Barometer: Stars hurt on brutal weekend
Prized defender Jake Lever hopes to be back in Melbourne colours inside the next four weeks.
Lever, 23, who ruptured his ACL in June last year, is on track to play "limited time" in the VFL in two weeks, having pencilled in Melbourne's Round 11 and 12 blockbusters against Adelaide and Collingwood as possible return dates.
"It is always the final piece in the puzzle, being able to play again," Lever said.
Lever spent time in Philadelphia earlier in the year to kick along the recovery process under the watchful eye of renowned sports injury expert Bill Knowles.
The "unique exercises" focused on strengthening Lever's reconstructed knee to assist with changing direction and safeguard against a repeat injury.
"I was able to pick up (a few drills) and use most training days," Lever told Seven's Game Day.
"I was using a hula hoop a lot, which looks a little bit silly, but it did help a lot. I'm glad."
Lever's imminent return is a major boost for the resurgent Demons, with key defender Steven May (groin) also on the comeback trail.
"I think Stephen is about a few weeks away," Lever said.
"He was moving really well around the track. There was a period there where he wasn't moving very well with the groin, but he is doing some footy stuff last Friday which is exciting."
Meanwhile, Collingwood star Taylor Adams is expected to miss several weeks after suffering a groin injury in Friday night's victory over Port Adelaide.
The onballer suffered the injury blow early in the second half of the Pies 39-point win against the Power at Marvel Stadium.
Magpies coach Nathan Buckley said early indications were Adams, who returned to the Collingwood team from injury in Round 3, would miss multiple weeks.
"Early diagnosis is it'll be a couple of weeks out for Taylor Adams with an adductor strain," Buckley said on 3AW.
"He's actually been a bit sore for a few weeks."
The Crows will head into Showdown 46 on Saturday night in reasonable shape after reporting no fresh injuries from its hard-fought 17-point win against Fremantle at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
"Injury-wise we're fine, it's just the normal bumps and bruises,'' coach Don Pyke said after the physically taxing game.
"Thankfully we've got ourselves a clean bill of health and can get ready for next week.''
The Crows, whose win against the Dockers was their third in a row, have several key players sidelined - ruckman Sam Jacobs (knee) and midfielders Richard Douglas (ankle), Paul Seedsman (knee) and Wayne Milera (shoulder) and defender Tom Doedee (knee) - but regained important small defender Luke Brown from a long-term ankle injury on the weekend.
Pyke said Brown would come under consideration for the Showdown but it is unlikely he will be risked in such a big game without more match conditioning under his belt.
Pyke will have a decision to make on veteran key forward/ruckman Josh Jenkins, who has spent the past three weeks in the SANFL after being dropped for 20-year-old Elliott Himmelberg, who was serviceable against Fremantle with 13 disposals, six marks and a goal.
- Andrew Capel
Andrew McPherson (back) test
Paul Seedsman (knee) 1-2 weeks
Richard Douglas (ankle) 1-2 weeks
Wayne Milera (AC joint) 2-3 weeks
Sam Jacobs (knee) 2-4 weeks
Tom Doedee (knee) season
Every game feels massive for the Lions at the moment.
The lead ups are tense and the reactions after wins and loss are extreme. It is probably because no one, they included, really know just how good they are.
Sydney at 1-5 and without Buddy Franklin may not have seemed a giant obstacle on paper, but a decade long winning streak proves just how important this win was for the Lions.
The majority of the players are rolling with it with the fearlessness and enthusiasm of youth and they are carrying the older heads who bear the scars of the tough years along for the ride.
It is the coaches who are feeling the strain. Chris Fagan is in the middle of the best year of his coaching life, but you can tell how unsettled he is.
He's been at a club who knows they are premiership contenders (Hawthorn and Melbourne) and one who knows they are wooden spoon contenders (Brisbane 2017).
This middle ground is new ground for Fagan. He'll potentially welcome back vice-captain Harris Andrews to take on the Bulldogs but otherwise has historically stuck with winning teams.
Zac Bailey and Rhys Mathieson both returned from injury in the NEAFL.
- Andrew Hamilton
Marcus Adams (knee) 8 weeks
Harris Andrews (hamstring) test
Brandon Starcevich (hamstring) 1-2 weeks.
Train wrecks only last a matter of moments. Carlton's loss to North Melbourne took 120 horrible, painful, interminable minutes.
