NFL Nation: NFL Injury Wire

IRVING, Texas -- The trade deadline is Oct. 28, but the Dallas Cowboys already feel like they have a big acquisition on the way in rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.

Lawrence will begin his second week of practice on Thursday as he works his way back from a broken right foot suffered in training camp and can make his season debut Nov. 2 against the Arizona Cardinals.

On 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Lawrence had “everybody frothing at the mouth,” at practice last week. The Cowboys placed Lawrence on short-term injured reserve, which knocked him out of the first eight games, but allowed him to get 100 percent healthy after surgery.

Lawrence
The Cowboys have an obvious need for a pass rusher with only seven sacks in seven games. Coach Jason Garrett acknowledged the pass rush was not good in the win against the New York Giants and must improve as the season goes on.

“You have to win one-on-one rushes,” Garrett said. “You have to get more pressure with your down guys. Maybe it’s one-on-one rushes, maybe it’s rush games, maybe it’s bringing people. i don’t think we did a good enough job affecting the quarterback in [Sunday’s] game. You talk all you want about not having any sacks but you also have to affect the guy. I thought they did a pretty good job in their passing game getting the ball out quickly. We didn’t get a chance to get to the quarterback and disrupt the passing game as much as we liked. There were some good individual efforts, and at times we did a good job in that area, but we continue to have to improve there. It’s a really important part of playing good defense.”

That’s where Lawrence comes in. The Cowboys gave up their second- and third-round picks to the Washington Redskins in order to move up to the 34th pick in the second round to take Lawrence. He was their third-rated right defensive end in the draft behind Jadeveon Clowney and Anthony Barr, who went first and ninth overall, respectively.

Lawrence had 20 sacks in two years at Boise State and was having a productive camp until getting hurt in a pass rush drill against Tyron Smith.

“Just working on my movement, getting back into it so at times I felt a little rusty, but then again I felt like I never left, if you know what I mean,” Lawrence said of his practice work last week. “It’s really just getting back into football shape.”

Lawrence said his foot has not given him any issues in his rehab, and the time in the weight room has made him stronger.

“I feel like I put on at least 10 pounds basically just working out every day. That’s all I could do,” Lawrence said. “I feel like I’ve gotten a lot stronger and in some way I feel like I ain’t lost my step either. It’s a good feeling I have about coming back.”
BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns might be without defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin for some time.

Coach Mike Pettine said Rubin went for a second opinion on an injured ankle. He has missed the last two games.

Pettine was asked if surgery could be a possibility.

Rubin
“I would think all options are on the table at this point,” he said. “I haven’t heard that brought up yet, but I’m assuming that could be the case.”

The Browns will have an update on Rubin’s status Wednesday.

Rubin’s injury highlights one of the more disappointing position groups on the team. The defensive line was supposed to be a team strength. But the defense ranks last in the league in run defense, giving 155.5 yards per game. Not all of that falls on the line, but it is the first ‘line’ of defense.

In a separate personnel move, the team waived fullback Ray Agnew and promoted Kiero Small from the practice squad.

“He’s been doing an outstanding job for us on the scout teams,” Pettine said. “We just felt it was time to promote him and see what he can do.”

There was also word that Seattle was about to sign Small to the Seahawks' active roster, which teams can do with practice squad players.
METAIRIE, La. – New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said coach Sean Payton will decide after a pregame evaluation on Sunday morning whether the tight end will be to play through his shoulder injury against the Detroit Lions.

“Sean said he’s gonna test it and then see where I’m at,” Graham said. “So if I can, I can. If I can’t, I can’t.”

Payton declined comment. Graham was officially listed as questionable on the Saints' injury report after participating in Friday's full-team drills on a limited basis.

Graham
Graham didn’t offer many specific details on the injury, which he suffered two weeks ago against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- other than to acknowledge that “it’s painful.” But he said he has been making progress after returning to team drills for the first time on a limited basis Thursday.

“I’m all right. It’s been better. I’ve had better days,” Graham said. “Right now, it’s been an OK week. …

“They’ve done a great job here (the training and medical staff), but you know we’ll see on Sunday. I actually don’t know. … Hopefully maybe in two days I’ll feel better.”

Graham tried to keep playing after he first suffered the injury, staying in the game for two more series after several chats with trainers and doctors on the sideline. Eventually, though, he was taken into the locker room for X-rays and did not return for the second half.

