by Andrew Potter
Redskins Quarterback Alex Smith -- Leg (IR)
Thirty-three years to the day after former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann suffered the horrific right leg double fracture that ended his career, current Washington quarterback Alex Smith suffered a similar double fracture of his lower right leg. Smith was immediately taken to a nearby hospital, where he has already been through surgery to repair his tibia and fibula. Unlike Theismann, Smith's injury should not be career-threatening, but his season is undoubtedly over. He is currently ranked 23rd in both DVOA and DYAR. Assuming that his surgery and recovery go according to plan, Smith may be limited for some of the team's offseason program but should be able to return by opening day of 2019.
Long-term backup Colt McCoy, a third-round pick of the Browns in 2010 who has been with Washington for five years, is expected to take over the starting role for the rest of the season. McCoy started four games in his first season with the team in 2014, posting a DVOA of -15.9% for -43 DYAR on 145 dropbacks, but he has only thrown 13 passes across four appearances since. With no other quarterback on the roster, the team today signed former Jets, Eagles, and Bears quarterback Mark Sanchez. Washington's offensive coordinator, Matt Cavanaugh, was Sanchez's quarterback coach from 2009 to 2012 with the Jets, so Sanchez at least has a degree of familiarity with the coaching staff.
Chargers Defensive Tackle Corey Liuget -- Quad (IR)
One week after the Chargers lost linebacker Denzel Perryman for the year, they have also lost defensive tackle Corey Liuget. Liuget tore the quadriceps tendon at his right knee against the Broncos and will require surgery to repair the injury. Liuget missed the first four games of this season with a four-game suspension for violating the league policy on performance-enhancing substances, but had started every game since the team's Week 8 bye. Darius Philon, a 2015 sixth-round pick who started in the first seven weeks, will probably return to the starting lineup in Liuget's absence.
Raiders Receiver Brandon LaFell -- Achilles (IR)
Veteran receiver Brandon LaFell tore his Achilles against the Cardinals and will miss the rest of the season. A late signing by the Raiders following his offseason release from Cincinnati, LaFell had 20 DYAR on 13 targets entering Week 11. Seventh-round rookie Marcell Ateman started his first game for the Raiders against Arizona and caught 4-of-5 targets for 50 yards; he is likely to see increased playing time with LaFell now done for the year.
Buccaneers Tight End O.J. Howard -- Ankle
O.J. Howard suffered an ankle injury against the Giants when his ankle was trapped under Giants linebacker Tae Davis during a tackle. Though the specific injury has not yet been confirmed, the linked photograph shows a classic high-ankle mechanism. This is likely to result in a significant absence for the second-year tight end -- more than half of those injuries result in an absence of four or more weeks, and around 40 percent of players miss eight or more weeks (the minimum time to return for a player on short-term injured reserve). An injury to the same ankle last season was enough to land Howard on injured reserve in Week 15, and Howard also played through a sprained MCL in his left knee in October. Though head coach Dirk Koetter did say that the team had received some good news on Howard today, the player is getting a second opinion on the injury and he is still likely to miss time. The Buccaneers expect to have more news in the next couple of days.
Cameron Brate, who was the starter until Howard took over that role this season, will return to the starting lineup, assuming Howard misses time.
Eagles Secondary -- Various
The sheer volume of injuries to Eagles defensive backs necessitates its own subheader. Already down starting safety Rodney McLeod and cornerback Ronald Darby, the Eagles lost Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox, and Rasul Douglas against the Saints, in addition to linebacker Jordan Hicks, long snapper Rick Lovato, and center Jason Kelce.
The most severe of those injuries is likely to be Jones'. Around two-thirds of hamstring injuries to defensive backs cause them to miss at least one game, with about 25 percent causing absences of three or more weeks. That fits with Doug Pederson's assessment of Jones as "week to week." The recovery timetable is similar, though very slightly more favorable, for linebackers, so Jordan Hicks also fits this description.
Avonte Maddox and Rasul Douglas both have mild knee sprains, and both are considered "day to day." Practice participation reports will reveal more, but this probably means that both will be questionable for the team's must-win game against the Giants in Week 12. Given the lack of specifics on the injuries, it is too early to say what their chances are of being able to play next Sunday.
