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Ryan Mathews is trying to be optimistic, telling anyone who will listen of his plans to be back on the field in time for the San Diego Chargers regular season opener against the Oakland Raiders. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neil Ghodadra doesn't share that optimism.
"It takes six weeks for the bone to heal even after you fix it with the clavicle plate and screws," Ghodadra told Jason Smith on NFL Fantasy LIVE. "The bone still has to heal so you are looking at six weeks for that at minimum. Studies have shown 8.8 weeks is how long it takes for NFL players to get back from clavicle fractures."
That would push Mathews' return to some time in October. Admittedly, without directly examining Mathews on a frequent basis, it's hard to make an exact diagnosis. so far, Adrian Peterson's rehab from a torn ACL has been faster than what we're used to seeing with other players suffering a similar injury. But he has also yet to see live game action and is being handled extremely carefully in practice. There's also the issue of Mathews trying to recover from a broken bone versus a surgically repaired ligament.
That's all a long way of saying Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley should start moving up your draft boards, if only incrementally. The aging Brown has had his share of injury problems and Brinkley has a grand total of 32 carries and 112 yards in 13 NFL games. Chances are, both will still be available in the late rounds if you're in need of bench help.
Falcons plan more three-wide sets
A new offensive coordinator has meant a new look for the Atlanta Falcons offense. When the Dirty Birds line up against the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday night, expect to see a lot of three-wide receiver sets. It's a move that Roddy White has suggested in the past and has the blessing of QB Matt Ryan.
Incorporating a more aggressive passing game shouldn't be a surprise with Dirk Koetter taking the reins as Atlanta's new offensive coordinator. A wide open aerial attack has been Koetter's hallmark in both college and the NFL, having vertical success at stops like Boise State, Arizona State and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The change would seem to help just about everyone in the Falcons offense. Julio Jones, who starts the season knocking on the door of the elites, will have a chance to see more balls thrown his way. Roddy White won't see as many targets, but he'll still be a quality No. 1 option and Harry Douglas should see a rise in opportunities as well as RB Jacquizz Rodgers.
If there's anyone who should be concerned, it's Michael Turner. Turner hit the very unmagical running back age of 30 in the offseason and after logging more than 300 carries in three of the past four seasons, there's a real concern that he won't be the same player. Plus, Turner has never been known as a pass-catching back. He grabbed a career-high 17 receptions last season while Rodgers logged 21 catches in his rookie season. Consider "The Burner" to be a low-end No. 1 fantasy football option who should be targeted somewhere around the fourth round.
» The Washington Redskins appear to be doing everything they can to make Robert Griffin III comfortable in the team's offense. That includes using some of the same offense the Heisman Trophy winner ran at Baylor. Nearly everything RG3 has done this summer has earned rave reviews, but I can't help but think that anything that makes him feel more comfortable in the offense is better for his steadily rising fantasy football draft value...
» It could be a show of confidence bubbling over, but Seattle Seahawks rookie Russell Wilson says he's closing in on Matt Flynn in the battle to be the team's starting quarterback. With Tarvaris Jackson reportedly on the training block, Wilson would figure to be no worse than Seattle's No. 2 quarterback and the number of snaps he's getting in practice suggests the coaches have faith in him. But until it comes from the mouth of Pete Carroll, consider Flynn the top passer option in The Evergreen State...
» Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis told The Florida Times-Union that he's forgotten all about his lackluster 2011 season and plans to return to his 2010 form. In 2010, the big man caught 58 passes for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns. Last year, those numbers dropped to 39 receptions for just 460 yards and he failed to reach the end zone. Jags offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski agreed with Lewis, saying the former UCLA Bruin "should be a really good red zone target" for quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Lewis' success will be tied to Gabbert's growth, but if the prediction holds true, it will be one more tight end added to an already loaded position...
» DeMarco Murray was expected to take the lead in the battle for the Dallas Cowboys top running back spot. That lead has been widened thanks, in part, to an uninspired camp outing from Felix Jones. After an outstanding rookie season cut short by injury, Murray is set squarely amongst second-tier fantasy football RBs and is a solid third-round choice in most leagues...
» We're all waiting to see which Sam Bradford steps forward this season. In order to help Bradford look more like the promising rookie he was in 2010, the St. Louis Rams are putting more short, quick passes into the game plan. That will hopefully help Bradford complete more throws and it should also help his offensive line keep him upright. The latter issue led to a situation where Bradford told CBSSports.com that he doesn't expect his injured ankle to be 100 percent at any point this season. A high ankle sprain ended his 2011 season prematurely and while it shouldn't completely scare away fantasy football owners, it is a reason to take a cautious approach toward the third-year quarterback. Consider him as a mid- to low-level No. 2 QB option...
» The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a hard enough time keeping running backs healthy. Now they'll have to deal with linebacker James Harrison sitting on the shelf for a little while after arthroscopic knee surgery. When he's healthy, he's a dynamic IDP option, but last season his production was hampered by injury. Keep an eye on him this year to see if 2011 was the start of a disappointing trend...
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