News and Notes (8/27): Stafford, DeCastro, Stewart, Mathews, more

His hand injury sounds scary, but Matthew Stafford will play in Week 1.
(Photo by Marianne O’Leary)

Matthew Stafford broke a blood vessel in his hand

This injury sounds scarier than it actually is. Stafford said he was “freaked out” to see his hand get larger by the second, but that’s not uncommon when a blood vessel is broken under the skin. Without nearby structures to generate enough pressure, a torn vessel will continue to leak until the skin resistance is enough to stop the bleeding (or someone can hold pressure). The same swelling occurs in fighters who take a hit to the forehead but do not have a laceration to allow bleeding outside the skin.

The resulting hematoma is often painful, but spreads, dissipates and is absorbed in time. The rate at which that happens is variable, but there should be little concern for Stafford since the injury is to his non-throwing hand. He may choose to wear a padded glove on his left hand in Week 1, but the injury will not hinder him at all.

David DeCastro to miss extended time with a severe knee injury

Though DeCastro reportedly did not tear his ACL, he did suffer extensive injuries to his knee. Pro Football Talk and Adam Schefter reported yesterday that DeCastro has a partial tear of his patellar tendon, dislocated his kneecap and also tore his MCL. The dislocated kneecap (patella) and tendon tear are related injuries; the tear likely occurred as the kneecap dislocated. DeCastro’s length of rehabilitation will depend on the severity of the tendon tear and the extent of any surgical procedures to repair the tendon, but it’s unlikely that the rookie will return the season. Repair of the tendon and rehabilitation of the associated weakness in the quadricep muscle that often results would likely take a minimum of 4-6 months.

Jonathan Stewart has a leg injury

The Panthers are saying that x-rays of Stewart’s injury are negative and Ron Rivera called his injury a twisted ankle. That’s a reasonable story. It clearly looked like Stewart rolled his ankle on the last step of the play in which he was injured. But you could also see two other potential injury mechanisms during the replays. Stewart dragged the same foot on the turf earlier in the sequence and rotated his foot outward. His knee also buckled a bit as he rolled his ankle. To be clear, I have no knowledge that there’s more going on and I’m not arguing that Stewart’s injury is more likely a high ankle or MCL sprain. But I think it’s worth noting that it’s possible that there may be more to this than a simple twisted ankle and that we could see the injury linger longer than a week.

Ryan Mathews says he’s ahead of schedule

Mathews remains optimistic that he’ll meet his goal of returning in Week 1, arguing that he’s always been a fast healer and that he’s impressed the training staff with how quickly his range of motion is returning. That may not be as impressive as it sounds, however. Much of the reason for an aggressive early surgical repair of a fractured clavicle is precisely to relieve pain and allow for an earlier return of range of motion.

Though he may be ahead of schedule in that regard, it’s bone healing that will be the limiting factor in his return — which is why he’s apparently wearing a bone stimulator even more often that originally recommended. Don’t expect the bone stimulator to shave weeks off of the return to play estimate. 4-6 weeks remains possible if the fracture and surgical repair were not extensive, but I wouldn’t fully buy into Mathews’ optimism yet. It’s very unlikely that Mathews will be cleared to play in four weeks (Week 1).

Steve Smith is recovering from a foot infection

The Panthers released few details about an infection in Smith’s foot that required antibiotics last week. Unable to practice since Monday, it was reported that Smith’s foot was improving by Thursday but the swelling hadn’t fully resolved. It’s now being reported that Smith could return to practice tomorrow. That’s a very good sign given the sharp increase in severe skin and soft tissue infections in recent years and suggests that the infection didn’t affect any of the joints in his foot or deep soft tissue structures. Expect the Panthers to bring him back slowly; any setback could threaten his availability for Week 1.


Hakeem Nicks is back to practicing full speed and has yet to have a setback after returning to limited work last week. He’s lobbying to play in the team’s final preseason game on Wednesday. All are great signs for a player who was at risk for a compensatory injury in his first days of turning it loose in pads. Don’t expect the Giants to play Nicks this week, but he’ll be ready for Week 1.

After saying he’d never felt better on Friday, Kevin Smith lasted just three carries against the Raiders Saturday night before spraining his ankle. The mechanism of injury wasn’t clear in the pile, but the team says x-rays showed no fracture and Smith says that, despite his worries on the field, the injury is not a high ankle sprain. Mikel Leshoure took the snaps with the first team and looked good over his feet despite the poor stat line. Leshoure showed a quick stutter step and change of direction and no signs that his Achilles injury or hamstring strain was bothering him. If Leshoure can hold up this week in practice, Smith will need to return quickly and be effective in the first two weeks to hold Leshoure off as the primary base offensive ball carrier.

Julius Peppers is reportedly battling through plantar fasciitis, an overuse condition that causes pain, swelling and tightness in the arch of the foot. Peppers doesn’t appear to be concerned and there’s no indication that his condition is as severe as that which plagued Antonio Gates in recent seasons.

Kenny Britt may be activated off the PUP list this week in the hopes that he’ll be able to play a few snaps in Week 1. Britt continues to look good working on the side, but admits he’s not yet 100%. Britt needs to get back to practice to fully return to football shape, but it’s hard not to wonder if the Titans are looking to force Roger Goodell’s hand on Britt’s suspension. Having Britt suspended for the games in which he’d only be able to play 12-15 snaps anyway would be a better outcome for the team than missing a fully healthy Britt. If that’s the case, it’s a risky manuever since Britt will not be allowed to practice with the team or be around the training complex during his suspension.

The Raiders continue to remain optimistic that Denarius Moore will be able to return to practice this week and be ready to play by Week 1. He ran routes late last week without soreness. He remains at risk of re-aggravating the injury in the next week, but a return to practice would be reassuring for Carson Palmer and fantasy owners hoping to have him available for the start of the regular season.

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