NFL Week 16: Latest Injury Updates for Every Marquee Player

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IDecember 22, 2013

NFL Week 16: Latest Injury Updates for Every Marquee Player

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Sunday, bloody Sunday. 

    That's what Week 16 felt like for some of the league's playoff teams and playoff hopefuls. 

    The injury bug doesn't discriminate, though—good teams, bad teams and every team in between is subject to its unpredictable attacks. 

    With plenty of squads fighting for the playoffs, others battling for precious seeding and the rest playing for pride and momentum, Week 16 offered plenty of excitement for fans. Unfortunately, that excitement brought with it a host of injuries.

    Here's a look at the elite players who earned a trip to the trainer's table in Week 16.        

Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos

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    Denver's defense can't afford to go into the playoffs without its star playmaker.

    Unfortunately, Von Miller injured his knee in Week 16's contest against the Houston Texans, and the team announced on Twitter that he would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL:

    LB Von Miller will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Read more (via @graycaldwell): http://t.co/ff1cvkS496 pic.twitter.com/ra2SOPqBQb

    — Denver Broncos (@Broncos) December 23, 2013

    In the eight games since his return to the lineup (Miller was suspended for the first six games), he tallied five sacks and three forced fumbles. Veteran Shaun Phillips leads the Broncos with 10 sacks, and he's greatly benefited from Miller's presence.

    Nate Irving is Miller's backup. He has zero career sacks and is not nearly as explosive a playmaker in the open field.    

Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys

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    Tony Romo was hobbling noticeably throughout Week 16's contest against Washington, and there were conflicting reports coming out of Dallas as to why.

     

    UPDATE: by Jesse Reed at 8:46 p.m. ET on Monday, Dec. 23

    Romo suffered a back injury against Washington in Week 16, but there were conflicting reports about his availability for Week 17. 

    ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Romo as being ruled out for the season, and his colleague Ed Werder noted that the injury was a herniated disk in Romo's back:

    Cowboys QB Tony Romo has been ruled out the rest of the season due to his back injury, per league source.

    — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 23, 2013

    Tony Romo diagnosed with herniated disc. Surgery necessary, per sources

    — Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) December 23, 2013

    However, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports countered by reporting a decision was not yet made, adding backup Kyle Orton would likely start:

    Source indicated final determination not yet been made on Romo, but likely Kyle Orton starts. Team would need to sign QB, only 2 on roster

    — Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 23, 2013

     

    ---End of Update---

     

    ESPN's Ed Werder reported Jerry Jones as saying Romo aggravated a back injury, while head coach Jason Garrett said his quarterback suffered a foot injury:

    Jerry Jones says Tony Romo strained his back. Jason Garrett says iit is a foot iinjury

    — Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) December 22, 2013

    Jerry Jones says Tony Romo had back issue all week, aggravated it but will play vs Eagles. Romo said hit triggered and in different place LY

    — Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) December 22, 2013

    Likely, he's banged up all over, considering the beating Romo has taken this season. 

    Despite this, he will certainly suit up against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17, regardless of how he's feeling, however. The Cowboys will be playing for the NFC East title, and there's no way Romo would miss that game unless he's completely unable to play. 

Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Rookie running back Eddie Lacy has carried Green Bay's offense while Aaron Rodgers has been out with an injured collarbone. Therefore, it was a crippling blow when Lacy was forced from Week 16's game against Pittsburgh.

     

    UPDATE: Monday, Dec. 23, 12:30 p.m. ET by Donald Wood

    According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, Lacy’s injury is a re-aggravation of a previous ankle issue he suffered earlier this month:

    The ankle injury that has bothered Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy was problematic again on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Lacy left the game in the third quarter, and his return was listed as questionable. He first sprained his right ankle on the final play of the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 8.

    ---End of update---

     

    The Packers reported Lacy suffered an ankle injury and that he was questionable to return:

    Lacy with an ankle injury. Return questionable. #PITvsGB

    — Green Bay Packers (@packers) December 23, 2013

    Paul Imig of Fox Sports Wisconsin noted the rookie wasn't moving on the bench, adding that James Starks appeared to be the only option going forward against Pittsburgh:

    Eddie Lacy is still on the bench. He hasn't moved since limping off the field. It's all James Starks in the backfield for now. #Packers

    — Paul Imig (@Paulimig) December 22, 2013

    Given the tenuous nature of Green Bay's playoff chances, the Packers will need Lacy to be able to play in Week 17 against Chicago. The rookie has rushed for over 1,100 yards this season, adding 10 rushing touchdowns, and he's become a critical player for the team's offensive efforts.

