NFL Nation: NFL Injury Wire

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots are holding their sixth practice of training camp Wednesday morning, and rookie center Bryan Stork is not present.

Stork, the fourth-round pick out of Florida State, is competing for a starting job with incumbent Ryan Wendell and veteran Dan Connolly. He appeared to suffer a lower-leg injury midway through Tuesday’s practice and walked off with members of the athletic training staff and did not return.

[+] EnlargeBryan Stork
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesRookie Bryan Stork is competing for the starting center job with Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly.
A potential extended absence from Stork (6-foot-4, 310) in training camp could significantly alter the competition at center, which is one the team’s most important position battles in camp.

Speaking in general terms in his Wednesday morning news conference, Bill Belichick touched on how missed practice time in training camp can be extremely tough for young players to recover from.

“With the limited number of practices we have now, relative to what we had in the 80s when I was with the Giants -- we were in the 50s number of practices before the first game -- now we’re at half that, maybe a little less,” Belichick said. “So if a player with no experience isn’t able to participate and misses two weeks, 5, 6, 8, 10 practices whatever it is, that’s like missing half of training camp. It’s a lot of ground to make up.”

With Stork not on the field, Wendell (6-2, 300), Connolly (6-4, 305) and first-year player Braxston Cave (6-3, 305) will likely take the bulk of the center repetitions.

A few other notes and sound bites from Belichick and the Patriots:

  • Belichick called this the “grinding through camp” period for the team. He is attempting to create stress for the players, which is part of establishing a strong foundation for any team, and that is reflected in how Wednesday’s practice is once again being held in full pads.
  • Asked about former Brown University fullback James Develin by a Providence-based television station, Belichick compared his role to a relief pitcher in baseball. You never quite know going into a game what situation he might be used, but he fills a valuable role. Belichick also mentioned Develin’s impressive 1-yard touchdown run against the Texans last season in which he broke four tackles in a remarkable effort.
  • Receiver Josh Boyce, who reporters spotted walking off the field Tuesday with a limp, is not present at practice this morning. Linebacker Chris White is also a new absence.
DENVER -- The Denver Broncos went public Sunday as they held their first training camp practice of the season in front of their loyal followers.

They escaped a fully-padded workout of two hours without any significant injuries and the 21,993 fans on hand got their first up-close look at the changes the team made following the 35-point loss in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Ware
'It was exciting to out there in front of them,’’ said linebacker Von Miller. “ ... We all like to show what kind of team we have."

One of those highly-anticipated free-agent signees, defensive end DeMarcus Ware, was held out if the second half of the practice with what Broncos head coach John Fox called a lower leg bruise.

“It doesn’t appear to be serious, but we did hold him out,’’ said head coach John Fox.

Defensive tackle Marvin Austin looked to have suffered a right hand/thumb injury during the workout as well. Austin has his hand taped and did return to the practice, but it appeared to still be bothering him following practice.

Because of the $35 million construction project currently underway at their suburban Denver complex, which includes an indoor practice facility, the Broncos could not have fans at their training camp practices this year. So, Sunday’s practice at the stadium was the first time they had an open practice for fans to see.

They will also have their Wednesday practice inside the stadium and Saturday will hold their annual scrimmage at the stadium. Last summer 44,439 fans attended the team’s scrimmage.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell does not know when he'll get Ezekiel Ansah on the field for the first time this fall.

He doesn't have a timetable for when he'll return, either.

Ansah
"There is none. It is whenever the Lord says that he's healthy and healed," Caldwell said Sunday. "And the medical staff will take a look at it after the Lord's decree and then we'll see what goes on after that."

Ansah, who led all rookies with eight sacks last season, did not practice during the spring as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery. He is one of three players, along with wide receivers Golden Tate and TJ Jones, to be moved to the active physically unable to perform list to start camp.

Those three players can be removed from the list and moved to the active roster at any point during camp.

Caldwell was not surprised by those three players not being ready to participate by the start of camp as all three are dealing with shoulder issues. Jones had surgery on his shoulder earlier this summer and Tate injured his shoulder during spring workouts.

Caldwell did say, though, he has been "pleased with" the healing progress of the players thus far.

