Early Casualties: How Will Teams Deal With Week 1 Injuries To Starters?
Just one week into the the NFL season, several players could already be done for the year. Week 1 saw a few players sustain season ending injuries and several others pick up injuries which could keep them out for some time. Here's a breakdown of the big injuries from week 1 and their consequences.
Kris Jenkins, NT - New York Jets
Jets NT Kris Jenkins suffered a torn ACL just 6 plays into his season on Monday night against the Ravens. Jenkins missed a great bulk of last year with the same injury but after rehabbing the injury and trimming down in the offseason, he looked ready to return to the form he showed in his first Jets season, where he dominated and was considered for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. But after limping off against the Ravens, its bad news for the Jets. The injury to Kris Jenkins leaves the Jets with a hole in their defensive line. Although the Jets were the NFL's best defense even after losing Jenkins a year ago, its still a big blow for the franchise. Jenkins was a massive run stuffer and pushed he pocket on passing plays. After his departure on Monday night, the Jets Defense wasn't poor, but they had trouble getting off the field on third downs. They also had the Ravens pinned deep on their own 1 yard line and had Jenkins been in there, you have to wonder whether the defense could have stuffed the Ravens in their own end zone. Sione Pouha and Mike Devito will step in, as they did a year ago. At 325 pounds, Pouha will most likely assume the nose tackle position, with Devito and also Vernon Gholston stepping in at defensive end opposite Shaun Ellis. Veteran nose tackle Howard Green was signed today and will also compete for playing time. Also expect the Jets to play some packages with only 1 or 2 down linemen as they did against the Ravens. Even without Kris Jenkins, the Jets defense is a very strong unit, but as Rex Ryan said it is still a big blow for the Superbowl hopefuls.
Bob Sanders, S - Indianapolis Colts
Another defensive player who has missed considerable playing time over the past few seasons is Colts' safety Bob Sanders. One week into the new season, and the former Iowa hawkeye is sidelined again. Although Sanders remains on the active roster, he is still expected to miss a large portion of the season after undergoing surgery today. Sanders has a suspected torn bicep, the same injury he suffered last season, only the other arm. After missing extensive time over the past two years, the Colts are used to playing without Sanders. Safety Melvin Bullitt has played well in Sanders' absence in recent seasons and will step in again for now. That said, Bullitt isn't a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year like Sanders, and without Sanders the Colts run defense is weakened. Arian Foster found this out for himself on Sunday rushing for a massive 231 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Colts also moved to sign former Chiefs safety Dajuan Morgan as insurance. Morgan was a third round pick in 2008 and could see playing time for his new team immediately.
Ryan Grant, RB - Packers
The right ankle injury Ryan Grant suffered against the Eagles ended the Packers' running back's season. Brandon Jackson's workload just got bigger. Grant is undoubtedly the best pack Green Bay has and it is a big loss for the team, but Brandon Jackson is a solid backup and looks able to carry the load for Green Bay. Jackson had 18 carries for 63 yards against the Eagles after Grant left the game. Undrafted rookie Dmitri Nance could also be in line for some carries after the Packers signed him off the Falcons practice squad. Rumors of a trade for Marshawn Lynch are also circling which would add a talented replacement to the roster. Don't expect the Packers to completely abandon the run, but for now, the Packers will rely heavily on Aaron Rodgers and delivering the ball to wide receiver Greg Jennings and tightend Jermichael Finley.
Matthew Stafford, QB - Lions
After being sacked by Chicago's Julius Peppers on Sunday, Stafford suffered a shoulder injury and will definitely miss the next few games for the Lions. Currently a bit of a mystery, Staffords' injury could cost him up to 8 weeks on the sideline depending on the severity of the separated shoulder. Backup quarterback Shaun Hill stepped in against the Bears and was unlucky not to lead the Lions to a win after Calvin Johnson's late touchdown was ruled out. Shaun Hill should do a better job than Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton who both saw playing time in Stafford's absence last year. The worrying thing is that Stafford, the number one overall pick in 2009, has been injured all too often for the Lions. The offensive line will have to improve in pass protection, otherwise the Lions could be needing a replacement for Shaun Hill sometime soon. Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew are good weapons for Hill, but with this injury there's no doubt the Lions offense has got worse. They will need good production from rookie running back Jahvid Best if they want to start winning games.
Only 1 week into the season and with a large number on the injury report or even injured reserve, the proposed 18 week season doesn't sound such a good idea at the moment...
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