Before the Sunday night game between the Steelers and Bengals there weren’t all that many injuries to star players, well, star players not named Aaron Rodgers at least. But the star player injury count went way up as Le’Veon Bell and A.J. Green were both forced from the game.
Le'Veon Bell took a low hit from safety Reggie Nelson after catching a pass over the middle and was forced from the game with a hyperextension in his knee. Coach Mike Tomlin said after the game that there didn’t appear to be any structural damage, but I’m sure they will do more tests to confirm that initial diagnosis. The Steelers play the late game on Saturday against the Ravens, so Bell will have a short week in which to recover. With LeGarrette Blount gone there really is no starting caliber or even starting caliber backup to take Bell’s place. Josh Harris and Dri Archer would share running back snaps and the Steelers would have to go on an all-out aerial attack, which could work against the Ravens poor pass defense if they are forced to play without Bell.
A.J. Green suffered a concussion after having the ball stripped and taking a hit from safety Mike Mitchell late in the fourth quarter. He’ll be in the concussion protocol and it will be a race to get him cleared before they head to Indianapolis to face the Colts on Sunday and if he can’t go Mohamed Sanu would get a big bump and the Bengals chances a huge fall.
Aaron Rodgers reinjured his calf and had to be carted to the locker room against the Lions on Sunday, but was able to return after missing just two series. He went on to help the Packers win and even had QB sneak for a touchdown. And the best news for his health and the Packers outlook is that he now gets a bye week to heal up. His return from the injury and ability to lead his team to victory to win the NFC North while limited with an injury has pushed him, in many people's minds, to the top of the MVP race with J.J. Watt. It will be an interesting vote this season.
Arian Foster suffered a hamstring injury against the Jaguars in the first quarter and wasn’t able to return. He was bothered by soft tissue injuries all season, but put up elite numbers when on the field. Like Matt Forte and Le’Veon Bell, Foster is one of the most fluid and patient runners in the league. Unfortunately his body just isn’t letting him stay on the field consistently. It will be interesting to see where he goes in fantasy drafts next season, as he appears to still have the ability, but will be a big injury risk once again.
Vincent Jackson was forced the Buccaneer’s game against the Saints with a groin injury midway through the first quarter. With inconsistent quarterback play and the rise of Mike Evans, VJax’s upside took a big hit this season. The Bucs do have the #1 pick and will take a quarterback, so much will depend on how quickly that quarterback can start to contribute for Jackson to benefit from better quarterback play.
Reggie Wayne made a great catch in the second quarter and had a huge head start as he sprinted down the sideline toward the end zone, but he ended up getting caught from behind after he suffered a groin injury mid-play. Wayne has been banged up much of this season and it seems like resting him in a game that had little meaning would have been a better move than not doing that. It’s hard to imagine Wayne being healthy enough to be of much use against the Bengals on Sunday.
Other Injury Notes:
Patriots left tackle Nate Solder was forced from the Bills’ game with a knee injury. . . . Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan exited the game with a left ankle injury. . . . Browns cornerback K'Waun Williams suffered an apparent head injury against the Ravens.