Sunday was not a great day to be a receiver in the NFL, as numerous wideouts suffered injuries that knocked them out of action and has their statuses for next week’s games in question.
Here are the details on the key injuries from the week so far, and their potential impact:
Broyles suffered a right knee injury in the first quarter of the Lions’ heartbreaking 35-33 loss to Indianapolis and did not return to action. The rookie receiver tore the ACL in his left knee in November 2011 as a member of the Oklahoma Sooners, and Lions' officials are concerned that this injury may also be severe. Full testing, including an MRI, is scheduled for Monday, with Mike Thomas likely to take Broyles’ place in the lineup next week against the Packers.
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots (foot)
Edelman, who suffered a concussion last week against the New York Jets, yet was able to suit up for Sunday's win at Miami, injured his right foot in the second half against the Dolphins and left the stadium in a walking boot and on crutches. The Patriots have been characteristically muted regarding the details surrounding the injury, so it is unlikely to be clear what Edelman’s status for next Monday night’s showdown with Houston will be until later this week. If he is unable to play, the Patriots will be down to just Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker at receiver.
The Packers’ wide receiver, whose season has been marred by injuries, suffered a hamstring injury in the first quarter of Green Bay’s win over Minnesota Sunday and did not return to action. Nelson had previously missed the Packers’ Oct. 28 game against Jacksonville with a hamstring strain and has also dealt with an ankle injury during the campaign. As they have done all season, wide receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones filled in admirably in Nelson’s absence, including a highlight reel touchdown reception by Jones to start Sunday's scoring. The severity of Nelson’s injury is unclear at this point, although hamstring strains are notoriously slow to heal and prone to aggravation if players return before full recovery.
Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks (head)
Rice suffered a head injury on the final play of the Seahawks’ victory over Chicago, an overtime touchdown reception during which he was knocked out when struck in the head by Bears safety Major Wright. Amazingly, Rice tweeted following the game that he had passed concussion testing, which seemed improbable based on the shot he took. Rice undoubtedly will have repeat neurological testing performed this week to see whether he is able to play in Week 14 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars (concussion)
Shorts, who has emerged as a bonafide receiving threat since Chad Henne took over at quarterback in Jacksonville, suffered a head injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss to Buffalo and was removed from the game. The injury was later announced as a concussion by head coach Mike Mularkey. Shorts was having another solid game, with seven receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown, and will undergo concussion testing later this week to determine his status for Jacksonville’s Week 14 matchup with the New York Jets.
Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars (concussion)
The hits just keep on coming for the struggling Jaguars, who on Sunday lost Jennings to a concussion in the second quarter of their loss to Buffalo. With the status of Maurice Jones-Drew (foot injury) and Jalen Parmele (groin strain) in question for next week’s game against the New York Jets, the team may be down to fourth-string running back Montell Owens if Jennings doesn’t pass neurological tests this week.
Dustin Keller, New York Jets (ankle)
Keller suffered a left ankle injury, which has been categorized as a high ankle sprain, during Sunday's win over the Arizona Cardinals. The timetable for recovery from a high ankle sprain depends upon precise location and severity, but typically is a two to six week injury that may end up costing Keller the remainder of his season. Backup Jeff Cumberland is likely to get the majority of snaps at tight end in Keller’s absence.
Long, a three-time Pro Bowler who suffered a torn right biceps muscle last season, left in the first half of Sunday's loss to New England with a left triceps injury that at first glance appears to be a serious one. If it is indeed a torn triceps, as some inside the Miami locker room fear, Long may require surgery, which would mean the end of his season.
The triceps is the main muscle in the posterior part of the upper arm, with its name derived from the three "heads" of the muscle: long, medial, and lateral. It attaches to the shoulder blade on one end and to the elbow on the other, with its main role being to extend the elbow. It also provides stability to the humerus (upper arm bone) when the shoulder joint is turned, and help to extend the shoulder. Injuries to the triceps muscles or to the tendons that attach the triceps to the bones often occur when the elbow is forcibly bent while the individual is actively trying to extend the joint. This results in tenderness to the touch, swelling at the site of the injury, and weakness when the elbow is extended against resistance. This weakness makes it difficult to perform any number of football-related activities, including engaging and maintaining a block.
An MRI, as Long is scheduled to have on Monday, can confirm the diagnosis and specifically identify the location and degree of the injury. If there is a rupture of the triceps tendon, which attaches the muscle to bone, Long would require surgical reattachment and months of recuperation and physical therapy. If it is a muscle tear instead, there is a chance it could be treated conservatively, with rest and rehabilitation, but depending on the degree may require surgery. Either way, it can result in a protracted absence from athletic activity, making rookie tackle Jonathan Martin, who moved from the right to the left side in Long’s absence Sunday, the likely starter next week when the Dolphins face the San Francisco 49ers next week.
Urlacher suffered a hamstring strain in overtime during Seattle’s game-winning drive, and watched the final touchdown on the sideline with his leg wrapped in ice. There has been little word out of Chicago regarding the severity of the injury or a timeline for a return to action for Urlacher. With Chicago tied for first place in the NFC North and travelling to division foe Minnesota next week, Bears fans will have their attention focused on the team’s injury report later this week, with Nick Roach likely to get playing time at middle linebacker if Urlacher cannot suit up against the Vikings.
The Steelers’ inspired, season-saving victory over Baltimore on Sunday came at a cost, as Taylor, their top cornerback, injured his right lower leg during the team’s first defensive series and did not return. Early reports indicate Taylor may have injured his fibula, which is the smaller of the two bones of the lower leg. If true – and Taylor is scheduled for an MRI on Monday – the prognosis for recovery depends largely upon whether the injury solely involves the fibula bone, or whether the ankle was involved. In the former case, which is less severe, a return to action could come as soon as one to two weeks; however, if the injury involves the ankle, recovery could take six or more weeks, and in the worst case, surgery may be required for stabilization of the ankle joint.