NFL Week 2 injury analysis
Throughout the 2012 season, This Given Sunday will examine the biggest injury questions before each week of the NFL season. Here are the top five health-related storylines entering Week 2.
The Steelers are really being coy because Mendenhall practiced fully Wednesday, but the same thing happened last Wednesday and the two-time 1,000-yard rusher didn't suit up against the Colts. With Jonathan Dwyer also injured, the Steelers' offensive backfield is a disaster right now. Even if Mendenhall does return to action this week, expect him to be on a snap count as he eases back from offseason knee surgery.
The Steelers play the Jets in a late-afternoon kickoff, so fantasy football owners would be smart to avoid Mendenhall and his handcuffs. On the bright side, you should be well-protected before bye weeks kick in. And if you aren't, that's on you.
It was predicted that Mathews would miss four-to-six weeks when he broke his collarbone Aug. 9. Thursday marked five weeks exactly, so he's likely getting close. The 24-year-old said he's aiming to play Week 2, but he has yet to be cleared for contact, and his practice activity was curtailed Wednesday.
Fantasy owners are likely conflicted here, because there's no decent handcuff in San Diego -- Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley were completely ineffective Monday night -- but there has to be a fear that Mathews will rush back too quickly. He's not known as a durable back, and it's tough to tell how active he'd be if he were to suit up this week. With a late-afternoon start, you might want to resist temptation, even though there's a very small chance Mathews plays against a vulnerable Tennessee run defense.
Maclin, who was once again Michael Vick's favorite target in Philadelphia's opener, missed Wednesday's practice due to a hip injury but hasn't been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Ravens. Maclin's a pretty tough player, but this is still a situation to monitor closely in the coming days because he has been slightly injury prone in the past.
If he's unable to go, you'll know before you have to make any dramatic changes to your fantasy lineup because Philly and Baltimore kick off at 1 p.m. ET. And if that's the case and you have no other quality options on the bench, it couldn't hurt to give Jason Avant a shot. Remember: Riley Cooper is hurt, too, and Vick could be in for a big rebound with or without his go-to receiver.
Despite playing just eight snaps against the Saints, Garcon caught four passes for 109 yards and a touchdown, which surely has Kyle Shanahan and his fantasy owners salivating. He and Robert Griffin III could become one hell of a duo, but Garcon has to be able to stay on the field. The 26-year-old injured his foot in the first quarter against New Orleans and missed Wednesday's practice.
He seems convinced he'll play in St. Louis, and that would be a great matchup from both a fantasy a reality perspective, but it's a late-afternoon start, which is risky. Keep an eye on his designation Friday, and if he's not able to go, Aldrick Robinson is a decent option.
This matters to the Jets, the Steelers and any fantasy owners who possess Pittsburgh wide receivers Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. Revis has yet to be medically cleared to return to practice after suffering a concussion Sunday against the Bills.
The good news is that he has been cleared for physical activity, so he's headed down the right path. But concussions are tricky, and there isn't much Revis can do to ensure that he's in the lineup Sunday in Pittsburgh. If he can't go, Wallace, Brown and even Sanders could be in for big performances against a secondary that lacks depth.