While the injury list for Sunday's NFL games was relatively sparse, it wasn't without its share of star players, especially when word arrived that New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski had suffered a broken forearm that may cost him the remainder of the regular season.
Here are the key injuries from Sunday's action, and their potential impact:
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots (forearm)
Although the Patriots made a statement with their thrashing of the Indianapolis Colts, the biggest news coming out of New England was the injury to Gronkowski, which apparently took place as the team was tacking on its 59th and final point of the day. Gronkowski left the game after the play, suffering a forearm injury, and X-rays confirmed a fracture that, per multiple reports, will require surgery to realign, causing him him to miss about four to six weeks of action.
Forearm fractures are variable in severity, with the least severe offering hope that an athlete can return to action the following week with proper protection for the injured limb, so this timetable, if accurate, points to a fairly severe injury that will require significant time for proper realignment and healing of the bones. Staring at the possibility of missing Gronkowski for the remainder of the regular season, the Patriots are fortunate to have a three-game cushion on the rest of the AFC East, although they are thin at tight end with Aaron Hernandez already having missed multiple games, including Sunday's, due to a high ankle sprain. Visanthe Shiancoe and Michael Hoomanawanui are next in line at the position for Tom Brady's crew in New England.
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles (concussion)
What was already a dismal day for the Eagles, who endured a 31-6 drubbing at the hands of the Washington Redskins, turned worse as McCoy suffered a concussion in garbage time and was carted off the field. With less than two minutes remaining, McCoy took a handoff and as he sprinted upfield was hit hard by Redskins safety Madieu Williams, with the brunt of the force taken to the back of his head. McCoy lay on the ground for moments and was clearly woozy when taken off the field, as images from his cart ride off the field attest.
A major concern with concussions involves the potential long-term effects of repeated head trauma, and particularly those sustained before full healing of a preceding injury. With teammate Michael Vick having been held out of Sunday's game after suffering a concussion in Philadelphia's Week 10 loss to Dallas, it would seem unlikely that McCoy will play when the Eagles host Carolina on Monday night. Bryce Brown would be in line to get the start at running back if McCoy is unable to suit up.
Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (knee)
McGahee, who started off Sunday's game with 55 yards on seven carries after just over one quarter of play, left the Broncos' 30-23 win over the Chargers in the second quarter after suffering a right knee injury. According to head coach John Fox, the knee began to swell after being tackled by San Diego defensive back Quentin Jammer, and McGahee is scheduled to have an MRI Monday to determine the extent of the injury. Many will recall that this is the same knee on which McGahee, as a member of the Miami Hurricanes, tore multiple ligaments during the 2002 Fiesta Bowl, and although clearly not as severe this time around, Broncos fans will be holding their collective breaths for a reassuring MRI result. Backups Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball would take over at running back next week at Kansas City if McGahee misses time.
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs (neck)
Bowe left early in the Chiefs' blowout loss to Cincinnati Sunday with what the Kansas City medical staff described as a neck injury. The injury took place as he was attempting to catch a deep pass, during which he leapt to make the play but fell hard on the ground. He went straight to the bench for treatment before being taken to the locker room. There has been little word out of Kansas City regarding the severity or nature of the injury, which compounds upon the Chiefs' lack of depth at receiver, especially with Jon Baldwin having missed Sunday's game with a head and neck injury himself.
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars (elbow)
Gabbert went down in the first quarter of Jacksonville's loss to Houston Sunday when hit by Texans defensive back Danieal Mannning. He suffered a contusion of his right (throwing) elbow. Gabbert yielded to backup quarterback Chad Henne, who torched the Houston defense for 354 yards and four touchdowns, bringing the 1-9 Jags to the brink of an upset of the 9-1 Texans before falling in overtime. Early word was that the injury was not severe, but the question in Jacksonville is whether Henne may have earned his shot at the starting job anyway based on his performance.