NFL: Miami Dolphins-Training Camp

Counting the injuries sustained during Week 2 of the preseason isn’t something I recommend for anyone who wants to retain their breakfast. A few are detailed further below, and they came with varying degrees of seriousness and worry. Worse, there are some with uncertainty, which is always unwelcome, but especially so with fantasy drafts ongoing and peak draft season beginning in about a week.

There’s no short list, so here’s the long one in order of severity:

  • Dustin Keller (knee tears, done for the season)
  • Champ Bailey (foot sprain, could miss regular-season time)
  • Arian Foster (back injury that requires injections, could miss regular-season time)
  • Quinton Coples (hairline fracture, out 3-4 weeks)
  • Derek Wolfe (left on a stretcher but avoided a serious neck/spine injury)
  • E.J. Manuel (knee swelling, will miss the remainder of the preseason, more below)
  • Barkevious Mingo (bruised lung, will miss the remainder of the preseason, more below)
  • Kendall Wright (sprained knee, will miss the remainder of the preseason)
  • Wes Welker (minor ankle sprain, day-to-day)
  • Victor Cruz (bruised heel, day-to-day)

Look at those names, and let them darken your soul. Even if the majority of them aren’t threatening to regular-season time, seeing names like Welker, Cruz, and Foster on an August infirmary role call is the stuff that feeds the most vivid fantasy horrors. Oh, and I’m well aware of the horrible places a degenerate mind can take us by considering the fantasy football impact of every injury immediately (see below…again). But I’ve embraced my shame, and fantasy is sort of what we do around here.

What matters most during this particular training room tour is that at a wide receiver position which has already been torpedoed due to multiple significant injuries (Jeremy Maclin, Percy Harvin, Danario Alexander), a few other premier names are already bruised before being on the field for a meaningful snap.

But what’s even worse is Keller’s gruesome knee injury, as he further empties the tight end cupboard (Aaron Hernandez and Dennis Pitta are out for the year, while Heath Miller and Rob Gronkowski will miss time). Keller was among the quality late-round targets, and now instead he’s racing the clock to play at some point in 2014, not 2013. Although there’s early optimism, he suffered a catastrophic injury, one that could threaten his career.

Keller tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL while also dislocating his right knee following a hit by Texans safety D.J. Swearinger, an already brutal injury that now stands as a case study showing the darkness of the NFL contract machine. Keller’s value on the open market was reduced this past spring due to a 2012 season also plagued by injuries, so he signed the classic one-year “prove it” deal worth $4.25 million, only $2.25 million of which is guaranteed.

Next March he’s then a free agent again, and he’ll get the Marcus Lattimore treatment, only so much worse. Lattimore is young, and was — and still is — a promising prospect with a ceiling high enough that he was worth the risk of a draft pick despite concerns about his health, and ability to sustain the long-term pounding of being a pro running back. Keller turns 29 next month, and demand for the services of a tight end who’s endured five NFL seasons and has now torn his knee in the most severe way possible will be nearly non-existent.

Swearinger’s post-game comments are even more troubling, as he quite rightly said that, according to the modern NFL rules, going low was the proper play.

From James Walker:

“With the rules in this era you’ve got to hit low. If I would have hit him high, I would have gotten a fine. So I think I made the smartest play. I’m sorry it happened and I pray he has a speedy recovery.”

This is an awful truth, and there’s no answer. The NFL is facing concussion lawsuits from former players, and the brain doesn’t mend nearly as easily as bones and ligaments. However, a shattered knee can end a career abruptly, before a player celebrates his 30th birthday and gets to be middle aged by NFL standards.

Keller has been football’ed. For all the joy this game brings us through fantasy, long and glorious Sundays, and a winter weekend companion, sometimes it can really suck.

More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness

And thus a quarterback competition ends the hard way (maybe)

I’m not sure there’s really an easy way, but being surgically carved up definitely isn’t it. That’s how E.J. Manuel’s preseason will end after the Bills rookie quarterback had supplied heavy doses of an addictive drug through his two August appearances: hope.

