There's never a dull moment in the world of football injuries and Week 9 proved to be no exception. Several key players were forced out of games early, including a couple of kickers. Their replacements could not have been more different. Detroit Lions rookie defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh filled in on an extra point attempt for the injured Jason Hanson, while the New England Patriots used wide receiver Wes Welker after Stephen Gostkowski got hurt. Welker fared a little better than Suh, but fortunately, neither will be assigned kicking duties this week.
The Patriots have signed kicker Shayne Graham while Gostkowski recovers from a quadriceps strain. Meanwhile, the Lions signed Dave Rayner to fill in for Hanson, who reportedly has an MCL sprain that could force him out for two to three weeks, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Who else are we talking about as we look ahead to Week 10? Keep reading to find out.
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons: White injured his right knee in the first quarter of Sunday's game and while it did not appear serious, it gave him enough trouble to limit his productivity. According to ESPN NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas, White left the game twice but ultimately returned to play in the second half after having the knee taped.
Naturally, the big concern for fantasy owners is whether White will be available in Week 10, given that the Falcons play Thursday night. According to Yasinskas, that question was answered when White said simply, "I'm going to be playing Thursday." Head coach Mike Smith has echoed that sentiment, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Regarding White, Smith said, "[He] will be ready to go." White may not practice much given the short week, but the positive news this early is encouraging.
Austin Collie, WR, Indianapolis Colts: In perhaps the scariest moment of Week 9, Collie lay still on the field for several minutes in the second quarter following a hit across the middle while trying to catch a pass. The medical staff tended to Collie for some time, ultimately placing him on a spine board and stretcher and wheeling him off the field. As is the standard in situations in which there is concern about a potential spine injury, all precautions were taken to ensure Collie's safe transport from the field.
We later learned that Collie was alert and sitting up in the locker room. Good news indeed considering the last sight of him was motionless, other than his eyes blinking, on a stretcher. That said, it is important to remember that Collie still suffered a concussion, the seriousness of which should not be overlooked. There have been some positive signs since Sunday night. As Tom James of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star reports, Collie was able to travel home with the team and was improving on Monday. James says Collie is not expected to play this weekend against Cincinnati. Coach Jim Caldwell perhaps summed it up best saying, "He'll be released to play whenever he is cleared." Collie had just made a return from thumb surgery to repair a torn ligament when he suffered the concussion.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: Not good. Stafford injured his throwing shoulder again. While the Lions have not confirmed the details regarding the nature of his injury, MLive.com reports that Stafford has suffered a Grade III shoulder separation (he had previously suffered a Grade II separation, causing him to miss five games). While coach Jim Schwartz had said Monday that the team "was not talking surgical options" in regard to Stafford, Stafford himself indicated that he did not expect to play this week in his appearance on Mitch Albom's radio show.
It's a good bet Stafford may consult with Dr. James Andrews (who repaired Sam Bradford's Grade III separated shoulder) regarding this latest injury, as he has consulted with him in the past. Without confirmation as to the specifics of the injury, there can be nothing but speculation as to what sort of time Stafford could miss and what treatment he might undergo.
In the absence of anything definitive, fantasy owners at least know to prepare for an absence of Stafford of unknown duration. Shaun Hill has been recovering from a left forearm fracture and it is not known whether he could be available this week. As of now, Drew Stanton is preparing to be the starter, according to Birkett. The Lions and fantasy owners are no doubt hopeful that Hill will be cleared soon to return to play. Stay tuned for more updates in Detroit.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers: Stewart was the running back set to carry the load in Week 9 with teammate DeAngelo Williams out for a second straight week with a foot sprain. That was not to be, however, as Stewart made an early exit with a concussion. Although Stewart was able to walk off the field with assistance, he was carted to the locker room. Backup Tyrell Sutton was also forced out of the game with an ankle injury.
There is no way to predict whether Stewart will miss time, but the Panthers are no doubt hoping that Williams' recovery is imminent. Williams, who has not practiced since suffering the injury, indicated early last week that he was targeting a Week 10 return, but we need to see him run before feeling too confident. To compound the injury issues facing the Panthers, quarterback Matt Moore suffered a season-ending torn labrum in his right shoulder and has been placed on injured reserve.
Other injury notes heading into Week 9
• San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews has struggled with his return to full health following the right ankle injury he suffered in Week 2. Any progress he had made took a step in the wrong direction Sunday, when Mathews aggravated the ankle. The Chargers are fortunate to have a bye this week, giving Mathews and their many other injured players who missed Week 9 (most notably tight end Antonio Gates and wide receivers Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee) extra recuperative time.
• Washington Redskins running back Ryan Torain left his last game with a hamstring strain and it was unclear just how serious the injury was. The good news for Torain fantasy owners is that he was running full speed Monday, according to the Washington Post, an encouraging sign early in the week. The Redskins play Monday night, which is both good news and bad news; the good news is that Torain gets an extra day, the bad news is fantasy owners don't like to have Monday night question marks. His activity the rest of the week should give more clues. And while teammate Clinton Portis is reportedly back in some form of practice, he is still having soreness and may not yet be ready to return to competition.
• Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin managed to deliver quite a performance considering he was limping right up until kickoff. At various points throughout the game, Harvin looked uncomfortable, even limping off the field for a rest at one point, but when it was time to turn it on, he did. Given what he was able to do this week, it would seem that his status for next week should not be of major concern.
• Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck returned to practice Monday after sitting out Sunday's game with a concussion. He will still need to pass all tests to be able to return to play and that may not happen until later in the week. But so far, he's on track.
We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses, with much more to come on Thursday.