The biggest concern of the three might by Ansah because Tate and Jones were at least available for portions of spring workouts. However, Caldwell isn't focused on that right now.

"One of the things I learned early on in coaching, I coach who shows up and instruct our staff to do the exact same thing. I cannot worry about how quickly the Lord allows someone to heal," Caldwell said. "I've got to do our business and at that point in time, when he gets healthy and ready to go, he'll be ready.

"Until then, whoever is out there lined up is going to get coached and coached hard and ready to play for us and win games. That's how we look at it and he's coming along and making great progress and doing everything he can to get there and I'm sure he will in a reasonable amount of time."

With Ansah out, it is likely either second-year player Devin Taylor or veteran Darryl Tapp will work with the first team when training camp officially opens Monday. Kris Durham or Kevin Ogletree will likely fill in for Tate until he returns from his shoulder injury as well.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- It's still unclear whether or not safety Jairus Byrd will be back on the field for the New Orleans Saints' first training camp practice on Friday. But coach Sean Payton said he expects the three-time Pro Bowler back "sooner than later."

"Much like we expected," Payton said of Byrd, who underwent a minor back surgery this summer to alleviate a nagging disc issue.

Byrd
The Saints' original projection was for Byrd to be healthy enough to participate in training camp -- and back to full speed in plenty of time for the regular season. And a league source confirmed earlier this week that Byrd's recovery has been going as expected this summer.

Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis declined to make any official announcements about whether any veterans will be placed on the physically unable to perform list after they underwent their physicals and conditioning tests on Thursday.

But Payton compared Byrd's situation to that of second-year defensive tackle John Jenkins, who was placed on the PUP list earlier this week when the younger players reported to camp early for their conditioning tests in Metairie. Jenkins underwent minor pectoral surgery this summer and is also expected back soon.

Payton did, however, specify that receiver Joe Morgan is "a go" after Morgan missed all of organized team activities and minicamp this summer while still recovering from last year's knee surgery. Payton said Morgan has healed enough now to do everything, but it will just be a matter of the Saints deciding how quickly to bring him back up to speed.

Payton also addressed the injury that landed rookie offensive tackle Tavon Rooks on the non-football-injury list earlier this week. Payton said it was a minor back issue that he doesn't believe is significant and shouldn't keep Rooks off the field for long.

"Fortunately for us, that's not a big list right now," Payton said of the injuries. "And hopefully it can remain small."
ASHBURN, Va. -- Jason Hatcher should be ready for training camp and the Washington Redskins say there’s no reason to worry. His knee issues will be corrected. But anytime a soon-to-be 32-year-old is coming off any type of surgery, there’s always a level of concern.

And when that player is a pivotal part of the defensive strategy, a finger needs to be crossed that he’ll remain healthy.

Hatcher
Hatcher
One part of the Redskins’ offseason that I didn’t like was the inability to get much younger defensively. You can’t fix everything in one offseason, but my concern for months has been the age of the defense and the changes it might need to undergo. The Washington Post’s Jason Reid wrote about it here.

Washington’s defensive front could have quality depth, giving the Redskins more flexibility than in recent seasons. Or it could have some broken-down parts that struggle to get through the season. The Skins will potentially have five defensive linemen who are at least 30 years old. Stephen Bowen is coming off microfracture knee surgery. Nose tackle Barry Cofield, who had a hernia operation in the offseason, saw his production wane in the second half of last season. Both are in the 30-and-over category.

For the Redskins’ pass rush to improve, they need a healthy Hatcher to provide an inside threat to the outside combination of Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo. If Hatcher is healthy, teams can’t just focus on the perimeter, as they’ve been able do the past two years. If he’s not ...

The Skins need Cofield to give them consistent quality play (the depth will give him more rest; in the first half of last season, he was good). They need Chris Baker, whom they’re high on, to also help in their nickel packages in his most expansive role. They need Jarvis Jenkins to become a threat in the pass game, something he has not yet been.

The Redskins’ front has potential. It also has concerns. The defense depends on those concerns being alleviated.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It's one thing for a proven player like Clay Matthews to miss the entire offseason program while recovering from his twice broken thumb.

Matthews has turned in Pro Bowl seasons before while missing major parts of the offseason and training camp because of hamstring injuries.