The Blues will bounce back against Collingwood after a truly terrible day which doesn't represent their growth this year.
But Brendon Bolton is under the pump because of losses like this and the club's Liam Stocker trade with Adelaide will only be won if they climb out of the bottom four.
A handful of Liam Stocker's kicks were lovely on debut but he also had three kick clangers among his 10 possessions.
Matt Kennedy languishes in the VFL, Pat Kerr keeps kicking goals, and Will Setterfield had 22 touches on return from suspension.
Hugh Goddard would be the likely replacement for Liam Jones (concussion) if he doesn't get up against Collingwood after 10 VFL marks.
Brad Scott said the Roos put Luke Davies-Uniacke back into the reserves to boost his confidence before an AFL return.
Can't help thinking Charlie Curnow desperately needs a live kill in the VFL after two goals and a single contested mark in four games.
Brendon Bolton blamed supply, which is fair enough, but after seven ineffective kicks and no goals against the Roos, he is out of touch and carrying a knee injury.
- Jon Ralph
Tom De Koning (knee) 2-4 weeks
Sam Docherty (knee) indefinite
Liam Jones (concussion) test
Matthew Kreuzer (adductor) test
Kym Lebois (hamstring) 1 week
Nic Newman (knee) 2 weeks
Jarrod Pickett (knee) indefinite
Kade Simpson (hamstring) 2 weeks
All eyes are on Taylor Adams in coming days as the Pies sweat on scans on his groin injury.
The star ballwinner went down like the proverbial sack of potatoes in the middle of Marvel Stadium on Saturday night - like a sniper had eyed his left groin and pinged him square.
He hobbled from the ground and despite attempting a fitness test on the sideline, was quickly iced and out for the game.
"He wasn't able to complete the game, so that's a red flag straight away," coach Nathan Buckley said.
"We'll let that settle and see how it pans out. It's an adductor strain at this point - how serious or otherwise, we don't know. Tay's disappointed. He's a footballer - he loves to play footy."
Mason Cox (ankle) bore a moon boot in the rooms but remains in the frame to return to face the Blues, but just how he'll fit inside 50 with Ben Reid - who made a stellar return on Friday night - remains a quandary for Buckley.
The VFL team has a bye this weekend.
Taylor Adams (groin) TBC
Mason Cox (ankle) test
Chris Mayne (back) 1-2 weeks
James Aish (concussion) test
Flynn Appleby (ankle) 1-2 weeks
Tyler Brown (shoulder) 4 weeks
Ben Crocker (calf) test
Lynden Dunn (knee) season
Nathan Murphy (ankle) 2-3 weeks
Matt Scharenberg (knee) 6 weeks
Brayden Sier (toe) test
The Bombers have a short five-day turnaround before Friday night's clash against Sydney Swans. It's a game the Bombers should win and they don't lack much when you look at the team on paper. But Geelong won comfortably on Sunday and the forward connection was the big let-down for the Bombers.
Orazio Fantasia should return from illness, adding some more speed and class forward of centre. Ruckman Tom Bellchambers faces a light week on the track after twisting an ankle against the Cats.
Irving Mosquito shows a lot of promise in the VFL but is not yet ready for the AFL.
Mitch Brown (wrist) 3 weeks
Zac Clarke (calf) Test
Orazio Fantasia (virus) test
Martin Gleeson (cheekbone) 4 weeks
Jayden Laverde (hamstring) 2-3 weeks
Shaun McKernan (hamstring) 5-6 weeks
Kobe Mutch (hamstring) 7-9 weeks
James Stewart (groin) 1-2 weeks
The Dockers escaped Adelaide without any major injuries, a positive from a fame which provided few highlights.
Half-back flanker Connor Blakely is closing on his first game of the season after a team-high 31 disposals for Peel Thunder in a thumping WAFL win on Saturday.
Blakely tore his hamstring in January and has missed the first seven weeks of the season as a result.
Small forward Lachie Schultz kicked 3.2 from 16 disposals in Peel's victory over East Perth, while Sean Darcy had 42 hit-outs and 11 disposals.
Griffin Logue returned from a hamstring injury with 14 possessions.
Hayden Ballantyne's return date from a hamstring injury is yet to be confirmed, while Stephen Hill is still a month away from a comeback from a quad complaint.
