Scouting Notebook: Running on empty

You can find more from Michael Salfino at NESN

The injuries are hitting hard. I wonder how much of this is due to the fact that the players all are probably past the limit of what the body can endure as we head into December.

I talked to a tennis buff friend of mine who opined that most of the great marathon matches are in the finals because by then the top pros are just too tired to put one another away. I dubbed it the "Thrilla in Manilla" – guys just too beat to knockout one another like Ali and Frazier in that historic fight. In football though, the tired guys still hurdle their bodies through space, but maybe now they're a little less athletic and thus less likely to get out of harm's way.

In Week 12, as we go to press for this Scouting Notebook, seven skill players started in many leagues were knocked out of games and another five left and returned. The status for all of these players is curently "questionable" for Week 13.

Let's get an early read on the implications of these injuries in addition to highlighting who stood out performance-wise throughout this long Week 12.

The Giants are a mess. Eli Manning(notes) has a "stress reaction" now in his foot. And he's the least of the Giants offensive woes. The running game is stuck in the mud somewhere in the swamps of Jersey. Brandon Jacobs(notes) can't square his shoulders.

Knowshon Moreno(notes) looked good, finally, but seemed to seriously hurt his wrist late in the game – and he already has problems holding on to the football.

The Cowboys gave us the A-Game offensively against a Raiders defense that's far from a joke. Tony Romo(notes) leads the NFL in yards per completion. The problem with Dallas is that the C-game is always lurking in the shadows.

If Chris Redman(notes) was wearing a No. 2 jersey, no one on Sunday would have noticed that Matt Ryan(notes) was hurt. But 90 percent of backups crumble the next week when they have to deal with the game plan and all the attendant pressure instead of merely going in all loose and just playing.

Michael Turner(notes) should not have played. He got himself hurt again (ankle). Jerious Norwood(notes) is the interesting handcuff there and Norwood is also an unrestricted free agent for those in keeper leagues. He will be the poor-man's Chris Johnson if he can stay healthy.

DeSean Jackson(notes) (concussion) made another huge scoring play – his shortest of the season (just 35 yards). He's like Wesley Walker and Stanley Morgan a generation ago. If he's even, he's leavin'.

Second-and-goal at the one and you pass it to Donnie Avery(notes), Rams? Really? Steven Jackson owners suffer enough by you never getting in position for easy scores. They can't afford to have you throw one away.

Larry Johnson's(notes) big day came courtesy of Bernard Scott(notes) struggling with turf toe. What happens next week when Cedric Benson(notes) returns is anyone's guess. Think "Dallas," as in three-headed committee – just with two guys with goal-line bona fides. The Bengals passing game is garbage right now.

Rex Ryan is like Nicholson in "A Few Good Men," ordering the "code red" (as in don't throw an interception on this play). "Green" means "it's okay to throw a pick, be daring." I'm serious. This is nutty.

A lot of owners just benched Steve Smith (Panthers) because they figured, correctly, that Darrelle Revis(notes), poison to all receivers, would follow him around all day. Revis lines up opposite his man when both are standing on the sidelines – really.

Once you downshift, kickoff return guys, it's over. But there are only a handful of guys with the requisite courage, vision and ability to cut at full speed.

I feel like I've already seen "Avatar" five times. Election commercials aren't as annoying.

Braylon Edwards(notes) showed great strength and overall physicality on a couple of short passes but then he failed to screen his receiver and come back for the ball on a Sanchez pick (must have been a Code Yellow).

Stop stretching for the goal line, guys. Why risk fumbling to avoid first-and-goal on the one-foot line? Oh, you want to be the one who scores. Now I get it.

We don't root for injuries, but Ronnie Brown's(notes) ACL was the best-case scenario for those who handcuffed him to Ricky Williams(notes), who now is running wild.

"Big day for Michael Vick(notes) I hear," said Sal Paolantonio in the pre-game. Don't be like a child and believe everything you hear. Who's going to have a big day for the Eagles next week, Santa Claus?

I rooted for the Falcons to lose because they clocked the ball on first-and-goal with 49 second left, which was really important because after that only eight plays were run from scrimmage (not including a kickoff that was returned).

Brett Favre(notes) is ridiculous right now and actually worthy of all that praise again. He's got to come back in '10. Sorry Tarvaris Jackson(notes).

Orlando Pace(notes) vs. Jared Allen(notes) was like Michael Spinks vs. Mike Tyson before Pace limped off with a tender groin. Jay Cutler(notes) has no chance right now.

Jamaal Charles(notes) is going to win some people fantasy championships. Look at that upcoming Chiefs schedule.

LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) owners: you are stealing fantasy points and should be ashamed of yourselves.

Who was snapping the shotgun for the Chiefs today, Nuke LaLoosh?

Vince Young(notes) got the better of Matt Leinart(notes) again. That 99-yard drive to win the game was a thing of beauty. It's a great story because no one saw it coming. This is why we play the games.

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

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