NFL Week 3 injury analysis

This Given Sunday is examining the biggest injury questions before each week of the NFL season. Here are the top five health-related storylines entering Week 3.

Matt Forte

The good news is that the ankle sprain Forte suffered last Thursday in Green Bay was not of the "high" variety. The bad news is that he missed Wednesday's practice and looks as though he'll be a game-time decision at best Sunday against a St. Louis defense that isn't exactly stout against the run.

It goes without saying that fantasy owners, Bears fans and Rams fans should monitor this situation, but only fantasy peeps will benefit from the fact the Chicago-St. Louis game kicks off at 1:00 p.m. ET. You're probably covered anyway with byes still a week off, but if not, Michael Bush is a suitable handcuff.

Forte had been averaging 4.8 yards per carry and still the team's second-leading receiver, so any time he's forced to miss will be costly.

Ryan Mathews

The Chargers have survived without their lead back the last two weeks, but getting Mathews back for a Week 3 matchup with the Falcons would be huge. That's because Atlanta's pass defense looks like it's in a position to intercept Philip Rivers at least a dozen times in the first quarter alone Sunday if Rivers can't get some run support. 

The Falcons have been roughed up on the ground early this season, so Mathews — who's practicing without limitations at this point — could be in for a big performance in his debut, which will likely come Sunday barring any setbacks.

And I'm no doctor (yet), but it would certainly seem preferable that Mathews isn't plagued by a lower-body issue. A broken collarbone doesn't sound like a picnic, but if it's healed it might not be the kind of thing that slows him down at all.

Steven Jackson

Some thought Jackson was benched for an unsportsmanlike conduct personal foul against Washington, but it was actually revealed after the game that the 29-year-old has a groin injury. It was that affliction that kept him out of Wednesday's practice and will likely turn him into a game-time decision Sunday in Chicago.

Fortunately for the Rams — as well as any fantasy owners with handcuff tendencies — is that rookie seventh-round pick Daryl Richardson fared well in Jackson's stead in Week 2, picking up 102 yards on 17 touches. He did, however, have a costly fumble (aren't they all?). Jackson's a resilient dude, and as I mentioned above, St. Louis-Chicago is an early kickoff, so this might not affect fantasy owners negatively. That said, keep an eye out.

Jeremy Maclin

Maclin aggravated his hip injury against the Ravens and is back on the sideline at Philadelphia practices this week. And because the team might fear this becoming a lingering issue, there's a chance they hold him out Sunday at Arizona. In fact, that's already been suggested.

Undrafted rookie Damaris Johnson could be an enticing flier if Maclin doesn't suit up, but fantasy owners — and the Eagles, too, I suppose — will miss his consistency and reliability. It's not a foregone conclusion yet, though, so — you know what I'm going to say, don't you? — monitor his status as the weekend approaches.

James Harrison/Troy Polamalu

Doubling up on my obligatory defensive player of the week by packaging two Pittsburgh All-Pro bone-crushers together. There's a decent chance the Steelers hold both Harrison (knee) and Polamalu (calf) out through their Week 4 bye, but you never know with Pittsburgh. This is the same team that kept acting as though Rashard Mendenhall was ready to go when he wasn't even close, so maybe they'll reverse it on us. 

Regardless of the fact the Jets decided to take Week 2 off against Pittsburgh, life will likely be much easier for Darren McFadden and Carson Palmer if neither Harrison nor Polamalu suit up for Sunday's game in Oakland. Fantasy owners will probably start McFadden regardless, but this could be reason to consider Palmer if you're in a deeper league or just decided to ignore quarterbacks on draft day.

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at, Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.