by Andrew Potter
Chargers Halfback Melvin Gordon -- Knee
Early reports have already confirmed our suspicion from the TV footage that Melvin Gordon is expected to miss time with a Grade 2 sprain of his right MCL. Gordon came into the game playing through pain in his opposite knee, so this will at least give that ailment a chance to heal. He is expected to miss most of the remaining regular-season games, but he should return in time for the playoffs. That accords with our figures: 75 percent of running backs miss at least two weeks after an injury to their MCL, but around two in three (66 percent) return with a clean bill of health within five weeks. The Chargers are very likely to be assured of a playoff spot by then, and more likely than not to be assured of that spot being a wild-card. In that circumstance, it would make sense to sit Gordon until his knee has fully recovered, which should be in perfect time for the opening weekend of the postseason.
Austin Ekeler is expected to start in Gordon's absence and continue as the main passing option, with Justin Jackson (seven runs for 57 yards against the Cardinals) as the primary backup and Detrez Newsome (four for 15) as the third option.
Colts Tight End Jack Doyle -- Kidney (IR)
No good injury news ever began with a headline about an internal organ. Jack Doyle suffered a kidney injury against the Dolphins that hospitalized him overnight, and he will not play again this season. The Colts have drawn a lot of praise for their use of multiple-tight-end sets, including on this very site, but have now lost arguably the most versatile of their options at the position. Fellow tight ends Mo Alie-Cox, Ryan Hewitt, and Eric Swoope missed Sunday's game with injuries, leaving Eric Ebron as the team's only healthy tight end. The Colts will hope, at least, to have a couple of those players back against the Jaguars in Week 13.
Vikings Cornerback Xavier Rhodes -- Hamstring
When a team source tells a reporter that they "hope" a muscle injury won't require surgery, that is seldom a good sign. Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes suffered what certainly looked like a major hamstring injury against the Packers. The Vikings will send Rhodes for an MRI scan today, but at the very least he looks to have suffered an injury that will keep him out for the rest of the regular season. We will update with further news if we get it.
UPDATE: Mike Zimmer, who almost never provides meaningful injury information, stated adamantly today that Rhodes' hamstring injury is "very mild". Rhodes is still likely to miss time, as around 50 percent hamstring injuries to defensive backs result in at least one missed game, but it does not sound like his season is in jeopardy.
Broncos Tight End Jeff Heuerman -- Ribs (IR)
Jeff Heuerman suffered three broken ribs and a bruised lung against the Steelers, and he will miss the rest of the season. A 2015 third-round pick, Heuerman had almost doubled his total career receiving yardage after establishing himself as Denver's starting tight end this season. Despite this, he ranks 37th of 38 tight ends in DVOA and DYAR. He will probably be replaced in the starting lineup by Matt LaCosse, an undrafted free agent who is also in his fourth year as a professional. LaCosse had three catches for 34 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers. The only other tight end on Denver's active roster is Brian Parker, also a fourth-year professional, who has a single catch across his 17 career games. The Broncos are likely to sign another tight end when they place Heuerman on injured reserve.
Bengals Quarterback Andy Dalton -- Thumb (IR)
Andy Dalton suffered a thumb injury while trying to recover an errant snap against the Browns and did not return to the game. X-rays have already confirmed that the thumb was not fractured or dislocated, and the injury has been reported today as a sprain. That may not be as good as it sounds, as one of the more common thumb sports injuries is a high-grade sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament. Marvin Lewis has stated that Dalton's is not a long-term issue, but Dirk Koetter said the same last week about the sprain that placed Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard on injured reserve, and Dalton is reportedly seeing a specialist today. That is all a lengthy way of saying we do not yet have enough information about the injury to make a judgment, and probably will not until this week's first practice reports are released on Wednesday. The deciding factor is likely to be the strength of Dalton's grip. Backup Jeff Driskel has led touchdown drives in two of the team's past three games, and he will start against the Broncos if Dalton does miss time.
UPDATE: Well that didn't take long. Our fears of a major sprain are confirmed, as Andy Dalton has been placed on injured reserve. The Bengals signed Tom Savage on waivers from the 49ers to back up Jeff Driskel.
