The NFL's battle against serious head injuries took a very noticeable step back on Sunday. Because of all the flags for hits on defenseless receivers and increase in attention paid by officials to possible concussions, the league wanted to believe it was headed (pun not intended) in the right direction.
And even though there are still a number of players diagnosed with concussions each week, we've rarely seen the type of carnage Sunday brought at the quarterback position -- a position protected by more rules than any other.
Back to help us sort through the fallout of Week 10's key injuries, as always, is SI.com injury expert Will Carroll.
• Jay Cutler, QB, Bears; Alex Smith, QB, 49ers; Michael Vick, QB, Eagles (concussions): All three of these starting quarterbacks missed at least a half of action after being diagnosed with concussions. Their teams wound up going 0-2-1 with backup QBs.
SI.com injury expert Will Carroll: It was a bad day for brains in the NFL. We may have noticed losing three starting QBs in game, but there were at least nine others with similar injuries on this, a typical NFL Sunday.
I'll keep the soapbox stowed, but it is becoming clear that what the NFL is doing so far -- rule changes, fines and so forth -- simply isn't working. All three QBs were not too violently hit, but each was tested and did not pass the initial sideline screen (though Cutler stayed in the game until halftime). Now each will have to pass testing and be cleared by a doctor before returning. All could be back in plenty of time for next week or they could be out for quite a while. You just never know with concussions. On Monday, Andy Reid didn't rule Vick out from playing in Week 11.
Who takes his spot?: It was Jason Campbell, Colin Kaepernick and rookie Nick Foles for the Bears, 49ers and Eagles, respectively. Those are your new starters if any of the Cutler-Smith-Vick trio misses more time.
• Elvis Dumervil, DL, Broncos (shoulder): Dumervil exited Denver's win in the second quarter and did not return. He will head for an MRI Monday. (Update: The MRI revealed no significant damage.)
Carroll: Dumervil injured his shoulder ... but not really. There's the possibility that it is a labrum tear, but given the mechanism of injury, it is more likely that the muscles surrounding the shoulder took the brunt of the force. Dumervil took the joint outside its normal range due to outside force and something gave, most likely the lat. A bit more force or a bit more forward and it could have been the type of extension pec tear we see in too many linemen on both sides. Dumervil's injury could keep him out a broad range, from none to the rest of the season, depending on how it responds, but the function is the key. Expect this one to be much more on the low side, though the Broncos do have some room to be conservative with him.
Who takes his spot?: Malik Jackson saw extra snaps Sunday, though Robert Ayers might see the biggest uptick in playing time.
• Chris Houston, CB, Lions (ankle): Adding injury to the Lions' insulting loss in Minnesota, Houston had to be carted off in the second half after taking a hit on his ankle.
Carroll: If you're going to be the victim of a dirty play, as Chris Houston says he was, then it is some small consolation that the worst some dastardly doer could do is a mild sprained ankle. Houston was moving pretty well after the game according to reports. He will be tested and treated this week, but we should know by mid-week if this is going to be a problem. His lateral mobility will likely be a bit off, so look for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers WRs to test him with double moves early.
Who takes his spot?: Detroit's already thin at CB. Houston's absence could force Alphonso Smith into the starting lineup. Drayton Florence also returns this week from a hand injury.
• Fred Jackson, RB, Bills (head): Jackson stayed down after a hit late in Buffalo's loss to New England, and coach Chan Gailey said later that Jackson was not feeling very well.
Carroll: As with the QBs above, Fred Jackson has a concussion and was knocked out of Sunday's game. In Jackson's case, it was literally. His fumble, a costly one for the Bills, came after he was knocked unconscious. For all those Twitter wits that screamed butterfingers, I invite them to be demonstrations for concussion testing. Jackson will be subject to the NFL's concussion policy and will be back as soon as he is cleared. He's already been ruled out for Thursday's Week 11 game against Miami.
Who takes his spot?: C.J. Spiller splits time with Jackson, so he will take over No. 1 RB duties.
• Jason Avant, WR, Eagles (hamstring): Avant slipped coming out of a cut, then hobbled off the field. Worse yet: The play on which he was injured ended with Nick Foles' pass clanging off his helmet for an incompletion.
Carroll: There's a point in the season where a team has to assess everything. Clearly, the Eagles are at that point, so let me add one more thing to the list -- why so many hamstring strains? The team has had strain after strain, recurrence after recurrence, and remain devastated by injury. Some of these are outside their control, but someone inside -- or maybe outside -- the organization is going to need to take a hard look at whether they have done everything they can to control and reduce the injuries that are controllable and reducable. Avant's strain is said to be mid-grade, which could cost him a couple weeks. More tests will be done Monday.
Who takes his spot?: No Avant would mean more Damaris Johnson for the Eagles.
• Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants (undisclosed): Bradshaw has been dealing with a foot injury, but he added a second ailment to his list on Sunday.
Carroll: Ahmad Bradshaw had X-rays but would only say what the injury wasn't. That it is not an issue with his foot is positive, but what was it? While this is only speculation, the hit he took that caused a fumble appeared to put a helmet directly into the back of his hand. It would not be unreasonable to think something might have gotten injured there. There's really no indication and we'll have to wait for mid-week practices to get any more clarity, unless Sherlock Bradshaw drops another clue on the media.
Who takes his spot?: Andre Brown is next in line for carries in New York, and Bradshaw sitting out a game or two might actually lead to a couple carries for disappointing rookie David Wilson. The Giants have a Week 11 bye, so Bradshaw has some time.
• Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos (knee): Thomas fell with what looked like a serious knee injury Sunday, only to quickly return and enjoy a big game.
Carroll: Seeing one of your fantasy studs on the sideline having a knee tested by the medical staff is never a good thing. Then again, it's better to check than not and with Thomas, he was right back out on the field. Something happened, though what isn't quite clear, and Thomas appeared to be tested for some kind of knee laxity. These tests are standard and very telling so the fact that they did them and sent Thomas back out is a positive. We'll have to see if the Broncos want to have more tests done just to be sure.
Who takes his spot?: Denver seems to be in the clear for now. The Broncos also always have Brandon Stokley in their back pocket.
• Haloti Ngata, DT, Ravens (knee): The Ravens did not need Ngata's presence on D to dominate and rout the visiting Raiders. He remains less than 100 percent but he suited up Sunday.
Carroll: The Ravens had Ngata active, but he never touched the field. It was the perfect setup for the Ravens, keeping Ngata available if needed, but getting the rest that they hope helps the shoulder and knee injuries that have limited him all season. Next week could be a big test to see whether or not simple rest is enough to get him better or at least keep him going.Who takes his spot?: