Week 1 injuries: Fred Jackson among long list of battered players
Nary a week goes by in the NFL without a substantial list on injuries, but Week 1 always seems to be particularly brutal — blame it on players going full speed for an entire game for the first time in months.
Several key players came out of Week 1 with ailments. SI.com injury expert Will Carroll returns again to help us sort through the latest injury situations …
• Fred Jackson, RB, Bills (knee): Buffalo’s offense sputtered in the second half of the 2011 season after Jackson suffered an injury, so seeing their No. 1 back fall to the turf after taking an awkward hit Sunday must have concerned the Bills. Jackson was carrying the football when the Jets’ LaRon Landry hit him from the side, causing his leg to bend awkwardly.
SI.com injury expert Will Carroll: Jackson was diagnosed with a sprained lateral-collateral ligament (LCL). This is a ligament on the outside (lateral) aspect of the knee and is a stabilizer that can be protected by bracing. Jackson isn’t a guy that needs to make hard cuts, so he should be back in a couple weeks in the worst case.
Who takes his spot?: C.J. Spiller put up 169 yards rushing in Jackson’s stead Sunday, and he would take over the No. 1 role for as long as Jackson is out. Tashard Choice also might see an uptick in carries.
• Tom Brady, QB, Patriots (nose): Brady came up bloodied after taking a hit from Tennessee’s Kamerion Wimbley. He received treatment on the sideline but never missed a snap. Brady said after the game that he wasn’t sure if he had broken his nose or not.
Carroll: Brady was tackled from behind and had his helmet slide down, cutting his nose. While that could affect any commercials he had scheduled to shoot this week, it didn’t and won’t affect him on the field. Of note, because Brady’s head came down so hard, the medical observer asked the Pats to check Brady for concussion. They did so and he was cleared to return, missing no time on the field.
Who takes his spot?: No need to worry about this.
• Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins (foot): Garcon hauled in Robert Griffin III’s first-ever NFL TD pass, taking one 88 yards to the house in the first quarter. He did not return after that, though, and instead headed for X-rays on his foot.
Carroll: Garcon has a bruised foot. While it’s unclear how it happened, the probable suspect is that he got stepped on. Playing on turf and with Garcos exhibiting symptoms that mimicked a Lisfranc, the Redskins were smart to shut him down Sunday. Garcon seems to think he’ll miss no time, but keep an eye on how much he does in practice this week. There’s still a chance he’ll have some pain and inflammation in that foot. Playing a second week on turf is a negative for his return.
Who takes his spot?: Aldrick Robinson saw extra looks on Sunday, finishing with four catches for 52 yards and a TD. The Redskins have a number of options at WR.
• John Skelton, QB, Cardinals (ankle): Skelton was carted off in the fourth quarter Sunday after taking a hit from Brandon Mebane. Trainers placed an air cast on Skelton’s ankle before taking him from the field, but the initial word was that he had suffered a high-ankle sprain.
Carroll: News that Skelton avoided fracture isn’t actually good news. Bones heal, but sprained ligaments are tougher to get a read on and can take longer to heal. Early reports are that this is a significant high ankle sprain. The mechanics of throwing and shuffling back in the pocket are obvious keys to Skelton and if he can’t perform those, they’ll have to turn again to Kevin Kolb. Six weeks is going to be the mid-point for rehabbing, but if this is as significant as I’m hearing, we may not see Skelton back before the season’s midpoint and his effectiveness could be in question even then.
Who takes his spot?: Kolb delivered a late win for the Cardinals after filling in for Kolb. He’d take over if Skelton is out, despite losing the starting job in the preseason.
• Rodger Saffold, OT, Rams (neck): Saffold’s head slammed into the back of a Lions defender while blocking in the fourth quarter. He was placed on a backboard and carefully carted off the field.
Carroll: Saffold suffered a scary injury, likely a spinal concussion. That’s exactly what it sounds like, where the spinal cord is shocked into a period of inaction but fortunately there’s little associated damage. Saffold regained movement shortly after he was carted off. Players can recover quickly, but when Saffold will be cleared to resume play is a complete unknown.
Who takes his spot?: New acquisition Wayne Hunter, who was traded to St. Louis for Jason Smith, stepped into the lineup late Sunday. Odds are, he’d be first up if Saffold’s out.
• Rashad Jennings, RB, Jaguars (knee): The Jaguars’ RB controversy came to an end after halftime Sunday, because Jennings did not rejoin his team on the field. He suffered a knee injury earlier in the game, the severity of which Jacksonville is still deciphering.
Carroll: There’s not much clarity yet on Jennings’ knee injury. It was treated on the field as if it were a sprain, though all we have there is some video of the medical staff doing the typical manual tests from a distant sideline shot. Jennings is said to be talented, but he hasn’t been healthy enough to show anyone aside from the Jags staff yet.
Who takes his spot?: Maurice Jones-Drew, of course. Jennings might have just lost any shot he had at keeping the starting RB job.
• Russell Okung, OT, Seahawks (knee): Okung hobbled out of Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter with a leg injury. Pete Carroll later said that Okung had hurt his left knee.
Carroll: Russell Okung came back from a torn pec and now appears to be dealing with a significant knee injury. Okung awkwardly twisted the knee late in the game Sunday and is headed for scans. The Seahawks seem very concerned, so Okung could be facing a significant sprain here. Russell Wilson is mobile enough to adjust to this, but it’s certainly a big loss to the Seahawks if he’s done for the season.
Who takes his spot?: Veteran Frank Omiyale replaced Okung Sunday, but that counts as a big drop-off. And up next for Seattle is a game with Dallas and pass-rusher extraordinaire DeMarcus Ware.
• Johnny Patrick, CB, Saints (knee): An already-thin Saints secondary took another blow Sunday when Patrick fell. He had to be helped off the field and did not appear able to put any weight on his leg.
Carroll: Patrick injured his right leg on a brilliant defensive play. He was carted off, though the Saints haven’t given any details of what the injury actually is. The hope is that Jabari Greer will be back in Week 2, but depth in the DB is going to be an issue for the Saints in at least the short term.
Who takes his spot?: As mentioned above, Greer if he’s able to go next week. Otherwise, the Saints will have to make some adjustments. Jerome Murphy saw added playing time against Washington.
• Jake Locker, QB, Titans (shoulder): Locker injured himself trying to make a tackle following a Nate Washington fumble — Washington also came up hurting on that play. A review later turned the fumble to an incompletion, but the damage to Locker was done.
Carroll: Locker suffered a shoulder separation in the course of making a tackle. Basically, his shoulder got caught in an odd position and popped out. It’s his non-throwing shoulder, but he has to be able to take a hit and to have his normal throwing motion. (Yes, the non-throwing shoulder is involved. Try throwing a ball with your off arm in your pocket. It won’t go well.)
Who takes his spot?: Matt Hasselbeck reentered the lineup with Locker being attended to on the Titans’ sideline. He would get the start in Week 2 if Locker can’t suit up.