MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 20: Kamerion Wimbley #96 of the Oakland Raiders tackles running back Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings as Rolando McClain #55 of the Raiders blocks Visanthe Shiancoe #81 of the Vikings in the first quarter on November 23, 2011 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
With Week 11 of the NFL schedule almost in the books, SB Nation Medical Expert Dr. Ali Mohamadi discusses some of the most significant injuries from this weekend's games so far, and their potential impact:
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (ankle)
Peterson was carted off the field in the second quarter of Minnesota's 27-21 loss to Oakland with a left ankle injury and did not return to the field. The injury took place at the end of a running play, with an opposing defender falling on Peterson's left leg. Preliminary x-rays were negative for an ankle fracture, but an MRI scheduled for Monday will determine whether there is any ligament damage, and therefore will tell much more about his prognosis for recovery. If Peterson is unable to suit up for the Vikings' Week 12 game at Atlanta, RB Toby Gerhart would take his place in the lineup.
The Bills' breakout star sat most of the second half of his team's 35-8 loss to Miami after sustaining a calf injury in the third quarter. Jackson had a precautionary x-ray, which was negative, and himself has described the injury as a bruise. While Jackson himself sounds optimistic that he will be able to play next week at the New York Jets, muscle injuries often incur a fair amount of swelling over a 24-hour period, which may cause pain and impact mobility. Watch Jackson's status at practice this week for a better sense of his status for Week 12.
James Starks, Green Bay Packers (knee)
Starks, one half of the Packers' one-two punch at RB along with Ryan Grant, injured his right knee in the fourth quarter of Green Bay's 35-26 win over Tampa Bay. Starks has preliminarily been diagnosed with a knee sprain, but the extent of the injury will be determined by further testing scheduled for today.
The Bears, riding high after a 31-20 win that extended its winning streak to five games, may have to face time without QB Jay Cutler, who reportedly broke his right (throwing) thumb while being blocked to the ground following a fourth-quarter interception. Although there has not been word from the team regarding specifics of the injury, preliminary reports suggest Cutler could require surgery and miss multiple games. It is too early to speculate what type of fracture this is, but it bears noting that the most common fracture of the thumb, known as a Bennett's fracture, often is accompanied by dislocation and could take months to heal, with many patients never regaining full strength of the thumb. Backup Caleb Hanie would be in line to start next week's game at Oakland - and maybe more - if Cutler is ruled out.
The Titans' QB left his team's 23-17 loss at Atlanta yesterday with a right (throwing) elbow injury suffered in the third quarter when his hand was struck by a defender while throwing a pass. Hasselbeck experienced pain when attempting to throw the ball on the sidelines and was replaced by rookie Jake Locker, who threw two touchdowns and nearly pulled off an improbable comeback, to fall just short. There has been little word out of Tennessee regarding the nature and severity of Hasselbeck's injury, which could range from a mild strain to a more severe injury to the elbow ligaments. Either way, Hasselbeck may have to overcome pain and swelling before returning to the field, and it would not be a surprise if the Jake Locker era begins in earnest next Sunday against the Buccaneers.
The second-year receiver suffered a neck injury during Oakland's win over Minnesota and was immobilized and taken to a local hospital for observation, where he has full movement of all four extremities. Heyward-Bey took a knee to the back of the neck in the fourth quarter, knocking off his helmet and sending the Raiders WR to the ground. It remains to be seen when Heyward-Bey will be able to return to action, but of course the most important news is that there does not appear to be any spinal damage.
Donald Jones, Buffalo Bills (ankle)
Jones left the Bills' loss to Miami on a cart after suffering a high ankle sprain, which could put him out of action for up to 3-6 weeks. The term "high ankle sprain" is usually used to describe an injury to the syndesmotic ligaments of the ankle, which hold the lower ends of the tibia and fibula (lower leg bones) together. Injuries to these ligaments are usually more severe than to other areas of the ankle, causing significant pain and difficulty bearing weight. With the Bills' offense struggling mightily the past three weeks, WR David Nelson will likely take over starting duties from Jones.