Perry
But for a player like Nick Perry, the Green Bay Packers outside linebacker who has yet to perform like the first-round pick that he was in 2012, the fact that he has been unable to participate in any on-field activities this offseason could prove to be another detriment to his development.

"I don't think it helps any player to miss a whole offseason," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday following the first practice of minicamp. "I talked about it last week with the staff. I told the team about it today. Our coaching staff took a different approach. You're accustomed to being a 15-week program. Obviously we're in a nine-week program going on here in Year 4 [of the new CBA]. To get all that work done, nothing changes. You have a season to get ready for. You have this much work. And to do it all in a nine-week period, and for a player to miss all of it, obviously it's not a good situation to be in.

"I think any of the players who did not take advantage of this nine-week opportunity or due to injury is definitely something they're going to have to work harder to catch up once training camp starts."

McCarthy would not specify the reason for Perry’s absence, but Perry missed five games last season because of foot and ankle injuries.

"I mean, he's injured, so. ..." McCarthy said.

There is frustration throughout the organization about Perry's inability to get on the field. He missed nearly half (15) of the 32 regular-season games in his two NFL seasons.

When asked what Perry is missing by being unable to practice, linebackers coach Winston Moss said: "Everything. Everything."

"It's unfortunate," Moss said. "It's disappointing."

In addition to Matthews and Perry, three other former draft picks have been unable to participate this offseason: defensive end Jerel Worthy, tight end Andrew Quarless and running back Johnathan Franklin.

Perhaps the biggest concern is about Franklin, the fourth-round pick from UCLA who finished his rookie season last year on injured reserve following a neck injury. The Packers are worried that Franklin's neck injury might be career-threatening. According to two people with knowledge of his situation, the Packers are putting Franklin through more tests to determine whether it's safe for him to continue playing.

Worthy, who last season played in only two games after coming off a torn ACL in the 2012 regular-season finale, missed the first two weeks of OTAs following the accidental shooting death of his grandmother in Ohio, but he also is dealing with an unspecified injury that is not believed to be related to his knee.

Quarless, who signed a two-year, $3 million contract to return to the Packers, also has not practiced. He missed all of the 2012 season because of a knee injury in 2011 but returned to play in every game last season, including 10 starts.
IRVING, Texas -- How much does Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo want to practice during this week’s minicamp? He went so far as to snag Caleb Hanie’s practice jersey and sneak into the huddle during Tuesday’s practice.

“It was pretty obvious that the jersey was a little snug on him,” coach Jason Garrett said. “That’s when I looked and said, ‘Get him out of the huddle.’ He’s a competitive guy. He wants to play. He wants to be out there. We have the conversation every morning about how many reps he’s going to get and the answer is the same. We’re going to get through the minicamp. He’s going to continue to do what he’s been doing, do the walkthrough-type stuff, do the individual work and then once we get to training camp we think he’s going to be more ready to go.”

Romo
The Cowboys have followed the plan that was laid out after Romo underwent a discectomy last December, his second back surgery in less than 12 months. They report to Oxnard, California, for training camp on July 22 and will have their first practice July 24.

“We won’t run him up the middle drill several times,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said, “but other than that he should be ready to do the things you’d expect him to do.”

Even though Romo has not taken a snap with the team in competitive drills, he believes the offseason has been a success. Last year Romo missed the entire offseason after having a cyst removed from his back and took part in every training camp practice.

He arrived in Southern California last summer before the Cowboys to work on his conditioning. Jones said Romo spent time, “uniquely running mountains.” Romo said he would probably go through a similar pre-training camp before reporting to camp.

“Miles ahead of last year,” Romo said of his conditioning. “I don’t think they’re comparable. I think last year I was just starting around this point so this year I’ve had whatever [number of] months to kind of get myself into feeling like I can go. Now it’s going to be more perfecting as opposed to just trying to hammer everything out in four weeks, three weeks.”
ORLANDO, Fla. -- While the Dallas Cowboys project quarterback Tony Romo and defensive tackle Henry Melton will be ready for Week 1 of the 2014 season, their availability for the offseason program, starting April 21 is in question.

Melton
Romo
Romo, according to owner/general manager Jerry Jones, is ahead of schedule from his recovery from back surgery. Jones said Romo has done some throwing motions but stopped short of saying he was throwing passes to receivers.