- Tim Michell
Hayden Ballantyne (hamstring) TBC
Harley Bennell (calf) TBC
Stephen Hill (quad) 4 weeks
Shane Kersten (foot) 3-4 weeks
Aaron Sandilands (calf) TBC
Sam Sturt (concussion) TBC
The Cats largely flew under the radar over summer as much-hyped teams like Essendon and Melbourne racked up the headlines.
But after seven rounds the Cats are not just a contender - they are arguably the team to beat this year.
Atop of the ladder and a $4 second-favourite for the premiership behind Collingwood, Geelong could not be tracking along much better and Sunday's 32-point win over Essendon was another feather in its hat.
The Cats don't seem to have a weak link and beat the Bombers with ease despite being a rotation down for much of the match with Esava Ratugolea (concussion) playing just 49 minutes and Patrick Dangerfield playing the second half on "one leg".
Coach Chris Scott expects to regain captain Joel Selwood (soreness) for a Round 8 clash against North Melbourne and said his information was Dangerfield (knee) would be fit to play.
Defender Zach Tuohy - a late withdrawal against Essendon - is also set to return.
Ratugolea, who was taken to hospital as a precaution, will be assessed during the week. Scott said Dangerfield will play.
Geelong has won its past three games against the Kangaroos and will be heavily favoured to continue that streak.
Zach Tuohy (soreness) test
Nakia Cockatoo (knee) Indefinite
Jordan Cunico (ankle) 10-12 weeks
Lachie Fogarty (hip) Test
Lachie Henderson (plantar fascia) test
Brandan Parfitt (quad) test
Scott Selwood (hamstring) test
A rev up from coach Stewart Dew at halftime lifted the Suns from a six goal deficit and they would be fairly pleased with the end result.
It was an improved effort from their devastating Q-Clash defeat, where they were blown away by their arch rivals in the second half.
Their inconsistency within games is becoming an issue - Saturday night's defeat being their third loss on the trot - but that is to be expected with a young side.
The Suns finished the game with a clean bill of health, with Josh Corbett playing out the game after copping a high bump from Eagle Shannon Hurn.
While some of the young Suns shone against the reigning premiers, some experienced players had poor games.
Former Cat George Horlin-Smith will be under pressure at selection after winning just nine touches, while Alex Sexton (eight disposals and a goal) had his quietest game for the season.
Forward Aaron Young (10 touches) was brought into the side after some strong NEAFL form and may also be squeezed out.
There are a host of options to choose from after the Suns' thumping 70-point win over NT Thunder. Sean Lemmens returned from an ankle injury in the NEAFL and starred, booting four majors in a best on ground display and is likely to be considered.
Prized draftee Ben King also kicked four goals up forward, while veteran Michael Rischitelli was named in the best.
Lachie Weller (hamstring) and talented draftee Izak Rankine (hamstring) will also be in the selection frame.
Izak Rankine (hamstring) Test
Lachie Weller (hamstring) test
Corey Ellis (ankle) Test
Callum Ah Chee (quad) 1-2 weeks
Sam Fletcher (quad) 1-2 weeks
Brayden Crossley (hamstring) 3-4 weeks
Brad Scheer (hand) TBC
Harrison Wigg (knee) season
Rory Thompson (knee) season
How many sides would be lucky enough to welcome back two players with the quality of Josh Kelly and Lachie Whitfield after a 44-point win? Giants coach Leon Cameron flagged smooth-mover Kelly (adductor) and running machine Whitfield (cork) will return after being ruled out of the victory over St Kilda on Saturday. GWS was also without skipper Phil Davis, who has been managing an ankle injury. The Giants are otherwise one of the fittest lists in the competition with only Callan Ward and Jon Patton facing an extended stint on the sidelines from the club's best 22. Adam Kennedy (concussion) was helped from the field in the second term and will be a question mark for Round 8, while Aidan Corr's ankle will be monitored.
- Tim Michell
Phil Davis (ankle) test
Brett Deledio (calf) test
Jon Patton (knee) TBC
Tom Sheridan (calf) three weeks
Lachie Whitfield (corked thigh) test
Josh Kelly (adductor) test
Callan Ward (knee) season
Adam Kennedy (concussion) test
Aidan Corr (ankle) test
What a weekend for the Roos, who beat up on Carlton by winning every statistical category that mattered, had star runs from the veterans and showcased the potential of the kids.
No one smashed the door down at VFL level - Luke Davies Uniacke had 16 possessions and Aaron Hall 13 in a 36-point loss to the Northern Blues.