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers

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    Ryan Mathews hasn't been able to keep himself healthy, and the San Diego Chargers running back was banged up once again during Week 16's game against the Oakland Raiders.

    Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego detailed Mathews' left foot/ankle injury, noting the running back needed to go into the locker room for observation:

    Ryan Mathews being treated on athletic trainer's table. Looking at left ankle or foot.

    — Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) December 22, 2013

    Ryan Mathews headed to locker room for further observation. His left ankle or foot.

    — Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) December 22, 2013

    The oft-injured running back did make it out of the locker room and back onto the sideline, however:

    Ryan Mathews runs out of locker room. Helmet on. Back on sideline.

    — Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) December 23, 2013

    After the game, Mathews was seen wearing a walking boot, as reported by Gehlken:

    Ryan Mathews wearing a protective boot on left foot in locker room.

    — Michael Gehlken (@UTgehlken) December 23, 2013

    He will likely be fine for the team's final game against the Kansas City Chiefs. With the playoffs potentially on the line, the Chargers will need all hands on deck. 

Devin McCourty, S, New England Patriots

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    The New England Patriots have battled through plenty of injuries in 2013, and safety Devin McCourty is another in a long line of players to get bit by the injury bug.

     

    UPDATE: by Jesse Reed on Monday, Dec. 23, at 8:44 p.m. ET

    Nick Underhill of Mass Live Sports provided an update, noting McCourty would undero further testing for what is thought to be a concussion:

    McCourty is scheduled to undergo testing this morning. Belief is concussion, but we'll see.

    — Nick Underhill (@Nick_Underhill) December 23, 2013

     

    ---End of Update---

     

    McCourty suffered a head injury during Week 16's battle against Baltimore, as the Patriots reported on Twitter:

    Injury Update from the Patriots bench: Devin McCourty has a head injury and will not return to the game. #NEvsBAL

    — New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 22, 2013

    Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald noted McCourty must have suffered a concussion after the team ruled him out for the rest of the game:

    Devin McCourty is done for the day with a head injury, which can only mean a concussion.

    — Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) December 22, 2013

    The Patriots will host the Buffalo Bills in Week 17 to close out the season. If McCourty has to sit out of that contest, then the team will likely be just fine without him. However, if his injury necessitates a long-term recovery, then the Patriots will struggle to defend the pass in the playoffs.

Clay Matthews, LB, Green Bay Packers

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    Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews can't seem to stay healthy.

    He's been nicked up all year long, and the star pass-rusher suffered another injury during Week 16's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

     

    UPDATE: Monday, Dec. 23, 12:30 p.m. ET by Donald Wood

    The worst-case-scenario could be coming to fruition for Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, as the team believes he may have suffered a season-ending injury to his thumb, according to Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette:

    Matthews missed a month of the season after undergoing surgery for a Bennett’s fracture he sustained in a 22-9 win over Detroit on Oct. 6. Based on the initial diagnosis, it appears it could be season-ending.

    “I couldn’t give you a time line but I think based off the history of what happened the first time, I’m told it’s similar to the repeat injury,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said afterward.

    ---End of update---

     

    As noted by NFL: AroundTheLeague, Matthews injured the same thumb that kept him out of action earlier this year:

    Clay Matthews to locker room with possible thumb injury. Same thumb that cost him time earlier in season.

    — NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) December 22, 2013

    Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin reported Matthews was questionable to return to action, along with fellow linebacker Brad Jones:

    From #Packers: Clay Matthews is indeed a thumb injury. Return questionable. Brad Jones has ankle injury, also questionable.

    — Jason Wilde (@jasonjwilde) December 22, 2013

    It's been a rough season of injuries for the Packers. Without Matthews in the lineup, Green Bay's already porous defense will struggle even more to keep opposing offenses from moving the ball at will—both on the ground and through the air. 

