Injury Watch: Contenders lose Palmer, Albert to season-ending knee injuries
Here are the injuries we're monitoring after Week 10's Sunday games.
Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals (knee): The low point of the Cardinals' 31-14 win over the Rams came when Palmer went down in the fourth quarter with a non-contact injury. It was feared that Palmer suffered a torn left ACL in the same knee that he had repaired for ACL and MCL tears in 2006, and those fears were confirmed Monday afternoon. Palmer, who signed a three-year, $50 million contract extension last Friday, will be out for the rest of the season, and the team with the NFL's best record will have to deal with a new reality -- backup quarterback Drew Stanton will have to take the Cardinals as far as he can.
"We can win the Super Bowl with Drew Stanton," Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians told TheMMQB.com's Peter King after the Rams game. "There is no doubt in my mind."
That's a maybe -- Arizona went 2-1 early in the season with Stanton when Palmer was rehabbing a nerve issue in his throwing shoulder -- but they'll have to do it with far more than Stanton. In those three games, Stanton never came close to 300 passing yards in any single game and failed to complete 50 percent of his passes. Arians will have to manage Stanton in his system, which he can do, but if Palmer is out for the rest of the 2014 season, the 8-1 Cardinals will need their healthy skill players to reach another level.
Branden Albert, LT, Miami Dolphins (knee): Speaking of big contracts and indispensable players, Albert is in the first season of a five-year, $46 million deal that he's lived up to so far by allowing just nine total quarterback pressures in Miami's first eight games. But against the Lions on Sunday, Albert was carted off the field in a great deal of pain, and the knee injury involved will require season-ending reconstructive surgery, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. On Monday, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin announced that the team would put Albert on injured reserve.
Against the Lions, Miami solved that issue by moving rookie right tackle Ja'Wuan James to the left side and putting Dallas Thomas where James had been. In the long term, it will be a fairly major downgrade for a rebuilt offensive line that had been showing good results all season.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Chicago Bears (ankle): As if Chicago's 55-14 loss to the Packers on Sunday night wasn't bad enough, Marshall suffered a left ankle injury -- different than the right ankle injury that limited him earlier this season. Marshall said after the game that the injury won't keep him out against the Vikings next Sunday, though he may miss practice. What the Bears can do for their scuffling offense and defense is another matter, and at 3-6, Marshall's team is staring a lost season right in the face.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills (groin): Watkins tweaked his groin in practice last Wednesday, though he said that he could "do everything" against the Chiefs on Sunday. In this case, "everything" consisted of four catches for 27 yards on 10 targets for the talented rookie receiver in a 17-13 loss. At 5-4, the Bills are trying to stay afloat in the AFC East, and the more Watkins they have, the better.
Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos (foot): Not that Denver needed his help to trounce the Raiders on Sunday, but Hillman, who has been dealing with ankle issues for a couple weeks, was taken out of the game in the fourth quarter in what was called a precautionary measure. Backup C.J. Anderson looked very good rolling through Oakland's entire defense after a short pass from Peyton Manning for a 51-yard touchdown, so it isn't as if the 7-2 Broncos are hurting in the ground game. Juwan Thompson is still in the mix, and Montee Ball will be back soon from his groin injury. Denver could go with a committee in the backfield for the rest of the season.