Scott Thompson will be touch-and-go against Geelong on Sunday after missing the second half with groin soreness.
Now the challenge is to extract the kind of bull-at-a-gate aggression from the players against Geelong next week.
Tarryn Thomas and Jy Simpkin both showed they have lashings of class against the Blues.
But Brad Scott will be thrilled with the forward line's growth after so much time with Ben Brown as the sole focal point.
Taylor Garner got through unscathed and has serious X factor, Cam Zurhaar applies pressure and got on the end of five goals and Nick Larkey (three goals last week) is worth persevering with.
And Mason Wood's decision to crash a pack with only minutes left - leaving him gasping for breath - showed his potential.
On ABC Radio special comments man Sam Mitchell was surprised, saying Wood should have saved himself for next week, but Brad Scott would have been thrilled.
- Jon Ralph
Majak Daw (pelvis/hips) indefinite
Ben Jacobs (head/neck) indefinite
Luke McDonald (knee) test
Ben McKay (pneumonia) test
Tom McKenzie (back) TBC
Tom Murphy (ankle) test
Ed Vickers-Willis (knee) season
Will Walker (PCL) indefinite
Declan Watson (illness) test
Tom Wilkinson (ankle) 9-10 weeks
Whack! Ken Hinkley called it a "little reminder", but there was nothing subtle about the hiding Port Adelaide copped in the first quarter against Collingwood on Friday night.
They've been a nice surprise packet in the early weeks of this season, but a fortnight after beating West Coast on the road, Port couldn't repeat the dose against the Magpies.
Indeed, they never looked like it.
Yet Hinkley was bright and philosophical post-match in delivering a subtle reminder of his own - remember where we're at.
The kids had an off night, there's some quality missing and the Power are still 4-3.
Hinkley said a concussed Brad Ebert was "OK", while co-captain Tom Jonas (calf) was "no guarantee" to feature in the Showdown against Adelaide.
"The toll of the season starts," he said.
Kane Farrell was impressive against Central Districts in the SANFL and would add an enticing forward option for coach Ken Hinkley in Showdown 46.
Ruck duo Peter Ladhams and Billy Frampton dominated against the Bulldogs in the SANFL. Ladhams amassed 40 of Port's 51 hot outs.
Steven Motlop (27 possessions) is pushing for a recall.
-Sam Edmund and Richard Earle
Charlie Dixon (leg) Indefinite
Jack Watts (leg) Indefinite
Robbie Gray (hand) 4
Hamish Hartlett (hamstring) 4
Tom Jonas (calf) test
Brad Ebert (concussion) test
Coach Damien Hardwick was never going to admit Richmond was at breaking point, but it's pretty clear the injuries are taking their toll.
Undisputed locks missing from the Tigers' best 22 are Trent Cotchin (hamstring), Jack Riewoldt (knee), Alex Rance (knee), David Astbury (ankle) and Jayden Short (elbow).
And adding salt to the wounds of a 47-point loss to Western Bulldogs on Saturday night was two more players finding themselves in the hands of doctors and in some doubt for Round 8.
Defender Nick Vlastuin played on after hurting his ankle, but Hardwick said he was only "probable" to take on Fremantle next weekend given the severity.
Forward Daniel Rioli also played on after being crunched in a marking contest, Hardwick saying he was a "bit bruised and battered" after the game.
The good news is that key defender Astbury - sorely missed against the Bulldogs - should return from an ankle injury against the Dockers.
Captain Trent Cotchin is at least another two weeks away.
The Tigers have been brave to win three of their past four matches given the names missing, but their uphill battle only looks set to continue for the time being.
- Chris Cavanagh
Nick Vlastuin (ankle) test
Daniel Rioli (ribs/corked thigh) test
David Astbury (ankle) available
Trent Cotchin (hamstring) 2-3 weeks
Jack Graham (hamstring) 1-2 weeks
Shaun Grigg (knee) indefinite
Oleg Markov (knee) test
Alex Rance (knee) season
Jack Riewoldt (PCL) 6-8 weeks
Jayden Short (elbow) indefinite
Maverick Weller (back) test
St Kilda coach Alan Richardson summed up his side's incredible injury woes with one quote after Saturday's loss to the Giants.
"There will be nobody who will come back from an injury perspective, most of our guys are long term."
That isn't ideal with the Saints currently in a nasty stretch against a host of top teams.
The casualty ward could be about to get even busier after defender Jimmy Webster suffered a hand injury against GWS.
