NFL injury report, Week 9: Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant questionable

Al Messerschmidt

With a full Sunday of games, SB Nation's medical expert gets you ready with a look at the big injuries.

It’s just mid-day Saturday, and a number of key players have already been ruled out for Week 9 in the NFL. Among them: Pierre Garcon of the Redskins, Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jaguars, DeMarco Murray of the Cowboys, and Darren Sproles of the Saints. Here are some other key injuries, and their impact, for the rest of this week’s games:

QUARTERBACKS

Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (knee)
MIA (4-3) @ IND (4-3), 1 p.m.

The Dolphins’ rookie QB suffered a hyperextended left knee in the first quarter of Miami’s Week 8 win over the New York Jets and is listed as questionable for tomorrow’s potential showdown of first-round rookie signal callers with Indy’s Andrew Luck. Tannehill was able to practice on a limited basis Friday, and it appears he should be able to start on Sunday, barring a setback. A hyperextended knee occurs when excessive pressure or force pushes the joint past its normal extension range of motion while the knee is in a straightened position, bending the knee backward. These usually happen while bearing weight on the limb and are not uncommon in athletes when landing from a jump to an extended knee position, or from an outside force to an extended knee. Hyperextension injuries can range from mild to severe depending on the amount of damage done to the stabilizing structures in the knee, such as cartilage (the anterior cruciate ligament in particular), menisci, and the popliteus tendon. Regardless of the extent of the injury, initial symptoms may include swelling, pain at the back and sides of the knee, pain with walking, and a feeling of instability with motion. If Tannehill is unable to play against the Colts, or if his knee flares up during the game, backup Matt Moore would take over at QB for the Dolphins. Moore filled in admirably last week after Tannehill exited the game.

RUNNING BACKS

Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers (quadriceps)
PIT (4-3) @ NYG (6-2), 4:25 p.m.

The surprising Dwyer, who produced back-to-back 100 yard games the past two weeks for the Steelers, is listed as doubtful for tomorrow’s showdown against the New York Giants with a strained quadriceps muscle. The Pittsburgh faithful held out hope that their young running back would play this weekend when he practiced on a limited basis on Thursday, but Dwyer did not participate in practice on Friday. Given head coach Mike Tomlin’s propensity to sit players who cannot suit up for the majority of the team’s practices, it would appear Isaac Redman will get the start tomorrow in New York.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys (hip)
DAL (3-4) @ ATL (7-0), 8:20 p.m.

The mercurial Dallas receiver, who has made his way onto the injury report more than once this season, is officially listed as questionable with a hip injury for tomorrow night’s game against the undefeated Falcons. Bryant has not practiced at all this week, and head coach Jason Garrett explained that the injury took place when Bryant fell to the ground on a last-second grab in the end zone last week against the New York Giants. The play momentarily had Cowboys fans thinking the team had won, only to be overturned when replays showed Bryant’s fingertips had hit the end line. It appears the fall resulted in a degree of bruising and/or swelling around the bone, which can cause significant pain with contact. All signs are that Bryant will be able to play tomorrow night, which would help offset the potential loss of receiver Kevin Ogletree, himself suffering from a hamstring strain.

Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins (groin)
MIA (4-3) @ IND (4-3), 1 p.m.

Hartline, arguably Ryan Tannehill’s most trusted target thus far for the Dolphins, was added to the Miami injury list on Thursday with a groin strain. There was no mention of the injury following last week’s win over the New York Jets, so presumably it occurred during practice this week. Hartline has been able to practice, albeit on a limited basis, and at this point it appears he should be able to play Sunday against the Colts.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (knee)
DET (3-4) @ JAC (1-6), 1 p.m.

The Lions’ all-world receiver has missed the entire week of practice thus far due to a sore knee that has limited him to a degree the entire season. There are some indications on the field that this has affected him more significantly in recent weeks, as Johnson has been limited to six receptions for 80 yards in his last two games. Indications out of Detroit are that Johnson should be able to suit up Sunday against the Jaguars, despite not having taken the field in practice this week. The Lions are already short at wide receiver following Nate Burleson’s broken leg, so if Megatron can’t play against Jacksonville, Titus Young and Ryan Broyles are likely to get more looks than usual.

Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers (hamstring)
GB (5-3) vs. ARI (4-4), 1 p.m.

Nelson missed the Packers’ Week 8 win over Jacksonville with a strained hamstring he sustained in practice, and he will be a game-time decision for Sunday's game against the Cardinals. Nelson has been able to do some conditioning work on the sidelines this week but has not participated in a full practice. Hamstring injuries are notoriously slow to heal, often requiring one or more weeks of recovery, and players who return before full recovery are prone to aggravation. If Nelson is unable to play on Sunday, receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb will make excellent fantasy plays against the Arizona defense.

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