Tafoya's Notebook: Week 10 - NBC Sports

Tafoya's Notebook: Week 10
November 12, 2013, 2:00 pm


Dallas Cowboys (5-5) at New Orleans Saints (7-2)

Michele Tafoya




It was a blowout, as so many games in the Mercedes Benz SuperDome are.  While Dallas scored first, they couldn't score often enough.  And they couldn't stop the Saints, allowing over 600 yards of total offense and an NFL record forty first-downs in a single game.


That's it in a nutshell.


There were multiple injuries:


Dwayne Harris scared fans early, when the special teams ace lay motionless on the field for several minutes after being hit on a kickoff return.  He would return to the game with what was classified as a shoulder/neck injury.


Sean Lee left the game in the second quarter with a hamstring injury.  His marked another in a long list of ailments affecting the Dallas defense.  Fellow linebacker Justin Durant would later leave the game with a hamstring injury.


A couple of Saints sustained head injuries that were later deemed concussions. Tight end Benjamin Watson left with a concussion after being hit in the end zone trying to grab a Drew Brees pass.  Rookie LB Kenny Vaccaro would later head to the locker room for the concussion protocol.  He will be out at least a week with a concussion.


It was a busy night on the sidelines.


Still, here are a few things that didn't make it from my notebook to air last night.




Jerry Jones told me before the game that WR Dez Bryant had an epidural injection earlier in the week to help alleviate the pain that had been lingering in his lower back since taking a hit to that area in week two at Kansas City.


Bryant also underwent an MRI, and Jones told me there is no disk problem as was speculated.


Jones went on to say that after the epidural, Bryant had his best practices of the season.  The Cowboys do not expect Bryant to be limited by this particular injury this season.


(Editorial aside... It wasn't Bryant's back that kept the star receiver from making any plays in New Orleans.  Bryant and the entire Dallas offense were lassoed by Rob Ryan's defense.)




Saints star TE Jimmy Graham is remarkable on so many levels.  The story of his childhood has been well documented.  His transition from being a college basketball player to a football star has been thoroughly dissected. 


Oh, and he's a pilot.


But when I caught up with Graham in the Saints locker room after their Friday practice last week, I was reminded of what a gentleman the Pro Bowler vet is.


Graham found a place for us to sit comfortably to talk.  That's unusual.  Players understandably value their time and want to get media obligations out of the way as quickly as possible.  Most post-practice interviews are done standing.


Graham talked to me about the partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot, calling it a " really serious" injury. 


Renowned foot and ankle specialist, Dr. J. Chris Coetzee -- who is not treating Graham -- explained to me that the plantar fascia is the ligament connecting the heel to the toes and is the primary support for the arch of the foot. 


Coetzee explained that a partially torn plantar fascia is worse than a fully torn one, as a full tear can heal more easily.


One of the ways to treat a partially torn planter fascia according to Coetzee is to take a few weeks off, get a cortisone injection and see if the pain subsides.  And Coetzee told me if an athlete can manage the pain it doesn't further harm the foot to continue to play on it. 


A local anesthetic can give a player 3-4 hours of relief without negative affects.  But Graham has his own approach.


"I would rather feel the pain and work through it," Graham said when I asked him if he'd get a pain-killing shot before the game.


"Pain is there for a reason," Graham told me.  "It's the  body's way of giving you warnings."


Graham then shared a story with me.


"When I was a rookie," he began, "one of the vets on the team told me, 'Enjoy this season; it'll probably be the last year you play healthy.'"


Graham recalled thinking, "No way!  I take great care of my body." 


Now in his fourth season he knows the veteran was right.  Still, he never considered taking time off for his foot to heal.  "I believe this is a big year for my team," he explained.  "I want to be part of the success, and I believe I can affect the outcome."


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