On the surface, everything looks peachy for the Baltimore Ravens.
They've won four consecutive games, are unbeaten at home and, thanks to the Texans' Sunday night loss to the Packers, now share the best record in the AFC. But ...
Baltimore's defense has looked extremely ragged at times -- if not for Kansas City's turnover issues in Week 5 and Dallas' clock-management failings in Week 6, the Ravens' 5-1 record easily could be 3-3. And the situation became even more troublesome on Sunday, when Lardarius Webb left with a season-ending injury and Ray Lewis followed right behind him. Haloti Ngata also limped off the field, depriving the Ravens of their top three defenders (a fourth, Terrell Suggs, still sits on IR).
SI.com injury expert Will Carroll provides some idea just what Baltimore is looking at now, and helps us sort through the rest of Sunday's injury report:
• Lardarius Webb, CB, Ravens (knee): Webb appeared to bang knees with Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, which sent Webb to the ground writing in pain.
SI.com injury expert Will Carroll: Webb tore his ACL and is done for the season. It's as simple as that for the Ravens CB. He should have plenty of time to return for next season.
Who takes his spot?: Webb will be nearly impossible for the Ravens to replace with one guy, but Jimmy Smith will be asked to take on a bigger role.
• Ray Lewis, LB, Ravens (triceps): Lewis injured his arm while making a tackle, and the Ravens are now working to figure out just how severe the situation is.
Carroll: Ray Lewis seems inhuman, but a strained triceps reminds us that he is human. The muscle did not completely tear (rupture), but it is significant enough that surgery may be necessary to restore function. Lewis (and all LBs) use the triceps to push blockers off, to catch runners, and more. This is a devastating injury that could keep Lewis out for the rest of the season. Lewis was in too much pain after the game to perform all the manual tests, which is a bad sign. He'll head for scans early this week, but all indications are negative.
Who takes his spot?: The safe money is on Dannell Ellerbe, who has played well this year when given some chances. Lewis has struggled in 2012, too, so there may not be as big a drop-off as at CB with Webb's injury.
• DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys (foot): Murray had a huge first half against Baltimore but barely played in the second half after suffering what the Cowboys deemed a foot sprain.
Carroll: Murray left after hitting his foot on the back of a blocker's foot or leg. Early word from the Cowboys was that there is no fracture, but there is worry of a midfoot sprain or that later scans might show a Lisfranc fracture. Either possibility is bad. If it is a sprain, it could be anywhere from a week to the season -- not much help, I know -- but they tend to heal slowly, as does Murray. Add in the turf and a notable uptick in midfoot injuries and this is definitely an issue not just for Murray but around the league.
Who takes his spot?: Felix Jones would have to handle the majority of the load, but Philip Tanner also picked up nine carries Sunday.
• Trent Richardson, RB, Browns (ribs): Richardson left in the third quarter Sunday with what the Browns initially called a "flank" injury. He did not return and, as of now, is questionable for Cleveland's next game.
Carroll: Richardson took a big shot to his ribs. Initial testing did not indicate a fracture, but the Browns will make sure with additional scans on Monday. Richardson believes he will play, but the Browns will be conservative with his return. Look for Richardson to be back, fitted with a new rib protector, next week.
Who takes his spot?: Montario Hardesty took over on Sunday, and he would be the starter if Richardson has to sit.
• Brandon Lloyd, WR, Patriots (shoulder/hip): Lloyd came down hard while trying to make a diving catch late Sunday. He came back onto the field, but he clearly seemed shaken up after the play.
Carroll: It's never easy to get details on injuries from the Pats -- and they're under no obligation to do this -- but Lloyd did get back out on the field late in Sunday's game. Various reports have his injury as a hip, but it seemed to be his shoulder that the medical staff was looking at. Getting back on the field and having the shoulder pads on without any sort of harness is a positive sign. We likely won't know more until late week practice reports come out, but I'm not that concerned.
Who takes his spot?: The Patriots mix and match so well that it's hard to say exactly. Deion Branch or Julian Edelman are next in line at WR.
• Kevin Kolb, QB, Cardinals (ribs): Kolb took a big hit as he scrambled late in Sunday's loss to Buffalo, and he looked to be in a great deal of discomfort as several trainers rushed to his side.
Carroll: Kevin Kolb has a rib injury. From where he was protecting and where he pointed on the sidelines, it appears the injury is much closer to the sternum than most rib injuries. QBs tend to be hit on the side, for obvious reasons. If Kolb's injury is anything other than very minor, he is likely to miss at least a week and be fitted for a more advanced rib guard like those worn by Robert Griffin and Michael Vick.
Who takes his spot?: John Skelton, who's less than 100 percent himself because of an ankle issue, would retake the starting gig.
• Joe Staley, OT, 49ers (head): Staley was laid out by Giants' DB Stevie Brown in the third quarter -- Brown was blocking following an interception. The 49ers' lineman suffered a concussion and did not return.
Carroll: Staley will be subject to the NFL protocols and can return once the symptoms are cleared up.
Who takes his spot?: Losing Staley would leave a big hole for San Francisco. Leonard Davis or Joe Looney would be tabbed as his replacement.
• Bilal Powell, RB, Jets (shoulder): Powell left Sunday's game in the third quarter after injuring his shoulder and did not return. Reports already indicate that he'll miss at least one more week.
Carroll: Bilal Powell dislocated his shoulder during Sunday's game. The Jets say he will miss at least one game, but the length of his absence will depend on whether there was any soft tissue damage in the shoulder caused by the shoulder leaving the socket. Reports have Powell in significant pain, even after the joint was reduced (put back in place) and had significant swelling. These are negative signs, but the scans on Monday will give us a better idea of how long Powell will be out.
Who takes his spot?: Joe McKnight also suffered an injury Sunday, so the Jets may have to ride Shonn Greene even more until the backfield situation stabilizes.
• Sam Shields, DB, Packers (shin): Shields was kicked inadvertently on his right leg as he closed in for a tackle, causing his knee to buckle a bit. He was helped from the field and carted to the locker room.
Carroll: Sam Shields had an unusual injury for the NFL. He was kicked in the shin, near the ankle. It is unclear what is going on at this point, but he was in a lot of pain at the time. Anyone who has been kicked in the shin (or Yankees fans) knows how that can feel. The area is one of the most exposed areas for a modern football player. This could be anything from a simple bruise to a simple fracture.
Who takes his spot?: Jarrett Bush replaced Shields against Houston on Sunday, though rookie Casey Hayward's two interceptions may have opened some eyes. Any injury to Shields would be felt more heavily when the Packers are in nickel and dime sets.
• Nick Perry, LB, Packers (knee): Perry went down in a heap and immediately grabbed for his knee. He did walk off under his own power but did not return to the game.
Carroll: Nick Perry collapsed during the game with what appeared to be a serious knee injury. Then a miracle happened. He popped up, walked to the sideline, and was seen riding the stationary bike later. Perry seems to have missed the worst possibilities, but will likely be heading for scans to see if there is any ligament or tendon damage in the knee early this week.
Who takes his spot?:
The Packers could have issues at linebacker, since D.J. Smith
also exited Sunday's game with an injury. Erik Walden
filled in for Perry.