Graham laughed when asked if the Saints had a hard time convincing him to leave the field.

“You know, I played until I couldn’t really move it anymore,” Graham said. “So I just had to do what’s smart, and the doctors were smart. And Sean said if it was too much, then I needed to come out. So I had to do that. But Josh [Hill] and Ben [Watson] had a great game and they’re fantastic players, so with or without me they’re gonna do plenty to help this team win.”

It’s possible the Saints could opt to use Graham in a limited role, mostly in the red zone, which is what they did last year while he was recovering from a plantar fasciitis injury. Graham played just 18 snaps in that game against the Buffalo Bills and caught two touchdown passes.

But in this case it’s hard to predict anything based on Graham’s practice participation since he doesn’t face any contact in practice.

When asked if he would have any objections to being used in such a limited role, Graham said, “Well, who doesn’t just want the ball in the red zone? If I could do that for the next 20 years, I would. But that’s not how it works at tight end. So, you know, I just want to get back on the field as soon as I can and I’ll wait and see whenever I’m allowed to.”
San Francisco 49ers All-Pro inside linebacker Patrick Willis missed his second consecutive day of practice on Thursday with a toe injury, further putting his availability for Sunday night’s game at the Denver Broncos in doubt.

Willis
Also, left guard Mike Iupati has yet to pass the NFL-mandated concussion protocol as he missed his second practice this week, and rookie defensive back Jimmie Ward sat out again with a quadriceps injury.

Ward is one of five Niners DBs on the injury report.

“Well, Ward’s (injury) is the most serious of all those guys,” 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Thursday.

And the others?

“They’re dinged,” Fangio said, “but everybody’s dinged to some point at this stage.”

Following is the 49ers’ injury report for Thursday:

Did not participate: LG Mike Iupati (concussion), S Jimmie Ward (quadricep), ILB Patrick Willis (toe)

Limited participation: CB Tramaine Brock (toe), CB Chris Cook (quadricep), CB Perrish Cox (quadricep), CB Chris Culliver (shoulder), RT Anthony Davis (knee, ankle), DE Tony Jerod-Eddie (shoulder), WR Stevie Johnson (hip), DT Ian Williams (ankle, shoulder)

Full participation: TE Vernon Davis (back), DE Justin Smith (not injury-related)
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- After Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson said earlier Wednesday that he is trying to get everything right with his ankle, it was not surprising he ended up being one of a litany of players not at practice Wednesday.

Some of the players he was joined by, though, were a bit surprising.

Ansah
Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (toe) did not practice. Neither did running back Theo Riddick (hamstring), tight end Joseph Fauria (ankle), linebacker Travis Lewis (quad) or receiver/returner Jeremy Ross (undisclosed). Ansah, Riddick and Ross were surprises.

In better news for Detroit, Reggie Bush returned to practice after missing Sunday's game with an ankle injury so he looks on pace to play against his former team, New Orleans.

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy also returned to practice for the first time since core muscle surgery in August. He is eligible to return to the Lions after their bye week. Receiver TJ Jones, who is on the PUP list, was not practicing Wednesday. This is the first day Jones is eligible to return from his shoulder surgery and nerve issue in his arm.

 
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Barring an unexpected setback, cornerback D.J. Hayden should make his practice debut Wednesday.

Hayden
Hayden has been on the physically unable to perform list all season after breaking his foot in June. Hayden can be activated to the 53-man roster any time in the next three weeks. If he is not, the team will have to shelve him for the season.

The No. 12 pick of the 2013 draft should be activated fairly soon. He has been doing extensive side work in recent days and has looked good. Still, he must shake off the rust and get back in playing shape.

The biggest issue for Hayden has been staying on the field long enough to contribute in the NFL. He played eight games last season after finishing the year on the injured reserve with a groin injury.

He will likely be the team’s nickel cornerback. If he can stay healthy, Hayden can start working on shedding the bust whispers that are hovering over him due to injury issues.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- They’ve been waiting their turns, but guard Jonathan Cooper and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander haven’t seen much, if any, of the field this season for the Arizona Cardinals.

That might change Sunday.

Cooper
Cooper is on deck if right guard Paul Fanaika can’t play against Washington because of ankle and calf injuries. Should Fanaika not play, Cooper will be inserted at right guard and Ted Larsen will remain at left guard, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said.