Long snapper Rick Lovato suffered a concussion and enters the league protocol. Most teams designate a linebacker as their emergency snapper, and the Eagles are no exception: Nate Gerry is the team's emergency option. If Lovato is not expected to clear the protocol in time for the trip to New York -- most players now take at least a full game week to do so -- expect the Eagles to add a dedicated snapper during the week.
Jason Kelce is reportedly fine, and he should be available as usual against the Giants.
Packers Tight End Jimmy Graham -- Thumb
Jimmy Graham reportedly suffered a broken thumb against the Seahawks on Thursday night while blocking on a running play. We do not have enough information to give specific return-to-play projections for either tight ends or wide receivers, but around 75 percent of NFL players on the whole miss at least one week with a thumb fracture or dislocation. Around 50 percent of thumb fractures cause long-term absences of five or more weeks, and a large number (around 40 percent) cause players to miss the rest of the season. Fortunately for Graham, most of those are combination fracture-dislocations, and there is little to indicate that his injury is so severe. Still, Graham should be expected to miss around two to five weeks with the injury.
Though the Packers have former Rams tight end Lance Kendricks and former Jaguars veteran Marcedes Lewis on their roster, the most likely beneficiary of Graham's absence is 2017 undrafted free agent Robert Tonyan. Tonyan caught a 54-yard touchdown against the Seahawks on his first career reception -- a play that Rodgers has since admitted he thought was to Jimmy Graham.
Lions Halfback Kerryon Johnson -- Knee
Kerryon Johnson is considered "week to week" with a sprained knee after MRI scan results today revealed that he had avoided a major injury against the Panthers. He is all but assured to miss the Thanksgiving day game against the Chicago Bears, but the team hopes to have him back when they host the Rams in Week 13. In Johnson's absence, the Lions are expected to alternate Theo Riddick and LeGarrette Blount at running back.
In addition to Nate Gerry, mentioned above, the following players left their respective games with concussion symptoms and enter the league protocol:
- Bears tight end Adam Shaheen
- Bears linebacker Aaron Lynch
- Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby
Cardinals moneybacker Deone Bucannon left Sunday's game with a chest injury and did not return. The exact injury has not been specified, but chest injuries seldom result in long-term absences for defensive backs. Only a shade over 25 percent cause even one missed game, and most players are off the injury report altogether after one week. Practice participation reports will probably reveal more, assuming that this is not the very rare major chest injury.
Colts center Ryan Kelly missed practice on Friday with a knee injury and was forced out of the blowout win over the Titans with an injury to the same knee. The injury is not expected to be major, but Kelly will have an MRI scan taken today. We will update this post if we receive further news.
Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith left Sunday's game with a "stinger" -- a nerve injury characterized by tingling and weakness in the affected extremity -- but is not expected to miss further time. Even on a short week, he should be fine for the crucial Thanksgiving clash with division-leading Washington.
Falcons safety Damontae Kazee was limited in practice this week due to a shoulder injury, and a shoulder injury also forced him out of the game against Dallas. Most shoulder injuries to defensive backs, excluding major injuries such as dislocations or labrum tears, do not cause the player to miss a game; however the Falcons play in New Orleans on Thursday night, so the short week makes that more of a challenge for Kazee. Expect early-week practice reports to reveal more.
Jaguars guard A.J. Cann was questionable with a hamstring injury prior to Sunday's game against the Steelers. He aggravated the injury and left the game, replaced by Chris Reed. Around half of hamstring injuries to offensive linemen result in at least one missed game, though only 25 percent miss more than two weeks. Given that this was an aggravation of an existing injury, Cann is more likely than most to miss time.
Saints guards Andrus Peat and Larry Warford left Sunday's blowout victory over the Eagles with injuries, but neither is expected to miss further time.
Texans guards Senio Kelemete and Zach Fulton both left Sunday's victory in Washington, but neither player is expected to miss further time.
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota suffered another injury to his throwing arm against the Colts and gave way to Blaine Gabbert seconds before halftime as the Titans were blown out in Indianapolis. Mariota has been treated today for a "stinger," according to head coach Mike Vrabel, but it is possible that this injury relates to the nerve problem he battled through earlier in the season. The Titans do not expect the injury to keep Mariota out for long, but practice participation reports will reveal more as the week progresses. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who was taken to hospital before Sunday's game, has now been released and is expected to return to Tennessee today.