Injury Watch: Losses of Cruz, Sproles leave NFC East contenders thin
Here are the injuries we're monitoring after Sunday's Week 6 action.
Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants (knee): Cruz went to the ground in agony after trying to catch an Eli Manning pass in the end zone late in the Giants' Sunday night loss to the Eagles. According to teammates, Cruz was screaming at the top of his lungs as trainers tried to bend his knee, and the reason became readily apparent. The Giants announced soon after Cruz was carted off the field that he had suffered a torn patellar tendon, which will almost certainly end his season. This means more snaps for rookie Odell Beckham Jr., who could cover the speed slot role that Cruz has made his own.
Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (knee): Sproles left the Giants game on his own power late in the game, but NBC's Michele Tafoya said that team doctors were testing the stability of the ACL and MCL in his left knee, and whatever the doctors told him, Sproles was reportedly not happy. Sproles avoided a season-ending ACL tear and is expected to miss a couple of weeks with an MCL sprain. Any length of time without Sproles in the backfield is a big hit for the 5-1 Eagles. Sproles has redefined Chip Kelly's offense this season, and his absence temporarily leaves Philly with no healthy backs in the rotation behind LeSean McCoy.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Dolphins (knee): The Dolphins announced on Tuesday morning that Moreno will be out for the season with a knee inury. He had missed two games already in 2014 with an elbow issue, and had undergone knee surgery in the offseason. Moreno had rushed for 148 yards on 31 carries with Miami, who he signed with in the offseason, and he'd gained just 10 yards on six carries in the Dolphins' Sunday loss to the Packers. Moreno's absence puts the ground game in Lamar Miller's hands. Moreno and Miller alternated reps in that game; Miller has 330 yards on 63 carries this season.
Dee Milliner, CB, New York Jets (Achilles tendon): The Jets' already shaky pass defense took another hit with the news that Milliner reportedly suffered a torn Achilles tendon while trying to block a field goal in the team's Sunday loss to the Broncos. That diagnosis was confirmed Monday, and a depth chart that had been impacted by the front office's reluctance to spend money on the position will really be tested now that Milliner, who has struggled through his career, is out for the rest of the season.
Jerod Mayo, LB, New England Patriots (knee): Mayo was carted off the field during New England's win over the Bills, and he'll miss the remainder of the season, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Mayo has been a major part of the Patriots defense for a long time, and with fellow linebacker Dont'a Hightower dealing with his own knee issues, Bill Belichick had to get creative, using safety Tavon Wilson in a linebacker role. Mayo has been especially effective on inside blitzes this season. Losing him will really affect what Belichick wants to do schematically.
Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots (knee): The Pats also lost Rodley for the season to a torn ACL and MCL. Expect Brandon Bolden to get more time in the backfield, with Shane Vereen asked to add to his versatility. Ridley has scored 19 rushing touchdowns in the last three seasons, but with a history of knee injuries, he'll be a "buyer beware" prospect in free agency next year
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (toe): Green, who missed the Bengals' 37-37 tie with the Panthers, told Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network that he will most likely miss next Sunday's game against the Colts. Marvin Lewis said Monday that Green "has a shot" to play. Fortunately for Andy Dalton, second receiver Mohamed Sanu was able to step up in Week 6, grabbing 10 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown against Carolina, but losing Green for any length of time would be as big a hit to Cincinnati's offense as could be imagined -- especially ahead of a matchup with a Colts defense blessed with a pair of stout starting cornerbacks in Vontae Davis and Greg Toler.
Alex Mack, C, Cleveland Browns (leg): Bad news for Cleveland's line, which might be the NFL's best overall this season: Mack suffered a broken fibula and ankle in the Browns' win over the Steelers. Mack is one of the best and smartest overall interior blockers in the league, and he had never missed a snap in his career to date. The Browns will have to scramble to replace him, possibly inserting right guard John Greco over.
Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions (hamstring): Riddick had a nice afternoon in Detroit's win over the Vikings -- he became a big contributor in Reggie Bush's absence and caught five passes for 75 yards and a touchdown. However, he also aggravated a previous hamstring injury and had to leave the game. With Bush reportedly set to return from an ankle injury in Week 7, Riddick at least put himself on the board as a good option in Jim Caldwell's offense.
Byron Maxwell, CB, Seattle Seahawks (calf): Seattle's defense has looked disconcertingly average during the team's recent 2-2 slide, and Maxwell has struggled at times. The first-year full-time starter is by far Seattle's most targeted defender, and he's done pretty well, but he stayed on the ground during Seattle's loss to the Cowboys after breaking up a Tony Romo pass to Dez Bryant. Fortunately for the Seahawks, Maxwell came out of it with a calf strain, when it was feared that he may have a high ankle sprain. Maxwell will likely miss a couple of weeks. With Maxwell out, Richard Sherman followed Bryant around the field far more than he usually does against top receivers, and that could be what he does far more often this season -- which may have been the better plan all along.