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NFL Week 8: Injury Roundup


First of all, an apology from myself for not writing ‘Ten Things’ this week. I was very caught up with the NFL UK team over the last International Series game so I left it to the very capable Edd Hodsdon to fill in for me for one week only. Things will be back to normal next week. I had the luxury of watching the Ravens and Chargers matchup on Monday morning, willing my purple birds to a victory. However, more striking than the score line, was the rate at which player’s were going down with injuries. In the first half alone, the Chargers lost a player on almost every single drive, be it for the game (King Dunlap, Corey Liuget, Ladarius Green, Keenan Allen), or for a few plays here and there (Chris Hairston, Brandon Flowers). Then, the Baltimore Ravens lost mercurial wide receiver Steve Smith Sr to a torn Achilles, ending his season, and possibly, his career. Add to that starting center Jeremy Zuttah leaving the game with a shoulder injury, a guy that’s never missed a start in his two-year career with the Ravens, and you sense that the injury bug was more active than ever on Sunday. That was just one game. Overall, over 50 players with varying degrees of significance to a team, missed portions of action on Sunday. These are some of the big names that were claimed by the injury bug during Week 8, including the ramifications for their franchise, and who their team can turn to in their absence:

Steve Smith Sr – Baltimore Ravens

Who?

As mentioned above, Smith has been the guy on the Ravens offense, compiling more stats than most of the other Ravens receivers combined. Smith was on pace for a 1,435-yard receiving season prior to his terminal Achilles tear, and was the heartbeat of a Ravens franchise lacking in big-time playmakers.

What changes?

Joe Flacco will now have to rely on journeyman Kamar Aiken, and an undrafted free agent in Marlon Brown, to carry the load in Smith’s absence. Tight end Dennis Pitta recently return to practice after a fractured hip, but the jury is still out on his return. New acquired Chris Givens has impressed since his arrival from the St. Louis Rams earlier in the season, but expect the Ravens to be in the market for a receiver in the coming days, whether it be via trade or acquiring a free agent (they reportedly worked out ex-Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks on Monday).

Keenan Allen – San Diego Chargers

Who?

Allen has been Philip Rivers’ top target, being third in league with receiving yards (725) and also grabbing four touchdowns, including the catch that caused his kidney injury that has ruled him out indefinitely. With the Chargers lacking so many playmakers prior to Allen’s injury, his absence will be even more cruelly felt.

What changes?

Expect Rivers to utilise Antonio Gates even more, despite Gates’ own injury problems. Stevie Johnson was also banged up against the Ravens but was able to return, giving the Chargers an outlet at wide receiver. They could also turn to Jacoby Jones, who has had a fairly anonymous start to his career as Charger, after moving from Baltimore in the offseason.

Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers

Who?

Just when the Steelers thought their injury woes were over after Ben Roethlisberger’s return on Sunday, electrifying running back Bell went down for the season with a torn MCL. This is the second significant knee injury for Bell in less than a year, after he missed the Steelers’ playoff game against the Ravens last season stemming from another injury against the Bengals. Arguably one of the best running backs in the league, Bell gives Roethlisberger another weapon out of the back field, as well as having a unique knack of making the first tackler miss.

What changes?

DeAngelo Williams, who played in Bell’s stead for the first two games of the season due to Bell’s suspension, will be expected to carry the load again. The Steelers also signed free agent Isiah Pead, who formerly played for the St. Louis Rams. Williams looked sharper than he’s been for a few years to start the season, and he will need to recapture that form if the Steelers’ playoff hopes are to stay alive.

Reggie Bush – San Francisco 49ers

Who?

Bush was signed by the 49ers from the Detroit Lions to be a compliment to starter Carlos Hyde. Unfortunately, Bush’s start in San Francisco has been injury plagued, but he was dealt a cruel piece of luck on Sunday when starting in the place of Hyde, who had a foot injury, he slipped on the concrete running outside the turf at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, tearing his MCL and landing on injured reserve.

What changes?

In essence, not much changes. Hyde should assume his starting role. However, as aforementioned, Hyde has been dealing with a foot issue, missing Sunday’s game. Former New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas was signed on Tuesday in response to rookie Mike Davis being the only healthy 49ers running back, expect him to get some carries if Hyde can’t go in the short term. In a somewhat perplexing move in hindsight, the 49ers cut former rugby league star Jarred Hayne before Sunday’s game, and he is now on the practice squad. Put smart money on him being promoted back to the active roster before too long.

Ryan Fitzpatrick – New York Jets

Who?

Journeyman Fitzpatrick has been enjoying somewhat of a career renaissance in New York after assuming starting duties in the offseason, throwing for 11 touchdowns. His ability to extend plays with his sneaky athleticism in the pocket has also helped the Jets extend drives during the course of the season. It was on one of those scrambles that Fitzpatrick tore ligaments in his left thumb, forcing him to leave the field.

What changes?

The Jets are ruling Fitzpatrick day-to-day, despite him needing surgery on his injured thumb. Handling snaps and handing off the ball will present challenges to Fitzpatrick, and if he decides to have the surgery soon, or can’t play through the pain, then expect former starter Geno Smith to get the nod. However, Smith is also considered day-to-day after injuring his shoulder in the same game, so the Jets could be looking at starting rookie Bryce Petty in their next game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. They are another candidate to look at free agents to fill the void they now have at quarterback.

Cameron Wake – Miami Dolphins

Who?

I am including this one last as it happened on Thursday night, but in the same week as the above injuries. Wake, who was hitting his stride under new Dolphins head coach Dan Campbell, tore his Achilles against the Patriots, ending his season. He had seven sacks in his three games under Campbell, including four forced fumbles in that time. With Dolphins propping up the AFC East, Wake’s injury could not have come at a worse time for the franchise.

What changes?

No one player on the Dolphins roster can fill Wake’s boots, but Miami will look to Derrick Shelby and Olivier Vernon to help fill the void. Shelby has only 5.5 sacks in three seasons in Miami, so they may also try linebacker Chris McCain at defensive end, after he has spent most of the season working there.


NFL Week 8: Injury Roundup

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