“I’m confident in him,” Goodwin said. “If that happens, that happens. If not, Paul is up and here we go.”

Cooper has played just three snaps this season while Alexander has yet to see the field on defense.

“It’s up to the coaches,” said Alexander, one of two special teams captains. “As far as how they want to work me in, right now my role is to play on special teams and I’ll just continue to do that.”

Because of a knee injury to Matt Shaughnessy that’s sidelined him until December, Alexander might finally get his call this week as a backup to Sam Acho and Alex Okafor.

“Lorenzo (will) get some reps,” defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. “[Linebacker Marcus] Benard is back as well as [linebacker Thomas] Keiser.

“Depending on what we see and package wise, we’ll try to get [Alexander] in when we could.”
The New Orleans Saints signed veteran tight end Tom Crabtree on Tuesday -- a move which adds to the uncertainty over Jimmy Graham's health status. The Saints worked out both Crabtree and veteran tight end Kellen Davis on Tuesday, among several workouts happening at several positions.

To make room on the roster, the Saints officially placed safety Jairus Byrd on injured reserve.

Crabtree
Graham left this past Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a shoulder injury, but it’s unclear if he’s expected to miss any more time following the Saints’ Week 6 bye.

Graham was originally able to stay in the game for two more series before coach Sean Payton said the team decided to take him in for X-rays and play it “smart” by keeping him out for the remainder of the game. The NFL Network later reported via a source that the Saints didn’t initially believe it was a major injury. But that has not been confirmed, and Payton declined to comment on Graham’s status Monday.

The Saints had only two other tight ends on the active roster -- Benjamin Watson and Josh Hill.

Crabtree (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) is a fifth-year veteran who spent the bulk of his career with the Green Bay Packers from 2009-2012 before playing seven games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. He began his career as an undrafted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009.

Crabtree was a core special teams player for the Packers, but also chipped in as an underrated receiver. Crabtree has 25 career catches for 341 yards and six touchdowns, including the playoffs.

According to ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates, the Saints also worked out defensive end Edgar Jones and linebackers Moise Fokou, Paul Hazel and Lawrence Sidbury on Tuesday.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden said he’s concerned with linebacker Perry Riley's health and he’ll undergo more tests Wednesday to determine the severity of his injury.

Riley
Riley sprained his left medial collateral ligament in the second half of Monday’s 27-17 loss to Seattle. He was replaced by linebacker Will Compton, in his first season after spending last year on the practice squad.

Riley has had lapses in coverage this season, as well as in the past. The coaches have been high on Compton, with one coach confident this summer that Compton could step in to start if necessary. But it would also leave Washington with two young inside linebackers. Riley has started 61 consecutive games; fellow inside linebacker Keenan Robinson has started five. Compton has played 21 snaps from scrimmage.

No other Redskins player suffered a significant injury, Gruden said, adding that left tackle Trent Williams, who played with a partially dislocated kneecap, “came out pretty good.”

HOUSTON -- Texans coach Bill O'Brien gives the veteran football players on his roster the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their injuries. What they tell him about their health, he follows.

Recently, the plan at a practice was to keep cornerback Johnathan Joseph out. However, Joseph told his coaches he felt like he needed to get some work in and instead practiced that day.

"Guys that have played 10, 11, 12 years, these guys, there’s a reason why you last that long in this league," O'Brien said. "It’s production, it’s talent, it’s intelligence and it’s durability. Knowing how to take care of your body is a big part of that."

Rookies do not get that trust -- not yet anyway.

The Texans' injury report estimation today (they only did a walkthrough, but had to approximate which players would miss practice and which ones wouldn't) was a little lighter on the did-not-practices today.

Texans
Colts
INDIANAPOLIS -- There's a possibility that the Indianapolis Colts could have a new starter on the offensive line against the Houston Texans on Thursday night.

No, not at center (unless coach Chuck Pagano changes his mind again before Thursday), but at guard.

Hugh Thornton did not practice Tuesday because of a back injury suffered in last weekend’s victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

The options to start if Thornton doesn't play aren’t as deep, with Lance Louis starting in place of the injured Jack Mewhort (ankle) at the other guard spot.

Joe Reitz and A.Q. Shipley, who recently lost his starting job at center, are two options at guard. Pagano didn’t say who would start if Thornton doesn’t play against the Texans.

