Percy Harvin, Antonio Brown ailing: NFL Week 9 injury updates
Relatively speaking, Week 8 was a light one when it came to injuries. Some players had to book some extra time with the trainers, as always, but for the most part, the league’s elite talent came away healthy.
That was not the case in Week 9. Sunday’s action was particularly brutal for wide receivers, with several of them hobbling off the field at various times.
SI.com injury expert Will Carroll helps us break down this week’s key injuries:
• Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers (ankle): Brown came up hobbling after trying to bring down a deep ball from Ben Roethlisberger. At first, it appeared that Brown would jump right back into action, but he wound up sitting out the final three quarters.
SI.com injury expert Will Carroll: It was a bad day for ankles in the NFL on Sunday. Indeed, it has been a bad year, with a significant increase in foot, ankle and high ankle injuries at the halfway point. Antonio Brown is the latest, with what the Steelers are calling a “mild high ankle sprain.” Brown had his leg rolled up on in the classic mechanism for a syndesmotic sprain — planted foot, weight forced laterally. Brown is a speed WR and isn’t as reliant on routes and cuts, but acceleration and deceleration could be issues.
Who takes his spot?: Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery saw increased time Sunday, with Sanders replacing Brown as a punt returner.
• Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders (ankle): McFadden headed for X-rays after injuring himself on a second-quarter carry. They came back negative, but McFadden still looks as if he’ll miss some time.
Carroll: McFadden is nearly a worst-case scenario. An awkward foot placement caused a high ankle sprain, the kind of injury that devastates the kind of speed-size combo that McFadden typifies. The normal 4-to-6 week timeframe is also extended by McFadden’s regular slow healing. He’s had troubles adjusting to the one-cut zone blocking schemes and this won’t help with that either. By the time he returns, it will be near the point where the Raiders will be looking to next year. McFadden might well end up being done for the season with this.
Who takes his spot?: Mike Goodson replaced him Sunday before he, too, suffered an injury. For the moment, it’s Marcel Reese and Taiwan Jones in the Oakland backfield.
• Donnie Avery, WR, Colts (hip): Avery was in the midst of a big day before he took a painful hit in the third quarter. He did not return.
Carroll: If you saw the Colts-Dolphins game, there were many images that will stick with you. Luck’s rollout to his off side and a sharp cross body throw. Pagano’s inspirational post-game speech. I hope you don’t focus on that sound Donnie Avery was making when he was laying on the turf. He took a vicious (but legal) hit to the midsection and was left in serious pain. The Colts are calling this a hip injury, but expect this to be nothing more than a serious bruise and a body blow worthy of a Klitchko.
Who takes his spot?: T.Y. Hilton stepped up Sunday with 102 yards receiving and a touchdown in Avery’s absence.
• Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers (ankle): A surprise entry in the lineup Sunday after dealing with a hamstring injury, Nelson rolled his right ankle in the first quarter and sat out the remainder of the game.
Carroll: Did I mention it was a bad day for ankles? This is as simple and clear an ankle sprain as you’re going to see, with an unlucky position and Nelson’s momentum forcing a random injury. As with Percy Harvin, it is hard to correlate the two injuries. Nelson has the bye week to get better and should be in range of returning without missing more time.
Who takes his spot?: That bye should help, but the Packers would turn to James Jones to join Randall Cobb in the starting lineup.
• Chris Kuper, OL, Broncos (ankle/leg): Kuper stayed down in the third quarter after getting his leg tangled up. X-rays were negative.
Carroll: Chris Kuper is having a tough year. He broke his arm earlier this season and now had a pained look on his face as he was helped off the field due to a sprained ankle. This is the same ankle he dislocated a couple seasons ago, so the look of concern is understandable. There were no fractures found, so Kuper will just need to deal with the normal rehab and recovery for a sprain, which can range from 2-to-6 weeks depending on severity.
Who takes his spot?: Manny Ramirez would be the next man up for the Broncos, if Kuper misses time.
• Kendall Wright, WR, Titans (elbow): A bad day for the Titans got worse when Wright came off in pain in the third quarter.
Carroll: Wright escaped serious injury to his elbow during Sunday’s blowout. He injured it during a block and likely had it hyperextended. Scans after the game showed no serious problems and even during the game, he was testing it by catching passes on the sidelines. The Titans didn’t need to push their rookie WR back out into the mauling. Expect him back quickly, much as Dexter McCluster returned from what appeared to be a much more serious elbow injury in Week 1.
Who takes his spot?: Tennessee is hoping Wright can go in Week 10, but if not, expect more of Damian Williams.
• Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings (ankle): Harvin played through a sore hamstring Sunday, then had his ankle turn underneath him during the third quarter.
Carroll: Saying this equals that is difficult, but it is tempting. Did Percy Harvin’s hamstring issue affect an ankle sprain? Perhaps, though there is no way to ever know. Harvin doesn’t know himself, so we can’t hope for any sort of statement against interest. Harvin has every skill a football player needs save health. These kind of things wear down on him over the course of a season and a career. He has talent to spare, but not an endless fount of it either. The ankle sprain seems low-grade and he could be back as soon as next week. Practice reports will be tough to read since Harvin often gets extra rest. Look for function. If he’s running and cutting by Friday, he’ll be fine.
Who takes his spot?: Minnesota does not have an all-around player to replace Harvin. Receivers like Devin Aromashodu or Jarius Wright would be pressed into duty, with Marcus Sherels hopping in as a kick returner.
• Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions (knee): Johnson said after Sunday’s win that the knee injury he’s been dealing with likely will linger all season.
Carroll: Missed practice all week, then suddenly goes off. How did everyone miss that Calvin Johnson was about to break out? Really, this is about function, not form. Johnson (and really any established player in the NFL) doesn’t need a lot of practice time in order to be ready. He’s in condition, he knows the offense, he knows his QB. While he did not practice, saving some wear and tear on his knees, there was never any mention that there was anything but soreness. There was no loss of function, no compensation he needed to make, no changes to his game. Johnson had all his myriad tools and physical abilities out there. Soreness? It’s cliche to say there’s a difference between soreness and pain, but there is and the Lions and Johnson did a good job focusing on what he could do while the rest missed that clue.
Who takes his spot?: Like Harvin, Johnson is irreplaceable. Detroit’s already down Nate Burleson, so its starters would be Titus Young and Ryan Broyles if Megatron missed any games.