonathan Casillas will likely see more playing time in Hawthorne’s absence. Lofton has a high ankle sprain. Though the team expects him to return in time for the team’s opening game in three weeks, it’s possible he could miss regular season time.

Miles Austin continues to miss time with a hamstring injury he suffered early in camp. He’s slowly progressing in rehab but the team is unlikely to clear him for any live preseason action. Bringing him back slowly could work in his favor, but Austin has a long history of hamstring injuries and will be at risk of a re-aggravation in his first week or two back to football related activities.

Desmond Bishop had successful surgery last week, but the team didn’t release any specifics about what team doctors found. Mike McCarthy refused to comment on the likelihood Bishop would return this season.

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