Robert Griffin III’s scary moment: NFL Week 5 injury updates
Unfortunately, this moment seemed inevitable.
Robert Griffin III had taken a bevy of big hits over the season’s first four weeks, thanks to the combination of Griffin’s desire to make plays and Washington’s coaching staff repeatedly asking him to do so outside the pocket. Griffin had gotten up and stayed in the game after each of the forceful collisions he’d been involved with prior to Sunday.
But Sean Weatherspoon caught Griffin in an awkward position, stuck between getting out of bounds and sliding to the turf. Weatherspoon, legally, laid a lick on Griffin, which knocked the Redskins’ QB from action.
SI.com injury expert Will Carroll returns to help us sort through the Griffin injury fallout and some other key injuries from Sunday’s action …
• Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins (head): Rather than running out of bounds on a scramble attempt, Griffin slid late and took a high hit from Atlanta’s Sean Weatherspoon. RGIII did not return and coach Mike Shanahan said that he had suffered a mild concussion.
SI.com injury expert Will Carroll: The Redskins handled Griffin’s injury appropriately, testing him, then taking him off the field for further examination. When the word came back that it was a mild concussion, that was good news, but many people started screeching about the word “mild.”
If used to diminish the seriousness of an injury, I can understand why it is a problematic term. The problem is it can be accurate as well. We use descriptors like mild and serious to avoid jargon, especially at a point where we don’t have enough information. Griffin did not lose consciousness. He did not appear altered as he walked off the field. There was obviously enough concern that they held him out, but if they held him out for a mild concussion, that’s a good thing and something the Redskins should be praised for, not vilified.
Concussions are very difficult to grade initially. Mild and serious is more a functional issue and one of how symptoms dissipate over time. As long as it is used as a description or a comparison, and as long as it matches the known symptomology, I have no issue at all with terms like mild. Don’t reduce an issue to semantics before the problem itself is rendered mild.
Griffin will be subject to the normal testing and clearance, but early indications are that he could be back at practice quickly. The Redskins will be very cautious with his return for all the right reasons.
Who takes his spot?: Kirk Cousins, who had a touchdown and two interceptions filling in for Griffin Sunday.
• Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs (head): Cassel was sandwiched by Haloti Ngata and Paul Kruger and left the field to cheers, prompting Eric Winston to lash out at Chiefs fans who celebrated Cassel’s injury.
SI.com injury expert Will Carroll: Like Griffin, Cassel’s status will depend on testing and clearance.
Who takes his spot?: Brady Quinn was 3 of 3 replacing Cassel, and would get the nod again.
• Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints (ankle): Graham appeared to turn his ankle on a catch in the first quarter, then was in and out of the lineup the rest of the way. He wore a walking boot after New Orleans’ win.
Carroll: Early word is that Graham has a simple ankle sprain (anatomic ankle, not a “high ankle”). The severity will determine how much time he misses, if that’s the case. His size will stand up if he does lose some speed and mobility, much in the way that Antonio Gates played through his foot issues for the past couple seasons. Even a more serious sprain wouldn’t devastate his value and his athleticism will be a big plus as he rehabs.
Who takes his spot?: David Thomas is the Saints’ next TE up, but they’d deal with a Graham absence as New England has dealt with Aaron Hernandez’s injury — by spreading the ball out to other receivers.
• Cedric Benson, RB, Packers (foot): Benson was rolled up on after making a reception in the second quarter Sunday and, eventually, was carted to the locker room. Like Graham, he was in a walking boot on his way out of the stadium.
Carroll: Benson came into Indy expected to carry the load in a blowout. Instead he hobbled out in a walking boot after an upset. That’s injury to insult. Benson’s injury is unclear, with reports saying it is a foot injury and an ankle injury. Benson has had issues with turf in the past, so the precaution is smart whether or not it is a serious injury. Expect scans in the next day that will help clarify the injury, but x-rays taken at the stadium did not indicate a Lisfranc injury. The downside comp here would be Pierre Garcon.
Who takes his spot?: Alex Green showed some burst in Benson’s absence Sunday, more or less securing his job as the fill-in should Benson miss time.