Here’s the rest of Colts’ practice report:

Did not practice: Cornerback Darius Butler (ankle), defensive lineman Arthur Jones (ankle), receiver Reggie Wayne (rest)

Limited practice: Linebacker Jerrell Freeman (hamstring)
San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis missed his second straight practice this week Thursday with the back injury he suffered in Sunday’s defeat of the Philadelphia Eagles, putting his availability for Sunday’s home game against the Kansas City Chiefs in doubt.

Davis
Following is the 49ers’ injury report for Thursday:

Did not participate: CB Tramaine Brock (toe), RT Anthony Davis (knee, ankle), TE Vernon Davis (back)

Limited participation: S Antoine Bethea (ankle), DE Tony Jerod-Eddie (shoulder), C Marcus Martin (knee), TE Vance McDonald (knee), S Eric Reid (hamstring)

Full participation: WR Michael Crabtree (foot), RB Frank Gore (back), P Andy Lee (right ankle), DE Justin Smith (not injury related)
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- While Teddy Bridgewater and Chad Greenway again did not participate in the Minnesota Vikings' practice on Tuesday, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn returned from a suspected case of food poisoning.

Munnerlyn
Munnerlyn practiced in a limited capacity for the Vikings, who are preparing to play the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Thursday night, and it appears the cornerback will be ready for the game after sitting out on Monday.

Cornerback Josh Robinson (hamstring) and running back Jerick McKinnon (ankle) were again limited, and linebacker Michael Mauti (foot), wide receiver Rodney Smith (hamstring), linebacker Brandon Watts (knee) and fullback Jerome Felton (knee) were full participants.

If Bridgewater does any throwing in practice, it would likely happen tomorrow, but the Vikings could easily list him as questionable on their final injury report and give themselves until Thursday night to let Bridgewater's ankle heal. They've been giving first-team snaps to Christian Ponder all week, and if they're confident in Bridgewater's ability to handle the game plan for Thursday -- which Mike Zimmer indicated he was -- they could buy him more time to recover.

The Vikings will also have to determine whether Greenway has recovered enough from a broken hand -- and more importantly, a broken rib -- to play Thursday night. Zimmer said the team would get a better sense of Greenway's status on Wednesday; if he can't go, Gerald Hodges would likely start again at weak-side linebacker.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons receiver Harry Douglas, who injured his left foot in last week's 56-14 win over Tampa Bay, is listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Minnesota.

Douglas was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, but his status changed during Friday's session.

Douglas
Douglas
"He didn't practice at the level that he practiced on Thursday, so he'll be listed as questionable,'' Falcons coach Mike Smith said.

Although Douglas is expected to play, there's always a chance of a last-minute setback. Last week, fellow receiver Roddy White was questionable with a hamstring injury and expected to play. White said the team decided to hold him out of the game once he arrived at the stadium.

White will play on Sunday, as Smith announced on radio Friday morning. White is listed as probable along with wide receiver/return specialist Devin Hester (ankle), linebacker Prince Shembo (calf), and running back Antone Smith (hamstring).

Smith has had his injury since preseason but continues to play through it without it affecting his explosion. He has two touchdowns this season of 38-plus yards.

Melton unsure if he will practice Wed.

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
6:23
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Henry Melton is unsure if he will practice Wednesday after straining a right hamstring in last week’s win against the St. Louis Rams.

Melton said he was able to do some work before Tuesday’s walkthrough and felt good.

Melton
“We’re going to come in here, see how I feel in the morning and if they feel like I can go then I’ll go,” Melton said. “If not then I’ll just wait for Thursday.”

Melton said he suffered the injury early in the game. When the offense was on the field, he kept his leg in a wrap and took it off when it was time for the defense to take the field.

“I didn’t want to take myself out so to keep it warm I just kept wrapping it,” Melton said.

This is the second muscle strain Melton has suffered this season. He missed three preseason games because of a groin strain suffered in training camp. Coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament after three games last season with the Chicago Bears, Melton said he “might be overcompensating a little bit, but all I can do every week is just work and whatever happens, happens.”

If Melton can’t play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, the Cowboys might have to scramble at defensive tackle. Rookie Davon Coleman, who started the opener against the San Francisco 49ers, did not play last week because of a calf strain suffered in the weight room.

Terrell McClain could be an option at the three technique. He missed the first game but has played the last two and has been credited with three tackles by the coaches.

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