The following players left their respective games with concussion symptoms and enter the league protocol:
- Bengals cornerback Tony McRae
- Bills cornerback Lafayette Pitts
- Colts halfback Marlon Mack
- Packers cornerback Kentrell Brice
49ers safety Jimmie Ward fractured his arm against the Buccaneers and will miss the rest of the season. This is the second straight year that Ward has finished on injured reserve with a broken arm, and Ward is a free agent after this season. He is widely expected to leave San Francisco in free agency.
Bills guard John Miller left Sunday's game with an abdominal injury. Most abdominal injuries to offensive lineman are fairly minor: only around 40 percent result in even a single-game absence, and more than 80 percent of players return within three weeks.
Broncos cornerback Tramaine Brock injured a rib against the Steelers, but is not expected to miss significant time.
Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis injured his right knee in a collision with Jordan Whitehead and did not return to the game. Though no diagnosis has yet been offered, the mechanism for the injury suggests at least an MCL sprain for the rookie cornerback. If so, with the Buccaneers out of the playoff hunt, that will probably end his season: 75 percent of MCL injuries to defensive backs cause at least two missed games, and around half cause absences of four or more weeks. Right tackle Demar Dotson suffered knee and hamstring injuries against the 49ers, but neither is expected to keep him out for long.
Cardinals linebacker Josh Bynes injured his thumb and did not return against the Chargers. Absent a major injury such as a fracture or dislocation, which would usually be confirmed by this time, thumb injuries seldom result in missed time. About 80 percent of linebackers do not miss a game. Kicker Phil Dawson has been placed on injured reserve and will be replaced by Zane Gonzalez.
Dolphins halfback Kenyan Drake aggravated his shoulder injury against the Colts, but he was able to return to the game. The Dolphins will probably be cautious with him in practice, as they were in the lead-up to the Colts game, but he is not expected to miss further game time. Center Travis Swanson injured his ankle and Danny Amendola injured his knee; head coach Adam Gase confirmed today that neither is expected to practice much this week, making both likely to miss Week 13's home game against the Bills.
Giants tight end Evan Engram injured his hamstring in warmups ahead of Sunday's loss in Philadelphia. Though Engram downplayed the injury today, most hamstring injuries do cause tight ends to miss at least one game, and around 25 percent result in absences of three or more weeks. Kick returner Quadree Henderson fractured his shoulder and will probably miss the rest of the season.
Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Bills and will miss the rest of the season. Though only 50 percent of high-ankle sprains cause an absence of two or more weeks, the defeat in Buffalo confirmed that the Jaguars are now definitely, undeniably, completely and utterly out of the playoff hunt. That was enough to see Norwell placed on injured reserve. Long snapper Matt Overton injured his shoulder, but he was later cleared to return to the game.
With the Lions out of playoff contention, receiver Marvin Jones, who has missed the team's past two games with a knee injury, has officially been placed on injured reserve.
Packers receiver Trevor Davis injured his hamstring against the Vikings. Though most receivers typically only miss a game or two with hamstring injuries, Davis already spent half of this season on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. This makes him more likely than most to miss multiple games, and may even place him back on injured reserve. (The aggravation would qualify as a new injury, so the Packers would not be forced to release Davis in that circumstance.) Guard Lane Taylor injured his quad, which would not typically result in missed time for an offensive lineman. Tackle David Bakhtiari, however, suffered two separate knee injuries that ultimately forced him out of the game. No specifics have yet been made public, but this does make Bakhtiari more likely than most to miss time unless both injuries are minor. We expect to see more details later in the week.
Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson left Sunday's game with a quad injury. Though most thigh or quad injuries do not result in missed time, the suggestion that Jackson's injury is a strain does make an absence slightly more likely. Still, more than 75 percent of players return within a week, and are off the injury report altogether within a fortnight. Kick returner Damiere Byrd injured his arm and did not return. The injury is not currently considered serious.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr injured his ankle against the Ravens, as well as being evaluated for a concussion. He returned to finish the game -- a game in which, at one point, he was sacked on three consecutive plays by the same opponent, Matt Judon. Per NFL Research, that had only happened once before since the NFL began tracking sacks in 1982 ... and the first was Brad Scioli against David Carr in 2002. Defensive end Jacquies Smith injured his right leg and was seen leaving the stadium in a protective boot. He is expected to miss time.
Ravens safety Tony Jefferson injured his ankle against the Raiders, returned, then left the game again. His injury has not been publicly announced, but he is not currently expected to be a long-term absentee.