How brutal a weekend was it in the NFL on the injury front? There were so many injuries to notable players that Texans' QB Matt Schaub, who returned to action after losing part of his left earlobe following a vicious hit by Denver's Joe Mays, won't even be mentioned again after this sentence. Here are the key injuries from yesterday's action, and their potential impact:
The Lions' QB strained a right leg muscle - either his hamstring or gluteus - while attempting to run down Tennessee's Alterraun Verner on a 4th quarter fumble return, and was replaced by Shaun Hill in the team's wild 44-41 overtime loss. Head Coach Jim Schwartz described the injury as "a muscle pull" that both limited Stafford's mobility and caused a significant amount of pain. While further testing will be required to determine the extent of the injury and his status for next week's game against Minnesota, for a right-handed quarterback like Stafford, much of the throwing power is derived from the right leg, and the hamstring and gluteus muscles specifically. These types of injuries can linger, and Stafford's practice status will be worth watching over the course of the week.
Bush, who entered Week 3 as the second-leading rusher in the NFL, suffered a left knee injury at the end of the first half in yesterday's 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Jets. The injury occurred when his leg was struck by the helmet of Jets S LaRon Landry, causing Bush to immediately clutch at his knee before being assisted off the field by trainers. While Bush returned to the sideline and worked on a stationary bicycle during the second half after being evaluated in the locker room, he did not return to action and is likely to require an MRI today. Backups Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller handled the bulk of the carries in Bush's absence yesterday.
Already without Knowshon Moreno due to injury, the Broncos sustained another blow to their RB corps yesterday, when McGahee left the team's loss to Houston in the third quarter with an injury to his ribs. While there has been little out of Denver regarding the severity or diagnosis, the main issue with rib injuries (assuming there is no damage to the underlying tissues or organs, such as the lungs) is pain tolerance. While protective vests can help cushion the impact of hits to the affected area, the pain can be excruciating and enough to keep players out until full healing has occurred. If both McGahee and Moreno are unable to suit up next week against Oakland, running back duties would fall to the relatively unheralded Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball.
One of the great success stories of the early NFL season, Spiller, who led the league in rushing through two weeks, suffered an injury to his left shoulder when falling to a ground during a tackle by Cleveland DB Osama Young, and did not return to the game. The Buffalo RB was already replacing Week 1 starter Fred Jackson, who has been out due to a knee injury. The good news from Head Coach Chan Gailey is that Spiller did not suffer a broken collarbone, which would have kept him out for a month or more. Instead, it appears he may have suffered a separated shoulder, pending an MRI today, which usually keeps players out of action for 1-2 weeks.
A shoulder separation, which is a type of sprain, involves tearing of the ligaments holding the shoulder joint in place, with higher degrees of tearing causing more significant instability. While Spiller's injury is likely to be a low-level sprain, his ability to absorb hits will depend on the pain associated with contact, and there is always the risk of aggravating the injury and further tearing the ligaments that hold the shoulder joint in place.
The Cardinals put together a dominating, signature victory over Philadelphia yesterday, but not all news was rosy coming out of the win. Wells, the team's starting RB appears to have suffered turf toe in the third quarter. Turf toe refers to inflammation and stretching of the ligaments and/or tendons of the large toe, due to trauma and most commonly when the toe is suddenly bent upward. This can result in redness, swelling, pain, and difficult bearing weight on the affected toe. Treatment is usually supportive, consisting of rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications, and can take days to weeks to resove. Luckily for the Cardinals, backup Ryan Williams was outstanding in relief (although leaving himself at the end of the game with what appeared to be cramps) and would get nod if Wells misses time next week against Miami.
Collie was expected to be one of rookie QB Andrew Luck's go-to guys this season, but after missing the first two games with a concussion, the Colts WR left in the third quarter of yesterday's loss with a right knee injury. Collie hurt the knee after making a catch and is scheduled for an MRI early this week to determine the nature of the injury and his prognosis.
Following the hit, Heyward-Bey fell to the ground with his helmet first and lay on the ground motionless, leading to a number of nervous minutes inside the Oakland Coliseum. After being placed on a cart for transport to a local hospital, Heyward-Bey was able to signal to the crowd by shaking his fist and talk to a number of teammates. According to Head Coach Dennis Allen, Heyward-Bey has been diagnosed with a concussion and spent last night in the hospital for precautionary measures.
The Kansas City WR suffered a gruesome injury to his left elbow in the third quarter of the Chiefs' overtime win over New Orleans, hyperextending while bracing his own fall.
While at first blush it would appear McCluster is likely to spend a significant amount of time recovering, the exact timeframe depends on the nature of the injury, which is likely to be revealed by MRI. If dislocated, for example, the injury may be associated with a risk of nerve injuries or compartment syndrome (increased pressure from swelling or internal bleeding). For comparison, last season Rams WR Danny Amendola suffered an elbow dislocation in Week 1 and attempted to return to action just three weeks later; however, he suffered a setback in practice and ultimately missed the whole season. To be clear, the severity of McCluster's injury is uncertain at this point. But injuries to the elbow joint can be complicated and require weeks to months to heal.
Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans (shoulder)
Cook suffered a left shoulder sprain late in the first half of the Titans' win over Detroit and did not return to action. According to Head Coach Mike Munchak, the injury is not severe and he expects the emerging TE to be back for next week's contest at Houston. Prior to the injury, Cook had four receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown, and he has proven to be a reliable target for QB Jake Locker to this point.
Darrelle Revis, New York Jets (knee)
The Jets' best player, and arguably the best CB in the NFL, Revis was carted off the field late in the third quarter of New York's win over the Dolphins after suffering a non-contact related left knee injury. The New York CB's knee buckled while planting his leg while moving toward Miami RB Daniel Thomas, following which Revis crumpled to the ground in apparent pain. While there is no firm diagnosis as of yet, pending an MRI today, the mood in the Jets' locker room was decidedly muted when the topic of Revis came up in postgame interviews, perhaps foreshadowing the grim realization that the team may be forced to face a significant amount of time without their most indispensible player.
Update: Revis' season is over