Monday November 14th, 2011

Michael Vick's injury-marred season added another chapter Sunday when Vick broke two ribs against the Cardinals. (AP)

Here's our weekly look at the key injuries suffered during the NFL’s Sunday slate of action. Once again, the medical perspectives are provided by’s injury expert, Will Carroll.

Michael Vick, QB, Eagles (ribs): Vick broke two ribs Sunday, at some point early in the game. He then exited for a play in the second half after taking a shot from Arizona linebacker Paris Lenon. injury expert Will Carroll: Vick apparently suffered "a couple" broken ribs on the second play of the game, but having gone back and watched the tape, I can't spot where it happened. Late in the game, Vick took a helmet to the back and stayed down, making me think it hit his kidney. Vick wears a normal flak jacket, but as we've seen that only reduces incidence. This injury is all about pain management. Tony Romo was able to play through his rib fractures due to a more advanced flak jacket made by Unequal Technologies, which Vick already uses to protect his hand. The difference is that Vick takes more hits than Romo.

Who takes Vick's spot?: If Vick cannot practice or play, Vince Young would step into the starting lineup Sunday night in New York. Young has thrown just one pass (an incompletion) this season.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions (finger): After tossing four interceptions (including two pick-6s) in a 37-13 loss to Chicago, Stafford revealed that he had fractured the index finger on this throwing hand during a Week 8 win at Denver. Stafford wore gloves Sunday, partially because of the cold and partially to protect that injured finger.

Carroll: Stafford fractured the tip of his right index finger. That's not as bad as it sounds for a QB. The worry is that he'll lose some touch or have some issues with the center snap. For throwing, the ball actually is more involved with the middle finger and thumb, so Stafford shouldn't lose much there. Fingers are tough to protect in football, so this one will be about pain management as well.

Who takes Stafford's spot?: Stafford should be in the lineup when the Lions host the Panthers next Sunday, but another shot to his already injured hand could force Detroit to turn to Shaun Hill. Hill started 10 games in 2010.

• Leon Hall, CB, Bengals (Achilles): Hall tore his left Achilles' tendon Sunday, according to multiple reports, which is a devastating blow both to Hall and the Bengals. Hall picked off his second pass of the year prior to suffering his injury.

Carroll: Hall ruptured his Achilles tendon and is headed for surgery. The Bengals' top cover corner is done for the year.

Who takes Hall's spot?: Six-year vet Kelly Jennings was behind Hall on the depth chart and filled Hall's role Sunday. The other option? Adam "Pacman" Jones (remember him?), who's working to get over a hamstring injury.

A.J. Green, WR, Bengals (knee): Losing Hall hurts the Bengals. Losing Green for any extended period of time probably would put the dagger in any playoff hopes. Green came down awkwardly on his right leg as he went up over top of Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark to pull in a touchdown Sunday. He limped to the bench and was scheduled for an MRI Monday.

Carroll: Green landed awkwardly, but was saved from significant damage by being knocked sideways and having good muscular strength. The worry is that the pain and swelling indicate some level of damage to soft tissue -- meniscus, ligaments, and/or tendons. While it's not "serious," it's notable and Green's response to treatment will be key in coming back. Watch him closely this week to make sure he's not only running, but stopping, one of the biggest tests for a sore knee.

Who takes Green's spot?: Certainly no one can replace the electric rookie receiver, but fellow first-year man Andrew Hawkins came up with five catches for 56 yards in Green's stead against Pittsburgh.

• Eric Wood, C, Bills (knee): Wood tore his ACL in Buffalo's loss to Dallas, a devastating loss for the upstart Bills. It's also a disappointing end to the season for Wood, who was playing extremely well just two years removed from a gruesome leg injury.

Carroll: Interior linemen have it tough and Wood just got unlucky. He got rolled up in the pile of bodies and pop went the ACL. He's headed for surgery and the IR. I couldn't tell from tape whether or not Wood was wearing a protective brace. Research is mixed as to the efficacy of braces and if you ever want to kill an afternoon, ask a group of ATs what they think of prophylactic bracing and then step back. I'll bring the popcorn.

Who takes Wood's spot?: Andy Levitre is the favorite to fill the center spot, but he's had to play left tackle recently because Buffalo is ravaged by injuries.

• Julio Jones, WR, Falcons (hamstring): Jones came up lame again Sunday with another tweak of his hamstring -- he's had issues with both legs so far this season and missed two games earlier in the year. Jones sat out the entire second half and overtime in Atlanta's loss to New Orleans.

Caroll: Jones' re-injured his hamstring during last week's practice, and once he got back on the field, it was clear he couldn't sprint without causing it to tighten up. It's not another setback, just an effect of the first one. He's day-to-day, as the Falcons will be working to make sure that the same thing doesn't happen again next week.

Who takes Jones' spot?: Harry Douglas stepped into the lineup Sunday and torched the Saints down the stretch, making three grabs for 66 yards on Atlanta's final drive of regulation. He'd get the nod against Tennessee if Jones is out.

• Rashean Mathis, CB, Jaguars (knee): Mathis was carted off the field during Jacksonville's win over the Colts and later found out that he had torn his ACL. He'll be placed on injured reserve this week.

Carroll: Mathis made a move and collapsed in a heap. The diagnosis of torn ACL was apparent from the laxity in his knee visible from the stands. Mathis is headed for surgery and will miss the rest of the season, his last under contract with the Jags. Bad timing.

Who takes Mathis' spot?: Probably Drew Coleman, who had an interception and two pass break-ups Sunday in a relief role.

Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs (hand): Cassel left Kansas City's loss in fourth quarter and was replaced on the final possession by backup Tyler Palko, who led the Chiefs to a field goal.

Carroll: Cassel took a lot of hits Sunday, but he has an extra day before the Chiefs face the Pats next Monday night, so there's some more time for the medical staff to work. While the extent of the hand injury isn't known at this time, fractures are an easy diagnosis, so we have to assume it's not that.

Who takes Cassel's spot?: Palko would be the man of the hour at New England in Week 11.

• LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Jets (knee): Tomlinson came up hobbled in the closing moments of New York's Sunday night loss after being tackled low by the Patriots' Julian Edelman. Edelman is normally a receiver and was only in the game because New England was so thin in the secondary.

Carroll: Tomlinson's lower leg twisted as he fell and he made a very quick grab to his knee. That's usually the best indicator of injury, but Tomlinson got a bit lucky. While reports were that he had no "torn ligaments," that's probably a bit of a twist on words. Tomlinson likely has a low grade sprain, but not one that the Jets are concerned about beyond the day-to-day.

Who takes Tomlinson's spot?: The Jets play Thursday in Denver, so Tomlinson might not have enough time to bounce back. Joe McKnight would spell Shonn Greene in that case.

• Frank Gore, RB, 49ers (ankle, knee): Gore played just one snap in the second half of San Francisco's victory over the Giants after getting banged up early. He was coming off five straight 100-yard rushing games but gained no yards on six carries Sunday.

Carroll: Gore took a couple nasty hits to his robot knees -- ok, they're not really robot knees -- and was pulled from the game to keep anything from getting worse. Gore insists he could have played, but the medical staff and coach Tom Rathman, who knows a bit about bad knees, pulled him, so there must have been something like bruising or swelling. Gore should be fine, but expect a slight shift to Kendall Hunter, as I talked about in last week's Med Check. Who takes Gore's spot?: Kendall Hunter has filled in for Gore before, and he would be the choice again.

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