After going 10 for 12 in his pass attempts against the Vikings, Manuel has completed 78.8 percent of his preseason throws. But he’s now had to undergo a minor (or “minor” in the definition of NFL maintenance) knee procedure to reduce swelling that was found, and he’ll miss the rest of the preseason. How very Bills of him.

New head coach Doug Marrone was hesitant to even hint at a time table beyond the preseason, but said Manuel would likely be considered day-to-day in September. Heading into the regular-season dress rehearsal this week, Kevin Kolb now has a chance to run away with a job that was considered far out of his reach, or at least do so temporarily.

Through any lens — fantasy, reality, or whatever lies between — that’s already a downgrade of some significance.

When fantasy football doesn’t matter

I suppose in a grand sense it never matters, because it’s a game and a hobby and none of this is real. Sorry to drop that on you.

But like many of you, when I hear about a major injury to a defensive player, I look to see who their team is playing next, and how life could be easier for my quarterback, running back, or wide receiver.

Then I read about a player who could have died, and feel like a tiny, awful man.

During the Browns win over Detroit Thursday, rookie Barkevious Mingo left the game, and later stayed overnight in a hospital for observation after being diagnosed with a bruised lung. Mingo knew he wasn’t dealing with a garden variety gut punch when he was coughing up blood on the sideline.

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer spoke to a doctor, and Mingo’s injury could have been much worse:

Had Mingo remained on the field during the game and taken another blow to the chest, he could’ve died, according to Dr. Clark Fuller, Director of Thoracic Surgery at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Ca., who hasn’t treated Mingo. He said Mingo had already torn at least some small blood vessels, “and if you tear some larger ones, the chest cavity is an area where you could bleed to death and nobody ever sees a drop of blood on the ground.”

Chargers receiver Eddie Royal suffered the same injury in practice, prompting Mingo to joke that he hopes it’s not contagious. The mortality rate is roughly 10-14 percent.

Reggie Wayne: catcher of magic loogies

I’m really not sure what’s more impressive: Reggie Wayne catching this pinball, or Aaron Ross not catching it. Andrew Luck underthrew Wayne by, oh, five yards, and Ross had maybe the easiest pick of his season — in the preseason — when he lost the ball in the stadium lights.

A hearty laugh was had by all.

Today in truth talk

Tom Brady made his weekly Monday morning appearance on WEEI in Boston, which surely nets him enough to at least pay the cable bill for three days at his California super compound. On this particular morning, he was a fan of stating the obvious while discussing his knee scare during practice last week.

“If that was a Wednesday or Thursday practice during the regular season, you’d probably never hear about it.”

He’s right, but that doesn’t make the notion of even attempting to restrict the media’s training camp practice access any less absurd. We’re now halfway through the eighth month in the year 2013, and we shouldn’t even call our cellular devices “phones” anymore. They’re tiny computers, and they come equipped with the ability to capture any moment at any time through video or pictures.

At a practice where the public is permitted access, there’s a computer in every pocket. And as Brady then acknowledged (“it’s obviously the nature of Twitter…”), that amateur photography increases a level of insanity that didn’t exist half a decade ago, with the growth of our fake footballing pushing the chaos too.

Today in inaccuracies

Glass houses, stones, something something. I drop a typo or two around here daily sometimes (hey, maybe even in this post), and I’m sure at some point I retroactively gave the Titans Super Bowl XXXIV (you’re my boy, Kevin Dyson). But I have yet to whiff on a players’ weight by over 70 pounds.

Blessed are the preseason local TV interns.

For the record, despite his stupid speed, there was at least murmured discussion about Austin dropping in the draft ever so slightly due to his small frame. Of course, he ended that early in the process by tearing up the Combine, but he still checks in at a height of 5’8″, while weighing 174 pounds, according to NFL.com.