Old injuries causing players to sit, new injuries, surprise performances by replacement players ... must be a typical NFL week. Let's check in on injury updates following Sunday's games.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals:
Boldin gave everyone quite a scare Sunday when he was on the receiving end of a helmet-to-helmet collision with Jets safety Eric Smith that left him lying motionless on the field. Boldin was initially hit by a Jets defender from behind, but the second hit from Smith resulted in Boldin's neck snapping back, and he fell to the ground with his arms and legs appearing limp. As Jets defensive back Kerry Rhodes told the New York Daily News, "It wasn't a good scene. He was out, unconscious and blood coming out of his nose and mouth." Boldin was immobilized and taken by stretcher to the locker room for X-rays (which were negative) and was then transported to the hospital for further evaluation.
Despite the frightening nature of the incident, team president Michael Bidwill told reporters that tests conducted at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York revealed no damage. Boldin was expected to receive stitches in his lip and then return to Arizona on Bidwill's private plane. It is unclear whether Boldin will miss any time at this point, but how he feels over the next few days likely will determine his status. As happens with any trauma to the head, the team's medical staff will monitor the player's response over the next several days to see whether he has any residual symptoms (nausea, dizziness, headaches). A player's activity will be determined based on whether those types of symptoms are present.
In the meantime, everyone can be thankful that this injury to Boldin does not appear to be as serious as it looked at first sight. It serves as a reminder of the physical risks associated with moving large bodies through space at high speed.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers:
Rodgers had another tough outing this week against Tampa Bay, one that was made even tougher because of an injury to his throwing shoulder. Rodgers was hurt in the third quarter on a scramble, suffering what might have been a separated shoulder, according to ESPN reports. But he remained in the game to throw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings. Rodgers described what he felt during that pass as "pretty intense pain," but the fact that he was able to make the throw at all bodes well for him.
Rodgers then exited the game and remained on the sidelines until there was roughly 2:30 left in the game. Although he returned, he left shortly thereafter following an interception, his third of the day.
Rodgers' prognosis is uncertain, and he will undergo more evaluative tests over the next couple days. Of course we will update this throughout the week as we learn more. But those of you who play in two-quarterback leagues should keep in mind that Matt Flynn will get the nod at starter if Rodgers cannot play in Week 5 versus the Falcons.
Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals:
It was a surprise when Palmer showed up on Friday's injury report with soreness in his throwing elbow. The team listed him as questionable at that time, but both coach Marvin Lewis and Palmer himself indicated Palmer was expected to play Sunday. The surprise was even greater Sunday morning when the Bengals announced Palmer would serve only as the team's emergency No. 3 quarterback, with Ivy Leaguer Ryan Fitzpatrick getting the start in his place. Ironically, Palmer's younger brother, Jordan Palmer, was listed as the No. 2 quarterback against Cleveland.
The Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that Palmer was sidelined with inflammation in his right elbow and that, although Palmer lobbied to play, the decision was made to hold him out in the interest of his long-term health. The Enquirer adds that Palmer initially attributed his elbow soreness to overuse but said Sunday that he was injured in the game against the Giants in Week 3, when his arm was grabbed as he was making a pass. Palmer had an MRI but has not elaborated on the results. Lewis says that Palmer will be re-evaluated Wednesday.
The concern with inflammation in the elbow region is how it could affect Palmer's ability to grip the ball since those muscles attach at the elbow. It could also affect his strength when throwing the ball downfield. Whenever inflammation is present, it adds to the concern that the problem could linger, particularly if the tissue is stressed before it has had a chance to recover. Palmer will have to demonstrate that he can effectively grip and throw in order to resume his starting role, and we just have to wait to see how he progresses during the week.
Other noteworthy injuries:
Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte left Sunday's game in the fourth quarter because of an injury to his left (nonthrowing) hand. He apparently suffered a cut that required a few stitches, and Tarvaris Jackson stepped in to finish out the game. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that Frerotte got his hand caught in another player's face mask and cut a blood vessel, hence the need for the stitches. Frerotte has indicated he expects to play next Monday.
The Panthers lost both starting offensive tackles Sunday. Jordan Gross, their left tackle, left the game because of a head injury, and rookie Jeff Otah, their right tackle, exited because of a right ankle injury. Gross' condition will be evaluated throughout the week, but he reassured his teammates with a thumbs-up sign as he left the game on a cart. Otah's injury was not to the same ankle that has troubled him since college. Otah suffered a left high ankle sprain in college and was still dealing with the aftereffects of the injury during training camp. This latest ankle sprain did not seem as serious to Otah, according to the Rock Hill Herald. To add to the offensive injury list, quarterback Jake Delhomme took a knee to his right quadriceps muscle and was limping about somewhat. We will keep an eye on all three as the week progresses.
Raiders running back Darren McFadden entered Sunday's game with a case of turf toe in his right foot. He played last week with the same ailment, but it appeared to limit him more this week despite the fact that his practice routine between Weeks 3 and 4 was very similar. Coach Lane Kiffin told the Sacramento Bee that McFadden "wasn't right today. We even thought of not dressing him, but we didn't have anyone else." Kiffin was likely referring to the absence of fellow running back Justin Fargas, who was sidelined because of a groin injury. The best news for the Raiders from an injury perspective is that they have a bye in Week 5, which allows these two backs some much-needed rest. We will update their status heading into Week 6.
On a positive note following Week 4, Jets quarterback Brett Favre seemed to move around pretty well on his recently sprained ankle. It's amazing what healing powers six touchdown passes can have. Wide receiver Laveranues Coles also looked much-improved in his play, as he has been recovering from a quadriceps injury. The Philadelphia Eagles had some nice contributions from wide receiver Reggie Brown, who seems to be past his hamstring and Achilles issues. Quarterback Donovan McNabb did not appear to be limited by the chest contusion he suffered in Week 3, but running back Brian Westbrook sat out because of his ankle sprain. However, given that Westbrook warmed up prior to the game to test it, it would appear he will return next week. And finally, Chicago Bears kick returner Devin Hester resurfaced and even played some at wide receiver, which was a surprise because early reports had hinted that he would be limited. Most importantly, Hester appeared to emerge relatively unscathed, which is a good sign for him going forward.
Be sure to check back here throughout the week as we update these and other injuries. Also, stop by the injury chat (11 a.m. ET Tuesday and Friday) to discuss the status of your injured players. Hope to see you there!