True to his tough character, he played out the game but he and Richardson face an anxious wait as to his availability for the clash with West Coast this week.
"We'll have scans. The early call is he might have fractured his hand, so he did a good job to hang in there but that will be confirmed in the next couple of days. But it looks like that's the way it's heading."
Ben Long didn't have much of an impact against the Giants and could be under pressure to maintain his spot in the seniors.
Nick Hind put his hand up for an AFL debut with 23 disposals off half-back in the VFL.
- Liam Twomey
Logan Austin (shoulder) indefinite
Jack Bytel (back) season
Jack Carlisle (back) indefinite
Oscar Clavarino (ankle) 1 week
Jarryn Geary (quad) indefinite
Dan Hannebery (hamstring/calves) indefinite
Max King (knee) 1 week
Jack Lonie (knee) 8 weeks
Paddy McCartin (concussion) indefinite
Dylan Roberton (heart) season
Jack Steven (Mental health) indefinite
Swans midfielder Harry Cunningham is facing a lengthy stint on the sidelines after suffering a groin injury in the club's loss to Brisbane.
"It looks like a bad one," coach John Longmire said post-match.
"Unfortunately, he has been one of our most consistent players, if not our most consistent player so far this year."
Tom Papley copped a heavy knock to his ribs in a collision with big man Oscar McInerney, but managed to play on.
Lance Franklin has missed the past two games with a hamstring complaint but is in line to return against Essendon on Friday.
Veterans Jarrad McVeigh (back) and Heath Grundy (quad) are likely still a month away.
Colin O'Riordan, Ryan Clarke, James Rowbottom and Darcy Cameron were standouts in a heavy NEAFL loss to the Lions.
- Tim Michell
Lance Franklin (hamstring) test
Harry Cunningham (groin/adductor) TBC
Heath Grundy (back) 2-3 weeks
Jarrad McVeigh (quad) 4-5 weeks
Jack Maibum (knee) season
Daniel Menzel (groin) test
Sam Naismith (knee) TBC
Nick Smith (hamstring) TBC
Durak Tucker (knee) indefinite
There are still some question marks but the Eagles are back on the winners list following two thumping defeats.
A number of key players impressed on Saturday night. Enigmatic forward Jack Darling played himself into form with four goals, while midfield quarter Andrew Gaff, Luke Shuey, Elliot Yeo and Dom Sheed were prolific.
Coach Adam Simpson might choose to keep the same side for their clash with St Kilda, but he may consider a couple of changes.
Nathan Vardy was a late-in for ruckman Tom Hickey (hamstring) and was smashed by Suns co-captain Jarrod Witts. Hickey is likely to return next week, but the Eagles may look to stretch the St Kilda's ruck stocks and play both.
Young small forward Daniel Venables (nine disposals) was quiet, while Chris Masten finished with just 12 disposals.
Brad Sheppard came off the ground in the third quarter with a leg concern after copping a big hit, but is expected to play next week.
Fringe player Brendon Ah Chee (32 disposals) was one of the Eagles best in their 59-point WAFL loss to South Fremantle and may be considered.
Tom Hickey (hamstring) Test
Brad Sheppard (leg) Test
Tom Barrass (foot) TBC
Nic Naitanui (knee) Indefinite
Willie Rioli (foot) 2 weeks
Francis Watson 2 weeks
We saw the Bulldogs at their very best on Saturday night, led by young swingman Aaron Naughton.
The 19-year-old had been held goalless the previous fortnight but that changed quickly against the Tigers. Naughton dispelled any doubts about being swung forward, clunking 14 marks (including a whopping 9 contested) and booting 5.3 in a dominant display.
You'd think Luke Beveridge will opt to keep the same side for their clash against the Lions in Ballarat, with no passengers in the win.
Among the more quiet performers were Tom Liberatore (14 touches) Tory Dickson (12), Will Hayes (15) but all should be safe for the trip to Mars.
In the VFL, Tom Boyd (three goals) showed encouraging signs in Footscray's win over Casey, while mature age recruit Ben Cavarra booted two in his second game back from injury.
Patrick Lipinski (24 disposals) continued his hot start to the year and Bailey Williams (29) led all comers.
Matt Suckling (groin) 1-3 weeks
Lin Jong (appendix) 1-2 weeks
Taylor Duryea (hip) 4-6 weeks
Dale Morris (knee) 5-6 weeks