There are no guarantees Romo will be throwing passes during the spring OTAs and minicamps.

"We feel like he’s right on schedule and hopefully will be ready to go once we get out on the field in the spring," coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday morning at the NFL owners meetings. "He’s moving around. He hasn’t been out on the field or anything like that yet. By all accounts he’s doing well."

Melton is recovering from a torn ACL, suffered in the third game of the 2013 season. Medical officials told Melton he should be ready for training camp but in terms of working out with the team this spring, like Romo, that's uncertain.

"Like all of the injured players he’s just going through his rehab process, right now," Garrett said. "He had the surgery, I believe in October. We feel like it’s a reasonable timetable to see him at some point this spring or training camp. He’s responded well to the surgery."

There is some good news regrading injuries. Middle linebacker Sean Lee, who missed the final stages of the 2013 season with a torn ligament in his neck, has been cleared to work out and should be fine for the spring sessions.
Hearing that star inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman might miss half the season because of his torn ACL was certainly interesting news Thursday.

However, it shouldn't be shocking. San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said while he wouldn't count Bowman out for Week 1, midway through the season is more realistic. Harbaugh is simply being cautious and showing that Bowman will not be rushed back. It's the right approach.

Bowman hasn't suffered a setback. The normal ACL recovery time is 6-9 months from the time of surgery. Bowman had surgery Feb. 2 so the second half of the season would be the right target date.

The 49ers have experience with starting a season without a key player. Receiver Michael Crabtree missed the first 11 games of the season while recovering from a torn Achilles he suffered in May. The 49ers offense badly missed Crabtree.

I think the team will handle this situation better. They are deep on defense and Bowman will not miss as much time.

Michael Wilhoite did a nice job while playing for an injured Patrick Willis for a short time last season. He will likely get the first crack at replacing Bowman, although I could see the team adding a veteran to provide options and depth while the team waits for Bowman's return.
Hearing that star inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman might miss half the season because of his torn ACL was certainly interesting news Thursday.

However, it shouldn't be shocking. San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said while he wouldn't count Bowman out for Week 1, midway through the season is more realistic. Harbaugh is simply being cautious and showing that Bowman will not be rushed back. It's the right approach.

Bowman hasn't suffered a setback. The normal ACL recovery time is 6-9 months from the time of surgery. Bowman had surgery Feb. 2 so the second half of the season would be the right target date.

The 49ers have experience with starting a season without a key player. Receiver Michael Crabtree missed the first 11 games of the season while recovering from a torn Achilles he suffered in May. The 49ers offense badly missed Crabtree.

I think the team will handle this situation better. They are deep on defense and Bowman will not miss as much time.

Michael Wilhoite did a nice job while playing for an injured Patrick Willis for a short time last season. He will likely get the first crack at replacing Bowman, although I could see the team adding a veteran to provide options and depth while the team waits for Bowman's return.

Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware has surgery

February, 18, 2014
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Ware
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware had successful surgery on his right elbow and is not expected to miss any time during the offseason program, according to sources close to Ware.

Ware had been bothered by the elbow injury the past two years but was recently diagnosed with a nerve issue. In a recent interview with ESPNDallas.com, Ware explained that when he would bend his elbow the nerve would be exposed, and when it would get hit it would cause pain. Larry Allen had a similar surgery following the 2001 season and did not have an issue again.

Ware missed three games last season because of a quadriceps strain and was held to a career-low six sacks. With the Cowboys needing to make several salary-cap driven decisions this offseason, the team could approach him about re-working his contract. He is set to make $12.25 million this year and count $16 million against the salary cap.

Ware wants to practice more too

February, 13, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- Earlier in the offseason, coach Jason Garrett said DeMarcus Ware needs to practice more if he wants to return to Pro Bowl form.

Ware agrees.

“I feel when I practice more or just practice in general I do play better,” Ware said. “When you’re out there, you do your reps, you’ve seen it, but there’s nothing like simulating going against full speed.”

[+] EnlargeDeMarcus Ware
AP Photo/James D. SmithDeMarcus Ware has missed a lot of practice time the past two seasons, which may help explain his declining stats.
With hamstring, quadriceps, shoulder, back and elbow injuries in 2012 and ’13, Ware felt he would be better served being stronger on game day than aggravating an injury in practice.

