The Washington Redskins have braced themselves for Josh Norman missing up to a month with a fractured rib. They also know there's a chance he won't miss any time at all.
Norman fractured a rib making a tackle in Monday's 29-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Coach Jay Gruden said the cornerback will miss two to four weeks. Because the Redskins have a bye this weekend, Norman might be able to return for the Oct. 15 game vs. the San Francisco 49ers. The worst-case scenario would have Norman missing not only the 49ers game, but subsequent contests vs. the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys.
"There is a concern there," Gruden said. "I don't know where it is, how severe the pain is for him, but when you have to play bump and run, you have to tackle and all that stuff, I think it will be a pain-tolerance during [the game]. We have got to make sure it's healed enough where he can play and be effective and not do more damage to it. The initial report was a fractured rib will be two to four weeks. But since we do have the bye week, there is a chance he could be up for San Fran."
Norman isn't the team's only injury concern entering the bye week.
Running back Rob Kelley left with an ankle injury against the Chiefs and is considered day-to-day.
Left tackle Trent Williams was scheduled to undergo an MRI after aggravating his kneecap Monday. He suffered a similar injury in training camp.
Receiver Josh Doctson strained his shoulder trying to make the twisting catch in the end zone in the final minute, landing hard on it.
Without Norman, the Redskins struggled in coverage. Before his injury Monday, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith averaged 5.4 yards per pass attempt, according to ESPN Stats & Information. After Norman's injury, that number jumped to 8.0. The Chiefs scored no points with Norman on the field; 23 without him.
After Monday's loss, Norman said he lobbied the coaches to let him return to the field, hoping he might force Smith to throw to the other side just because of his presence. In the second half, Smith completed all seven passes to the left side of the Redskins' defense for 101 yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He went to that side on the first play after Norman exited, hitting tight end Travis Kelce for a touchdown.
"I just have to take my time and have faith," Norman said. "I wanted to go out there, but do I more help the team or hurt the team if I can't really run and breathe hard. It was tough. I told them to put me out there as a decoy. I was coming up with a whole bunch of things, let me get back out there. I just wanted to give [teammates] juice just like they give me."
The week off also will help tight end Jordan Reed fully recover from his rib/sternum injury; he also had injured his shoulder. Monday, he was limited to a role in the passing game only. They kept rookie Jeremy Sprinkle active, giving them four tight ends in order to line up in three tight end sets. Reed played 13 snaps.
"[Reed] wasn't quite 100 percent," Gruden said. "He wanted to play and felt he could help us in part of the pass game. When we play San Francisco he should be fully healed and a part of more plays."