Shane Vereen, RB, New England Patriots

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    Another weekend, another injury to the offense of the New England Patriots.

    Running back Shane Vereen, who missed a couple of months earlier this year, suffered a groin injury in Week 16's game against the Baltimore Ravens.

    The Patriots had the news on Twitter, noting he would be questionable to return:

    #Patriots Injury Update: Shane Vereen is questionable to return with a groin injury. #NEvsBAL

    — New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 22, 2013

    Vereen is especially valuable to Tom Brady for his ability to catch balls out of the backfield. Heading into the game, he'd caught three more passes (43) than rushing attempts (40) in 2013. Without Rob Gronkowski in the lineup, Vereen was a player who could take pressure off the team's other receivers.

    Without Vereen available, the Patriots will make do with LeGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley

Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills

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    Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson is tougher than you.

    That point was abundantly made after it was discovered the veteran back endured broken ribs in Week 16's contest against the Miami Dophins, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reported:

    So Fred Jackson rushed for 111 yards and gained 5.8 yards per rush with broken ribs.

    — Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) December 22, 2013

    Ignoring the pain, Jackson rushed for 111 yards and scored the game's only touchdown in a 19-0 shutout victory for the pesky Bills. 

    It remains to be seen whether or not he'll subject himself to another grueling and painful outing in Week 17 when Buffalo heads to New England to take on the Patriots in the final game of the season. 

Steve Smith, WR, Carolina Panthers

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    Veteran receiver Steve Smith isn't as explosive as he used to be, but he's still a critical player for the Carolina Panthers. Smith was already banged up heading into Week 16, and he didn't last long during the team's pivotal NFC South battle against the New Orleans Saints.

     

    UPDATE: by Jesse Reed at 8:56 p.m. ET on Monday, Dec. 23

    The Panthers received good news regarding Steve Smith's knee injury and shared it on Twitter:

    Good news on Steve Smith! Rivera says he has a PCL sprain and will be treated week to week. He is highly doubtful for Sunday's game.

    — Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) December 23, 2013

     

    ---End of Update---

     

    He limped off the field with a non-contact injury in the first quarter, as noted by Jeff Darlington of NFL.com:

    Steve Smith’s injury was non-contact. He pulled up like it was his hamstring — but he seems to be holding his knee. Badly limping off field.

    — Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) December 22, 2013

    Smith tried to make a return and lasted but one play before heading back to the team's locker room, per Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer:

    Smith back to the locker room. Gotta think his day is done.

    — Joe Person (@josephperson) December 22, 2013

    Carolina announced on Twitter shortly thereafter that Smith would miss the rest of the contest:

    WR Steve Smith (knee) will not return to the game. #NOvsCAR

    — Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) December 22, 2013

    The veteran is a key player and leader for the Panthers. Though not as dynamic as he was during his 20s, his ability to make big plays downfield has opened things up for the rest of the team's receivers. If he's forced to miss extended time, then Carolina will be hard-pressed to replace his consistent production.

Kenny Vaccaro, S, New Orleans Saints

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    It's never a good thing when the cart has to come out.

    During Week 16's pitched NFC South battle between Carolina and New Orleans, Saints rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro suffered an apparent season-ending ankle injury.

    Scott Rabalais of The Advocate relayed Vaccaro's intense frustration after the cart was brought out:

    They bring out a cart for #Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro, who pounds the cart in frustration with a lower left leg injury.

    — Scott Rabalais (@RabalaisAdv) December 22, 2013

    Ian Rapoport of NFL.com detailed what his sources told him about the injury, reporting a fractured ankle would end the rookie's season:

    #Saints S Kenny Vaccaro is out of the game with what I'm told is a fractured ankle. Ends the season for do-everything DROY candidate.

    — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 22, 2013

    According to Rapoport, Vaccaro was having a stellar season for the Saints. Whether backed up in coverage or attacking the line of scrimmage, the rookie has been an effective weapon for Rob Ryan's defense, and he'll be sorely missed.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins

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    Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 16 wasn't kind to Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins.

    Going up against the Buffalo Bills in upstate New York, Tannehill was having a miserable day before he exited the contest with a knee injury.

