Injuries are part of the game of football, but they're never easy to absorb.
As the 2013 NFL season pushes toward the playoffs, major injuries to star players can cripple a contending team's chances of making it into the league's postseason.
We saw it happen last year when Jay Cutler was out for a few critical games, causing the Chicago Bears to miss the playoffs, despite posting a 10-6 record. When the Bears needed wins the most, they were unable to pull them out.
We've seen a few key injuries recently that have set teams back already, and there were unfortunately a few more to report in Week 10. Here's a look at the injuries suffered by the league's marquee players this weekend.
Could the season get any worse for Tampa Bay Buccaneers running backs? First Doug Martin goes on injured reserve, via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. Now his replacement, Mike James, goes down on Monday night against the Miami Dolphins.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 12:06 a.m. ET by Joseph Zucker
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport is reporting Mike James fractured his ankle on Monday night. It isn't known when he'll be able to return.
For #Bucs RB Mike James, X-rays revealed an ankle fracture, per source. He is out indefinitely. Had 5 carries for 41 yards before exiting.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 12, 2013
Tests are still on-going for #Bucs RB Mike James, so the kind of fracture or timetable aren't known. Just that he has a fracture and is out— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 12, 2013
---End of update---
The Buccaneers reported James had to be carted off the field.
Mike James has 41 yards on his first 5 carries of the game, however he is down with an injury and is being carted off the field. #MIAvsTB— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@TBBuccaneers) November 12, 2013
Auman reported that the rookie running back was questionable to return after picking up an ankle injury.
Bucs say RB Mike James has an ankle injury and his return is questionable. Team has Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey next at RB ...— Greg Auman (@gregauman) November 12, 2013
Since replacing Martin, James has been a reliable back. Coming into Monday night, he had rushed for 254 yards on 55 carries. Last week, he had 154 yards against the Seattle Seahawks.
Now the rushing burden falls to Brian Leonard.
In the middle of a blowout with things going entirely their way on Sunday Night Football, the New Orleans Saints lost veteran tight end Ben Watson to an injury in the second half.
Watson went up for a reception in the end zone, twisted in the air and his head was the first thing to impact with the ground. ESPN's Mike Triplett documented the scary moment:
#Saints Ben Watson now getting up after long delay. Sean Payton was there, gave him an encouraging pat before walking back.— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) November 11, 2013
With the help of the training staff Watson was able to leave the field under his own power, but did not return.
The broadcast's Twitter confirmed Watson would miss the rest of the game with a concussion:
TAFOYA: Benjamin Watson will not return tonight. He has been ruled out with a concussion.— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) November 11, 2013
Watson joined the Saints this year and only entered the game with 155 yards and a score as the primary backup behind star Jimmy Graham.
As more of a veteran presence and efficient blocker, Watson has his uses and will be missed at a position of thin depth in New Orleans.
The Dallas Cowboys have been down this road before.
Sean Lee is one of the NFL's best linebackers when on the field as referenced by his 90 total tackles and four interceptions entering his team's contest on Sunday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints.
Lee is well-known for succumbing to the injury bug, and he did just that in the first half with a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the rest of the game per ESPN:
UPDATE: Huge loss for the Cowboys as LB Sean Lee is done for the day with a hamstring injury.— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) November 11, 2013
UPDATE: Monday, Nov. 11 at 6:07 p.m. ET by Joseph Zucker
Matt Mosley of Fox Sports Southwest is reporting Sean Lee could miss the next three to four weeks.
Source just told me Sean Lee will miss 3-4 weeks with that hamstring injury.— Matt Mosley (@mattmosley) November 11, 2013
---End of update---
UPDATE: Monday, Nov. 11 at 12:01 p.m. ET
The linebacker will undergo an MRI to see the extent of the problem, according to Calvin Watkins of ESPN:
Dallas Cowboys starting middle linebacker Sean Lee, who injured his left hamstring in the team's 49-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night, will undergo an MRI on Monday.
"I don't know the severity, but obviously it's not good," Lee said. "So, we got to figure it out and do whatever I can to rehab and get back as fast as possible."
