Injury Impact: Cardinals holding out hope for two key offensive players
Here's the latest on the NFL's most prominent injuries.
Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals (ankle): The Cards may have dodged a bullet in Arizona's win over the Tennessee Titans. It was believed that Palmer may have suffered a severe high ankle sprain, but head coach Bruce Arians said Monday that the sprain was low-grade -- Palmer played through it, and should be good to go this Sunday against Seattle's defense.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals (concussion): However, the prognosis for Palmer's main target is a bit more complicated. Fitzgerald's father said Monday on Twitter that his son had passed the concussion protocol after the Tennessee game, but Kent Somers of AZCentral.com has heard that any such talk is premature. Generally, players who suffer concussions in Sunday games aren't cleared until at least mid-week. Thus, Fitzgerald's status for Sunday's game against the Seahawks is still up in the air. They'd certainly like to have him, as Fitzgerald is one of the few players that Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman can't seem to cover consistently.
Kevin Huber, P, Cincinnati Bengals (jaw, neck): If you watched Pittsburgh's 30-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night, you saw the killer block that Steelers reserve linebacker Terence Garvin put on Bengals punter Kevin Huber during Antonio Brown's 67-yard punt return touchdown. Huber left the game with what was called a "dental injury," which turned out to be a fractured jaw. According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Huber also suffered a fractured vertebrae in his neck, and will miss the rest of the season. Garvin was not flagged for the block, but former NFL VP of Officiating Mike Pereira inferred that the hit was not legal. If that's the case, Garvin can expect to receive a hefty fine this week. Not that it will help Huber at all.
Bruce Miller, FB, San Francisco 49ers (shoulder): Miller suffered what could be a significant scapula injury in the 49ers' win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and head coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday that the prognosis was "not good." If that's the case, it's a big loss for San Francisco's power-based offense -- Miller is an exceptional blocker, and the 49ers move him all around their offensive formations. Any long-term injury would likely have the 49ers signing Owen Marecic from their practice squad.
“Very significant," Harbaugh said of the loss. "He does so many things in the protection and the run game. Receiving out of the backfield. He is a multitalented, multi-use player. Special teams contributor on two, three phases, so it’s a loss.”
Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos (concussion): Another receiver who suffered a concussion against Tennessee's hard-hitting defense, Welker was not able to play in Denver's Thursday-night loss to the San Diego Chargers, and he had not returned to practice as of Monday. The Broncos very much need Welker in the playoffs, and they shouldn't require his presence to take care of the Houston Texans this Sunday, so expect the team to be cautious in this regard.
Charles Tillman, CB, Chicago Bears (triceps): Tillman hasn't played since Nov. 10, and Bears head coach Marc Trestman made the official announcement on Monday that the team will be shutting the former franchise cornerback down for the remainder of the season. Tillman had struggled through various injuries this year, and he was not nearly as effective as he had been in previous years. Tillman will be 33 in February, and he could hit the open market as a free agent unless the Bears decide to re-up.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins (concussion): You may find this hard to believe, but there were mixed messages coming out of the Redskins' coaching staff concerning the heath of a player last week. And we're not even talking about Robert Griffin III. Last week, FOX Sports reported that the team was considering shutting Reed down for the rest of the season. Head coach Mike Shanahan said that such a consideration had not yet been made. The Redskins listed him as questionable despite the fact that he didn't practice all week, but he didn't play during Sunday's loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Reed was reportedly experiencing headaches on Monday, so it seems a mere formality to end his season at this point. He hasn't played since Nov. 17.
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (groin): Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said Monday that he's seriously considering shutting Shorts down for the rest of the season, as his groin injury has not improved. Shorts, one of the team's most productive players, has played through the injury since mid-season, and aggravated it against the Houston Texans on Dec. 5. Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants (knee, concussion): Likewise, the Giants could be ready to take their most productive receiver off the field for the rest of the season. Cruz suffered a concussion and a sprained knee in Sunday's shutout loss to Seattle. The Giants are assured of their first losing season since 2004, and Cruz is in the first year of a six-year, $45.879 million contract extension, so shutting him down for the remainder of this lost campaign would seem to be the sensible thing.