• B.J. Raji, DT, Packers (ankle): Raji stayed down on the field, grabbing at his left ankle following a play in the first half. He hobbled to the sideline, then was carted into Green Bay’s locker room.
Carroll: B.J. Raji is a big man. It makes his dancing commercial funny, but it also makes any “simple” ankle sprain anything but simple. The idea that the body strengthens itself to hold up weight is true to an extent, but it often doesn’t translate to ligaments. Raji should be able to come back quickly, but we’ll see if his size adds to the initial instability.
Who takes his spot?: Mike Neal wound up playing 33 snaps on Sunday with Raji on the shelf. He and Jerel Worthy would be asked to raise their games if Raji were to miss more game action.
• Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers (calf): Polamalu’s struggles to stay healthy continued Sunday. He came up lame after playing in coverage on a play and hopped back to the Steelers’ bench, where he stayed with his calf wrapped.
Carroll: Polamalu didn’t appear to be in significant pain later, so this could be a cramp or minor strain, but the fact that he couldn’t make it through a full game is a major concern. The Achilles issues he has fought are also a concern here, due to proximity. Polamalu is going to deal with this the rest of the year unless they can find a miracle cure or he misses several weeks. The rest he had up to this point didn’t work.
Who takes his spot?: Ryan Mundy is used to filling in for Polamalu (and, on occasion, Ryan Clark) in the Steelers’ secondary. He did so again Sunday.
• Christian Ponder, QB, Vikings (knee): Ponder said after Minnesota’s fourth win of the season that he’s been playing with some discomfort due to swelling in his knee.
Carroll: Christian Ponder played through an inflamed knee. The problem is exacerbated by the hard turf and is a management issue more than a real problem. The Vikings’ medical staff is doing a solid job keeping him very functional.
Who takes his spot?: Joe Webb is Minnesota’s backup at QB. Ponder’s injury has not forced him into action yet, and the Vikings seem confident that it will not come to that.
• Javon Ringer, RB, Titans (knee): Late in a 41-3 Titans loss, Ringer appeared to suffer a serious knee injury, as his leg bent backwards under him during a tackle by Josh Robinson. Ringer writhed in pain on the ground and was carted off the field.
Carroll: Early word on Javon Ringer is that his knee injury is feared to be an ACL sprain. If so, Ringer would be lost for the season. His return from an elbow infection made many hope that he could get shots behind the struggling Chris Johnson, but a significant knee injury could make that impossible until next year, if ever.
Who takes his spot?: Jamie Harper is third in line on the Titans’ depth chart behind Ringer and starting RB Chris Johnson.
• Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears (hand): Jeffery injured his hand while making a touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. He did not return, though he reportedly said he could have played through it.
Carroll: He caught a TD before leaving, but the vague injury is worrisome. Julio Jones played in Week 4 with a minor laceration, but it affected him enough to hold his catch totals down. Any bone, tendon, or ligament issue that affects a WRs hands is very significant due to the forces they have to take in stopping and grasping the ball.
Who takes his spot?: If Jeffery misses time or is hindered by the injury, it would open the door for guys like Dane Sanzenbacher and Eric Weems to see more time at WR, and for Earl Bennett or Devin Hester to be featured more prominently in the offense.
• Bernard Scott, RB, Bengals (knee): The consistently injured Scott’s knee gave out on a run in the first quarter Sunday. He did not return to the game.
Carroll: Bernard Scott finally returned to the Bengals lineup and now he’s gone as quickly. The speed back appears to have torn his ACL. If that is the case, he is done for the season and should return next season.
Who takes his spot?: The slumping Bengals’ run game received a brief boost from Scott against Miami, but without him, it would be relegated back to BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Brian Leonard.
• Alex Smith, QB, 49ers (finger): Smith had a big day Sunday, but at some point during it suffered a sprain of the middle finger on his throwing hand.
Carroll: Smith played through the injury, adjusting his grip on the ball. The sprain is low-grade, the result of striking his hand on a helmet on a throwing attempt. This is a common injury for QBs and usually not that serious. Smith says the problem is “nothing” and we’ll have good indication depending on how he throws in practice late this week.
Who takes his spot?: Fleet-footed Colin Kaepernick would be pressed into duty if Smith’s injury turned into something more serious or became problematic.