---End of Update---
Lee was in the middle of another outstanding year in his four season out of Penn State, but he has missed 20 games in his career thanks to injury, has never played in a full 16-game season and missed 10 last year alone.
Dallas has a lot to figure out moving forward with Lee once again on the shelf.
Peyton Manning added another four touchdowns to his collection on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, but he didn't escape the action without an injury to speak of.
UPDATE: Monday, Nov. 11, at 5:55 p.m. ET by Joseph Zucker
Mike Klis of The Denver Post reported the MRI results on Peyton Manning's ankle have revealed no major damage. Klis wrote that Manning could miss practice, but he'll be out on the field Sunday night when the Denver Broncos take on the Kansas City Chiefs.
Interim head coach Jack Del Rio said, "He'll definitely play this week. So it was good news."
---End of update---
He was hit hard in the game's final minutes, causing soreness in his "lower area," as noted by the Broncos on Twitter. He's going to get some precautionary MRIs on Monday, but Manning doesn't foresee not playing in Week 11 when the Broncos take on the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs:
Peyton Manning: "I'm pretty sore. They kind of got me twice in that lower area...get an MRI tomorrow and will know more then."— Denver Broncos (@DenverBroncos) November 11, 2013
Manning on whether he's confident he'll play against Kansas City this week: "I certainly plan on it."— Denver Broncos (@DenverBroncos) November 11, 2013
Manning is one of a few invaluable players in the NFL. With him, the Broncos have as good a chance as any team in the league at winning the Super Bowl in February, but without him the team will likely crumble.
Here's hoping this injury is minor, for the sake of Broncos fans everywhere.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez finished Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks, but he didn't come away unscathed.
As noted by Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, Gonzalez injured his left toe and was seen hobbling around the locker room after the game:
Tony Gonzalez said he injured his left toe. Was hobbling around the locker room afterward— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) November 10, 2013
McClure also added a statement by Gonzalez in a more detailed report:
Wasn’t able to go full speed, but we’ll see how it goes the next day. Usually when you have injuries, you can get through it through the game. Then the next day after it calms down and swells up a little bit, then that’s when the trouble starts. So, we’ll see how goes. Tomorrow, I’m going to wake up, and hopefully it’s not that bad.
The Falcons lost badly to the Seahawks on Sunday to fall to 2-7 on the season. It's certainly a frustrating year for the future Hall of Fame tight end, who came back to the Falcons this year after much deliberation with the hope of finally winning a Super Bowl before he retires.
After losing Vernon Davis for the game with a concussion, the 49ers lost another star player on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
Eric Reid suffered a scary-looking injury to his head when he tackles Panthers running back Mike Tolbert, who is a load. As noted by Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the safety was on the field for a while after the hit, and the 49ers confirmed via Twitter that he was being evaluated for a concussion:
49ers rookie S Eric Reid down for a while after a collision with Mike Tolbert, may have suffered a concussion— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) November 10, 2013
It didn't take long for the 49ers to rule Reid out for the remainder of the game, as noted by Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group:
With the second half of the season well underway, losing key players like this can be devastating to a team's playoff chances. Reid has been incredible for the 49ers this year as a rookie, filling in admirably for Dashon Goldson, who left in free agency to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The San Francisco 49ers have one of the league's most explosive offenses with Vernon Davis in the lineup, but he was forced from Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.
UPDATE: by Jesse Reed at 6:05 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 10
After being examined by team doctors in the locker room, Davis was ruled out for the rest of the game with a concussion:
---End of Update---
As noted by Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee, Davis was being examined for a possible concussion after an incomplete pass:
Vernon Davis getting checked for possible concussion. Just over six minutes left in half of 49ers-Panthers.Got hit on fumble/incompletion— Ailene Voisin (@ailene_voisin) November 10, 2013
Embroiled in a defensive struggle with Carolina, losing Davis could be huge for San Francisco. He's caught seven touchdown passes this year.
Jake Locker can't seem to stay healthy for the Tennessee Titans.
The third-year quarterback left Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second quarter after coming up lame on a handoff to Chris Johnson.
