The NFC North lived up to its billing as the "Black and Blue" division on Sunday, especially at Chicago’s Soldier Field. While the scoreboard showed a 28-10 win for Bears in a key divisional matchup against Minnesota, the postgame injury update was rough on both teams, especially Chicago, which had five starters leave the game injured.
Here are the key injuries from Sunday's Week 12 action, and their potential impact:
Forte injured his right ankle in the third quarter of the Bears’ 28-10 win over the Vikings when piled on by a number of Minnesota defenders, and he did not return to action. Forte was in visible pain while limping to the locker room after the play, yielding to Michael Bush at running back.
Of note, this is the second time Forte has injured the same joint this season, missing time after suffering a right ankle sprain in Week 2 against the Green Bay Packers. There is little word out of Chicago regarding the severity of the injury, but Bush, who filled in with two touchdowns on Sunday and would get the nod next week against Seattle if Forte can’t play, has already proven his worth to the Bears and fantasy owners alike this season.
Hunter, the 49ers' valuable change of pace backup to running back Frank Gore, suffered an ankle injury on the same play in Sunday's win at New Orleans that the team fears may have resulted in a serious knee injury to wide receiver/kick returner Kyle Williams. Hunter’s injury occurred after being tackled by Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma on a short running play in the third quarter, following which he clearly had trouble bearing weight and needed to be helped off the field. The 49ers have not released much on Hunter’s condition nor status for next week’s game at St. Louis.
The Browns' rookie quarterback left late in the fourth quarter of his team’s 20-14 win over Pittsburgh after hitting his head against teammate Joe Thomas’ leg while throwing an incompletion. Weeden was slow to rise and wobbled to the sideline, where he was taken by the team’s medical staff to the locker room for evaluation. Following the game, head coach Pat Shurmur confirmed that Weeden had suffered a concussion but did not offer any speculation as to his status for next week’s contest at Oakland. Backup quarterback Colt McCoy, who himself suffered a concussion late in the 2011 season that effectively ended his tenure as the Browns’ starter, took over for Weeden and would get the start against the Raiders if needed.
Devin Hester, Chicago Bears (concussion)
The Bears receiver and All-Pro return man left in the first half of Chicago’s win over Minnesota with concussion-like symptoms and did not return. The team did not specify how the injury occurred, only that in-game testing confirmed the diagnosis of a concussion and that Hester would be evaluated later in the week to determine his status for next week’s game against Seattle. The Bears were already thin at wide receiver entering the game, missing Alshon Jeffery and Dane Sanzenbacher due to injury, forcing Eric Weems into action during Hester’s absence.
Rudolph, who has become Christian Ponder’s most trusted receiving option, left in the fourth quarter of the team’s loss to Chicago due to a concussion. Head coach Leslie Frazier did not disclose exactly when or how the injury took place, although it is possible Rudolph was removed due to precautionary measures with the outcome of the game in little doubt. Before exiting the game, Rudolph was the Vikings’ leading receiver with five catches for 55 yards and a touchdown, and neurological testing this week will determine whether he can suit up for next weekend’s NFL North showdown at Green Bay.
Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears (ankle)
Yet another Bear on Monday's injury report, Tillman, who is having arguably the best season of his career, suffered an ankle injury in the first half in Week 12 and did not return to the field for the second half. Tillman played through a lower leg injury earlier this season, but further testing Monday will determine the severity of this ailment and his prognosis for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks.