Heading into the month of November, NFL teams are working hard to peak at the right time while also praying to the football gods for an injury-free finish.
Heading into Week 9, there have already been some significant injuries to key players throughout the season, such as Brian Cushing, Julio Jones, Dennis Pitta, Jermichael Finley and Reggie Wayne—just to name a few.
The Cincinnati Bengals are the latest team to suffer a catastrophic loss after Geno Atkins was lost for the season with a torn ACL on Thursday Night Football, as noted by Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com:
Lewis confirms Geno torn ACL right knee— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) November 1, 2013
Unfortunately, there were a few more big injuries to marquee players this weekend, as well. Here's a look at the top players who went down in Week 9.
The Green Bay Packers lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears after the team's first drive.
Rodgers was slammed into the ground by Shea McClellin on third down and suffered a shoulder injury which kept him out the rest of the contest in an eventual loss per ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is out for the game with a left shoulder injury, per AP.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 5, 2013
Obviously this is a huge loss for the Packers as backup Seneca Wallace entered the game and threw for just 114 yards and an interception.
Until the severity of the injury is known, it's difficult to forecast how it impacts the Packers, but one thing is for sure—Green Bay is an entirely different team without Rodgers under center. That much was on display in an ugly affair Monday.
After a battle with a hamstring injury in recent weeks, Arian Foster was set to get the start in Week 9 on Sunday Night Football against the Indianapolis Colts.
Instead, Foster was an early scratch after a back injury popped up and removed him from the game per NFL Network's Around the League:
Arian Foster questionable to return with a back injury. Had one target, no carries on first drive before leaving.— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) November 4, 2013
The Sunday Night Football Twitter account quickly confirmed that Foster was back on the sidelines in street clothes after being shut down for the night:
TAFOYA: Foster just walked back onto the sideline in street clothes.— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) November 4, 2013
Foster has been hobbled all year with hamstring and back issues stemming from nagging problems he suffered from in the offseason through preseason.
After taking just eight carries in Week 7 against Kansas City, the thought was last week's bye would have allowed Foster to heal enough to see a normal snap count Sunday night, but clearly his body is not where it needs to be.
In seven games this season, Foster has rushed for 542 yards and a touchdown on a sound 4.5 yards per carry average.
After losing Darren McFadden earlier in Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Oakland Raiders suffered another loss to an offensive playmaker when quarterback Terrelle Pryor left the game in the fourth quarter.
As noted by the Raiders on Twitter, Pryor injured his knee, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported the quarterback was headed back into the team's locker room:
QB @TerrellePryor has a knee injury and is being evaluated.— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) November 3, 2013
Terrelle Pryor has left the game for the Raiders. Headed back toward the locker rooms. Foles has made way for Barkley for the Eagles— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) November 3, 2013
Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times provided a statement from Pryor discussing the injury:
Terrelle Pryor on his knee injury: "I have to look at it further ... but it’s stable. I can walk. Nothing’s wobbly ... It’s just precaution"— Steve Corkran (@CorkOnTheNFL) November 4, 2013
The Raiders had no chance of winning this game when Pryor was injured, making his absence even more bitter. He's been the only real spark for Oakland this season, and the Raiders will miss him badly for as long as he's out.
When healthy, Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden is one of the NFL's most exciting playmakers.
Unfortunately, McFadden has battled through injuries his entire career, and he suffered another one in Week 9 against the Philadelphia Eagles. As noted by the Raiders on Twitter, the running back injured his hamstring on Sunday and was ruled out for the rest of the game:
RB @dmcfadden20 is out with a hamstring injury.— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) November 3, 2013
McFadden is in the final year of his rookie contract, and given his history of injuries it will be interesting to see what kind of interest he garners on the open market. The Raiders are used to playing without him, so his absence won't be a huge loss.
Nick Foles tied an NFL record on Sunday, throwing seven touchdown passes, but the Philadelphia Eagles might have cause for concern going forward after left tackle Jason Peters left the game with an injury.
Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News reports the pectoral injury for Peters did not appear serious after the game:
Jason Peters and Bradley Fletcher weren't wearing any bandaging afterward, both said their pectoral injuries were not serious.— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) November 4, 2013
Peters suffered a pectoral injury and was listed as questionable to return, as noted by the Eagles on Twitter, though he didn't come back into the game, given Philadelphia's huge late lead:
#Eagles injury update: Jason Peters return is questionable with a pectoral injury.— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) November 3, 2013
Peters is one of the best left tackles in the NFL when healthy, and if his injury is serious, then Philadelphia will struggle to run the ball and protect the passer—just like we saw last season when he was unavailable.
The New Orleans Saints lost one of their top playmakers when running back Darren Sproles was forced to leave the game against the New York Jets.
As noted by Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune, Sproles was being checked out for a concussion as well as for an ankle injury, and he ended up being taken into the locker room for further evaluation:
Darren Sproles took a big hit from Antonio Allen on that last screen pass and is undergoing concussion test on Saints sideline now.— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) November 3, 2013
Saints trainers were also looking at Sproles left ankle. He's been taken to the locker room.— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) November 3, 2013
ESPN's John Clayton later revealed Sproles was being held out of the rest of the game with his ankle injury:
Darren Sproles out of the game for the Saints with an ankle injury.— John Clayton (@ClaytonESPN) November 3, 2013
The Saints later reported he was being evaluated for a concussion and that he would be out the rest of the game:
Sproles is being evaluated for a concussion, his return is questionable #NOvsNYJ— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) November 3, 2013
Darren Sproles is OUT for today's game #NOvsNYJ— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) November 3, 2013
This injury will hinder New Orleans' ability to attack opposing defenses, as Sproles specializes in creating matchup nightmares against linebackers and safeties. He's also a strong contributor to the team's special teams.
The New York Jets can't seem to keep playmakers healthy.
Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley was starting to come on of late, but he was forced from Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints with what appeared to be a painful—and potentially season-ending—elbow injury, as shown by ESPN stats analyst Ryan Clearly.
Kerley's arm injury is indeed serious, as Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports he'll miss significant time, although specifics at this point are unknown:
Jets fear that WR Jeremy Kerley suffered a left elbow subluxation (dislocation). He will not be back any time soon. #nyj— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) November 4, 2013
ESPN's Rich Cimini confirmed the news:
WARNING: The following image is graphic.
ESPNNewYork.com's Jane McManus noted Kerley was ruled out for the rest of the game:
Kerley is OUT with an elbow injury, Jets announce. #NFL— Jane McManus (@janesports) November 3, 2013
Kerley has been rookie quarterback Geno Smith's favorite weapon in the passing game thus far in 2013, catching 28 receptions for 347 yards and two touchdowns this season.
-- UPDATE --
The Vikings confirmed on Twitter that Rudolph will miss about a month with his foot injury:
Just when things started looking up for the Minnesota Vikings, the team lost one of its most dynamic playmakers on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from Christian Ponder in the third quarter. He had to scratch and claw his way into the end zone, bullying his way over and through defenders like Jimmy Graham, as noted by Bleacher Report's Alessandro Miglio:
Kyle Rudolph looked like Jimmy Graham fighting his way into the end zone there, wow.— Alessandro Miglio (@AlexMiglio) November 3, 2013
Unfortunately, he paid a high price, injuring his ankle on the play, and was eventually ruled out for the rest of the game, as noted by Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports:
Vikes TE Kyle Rudolph out of game, injured left foot— Jason Cole (@JasonPhilCole) November 3, 2013
For the Vikings, losing a player of Rudolph's skill is big blow. This team has only won a single game this year, and before getting injured, the tight end had finally injected some life into Minnesota's offense after being conspicuously invisible for the past few weeks.