Update: Monday, Nov. 11 at 12:03 p.m. ET
It appears as though this injury will cost Locker the rest of the season. Paul Kuharsky of ESPN reported the latest from the team:
The Tennessee Titans are 99 percent certain starting quarterback Jake Locker will miss the remainder of the season with a foot injury suffered in Sunday's loss to the previously winless Jacksonville Jaguars, a source told ESPN.com.
"I really don't know how it happened," he said. "Just when I got up I could feel it."
Locker will have further tests Monday and said he's hoping and praying the injury is not season-ending.
---End of Update---
UPDATE: by Jesse Reed at 5:48 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 10
The latest news regarding Locker's injury isn't promising. Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean noted the Titans believe Locker suffered a Lisfranc injury and that surgery is possible after further tests. He also noted the team believes Locker will be gone for the season:
Per sources, the #Titans believe Locker suffered a Lisfranc injury in right foot. More tests being done. Surgery is a possibility— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) November 10, 2013
Indications are #Titans QB Jake Locker suffered a season-ending foot injury in today's game vs the Jaguars— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) November 10, 2013
---End of Update---
As noted by NFL: AroundTheLeague, he limped into the team's locker room afterward, and ESPN's John Clayton noted it was his foot that was injured and that his return was questionable:
Jake Locker limping to the locker room after a non-contact injury vs. the Jags. Tough for Titans.— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) November 10, 2013
Jake Locker has foot injury. Damian Williams has quad. Returns are questionable.— John Clayton (@ClaytonESPN) November 10, 2013
Locker missed two games earlier this year with a hip injury. He was struggling in this contest before getting hurt, having thrown an interception.
After missing a game-and-a-half with a groin injury, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler suffered another injury on Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
UPDATE: by Jesse Reed at 6:08 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 10
Cutler told reporters his groin held up during the game, as noted by Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago, who also reported Cutler as saying he injured his ankle in the first half:
Cutler said his injured groin held up okay.— Jeff Dickerson (@ESPNChiBears) November 10, 2013
Jay Cutler said he hurt his left ankle before halftime.— Jeff Dickerson (@ESPNChiBears) November 10, 2013
Zach Zaidman of CBS 2 in Chicago said Cutler told Josh McCown to get ready for the game's final drive "because he didn't have any mobility and didn't want to hurt the team:
Jay Cutler says he told Josh McCown to get ready for the final drive because he didn't have any mobility and didn't want to hurt the team.— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) November 10, 2013
---End of Update---
According to the Bears on Twitter, Cutler suffered an ankle injury in the fourth quarter, and he was listed as questionable to return:
Cutler didn't return to the game, and Josh McCown nearly won the game in his stead, throwing a touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall late in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, the Bears needed two points to tie the contest and were stuffed on the conversion.
The Green Bay Packers were already in trouble heading into Week 10. Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone last weekend and will be out for anywhere between four to six weeks, as noted by Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports.
Rodgers' replacement, veteran Seneca Wallace, was hit by the injury bug on Sunday in the team's game against the Philadelphia Eagles, making matters worse.
UPDATE: by Jesse Reed at 9:03 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 10
No word yet on the severity of Wallace's injury, but the Packers have already made the call to start Scott Tolzien in Week 11 when taking on the New York Giants, as noted by Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com:
---End of Update---
As noted by ESPN's John Clayton, he hurt his groin and was deemed questionable to return:
Seneca Wallace has a groin injury. Return is questionable.— John Clayton (@ClaytonESPN) November 10, 2013
NFL Network host Rich Eisen pointed out that Wallace's replacement, Scott Tolzien, was signed off the practice squad just six days ago:
Seneca Wallace already out. Scott Tolzien, on practice squad six days ago, now in vs. Eagles.— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) November 10, 2013
Needless to say, Wallace's injury makes things rather tricky for Green Bay—a team that was favored by many to win the NFC North.
Brandon Browner accounts for one-quarter of the Seattle Seahawks' "Legion of Boom" secondary. Unfortunately, he was forced from Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons in the second quarter.
