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Scouting Notebook: Hard knock life

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

You can find more from Michael Salfino at SNY.tv

We set the table for the fantasy week here in the Scouting Notebook and we'll focus on player analysis in a bit. The big news on Sunday, though, was concussions to the reigning Super Bowl signal callers.

Considering both Ben Roethlisberger(notes) and Kurt Warner(notes) have a history of documented concussions, with Roethlisberger's reportedly being most serious, their return in Week 12 is an open question

Warner, who had two documented concussions prior to today, ironically spoke out against returning too soon after concussions in an article that was published by the Associated Press this week. "And I think that's probably – and I'm just guessing – where the biggest effects are down the road, is guys that may not have a record that they had 10 concussions but probably had that or more so and just played right through it."

Note that the Cardinals at no point on Sunday ruled Warner out even for the balance of the Rams game. Roethlisberger appeared to lose consciousness completely. Consider that in boxing, fighters must sit out at least 30 days after losing by TKO or KO. That brings how the NFL treats concussed players into sharp relief. You don't want critics to be able to plausibly describe your sport as being "more barbaric than boxing." You can't treat brains like you treat knees and hamstrings.

On Sunday night, rookie Kahill Bell (72-yard run) took some snaps away from the terribly inefficient Matt Forte(notes) (about 3.3 yards per carry in '09).

The glass is always half full with rookie QBs. Josh Freeman(notes) shows an ability to hang in versus a blitz and take a hit even when backed up to his own goal line. I agree with Phil Simms that Mark Sanchez(notes) can already make all the NFL throws. But both these rookies struggled mightily on Sunday, especially Sanchez at New England. Don't judge them too harshly during this embryonic stage. Put away the knives until they're into their third season.

Same for Matthew Stafford(notes), who really shined against the JV (the Browns). He and Calvin Johnson(notes) made it look very easy on the 75-yard bomb that put the Lions back into the game – combining home-run speed with a home-run arm just like we drew it up in August.

Last year's ingenue, Matt Ryan(notes), looked bad again before rallying to lead the Falcons at least into overtime. For most of the game, he seemed skittish – taking off out of the pocket on mad dashes to nowhere instead of believing in his blockers and his receivers.

Mario Manningham(notes) really looked good managing the sideline with some toe taps and finding voids in the zone, especially on the 29-yard catch that set up the game-winning, OT kick. I can't say anything bad about Steve Smith, either. But Domenik Hixon(notes) continuing to start in three-WR sets over Hakeem Nicks(notes) (5-for-65) is lunacy. Nicks got most of his looks subbing for Manningham in two-WR sets.

Eli Manning(notes) had his first 300-yard passing game ever at home.

Rock Cartwright(notes) is the starter now in Washington with Ladell Betts(notes) out with a torn-MCL (probably for the year) and Clinton Portis(notes) already ruled out for Week 12. Any starting back, especially one like Cartwright who will also handle third downs, is waiver worthy now.

"Off the hands of Roy Williams," is a phrase we hear too often during Dallas games.

Michael Jenkins(notes), admittedly not helping Ryan progress through his recent struggles, dropped a TD pass on a floater that he didn't even need to leap to catch. Braylon Edwards(notes) also had a bad drop. It's the same names every week, seemingly.

Brandon Jacobs(notes) scored but could have had a big day and probably another TD had he been able to return instead of hitting the stationary bike. Jacobs is always checking himself out for problems like I used to check out my wife's old Dodge Dart when we first met. You are a tank, Brandon. But something is going to hurt a little after every run.

Reggie Bush's(notes) absence didn't help Pierre Thomas(notes) on Sunday. Everything is not going to be alright, Thomas owners. There's no solace to be taken by him continuing to have great rate numbers (11 carries for 92 yards in Tampa). We draft RBs for quantity as much as quality. Never trust Sean Payton to do right by his runners again.

Terrell Owens(notes) still has No. 1 WR ability but his environment stinks. You want to bet on Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) and the coaching change to be a salve, feel free. But I cannot advise it.

I said this week in another forum that if Derrick Mason(notes) (100-plus receiving yards in the second half) had spent his entire career with the Colts, he'd be an inner-circle Hall of Famer. Joe Flacco(notes) is okay, but still a work in progress. Throwing a middle screen into triple coverage with the game-leading field goal in his pocket on third down was the worst QB decision of the day.

Laurence Maroney(notes) – one more fumble, two more goal-line TDs. He's getting the big carries (six TDs the past five games) in one of the best fantasy places (New England).

Antonio Gates(notes) was tackled on the one-yard line on about a 20-yard pass for about the fourth time this year. The Chargers and Norv Turner treat him like a scrub on the goal line, where the team struggles (20th in red zone TD percentage before going a poor 3-for-6 in Denver).

Louis Murphy(notes) says he just found out that you come in on off days and study film, etc. That says more about the lack of any organizational leadership in Oakland than it does about Murphy. "Commitment to Excellence" is just a slogan now.

The Murphy TD was part of a finish that evoked the famous Heidi Game which happened 41 years ago this week (November 17, 1968). This happening last year on the 40th anniversary would have been way cooler. But the Raiders have lost their poetic sense, too.

Michael Salfino's work has appeared in USA Today's Sports Weekly, RotoWire, dozens of newspapers nationwide and most recently throughout Comcast SportsNet and NESN. Michael also covers the Jets and Giants each week for SNY.tv.

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