It's just mid-day Saturday, and a number of key players have already been ruled out for Week 7 in the NFL. Among these: Greg Jennings of the Packers, Kevin Kolb of the Cardinals, DeMarco Murray of the Cowboys, and Troy Polamalu of the Steelers. Here are some other key injuries, and their impact, for the rest of this week's games:
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants (foot)
NYG (4-2) vs. WAS (3-3), 1pm
One day after practicing and being told he would get the bulk of the carries in tomorrow's divisional showdown against the Redskins, Bradshaw -- who ran for 316 yards and 2 TDs the past two weeks combined -- sat out during the Giants' practice yesterday and has been listed as questionable on the team's injury list. Bradshaw has had a longstanding history of foot injuries, including a fracture to the same (right) foot last season that caused him to miss several games over the past two seasons, and it appears he re-injured the foot late in the team's 26-3 mauling of San Francisco last week when it was stepped upon by a 49ers defender. If Bradshaw cannot play against Washington, backups Andre Brown (who missed last week with a concussion) and David Wilson would share carries for New York.
Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns (ribs)
CLE (1-5) @ IND (2-3), 1pm
The Browns' star rookie RB suffered a rib injury in the first quarter Cleveland's 34-24 Week 6 win over Cincinnati and saw limited action thereafter. The good news for the Browns is that it appears Richardson should be able to play tomorrow against Indianapolis and that he will wear a protective flak jacket to prevent further injury. If Richardson is unable to carry a full load tomorrow, with pain tolerance being the biggest concern when it comes to rib injuries, backup Monterrio Hardesty would likely pick up extra carries out of the Cleveland backfield.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys (groin)
DAL (2-3) @ CAR (1-4), 1pm
Bryant, who had 95 yards receiving and two TDs in last week's loss at Baltimore, was limited in practice yesterday due to a groin strain and has been listed as questionable on the Cowboys' injury list. It is unclear when the Dallas WR sustained the injury, but it bears noting that groin injuries, like most muscle pulls, can be slow to recover and easy to aggravate if tested before full healing takes place. While early indications are that Bryant will be able to suit up tomorrow, if he cannot, backup Kevin Ogletree, who starred in the Cowboys' Week 1 win over the Giants, would likely get the start against the Panthers tomorrow.
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints (ankle)
NO (1-4) @ TB (2-3), 1pm
The Saints' TE suffered a sprained ankle in the Saints' Week 5 win over San Diego, and despite having a bye week to recuperate has been listed as questionable for tomorrow's game at Tampa Bay. There are conflicting reports regarding the severity of the injury, with some expressing concern that Graham may have suffered a high ankle sprain.
The recovery time from ankle injuries is notoriously slow due to the complex nature of the joint itself. A high ankle sprain involves injury to the syndesmotic ligaments of the ankle, which are responsible for holding the lower ends of the tibia and fibula (lower leg bones) together. Injuries to these ligaments are usually more serious than to other areas of the ankle, causing significant pain and difficulty bearing weight. The severity of and prognosis for recovery for ankle sprains are often a source of confusion, primarily due to misunderstanding over what exactly the different "grades" of sprains actually mean. In brief:
A Grade 1 sprain is a mild sprain that occurs when there is slight stretching and some damage to the fibers of the ligament. Individuals can usually place pressure on the foot and walk afterward.
A Grade 2 sprain is a moderate sprain where a partial tearing of the ligament occurs. If the ankle joint is examined and moved in certain ways, abnormal looseness (laxity) of the ankle joint occurs.
A Grade 3 sprain is a severe sprain in which a complete tear of the ligament occurs. If the examiner pulls or pushes on the ankle joint in certain movements, gross instability occurs.
If in fact Graham suffered a high ankle sprain, it is likely to be a Grade 1 sprain, which, could require anywhere from 1-4 weeks of recovery time; a Grade 2 or 3 sprain, in which there is some degree of looseness of the ankle joint, could take longer and even require surgery if the tear is complete. If he is unable to play tomorrow against the Bucs, backup David Thomas would get the nod at TE.
Haloti Ngata, Baltimore Ravens (knee)
BAL (5-1) @ HOU (5-1), 1pm
Ngata, the Ravens' All-Pro nose tackle, played through a sprained right MCL suffered early in the Ravens' win over Dallas last week, and as a further testimony to his toughness, he continued despite aggravating a right shoulder injury as well. Ngata missed practice in the middle of the week, but has been back on the field the last two days for the Ravens. After having lost LB Ray Lewis to a torn triceps and CB Lardarius Webb to a torn ACL last week, and after having given up over 400 yards rushing in the past two weeks combined, Baltimore will desperately need Ngata's presence at nose tackle tomorrow against Arian Foster and the vaunted Texans' running attack.