The Seahawks on Twitter reported that Browner injured his groin and was ruled out for the rest of the game:
Brandon Browner has a groin injury and will not return. #SEAvsATL— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) November 10, 2013
Bleacher Report's Dave Siebert noted Browner's injury looked similar to the one suffered by Jay Cutler a few weeks ago:
#Seahawks Brandon Browner likely with a similar injury to Jay Cutler. Looked like a hip adductor (groin) strain. Hope it's nothing serious.— Dave Siebert, M.D. (@DaveMSiebert) November 10, 2013
Though he's not as highly touted as Richard Sherman, he's an incredible cover man the Seahawks will have a hard time replacing against top offensive teams. To this point in the season, he's logged one interception and nine passes defended.
The Buffalo Bills have struggled to keep offensive playmakers healthy all year long, and Stevie Johnson was added to the long list of injuries on Sunday as the team played the Pittsburgh Steelers.
UPDATE: by Jesse Reed at 9:06 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 10
After leaving Sunday's game with a groin injury, Johnson spoke to reporters about it, as noted by Tim Graham of the Buffalo News:
Johnson declined to speculate on how serious his latest groin injury is, but said he wouldn't be able to play next week against the New York Jets if it doesn't improve. The Bills have their bye after that.
"I don't know how it's going to be for next week," Johnson said. "I'm probably going to get triple the treatment I usually get. We'll see if it dies down later in the week.
"If I'm able to work through it, I will. But how I feel right now, I couldn't do it."
---End of Update----
As noted by Mike Rodak of ESPN.com, Johnson injured his groin and was ruled out for the rest of the contest:
Stevie Johnson is out for the game with a groin injury.— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) November 10, 2013
Buffalo was not able to move the ball much on offense against Pittsburgh, but Johnson was one of the players who had made an impact, catching three passes for 48 yards before his injury.
When healthy, Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jason Peters is one of the most dominant players in the NFL at any position. Unfortunately, he's struggled to stay on the field for the past few years, and he was once again injured on Sunday in Green Bay.
As noted by the Eagles, Peters suffered a quad injury and was ruled out for the remainder of the game:
Chip Kelly's first year as the head coach of the Eagles has been beset by injuries, and this one won't make it any easier for this team to emerge as a playoff contender—even in the wide-open NFC East.
Mychal Kendricks is one of the defensive cornerstones the Philadelphia Eagles can build around for the future, but he was forced from Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers.
While attempting to stop Eddie Lacy on a running play, Kendricks was brutalized by the rookie running back and ended up hurting his knee in the process. As noted by the Eagles on Twitter, he was ruled out of the rest of the game:
Kendricks had racked up 66 tackles with an interception and a sack this year before Week 10. He's a critical player for the Eagles—a team that already struggles enough on defense with him in the lineup—and he'll be hard to replace.
One of the most underrated players on Green Bay's roster, cornerback Casey Hayward finally made his way onto the field a couple of weeks ago after recovering from an injured hamstring.
Hayward was hurt in Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles, however, injuring his hamstring, as noted by ESPN's John Clayton, and Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported he'd been ruled out for the rest of the contest:
Casey Hayward hurts his hamstring. Return is questionable.— John Clayton (@ClaytonESPN) November 10, 2013
Evan Dietrich-Smith and Casey Hayward both out for the game. #Packers— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 10, 2013
The Packers just can't seem to stay healthy. Hayward's injury is just one more big blow for this team to absorb, and it's hard to imagine Green Bay staying with Detroit and Chicago at the top of the NFC North.
Few teams have been as badly ravaged by injuries this year as the Pittsburgh Steelers, and this battered team suffered another injury on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
Linebacker LaMarr Woodley was forced from the game in the second half with a left calf injury and was deemed questionable to return, as noted by Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
LaMarr Woodley left calf injury. #Steelers say he's questionable.— Alan Robinson (@arobinson_Trib) November 10, 2013
The Steelers have struggled to produce sacks this year (13), but Woodley was one of the players doing solid work in this area, having racked up five sacks. If he's not able to play next weekend or in the weeks to come, Pittsburgh will certainly miss him firing off the edge.