By Chris Burke
December 10, 2012

Robert Griffin tried to return against the Ravens one play after injuring his knee, but couldn't continue. (Gary Cameron/Reuters) Robert Griffin tried to return against the Ravens one play after injuring his knee, but couldn't continue. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

Robert Griffin III has provided an unending string of exciting, highlight-reel plays this season, reigniting a frustrated Washington fan base in the process. The one dark cloud hanging over all of his rookie season accomplishments, though, has been the haphazard way he protects himself when running the football.

He had to leave a game earlier this season with a concussion, then was driven from Sunday's contest with the Ravens after he injured his right knee -- the same knee that he tore an ACL in back in college.

Will Griffin be back in the Redskins' lineup next week, as they continue their surprising playoff push? injury expert Will Carroll provides a prognosis for the potential Offensive Rookie of the Year, plus gives us some insight into several more key Week 14 injuries:

Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins (knee): Griffin's injury looked brutal -- as Haloti Ngata tackled him, Griffin's right leg whipped around violently and appeared to hyperextend. He tried to return, but collapsed to the ground in pain after only a couple of plays. injury expert Will Carroll: A sprain is a tear. I'm pretty sure that will be on my epitaph, but we have to say the Redskins said that Griffin had a sprain, but also a "clear MRI." A sprain, even a low-grade sprain, means there is damage (i.e. tearing) in a ligament -- the Redskins said Monday that Griffin had a Grade 1 sprain of his LCL. The normal action for a sprain is with the foot planted and then having the knee forced in a direction, overtaxing the ligament responsible for stability in that plane.

Griffin's whip action made that tougher to read. Both the collateral ligaments -- LCL and MCL -- were at risk, as were several other structures and the meniscus. Griffin previously tore an ACL in college, so his statement that "this didn't feel like that" had merit. He come back once the pain and swelling subside, and his knee is functional. He'll likely have to wear a brace.

Who takes his spot?: Kirk Cousins came through in relief Sunday, and he likely would get the Week 15 start in Cleveland. Rex Grossman would then join the lineup as Cousins' backup.

Fred Jackson, RB, Bills (knee): Jackson took a helmet to the knee in the fourth quarter, bending his leg awkwardly. Bills coach Chan Gailey said the injury "did not look good."

Carroll: Jackson appeared to re-injure on Sunday the knee that cost him time (and half his touches) earlier in the season. Jackson's previous sprain should have healed fully by this stage, but there's some possible weakness there. The Bills did not give specifics, but a two-to-three week heal would indicate an MCL sprain and would essentially mean the end of his season. (Early reports Monday confirmed an MCL injury for Jackson).

Who takes his spot?: C.J. Spiller's workload will increase in Weeks 15-17 -- as many have been arguing it should anyway.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs (ribs): Bowe's promising day -- he had 70 yards on two catches early -- came to an end when he took a knee to the back late in the first quarter against Cleveland.

Carroll: Ben Roethlisberger wore a special shirt with kevlar padding, one that allowed him to come back just a few weeks after breaking a rib in a bad location. Dwayne Bowe fractured two ribs on Sunday after taking a hit that caught him in just the wrong way. The question I have is why players like Bowe don't wear the kind of padding that Roesthlisberger did to avoid this kind of injury. Bowe, if the fractures are confirmed in tests Monday, will be done for the season.

Who takes his spot?: The Chiefs' muddled offense has enough problems without asking Jonathan Baldwin to take Bowe's spot as the No. 1 option. That's likely what it would come to, though, if Bowe is indeed done for the year.

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears (neck): Another week under fire caught up to Cutler, who exited in the fourth quarter Sunday with a sore neck.

Carroll: Jay Cutler took some nasty hits on Sunday and while we often talk about impacts being "car crash" level, Cutler's neck injury is also one that is best understood in terms from car crashes. The force of a hit is absorbed into the body in some manner and has to be dissipated in some manner as well. It's simple physics. When structures can't hold up to those forces, something breaks or tears. With whiplash, it's usually the ligaments that help stabilize the cervical spine. It's painful and requires longer term management, but the best medicine for Cutler is likely to be his offensive line keeping him from taking these kinds of hits.

Who takes his spot?: Jason Campbell replaced Cutler late against Minnesota. He would be the Bears' starter in a pinch.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants (knee): Bradshaw limped off to have his knee looked at Sunday, then eventually lobbied his way back into the game.

Carroll: Ahmad Bradshaw's knee injury was just serious enough to keep him off the field long enough for David Wilson to explode. This reminds you why NFL players hate coming off the field for any reason. They know that whole "next man up" thing they often praise is also an instrument of their own doom. Bradshaw's knee held up on his return, so we have to assume that it was minor. Watch for him to miss some practice this week and for him to miss some touches next game as Wilson tries to establish himself outside of Coughlin's doghouse.

Who takes his spot?: Wilson, so long as his fumbling issues are a thing of the past.

Stephen Hill, WR, Jets (knee): Hill went down when running a route, and he immediately began punching the turf in pain.

Carroll: The Jets appear to have lost Hill to a significant knee injury. The hyperextension and twisting motion of the injury do not bode well, though we will have to wait on an MRI for specifics. Hill had already been dealing with previous knee issues, so adding this kind of force to the knee in a weakened state is often even worse. It's a delicate balance between risk and function for a player to play through injury and while it's a calculated gamble, it is seldom done cynically. Hill and the Jets lost this one, but we're at a stage where this kind of injury doesn't result in careers being ended, just derailed for a bit.

Who takes his spot?: Chaz Schilens is next up, per the depth chart, but don't sleep on Mardy Gilyard seeing an opportunity here.

Willie Colon, G, Steelers (knee): Colon returned after missing two games to a knee injury, only to hurt that same knee again.

Carroll: Speaking of risk/reward, Colon was on the wrong side of that as well. He re-aggravated his previous knee injury despite bracing and is now likely done for the season. The Steelers did not release specifics, but it is likely that Colon tore things enough to require more immediate surgery.

Who takes his spot?: Pittsburgh likely will turn back to its Week 13 O-line alignment -- Maurkice Pouncey at guard and Doug Legursky at center.

Morris Claiborne, CB, Cowboys (face/head): Claiborne collided with teammate Danny McCray, sending Claiborne's helmet flying and opening up a cut on his face.

Carroll: Claiborne took what looked like a very nasty hit to his head on the sidelines. He was down for just a bit, but in the end, the Cowboys said he had only a cut lip. Replays aren't clear on how the laceration happened, but let's hope that the Cowboys also checked Claiborne for concussion -- or that the observers asked for a check. Either way, it looks like Claiborne will miss minimal time.

Who takes his spot?: Sterling Moore Mike Jenkins

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