Week 4 was this season's worst for injuries, in terms of both volume and fantasy relevance of the players affected. While some players, like Dalvin Cook, suffered season-ending injuries, others may return to the field without missing any time. It was an ugly week, but if there was a silver lining it was that many of the injuries weren't as bad as initially feared.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans
Injury: strained hamstring
Mariota injured his hamstring after running in his second touchdown of the game against the Texans, forcing him to the sidelines for the rest of the contest, though that might have had something to do with the score. Mike Mularkey said that the injury is not serious, and Mariota is considered day-to-day. He’ll likely be a game-time decision this week, though the Titans are hoping he’ll be available this Sunday should he progress without setbacks. Mularkey also went into detail stating that Mariota’s injury was similar to that of DeMarco Murray, who was dealing with tightness and was taken out for precautionary reasons just a few weeks ago. If that is the case, then, assuming a positive week, Mariota should be available to play this upcoming Sunday. Soft tissue injuries, especially for mobile quarterbacks, can be tricky and caution is necessary to reduce the risk of aggravation. Should Mariota start this upcoming weekend, the Titans might try and keep Mariota in the pocket more to limit his running. Given the way Matt Cassel looked in relief last week, a diminished Mariota is likely still the Titans best bet under center.
David Carr, QB, Raiders
Injury: fractured transverse process of low back
The transverse process is the lateral-most aspect of each vertebrae in the spine. It is an area where many muscles and tissues attach, which makes it very painful should someone sustain a fracture in that area. The most common cause of this type of fracture is due to a direct blow to the low back, which Carr did take when he got kneed in the area on a sack last week. Tony Romo dealt with the same injury three years ago, and only missed one game. Cam Newton is in that club, as well, as he suffered a fractured transverse process when he got in a car accident in December 2014, and also missed just one game. It other words, the injury isn’t quite as debilitating as it sounds on paper. Carr is expected to miss at least two weeks, and Jack Del Rio said he could miss as many as six, but, as Romo and Newton proved, a one-game absence is a possibility. I’d bet on Carr returning sooner than people think, especially if the Raiders struggle offensively with E.J. Manuel under center.
Ty Montgomery, RB, Packers
Injury: broken ribs
Bottom Line: Montgomery has confirmed that he is dealing with multiple broken ribs that occurred on the first play of the Packers Week 4 game against the Bears. The problem when dealing with multiple broken ribs is that it potentially increases the risk of internal organ damage if attempting to return too soon, and Montgomery himself said that will likely be the determining factor for his playing status. However, it does seem like Montgomery is feeling better with reduced pain, which is an encouraging sign. Typically, multiple rib fractures do require at least a few weeks to recover, but it’s definitely possible for them to heal faster, or at least heal enough that a football player, with the proper protection of his midsection, wouldn’t miss his next game. It helps, too, that the Packers played on Thursday last week, giving him 10 days between games. Keep an eye on his practice status this week. He has yet to be ruled out, so if he starts practicing, it will be a good sign that the Packers training staff isn’t too concerned with the risk of making an uncomfortable situation worse.
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons
Injury: hip flexor strain
Jones suffered a hip flexor injury right before the end of the first half against the Bills and did not return. The hip flexors are a group of muscles that are in front the hip and are responsible for swinging the leg forward when walking or running. A strain to that area can make it difficult to accelerate when sprinting, but also to decelerate to change directions. It sounds like the strain Jones suffered is of the low-grade variety, and with the Falcons on their bye week, he should have enough time to recover from the injury. We probably won't hear much about the hip this week, but right now this shouldn’t concern his fantasy owners. Even if he’s limited in practice next week, we’ll likely be able to chalk that up to standard operating procedure for Jones, given his injury history.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings
Injury: torn ACL
The serious noncontact knee injury is becoming so commonplace that the general public can spot how bad it is, and likely what it is, right when it happens. Cook is the latest victim, with his promising rookie year getting cut short on a noncontact ACL tear. The Vikings confirmed the severity of the injury on Monday, officially ending Cook’s season. We’ll know more about possible further damage to his knee, or if it was just an isolated ACL tear, in the next few weeks. He should have a full recovery, but could be limited at the start of next year if other tissue around the knee was compromised.
Latavius Murray, RB, Vikings
Injury: still recovering from offseason ankle surgery
It’s not uncommon for someone who underwent ankle surgery that required the ligaments on the outer aspect of the ankle to be tightened to recover at a slower rate. Ligaments in general don’t get a lot of blood supply, so the healing process can be determined by a number of factors, including the quality of the tissue prior to the surgery, the mobility in the ankle, and the amount of instability present. That’s exactly the kind of surgery Murray had this offseason, and he is one of the unlucky ones who, while perfectly capable of playing, isn’t quite all the way back to 100%. He’s still expected to get the majority of the touches with Cook out for the season, but if his ankle is still in the healing process, he could cause further irritation by taking on a starter’s workload. I’d temper expectations of what to expect from Murray in the short term, but if he’s able to handle increased duties against the Bears this week without showing any ill effects next week, it should be all systems go.
Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks
Injury: ankle fracture and high ankle sprain
If you saw the replay of the injury, you can understand why his ankle sustained a fracture and a high-grade sprain. The bigger concern here is the ligamentous structures around the ankle, as it sounds like they may have been fully torn. That can affect how the ankle recovers, and the timetable to returning to high-level activity. It’s a shame for Carson, who was getting a real shot to have a major role in the Seattle offense. It’s unlikely we’ll see him on a football field until 2018, leaving Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise and J.D. McKissic to vie for touches out of the Seahawks backfield.
Zach Strief, OT, Saints
Injury: sprained knee
Strief’s knee got rolled up in the Saints win over the Dolphins last week, and he required help to get off the field. The fact that Strief just returned from an MCL sprain on the same knee is concerning, as players who get rolled up from behind are more vulnerable to ligamentous injuries around the knee. More testing will be performed to determine the severity to the injury, but even if it's considered a lower level sprain, the Saints might be cautious with how soon they allow him to return to make sure he's 100%. The Saints are on a bye week this week, and that will allow him to start the recovery process without trying to rush back. Strief got back on the field after missing two weeks with his original MCL sprain, and that’s typical for a low-grade version of the injury. If he indeed reinjured the MCL, this one could be worse.