    ESPN's James Walker reported the injury, along with the news that Miami called his return "questionable":

    The #Dolphins are saying it's a knee injury for starting QB Ryan Tannehill. His return is questionable.

    — James Walker (@JamesWalkerNFL) December 22, 2013

    Tannehill did return to the game late in the fourth quarter. However, as noted by ESPN's John Clayton, there wasn't enough time left on the clock to overcome the team's 16-0 deficit: 

    In case you missed it, Ryan Tannehill is back in game for Miami, but he doesn't have enough time to make up for 16-0 deficit.

    — John Clayton (@ClaytonESPN) December 22, 2013

    Miami needed to win out to ensure a playoff berth, but Buffalo was all too pleased to play the role of spoiler in their final home game of the season. 

Vontaze Burfict, LB, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Vontaze Burfict has been the MVP of Cincinnati's defense in 2013, making plays all over the field. 

    The linebacker suffered a head injury during Week 16's contest against the Minnesota Vikings, however. The Bengals announced the news on Twitter, noting his return was questionable:

    Vontaze Burfict has a head injury. His return is questionable. #MINvsCIN

    — Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) December 22, 2013

     

    UPDATE: Monday, Dec. 23, 12:30 p.m. ET by Donald Wood

    Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com is reporting Burfict did suffer a concussion:

    Burfict in concussion protocol @Bengals as well as Alex Smith

    — Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) December 23, 2013

    ---End of update---

     

    If Burfict suffered a concussion, then the Bengals will not get him back until he clears the league's mandated tests, which means there's a possibility he could miss Week 17.

    Should this occur, it would be a critical loss for Cincy, as Baltimore will be coming into town to try to wrestle the division from the Bengals in the final game of the season. 

Brian Orakpo, LB, Washington

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    Thanks to the fact that Brian Orakpo plays on one of the league's worst defenses, the linebacker hasn't received much national attention for the stellar years he's had. 

    Unfortunately, Washington's sack leader (10) exited Week 16's game against the Dallas Cowboys with a groin injury, per the team on Twitter:

    #Redskins OLB Brian Orakpo is down on the field, appeared to grab at his inner thigh before falling down. Status yet unknown.

    — Washington Redskins (@Redskins) December 22, 2013

    After several minutes, OLB @rak98 gets up with trainers and walks off under his own power. Status will be reported when known.

    — Washington Redskins (@Redskins) December 22, 2013

    LB @Rak98 has a right groin strain. His return is QUESTIONABLE. @RobJax50 is in the game in his place.

    — Washington Redskins (@Redskins) December 22, 2013

    It's quite possible Orakpo will miss the final game of the season, given the nagging nature of groin injuries. 

Jake Long, OT, St. Louis Rams

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    St. Louis Rams offensive tackle Jake Long was forced to leave Week 16's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a knee injury.

     

    UPDATE: Monday, Dec. 23, 9 p.m. ET by Jesse Reed

    The Rams received the worst possible news regarding Long, as noted by Nick Wagoner of ESPN:

    Rams coach Jeff Fisher confirms: Jake Long has torn ACL and MCL. Will wait 4-6 weeks to have ACL repaired so MCL can heal first.

    — Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) December 23, 2013

     

    ---End of Update---

     

    UPDATE: Monday, Dec. 23, 12:30 p.m. ET by Donald Wood

    The St. Louis Rams may have suffered another devastating blow Sunday, losing tackle Jake Long to a torn ACL, according the team’s official Twitter account:

    Coach Fisher says the #Rams are anticipating the worst for Jake Long. He could have a torn ACL. #TBvsSTL

    — St. Louis Rams (@STLouisRams) December 22, 2013

    ---End of update---

     

    Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times noted a cart was needed to get him off the field, and the Rams reported shortly after that Long was doubtful to return to the game with a knee injury:

    #Rams Jake Long is carted off the field with an apparent right leg injury.

    — Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) December 22, 2013

    Jake Long has a knee injury. His return is doubtful. #TBvsSTL

    — St. Louis Rams (@STLouisRams) December 22, 2013

    It's been a frustrating year for the Rams. 

    Losing quarterback Sam Bradford was a crushing blow, and Long's injury is just one more hurdle this team has to overcome with one final game remaining until the offseason.