Bob Levey - Getty Images
SB Nation's medical expert takes a look at Jake Locker's shoulder issue and Santonio Holmes' foot injury.
The football gods have thus far been kinder to their players in Week 4 than in previous weeks, with few major injuries to report from Sunday's action. There were also a few surprise returns of note, including Washington wide receiver Pierre Garcon and Buffalo running back CJ Spiller.
Here are the key injuries from Sunday's action, and their potential impact:
The Titans’ quarterback aggravated a left (non-throwing) shoulder injury in the first quarter of Tennessee’s 38-14 loss to Houston Sunday and did not return to action. Locker’s shoulder was driven to the ground on a sack by Houston’s Glover Quin, and the second-year quarterback was taken to the locker room before returning to the sideline in street clothes and a sling to immobilize the injured side.
Early reports are that Locker suffered a shoulder separation, a type of sprain that involves tearing of the ligaments holding the shoulder joint in place, with higher degrees of tearing causing more significant instability. With this type of injury to the non-throwing shoulder, Locker’s main issue will be pain tolerance, and if he returns to action too soon, there is always the risk of aggravating the injury and further tearing the ligaments that hold the shoulder joint in place. Locker will undergo an MRI Monday to determine his prognosis. He did not miss any time following the initial injury, but all indications are this is a more severe separation. If he is unable to take the field next week against Minnesota, backup Matt Hasselbeck would take the reins of the Tennessee offense.
For Jets’ fans, the sight of Holmes dropping to the turf in pain without enduring any contact whatsoever was eerily similar to last week, when the team lost cornerback Darrelle Revis to a season-ending knee injury. There has been little reported regarding Holmes’ injury, which took place after planting his left foot on the first play of the fourth quarter against San Francisco on Sunday, other than initial X-rays are negative and that an MRI is scheduled for Monday. While it is too early to speculate on the extent of the injury, Holmes was unable to bear weight on his left leg while being helped off the field, and initial reports were that it may be a long-term situation. Without him, the Jets will turn to rookie Stephen Hill – himself inactive Sunday with a hamstring injury – and second-year man Jeremy Kerley at the wide receiver spot.
While the 2-2 Packers picked up a desperately-needed 28-27 win over New Orleans yesterday, they lost Jennings after only 13 snaps – one of which resulted in a 9-yard touchdown reception – due to his aggravating a groin injury. The Green Bay wide receiver initially suffered the injury in Week 1 and had missed the team’s previous game against Seattle last Monday night. Groin injuries and muscle strains in general are notoriously slow to heal and, as in this case, prone to aggravation if not completely healed prior to resumption of activity. For this reason, it would come as no surprise if Jennings is unable to take the field next week against the Colts, with his practice status this week one to watch closely.
The Bills’ tight end, a touchdown-catching machine early in the season, suffered a head injury in the first half of Buffalo’s 52-28 loss to New England in Week 4 and did not return to action. Chandler, who had already hauled in two touchdowns in the second quarter alone prior to his exit, was evaluated for symptoms of a concussion and preliminary reports indicate he should be able to play in next week’s matchup with San Francisco.
The Lions’ defensive end, a bright spot thus far despite his team’s surprising 1-3 start, suffered a back injury in the fourth quarter of Detroit’s 20-13 loss to the Vikings and did not return to the game. The injury occurred as Avril was chasing Vikings' quarterback Christian Ponder; he fell to the ground after changing direction and eventually limped off the field with the assistance of the team’s training staff. The good news for Lions fans – maybe for more reason than one – is that the team has a bye week coming up, raising hopes that Avril will not miss any game time. Detroit’s next contest is in Week 6 at Philadelphia.