“My mentality is if there’s anything, I’m going to play through it,” Ware said. “If you want me to play in a game, I’m going to give all I got. What I would do in practice, the contact stuff I wouldn’t make it through it so I wouldn’t do it. Let me get a couple of run plays in here so I can see the runs, see the plays and what they do. With the pass rush, if we’ve got some stunts, I want to go through that so I got the timing right.”

Garrett believes the time off impacted Ware’s numbers. In 2012-13, Ware was on the daily injury report 57 times. He has been listed as a full participant 14 times. He has been listed as limited 22 times and as did not practice 21 times. Of the 96 practices the past two seasons in which a daily injury report was filed with the league, Ware was limited or out 43 times.

In the last two seasons Ware has recorded 17.5 sacks. In 2010-11, Ware was on the daily injury report 18 times. He was listed as a full participant twice, limited 11 times and did not practice five times. In those seasons he had 35 sacks.

"He's missed a lot of practice time over the last couple of years because of all these injuries and that's something that can impact a player, even a player of his caliber," Garrett said earlier in the offseason. "You need to practice. You need to make sure you have the skills necessary to play your best come Sunday and he's done an amazing job from a mental and physical toughness standpoint of playing in these games. We've got to get him to the point where he's healthy and he can practice and get himself ready to play the way he's capable of playing."

Kellen Davis a surprise inactive

February, 2, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Seattle Seahawks had a big surprise on the inactive list when tight end Kellen Davis was announced as one of the seven players who will not suit up for the Super Bowl.

That leaves Seattle with only two tight ends for the game -- starter Zach Miller and rookie Luke Willson. Davis (6-foot-7, 265 pounds) has been used quite a bit as an extra blocker, especially in goal-line situations.

There was no report this week of Davis being injured or missing practice.

The other six inactives were not a surprise: receiver Bryan Walters, rookie running back Christine Michael, offensive tackles Michael Bowie and Caylin Hauptmann, defensive tackle Jordan Hill and defensive end Benson Mayowa.

Jammer among Broncos' inactives

February, 2, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Denver Broncos inactives for Super Bowl XLVIII included at least one minor surprise when cornerback Quentin Jammer was one of the seven players who will not suit up for the game, according to the Broncos.

Jammer had played in some of the Broncos' specialty units down the stretch and the decision meant cornerback Marquice Cole, who was signed in the days leading up to the AFC Championship game, would be in uniform Sunday night.

The Broncos' other inactives are: quarterback Zac Dysert, running back Ronnie Hillman, tackle Vinston Painter, guard Chris Kuper, tight end Joel Dreessen and defensive tackle Sione Fua.

Fua has battled a calf injury for the last week.
NEWARK, N.J. -- After being held out of practice for a week because of an illness, Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater made his first public appearance Tuesday since the team arrived to the New York/New Jersey area.

Prater participated in the team’s media day event at the Prudential Center and is on track to practice Wednesday when the Broncos conduct a workout at the New York Jets' practice facility. Prater said he felt "a lot better" and spent his time Tuesday answering the usual questions for kickers about potential Super Bowl game winners and bad weather for Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII.

Asked how weather might affect the game, Prater said, "You know me. I’m not a huge thinker about too much. It’s just one of those things where I think no matter what, if you hit the ball well, it’s going to go straight and it’s going to go far. I’m not worried about it too much. I don’t think it’s going to be too windy. If anything, the wind affects it more than the cold. As long as it’s not too windy, I think we’ll be fine to get the touchbacks, hopefully limit their return game."

The Broncos held Prater out of practice Thursday, Friday and Saturday, in part, for Prater to recover and to avoid passing the illness to other players a week out from the title game. Broncos coach John Fox has said repeatedly Prater would be fine for Sunday’s game.

Prater led the NFL in touchbacks on kickoffs during the regular season and was 25-of-26 on field goal attempts, including 6-of-7 from 50 or more yards, including an NFL record 64-yarder Dec. 8 against the Tennessee Titans.

Prater is 5-of-6 in the postseason, including a 4-of-4 performance in the AFC Championship Game last Sunday.

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