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Big Black and Blue

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Now that the New York Giants are without wide receiver Amani Toomer for the rest of the season and defensive end Michael Strahan for two to four weeks, they might be forced to change their nickname to "Big Black and Blue."

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills lost their primary offensive weapons and the Chicago Bears could be lacking at linebacker this week if Brian Urlacher's ankle injury prevents him from taking the field.

Let's go to the injury report and find out who's in, who's out and who might be getting signed.

QUARTERBACK

  • Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Trent Green seems ready to return after sitting out the past six weeks while recovering from a serious concussion suffered in an early-season loss to Cincinnati. Since then, backup Damon Huard has put the Chiefs in contention for a playoff spot by making good decisions, limiting turnovers and even coming up with the occasional big play. Head coach Herm Edwards initially seemed destined to restore a healthy Green as the team's starting quarterback, but has not yet committed to that.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich may have to wait until training camp to battle David Garrard for the team's starting quarterback position. Garrard has led the team to a pair of wins, and now gets the chance to face a Houston Texans defense that led to the quarterback switch three weeks with a surprising upset of the Jaguars. In that loss, Leftwich, who was not 100 percent, committed several critical errors and underthrew some balls. Garrard has good talent, both as a passer and runner, and seems to get the ball out a little quicker than Leftwich, who has an exaggerated windup in his throwing mechanics. Could the Jaguars be putting themselves in position to trade Leftwich if Garrard continues to start and win? Most observers believe that even with his durability issues, Leftwich could garner attention in the trade market.

RUNNING BACK

  • Seattle Seahawks star Shaun Alexander is walking around the team's practice facility without a limp, but the surgery that was done to correct the break in the fourth metatarsal of his left foot has not fully healed. The Seahawks have already said Alexander will not be active for this week's battle with the St. Louis Rams for first place in the NFC West. In fact, there's a growing concern that he could miss several more weeks of the regular season if things do not progress over the next five to seven days.
  • Buffalo Bills running back Willis McGahee suffered three broken ribs after being tackled on a first-half carry against the Green Bay Packers last weekend. He could miss a few weeks of action and may wear extra padding upon his return to protect from additional damage. The Bills are likely to give veteran Anthony Thomas the chance to be the lead back until McGahee returns, although sharing the load could be considered even if Thomas is successful.
  • St. Louis Rams running back Tony Fisher will miss the rest of the year with a right knee injury. While he may not have the same name recognition as others in this category, his loss will impact the Rams in two key areas: third downs and kickoff returns. Wide receiver Kevin Curtis or reserve defensive back J.R. Reed are likely to take over as the team's primary kickoff return specialist, but also look for veteran Stephen Davis to see additional playing time.

WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END
New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer will miss the rest of the season after suffering a slight tear of his left ACL in last weekend's win over Houston. Tim Carter, who has flashed great vertical speed in the past, could move into a starting role, but the team still has some hope that gifted rookie Sinorice Moss, who practiced on Wednesday, might be able to earn some playing time. The Giants are also likely to review the waiver wire for a veteran possession receiver, and a call to Ricky Proehl could be in their near future. However, the Giants got more bad news when starting wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who missed last week's game with a back injury, could not work out on Wednesday when his back tightened up again before practice.

  • Arizona Cardinals All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will return to action this week against the Dallas Cowboys after missing the past month with a right hamstring injury. The ability to spread out the field more with Fitzgerald on one side and Anquan Boldin on the other could finally open things up for running back Edgerrin James and rookie quarterback Matt Leinart, who has played less than half of one game with a full complement of weapons on the field.
  • Chicago Bears wide receiver Bernard Berrian is doubtful for this week's contest against the Giants as a result of the bruised ribs that knocked him out of action last Sunday. The impact of losing Berrian would be lessened some if second-year speedster Mark Bradley is able to return to the field after being sidelined with a high-ankle sprain for most of this season.
  • Buffalo Bills wide receiver Josh Reed is likely to be sidelined for several weeks after being hospitalized with a bruised kidney during a win over Green Bay. He was kept for observation for two days following the game, but team doctors feel he will make a full recovery. Peerless Price and Roscoe Parrish are expected to see additional playing time in his absence. Sam Aiken could also return to the active lineup this week.
  • San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis started to participate in conditioning drills last week and will be re-evaluated. There's a chance he could suit up and play this week against Detroit.

DEFENSE

  • The Giants have been facing several injury issues on defensives. It got worse last weekend when All-Pro end Michael Strahan went down with a sprain of the Lisfranc (midfoot) joint of his right foot that will sideline him up to a month. The loss of Strahan combined with the hip injury of Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck's own foot problem has ruined what was once one of the league's deepest defensive end units. As a result, rookie defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka will be given every chance to shine over the next month. Meanwhile, the Giants are without top linebackers LaVar Arrington and Brandon Short. In addition, veteran cornerback Sam Madison continues to struggle with a lingering hamstring pull, although he returned to practice on Wednesday.
  • The Bears could be without All-Pro middle linebacker Brian Urlacher for their Sunday showdown against the Giants. He has a sprained ligament in his left big toe, but has not been ruled out by team doctors. Urlacher missed practice on Wednesday, but hopes to return by Friday to test out his foot before the team leaves for New York. If he were to miss the game, the Bears would likely shift starting outside linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer to the middle or use second-year special teams demon Rod Wilson.
  • New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison is out of Sunday's game with the New York Jets because of a broken right shoulder blade, although it won't require surgery at this point. Harrison has a warrior's mentality, so if and when he can get close to 100 percent, he will try to rejoin the Patriots secondary. Until that time, New England may go with a combination of former corners Chad Scott and Artrell Hawkins, although second-year defender James Sanders could also see some action. The Patriots may have more range in pass coverage out of Scott and Hawkins, but their ability to stop the run and create havoc by using safety blitzes could suffer while they test his replacements.
  • Atlanta Falcons defensive back Kevin Mathis will miss the rest of the season after suffering a neck injury in last week's game against Detroit. He has full use of all his faculties and will not require surgery, but the Falcons now go from having an experienced nickel back to using either rookie Jimmy Williams or unproven Omare Lowe in that role.

SPECIAL TEAMS