Week 7 injuries: NFL offenses take a hit
Redskins running back Tim Hightower tore his ACL in the third quarter of Washington's loss to Carolina. (Bob Leverone/AP)
Plenty of teams headed in to Week 7 banged up as it was, and the injury lists got even longer on Sunday.
Tracking some of the biggest injuries on the offensive side of the ball to come out of Week 7, and what they mean going forward:
• Tim Hightower, RB, Redskins (knee): Hightower seemed like he'd broken through the Redskins' muddled running back situation Sunday, putting up 88 yards on 17 carries against Carolina. But the final time Hightower touched the ball against the Panthers ended when his knee buckled, sending him crumpling to the turf. An MRI on Monday confirmed that Hightower had torn his ACL.
Current prognosis: Out for remainder of season
Who takes his spot: Ryan Torain will reclaim his spot as the Redskins' No. 1 back, with rookie Roy Helu's carries likely to increase as well. Helu has shown some flashes of brilliance in limited action this season, but Washington's options are relatively limited after that. Evan Royster could come up from the practice squad or Washington could seek out a free agent (Mike Bell? Kevin Smith?), but no one on the list should be expected to step in and have a major impact.
• Santana Moss, WR, Redskins (hand): And as if the Redskins' day wasn't bad enough -- up to and including a loss to Carolina -- their third leading receiver, Moss, suffered a fractured hand. He underwent surgery Monday afternoon.
Current prognosis: 5-7 weeks
Who takes his spot: Jabar Gaffney has two less catches than Moss but 60 more yards and ought to be John Beck's No. 1 target -- good luck scaring defenses with that tandem. There aren't a ton of viable options behind Gaffney, though. Anthony Armstrong probably has the best chance of seeing more playing time for the next month, pending how Moss' recovery time shapes out.
• Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos (hand): McGahee had ripped the No. 1 back designation away from Knowshon Moreno, who had been dealing with a hamstring injury of his own. McGahee topped 100 yards on the ground in three of Denver's first five games and had 76 Sunday before fracturing his hand. He will undergo surgery Tuesday.
Current prognosis: 1-2 weeks
• Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions (leg): Detroit's loss to Atlanta on Sunday, its second consecutive setback, nearly turned into a disaster when Stafford was hit awkwardly on the Lions' final offensive play and came up limping. Stafford said after the game that he would have tried to go back in had the Lions gotten the ball back, but he was receiving significant medical attention in the immediate aftermath.
Current prognosis: Day-to-day
Who takes his spot: If the Lions are lucky, no one. Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said Monday that he hopes to have Stafford back at practice by mid-week and expects his QB to start in Week 8 at Denver. If the Lions aren't lucky, Shaun Hill -- who filled in for an injured Stafford last year -- would likely get the nod under center.
• Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings (ribs): The explosive third-year Vikings receiver continues to have issues staying healthy. This latest ailment, a lingering rib injury, kept Harvin out of the lineup for the entire second half of Sunday's Minnesota loss to Green Bay.
Current prognosis: Unknown, MRI scheduled
Who takes his spot: The Vikings are not really in a spot where they can lose dynamic playmakers, but Harvin has been hurting all season. Michael Jenkins stepped up with three catches for 111 yards and a TD Sunday, with Greg Camarillo and Devin Aromashodu seeing extended minutes as well. Minnesota will continue to try to piece things together at wide receiver -- and in the return game, where Harvin has a major impact when he's healthy.
• Hines Ward, WR, Steelers (ankle): Ward had to be carted off to the locker room after taking a hard hit from Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson Sunday. He turned his ankle on the play and did not return for the second half.
Current prognosis: Unknown
Who takes his spot: The Steelers reportedly are in "wait-and-see" mode with Ward. But this injury does not hurt the Steelers nearly as much as it would have three or four years ago. Pittsburgh simply ratcheted up Emmanuel Sanders' playing time Sunday. Between Sanders, Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh can withstand Ward's absence, even in Week 8 against New England.
• Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals (knee): Wells left Sunday's Arizona loss to the Steelers with what the team deemed a bone bruise. He had 12 carries for 42 yards before exiting.
Current prognosis: 1-2 weeks
Who takes his spot: It was Alfonso Smith on Sunday, who finished with five carries for 17 yards and a touchdown. The Cardinals weren't running the ball much in the second half, since Pittsburgh jumped out to a lead. If Wells does miss game time, it'll be Smith and LaRod Stephens-Howling sharing the load, with Stephens-Howling seeing most of his action in passing situations.
• Mark Ingram, RB, Saints (foot): About the only thing that went wrong for New Orleans in a Sunday night whitewash of Indianapolis was seeing Ingram hobble to the locker room in the second half. Word later came down that Ingram had injured his heel.
Current prognosis: Day-to-day Who takes his spot: If Ingram cannot go, Week 8 against a winless St. Louis team would be an OK time for the Saints to be shorthanded. Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles should be more than capable of carrying the load, with Chris Ivory possibly able to come off the injured list to lend a hand.