Injury Report: Next Man Up, Week 10
Last week’s injury list wasn’t as devastating as what the league endured in October, but it did feature the two biggest losses of the season so far. I already covered how the Cincinnati Bengals will move on without Geno Atkins last week. Now, let’s examine whether or not the Green Bay Packers can stay afloat while missing one of the league’s best quarterbacks.
Injury: Aaron Rodgers, Packers QB (Fractured Collarbone)
Replacement: Seneca Wallace
What They’re Losing: Aside from a couple of rough outings in Baltimore and Cincinnati, Rogers has been playing at his usual MVP-like level. Only Philip Rivers has a better Accuracy Percentage this season.
What They’re Getting: Wallace didn’t attempt a single deep pass in his 23 drop-backs Monday night, and his 40.0% Accuracy Under Pressure was second-worst of any quarterback last week. I’d say it was a small sample size, except that he struggled in both those areas in previous seasons.
Outcome: The Packers have only survived without left tackle Bryan Bulaga and slot threats Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley because Rodgers is an expert at escaping pressure and throwing deep. Wallace is not. Blind faith in Mike McCarthy is the only reason I could justify being optimistic about the Packers’ passing game until Rodgers returns.
Injury: Kelechi Osemele, Ravens LG (Herniated Disc)
Replacement: A.Q. Shipley
What They’re Losing: Other than Joe Flacco, Osemele was the best Raven on the field in Super Bowl XLVII, earning a +5.4 grade for the game. But his erratic play was mostly down this season, as he scuffled in pass protection and didn’t get much push in the run game (like most of the rest of Baltimore’s line).
What They’re Getting: Ravens fans can’t be excited about a player who has been cut from three teams and earned a stunning -7.6 grade in his only game earlier this season at left guard. Looking on the bright side, his bad performance came at the hands of the Miami Dolphins’ dominant defensive tackles, and Shipley performed well when playing in nearly half the Colts games last season.
Outcome: I would have considered this a bigger loss earlier in the season, but it’s become clear that Osemele hadn’t exactly turned a corner in last year’s playoffs. It’s hard to forget Shipley’s disaster against Miami, but he’s shown enough positives in the past that I don’t see this as a big downgrade for Baltimore.
Injury: Steve Gregory, Patriots S (Broken Thumb)
Replacement: Duron Harmon
What They’re Losing: Following in the footsteps of Rodney Harrison, Gregory came to New England from the San Diego Chargers, and has now played his best football under Bill Belichick. He’s been exposed in coverage at times, most notably in last season’s Conference Championship loss, but has limited those mistakes this season while earning a solid 8.3 Run Stop Percentage as a box safety.
What They’re Getting: The verdict is still out on the rookie Harmon, as he’s allowed just one completion for 3 yards in coverage but only earned one defensive stop in his limited snaps. He did miss a tackle last week, which is troubling after a preseason in which he missed six of his 21 tackle attempts.
Outcome: Gregory’s strong presence down low provided a nice complement to free safety Devin McCourty’s stellar coverage. The Patriots defense is already on shaky ground without Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, and they’ll be in even deeper trouble with a rookie safety missing tackles on the second level.
Injury: Jeremy Kerley, Jets WR (Dislocated Elbow)
Replacement: David Nelson
What They’re Losing: Kerley doesn’t get enough credit for all he does for the Jets’ offense. Last season, he had more yards on deep passes and more yards from the slot than the rest of New York’s receiving corps combined. Though he hasn’t gone long as often this season, he’s still accounted for 42.5% of the Jets’ yardage from the slot.
What They’re Getting: Greg Salas saw his first snaps of the season after Kerley’s injury, but it was Nelson who manned the slot. His 1.86 Yards Per Route Run are the best rate of any Jets receiver with more than 10 routes this season.
Outcome: Kerley’s role is understated, but Nelson is just two seasons removed from being the Bills’ primary producer from the slot. The Jets have dialed back Geno Smith’s deep passes in the last couple of weeks, and Nelson gives the rookie a big solid target underneath.
Injury: Kyle Rudolph, Vikings TE (Broken Foot)
Replacement: John Carlson
What They’re Losing: Rudolph is best known amongst fantasy football owners for his gaudy touchdown total last year, but he’s also been one of the best pass blocking tight ends since he entered the league, allowing only six QB pressures in three seasons. His run blocking this year hasn’t been up to par, but he was on pace to easily pass his receiving yardage total of last season before his injury.
What They’re Getting: Carlson racked up 98 yards, a touchdown, and a career-high PFF grade in his start for Rudolph Thursday night. However, he’s ranked near the bottom of tight ends in Yards Per Route Run in each of his previous three seasons.
Outcome: Perhaps Carlson will regain some of the form that encouraged the Vikings to sign him to a five-year contract just last year. But even in his Seahawks days he was never an efficient receiver, making Thursday night’s performance seem more like an outlier than the start of a renaissance.
Injury: Richie Incognito, Dolphins LG (Suspension)
Replacement: Nate Garner
What They’re Losing: Though Incognito suffered no injury, he is a roster loss that now needs to be replaced on the field. He didn’t deserve a trip to the Pro Bowl last season, but he has consistently brought above-average production and has the eighth-highest grade of any left guard this season.
What They’re Getting: The ultimate utilityman, Garner has filled in at all five positions on the line in his six seasons with the Dolphins. Left guard is where he’s shined most, earning a +5.2 grade and allowing just one QB pressure in four career starts there.
Outcome: Many think the Dolphins sacrificed on-field production for off-field diplomacy when they suspended Incognito, especially on a line that’s struggled to protect the passer as much as Miami has. But Garner has held up well when asked to fill in before, and I trust that he will do so again.
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