It was a really bad week for injuries in the NFL this weekend. Not only were there several season ending injuries, but they were to big time players and key starters. I’ll start the post by running down the list as well as their likely replacements.
- Arian Foster is banged up again, seems like a recurring theme lately. Ben Tate is a capable backup.
- Brian Cushing, Foster’s teammate had a much worse injury, tearing the LCL and breaking the same leg he just tore an ACL in last year. His road to rehab could be very long and difficult. A few guys like Darryl Sharpton and Tim Dobbins could fill in.
- Nick Foles suffered a concussion last in the loss to the Cowboys and looks like he is out this week. Michael Vick will probably start but it is possible Matt Barkley starts if Vick’s hamstring isn’t 100%.
- Jermichael Finley suffered a very scary and serious concussion/head injury that left him in the hospital overnight. I wouldn’t expect or condone his presence on the field anytime soon. The Packers are running low on receiving options with Randall Cobb already out and James Jones banged up so Jarrett Boykin is still in line for an increased load. Andrew Quarless is the best receiving tight end on the roster but Ryan Taylor make take away snaps as he is the better run blocker.
- Sam Bradford, who was in the mist of his best NFL season and who had earned the Rams trust as their long term QB tore his ACL, leaving the Rams without any real options at the position. For now Kellen Clemens is the starter so expect the Rams season to be over.
- Jay Cutler seems to get banged up each season, missing 7 games over the last 3 years. He generally can play through some minor injuries but a groin tear is expected to keep him out 4-6 weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is a bit off even when he does come back as groin injuries can really effect the way a quarterback steps into their throw. Josh McCown, who I recently commented that I couldn’t believe was still in the league, will start in Cutler’s absence and Jordan Palmer was brought up off of the practice squad.
- Cutler’s Bears teammate Lance Briggs injured his shoulder and could be out the same amount of time, leaving the team very young at the position with DJ Williams already on IR. Rookies Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene figure to start alongside veteran James Anderson.
- Doug Martin also suffered a shoulder injury, reportedly tearing his labrum. Initially it was believe he would be done for the season but now it sounds like the Bucs aren’t willing to say that and will try to get him back on the field this season. Either way it is a big blow to the already shaky offense. 6th round rookie Mike James figures to start with veteran Brian Leonard and track star Jeff Demps in the mix for touches. The team also added Bobby Rainey who couldn’t even stay on the roster in Cleveland after Trent Richardson was traded.
- Bengals cornerback Leon Hall suffered a torn Achilles tendon, a big blow to the team’s secondary. Ideally ‘Dre Kirkpatrick will be ready to start so that Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones can remain the nickelback.
- Probably the most upsetting injury, not that any injury is good to see, was to Reggie Wayne. Late in the Colts win over the Broncos Wayne came back for a pass and twisted and came down on his knee awkwardly, tearing his ACL. The 34 year old Wayne hasn’t missed a game since his rookie season in 2001 and the injury will end his streak of 189 consecutive games, the 3rd longest ever by a wide receiver. Wayne is 8th all time in receptions and 11th in receiving yards and the NFL is better with him in it. Hopefully he can get back to full strength and continue to play for a few more seasons. In the meantime, Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton are the starters and LaVon Brazill and David Reed will gain playing time. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Colts are in the mix for another receiver as they look to make a deep playoff run.
Outside of all of this, the playoff contenders are beginning to separate from the pack and some teams are starting surge after slow starts (49ers 4 straight wins, Panthers 2 straight impressive wins, Packers and Bengals each 3 straight) while other teams are falling apart (The Dolphins have lost 3 in a row, the Titans dropped 3 with Jake Locker out and the Texans have lost their last 5). The Steelers picked up their second win, being the first of the bottom dealers to turn some things around. The Giants finally got their first win over the 1 win Vikings in quite possibly the worst Monday Night Football game ever. Both teams could be in the running with the winless Jags and Bucs for the first overall pick. The Chiefs, meanwhile, are the last remaining unbeaten team at 7-0. Their situation looks good moving ahead as well as they play the Browns at home and then head to Buffalo before getting a bye week to prepare for their game at Denver. Andy Reid has done an outstanding job in turning this team around and in using the talent on the roster in the right ways and looks like he is having a ton of fun coaching again. If you haven’t seen it yet, this might be the funniest GIF of Andy Reid ever. I saw this tweet the other day that puts the Chiefs start in context:
@JeffDarlington 21 Oct
Here’s your odds, Chiefs fans: In Super Bowl era, 31 teams started season 7-0. All 31 made playoffs. 15 went to Super Bowl. Nine won it all.
Some quick hits on statistical leaders:
- Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense are on an insane pace.
Manning: 5863 yards, 57 touchdowns, 7 interceptions
Welker: 100 catches for 1083 yards and 18 scores
Decker: 96 for 1433 and 7
D Thomas: 94 for 1394 and 11
J Thomas: 82 for 965 and 18
Moreno: 973 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns
- Torrey Smith leads the league in receiving so far with 629 yards (on pace for 1437 yards) and has an insane 20.3 yards per catch. For comparison, the second best number (for someone with 20 or more catches) is 17.9 yards per catch by Vernon Davis.
- Vontaze Burfict, the controversial linebacker who managed to go from sure-fire 1st round pick and the next Ray Lewis to undrafted rookie in the NFL thanks to his disappointing college finish followed by a poor combine and poor interview and apparent lack of accountability and work ethic, currently leads the NFL in tackles with 74 after finishing with 127 last year, good for 15th in the league as a rookie (per NFL.com).
- Meanwhile rookie 2nd round pick Kiko Alonso, who apparently doesn’t speak or show emotion, is taking the league by storm. Alonso is currently 3rd in tackles, only 4 behind Burfict, and is also tied for the league lead in interceptions with 4 to go with a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
- Veterans are still producing defensively though. Look no further than the league leader in sacks, Robert Mathis, who already has 11.5 to go with 3 forced fumbles.
- The turnover machines at cornerback for the Bears, Charles ‘Peanut’ Tillman and Tim Jennings continue to do their thing as well with 3 interceptions and 2 fumbles forced each. NFL.com now credits Tillman for career numbers of 36 interceptions and 41 forced fumbles. To put that in perspective, strip sack king Mathis, also an 11 year veteran, is credited with 43 forced fumbles and he plays defensive end.