NFL Week 3 Injury Update: C.J. Spiller, Andre Johnson among injured stars on Sunday

Rich Schultz

It was another week of nicks and bruises for some of the NFL's biggest stars. Which injuries are likely to have an impact for teams headed into Week 4 and beyond?

A number of star players suffered injuries during Sunday’s NFL contests, but perhaps none has as much bearing on both a team and a fantasy football-crazed nation as the one suffered to Bills RB C.J. Spiller. Here are details on Spiller’s knee and other key injuries from Week 3 action, as well as their potential impact.

Running backs

C.J Spiller, Buffalo Bills (knee)

The Bills’ electrifying RB left in the third quarter of his team’s 27-20 loss to the Jets with a knee injury, and there have been few details to emerge regarding the severity of Spiller’s injury or his prognosis. If Spiller were to miss significant time, it would be a huge blow both to Buffalo’s offense and to fantasy owners alike, although backup Fred Jackson was impressive in relief, amassing 72 yards on seven carries. Spiller will undergo further testing on the knee, and if he is to miss the Bills’ Week 4 matchup with Baltimore, or more, Jackson and Tashard Choice would pick up the load at running back.

Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams (foot)

Richardson, who was questionable entering Sunday’s loss to Dallas, aggravated his foot injury on his first play of the game and did not return thereafter. The Rams RB had been in a walking boot early in the week and missed practice on Wednesday, but returned on Thursday and Friday and appeared set to go until the injured foot was stepped on by a Cowboys defender. Isaiah Pead took over in the backfield after Richardson’s exit, and with the Rams facing a short work week before Thursday night’s contest with San Francisco, it appears likely Pead will start at RB in Week 4.

James Starks, Green Bay Packers (knee)

Already without Eddie Lacy due to a concussion, the Packers sustained another blow to their RB corps Sunday, when Starks left the team’s loss to Cincinnati after the half with a knee injury. While there has been little out of Green Bay regarding the severity or diagnosis of Starks’ injury, the Packers may have found a silver lining in their heartbreaking defeat  in the form of rookie running back Johnathan Franklin, who went for 103 yards and a TD in relief of Starks. Green Bay has a bye coming up in Week 4 to further evaluate Starks’ injury, as well as hopefully welcome Lacy back to the fold at RB, before taking on Detroit in Week 5.

Wide receivers

Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys (hamstring)

In what has become a recurring theme over his career as a Cowboy, Austin left Sunday’s win over the Rams with a hamstring injury and did not return to play. The injury took place in the third quarter as he made a catch out of bounds, adding to his long list of hamstring-related setbacks. Austin’s status for next week’s contest at San Diego will depend on the severity of the injury, with hamstring injuries being notorious for aggravation if not fully healed at the time of activity. Dwayne Harris would be in line to see an increased workload opposite Dez Bryant if Austin is unable to play against the Chargers.

Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ribs)

Tampa Bay’s top receiving threat exited during the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Patriots after taking a shot to the ribs. The biggest issue with rib injuries is typically pain management, and many players can return to action the following week wearing a protective lining over the affected area. With Mike Williams already slowed by an injury of his own, the Buccaneers’ WR corps would be woefully thin next week against the Cardinals if Jackson is unable to suit up.

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans (shin)

Johnson, who left Houston’s Week 2 win over Tennessee with a concussion, suffered what appears to be a deep shin bruise in the second quarter of Sunday’s loss at Baltimore, the severity of which will be further evaluated with an MRI scheduled for Monday. The Texans’ star WR had an X-ray on his shin at halftime, which was negative, but after returning for one play in the third quarter, head coach Gary Kubiak pulled Johnson after watching him run with a significant limp. If the MRI does not show any damage to the bone, a deep bruise is more limiting due to pain upon contact and movement of the affected area, which can take a week or more to heal. Rookie DeAndre Hopkins has starred for Houston the past two weeks, and he would stand to see increased playing time next week against Seattle if Johnson is limited.

Tight ends

Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers (concussion)

The Packers TE exited in the first quarter of his team’s loss at Cincinnati after suffering a concussion following a hit by Bengals S George Iloka. With Green Bay entering a bye week, Finley earns an extra week to recover, but will still need to pass concussion testing in order to suit up for Week 5 against the Lions. Backup Andrew Quarless took the majority of snaps at TE in Finley’s absence.

Linbackers

Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers (hamstring)

The Packers coughed up a 30-14 lead against Cincinnati Sunday, perhaps not coincidentally due to the loss of Matthews in the second half after the star LB suffered a hamstring injury. The Packers’ bye week comes at a good time for Matthews, who has a history of hamstring injuries in the past and hopefully will have enough time for a full recovery before facing Detroit in his team’s next contest.

Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers (groin)

The 49ers’ LB and defensive captain left San Francisco’s home loss to Indianapolis due to a groin injury that took place on an attempted tackle of Reggie Wayne at the end of the third quarter. The team will reassess the severity of the injury tomorrow, but with the 49ers dealing with a quick turnaround before Thursday’s division matchup against St. Louis, there is cause for concern regarding Willis’ availability for Week 5, given that groin strains are slow to heal and prone to re-injury.

Defensive linemen

Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins (knee)

The Dolphins’ come-from-behind win over Atlanta, which propelled Miami to an improbable 3-0 record, was tempered by the injury to its All-Pro DE, who suffered a knee injury in the first quarter. There were no preliminary reports regarding the severity of the injury, and Wake will likely have an MRI to further evaluate whether there has been any structural damage to the knee and determine his prognosis for next Monday night’s contest with the undefeated Saints.

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Aldon Smith entering rehab following DUI

NFL Week 3 scores, recaps and highlights

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