Carroll: How long is Clinton Portis out?

There's always been a tension between a league that celebrates bravado and toughness and one that attempts to keep its players healthy. I love watching Tom Jackson at halftime screaming about who got 'jacked up' as much as the next guy. I also notice that the ESPN highlight crew always tries to show a shot of the guy who got nailed trotting off the field. Yes, hits are part of the game and not just that, they're one of the more entertaining parts of the game. But there's no highlight show for the trainers taping ankles, for the guys wobbling off the field after a concussion, and certainly no show for the broken older players facing joint replacement and post-concussive trauma. There are ways to make the game safer without taking the Lombardi out of the game. That starts with the medical staff and in a lot of cases, I don't think NFL teams take health very seriously.

They'll end up in this column more if they don't, so let's get to the injuries:

Clinton Portis intuitively grasped one of the main medhead lessons, that players can have a cascade of non-related injuries. Portis' broken hand surely isn't a result of his shoulder sprain -- or is it? Portis claims that protecting one thing, whether it was his shoulder or his ankle, put other parts at risk. Over and over, the facts have proven this out. It's not that the players are injury-prone; it's that any weakness creates an additional risk that was not previously there nor is it a predictable risk that can be guarded against. Portis had surgery on Monday to fixate the broken fourth metacarpal bone, the hand's rough equivalent of Shaun Alexander's broken fourth metatarsal. With this injury Portis might have been able to return for the final weeks of the season, but it appears the Redskins will place him on injured reserve, ending his season. Ladell Betts, whom you should have had paired with Portis, becomes a good fantasy option instantly.