Quick look at seriousness of some early camp injuries
You're watching a car crash and you can't turn away.
That phrase is true in both senses with the NFL. As I stood on the sidelines of Colts training camp beside SI.com's Peter King, there were all the hallmarks of late summer -- blue sky, high humidity and the syncopated crash of men running into each other at speeds that seem similar to those you see in automobile accidents. Sure, they're not in full pads, but in seven-on-seven drills, those pops came echoing through the morning, and the low "ooh" heard from the assembled crowd was just the same.
The Colts might have the player that best symbolizes the modern NFL in Bob Sanders. The problem with Sanders is that he hits like a truck. Why's that a problem? The reckless abandon he treats his body with ends up betraying that body. He's a small truck that regularly flies -- literally -- into bigger trucks. Dallas Clark, the Colts tight end who has played with Sanders since both were at Iowa, winces when he talks about the hits he's seen. "I'm glad I don't play against him. He only has one gear and he doesn't have any other way to play. I mean, he's got no neck and he's built to hit."
The NFL is filled with human missiles, heat seeking safeties who don't think about anything longer term than the next down. We "ooh" and "ahh" at their exploits, but we also see the costs and the risks that they inflict. We'll hear of injuries from Day One of camp until the Super Bowl and beyond, but don't pretend we don't know why. Bill Belichick can do his smoke and mirrors routine all year -- and he will -- but injuries are both a part of the game and something that can be prevented in some cases and planned for in others. It's the same in fantasy.
Let's take a quick look around at the early camp injuries:
Frank Gore was the first big casualty of training camp. Already plagued by fumbling issues last season, a broken hand isn't something that bodes well for a guy who many have pegged as a possible rushing champ. Gore's hand will take about a month to fully heal, but he should be able to play before that with proper padding. He'll miss at least the first two preseason games, though no one thinks that this is that big of an issue. (Just ask fellow 'Cane Edgerrin James what he thinks about pre-season games.) Gore could actually save his body a bit of wear and tear, always a concern for this injury-prone player. Gore's one limitation seems to be his health. While certainly the result of a non-preventable situation, this fracture shows that Gore has what Dr. Keith Meister calls a "tissue issue" -- genetically, it doesn't seem Gore can hold up. I still love him as a first round pick, but he's risky enough that if I have the fourth or fifth pick in the draft, I'd likely take someone else.
What is microfracture surgery? It's easy to link to it, but what you really want to know is whether Kellen Winslow will be coming back from it. Winslow appears to be running well, but much like a post-ACL player, the straight line speed isn't the biggest test. Again, it's the cutting, stopping and juking that comes last. Winslow can be an effective player without his full complement of moves, but it limits how effective he can be. He was never a shifty receiver who racked up the YACs, so if he can still "soldier up" and run over smaller DBs, then he's still got what brought him to this level. There's a very poor history of players that have come back from this procedure, so Winslow's risk factor is through the roof. Add in that he plays for a team that simply seems to get injured more than any other and no matter how well he's running, I'm not picking him up.
The combination of a speed player and a knee injury seems to be a bad one. But actually, Terry Glenn would much rather have what he has, a small cartilage tear in his knee easily fixed by a scope, than mild muscle strain. Glenn is at the end of his career and while losing part of the meniscus has long term consequences, Glenn will have to deal with those on his own time, not the Cowboys'. For this season and maybe one more, Glenn should have no problems of the same sort with his knee. Once he's able to get back out on the field in about a week, he should get back up to speed, literally and figuratively, very quickly. With Terrell Owens missing time with another hamstring strain, Glenn is a nice No. 2 that could be a value pick in middle rounds.