Thoughts and best wishes to Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano, who started treatment for leukemia last week. Early reports are favorable for a full recovery, but chemotherapy is never a walk in the park. Hopefully, he’ll be back to health and coaching soon.
Unlike last week, there are relatively few new injuries to discuss today. Of note, Santonio Holmes has a midfoot injury that, although Rex Ryan wouldn’t commit to anything specific, clearly has the Jets concerned about a Lisfranc sprain. Also, Jake Locker re-injured his left shoulder yesterday. Reading his lips, he told his offensive linemen that he “popped his shoulder out” and the trainers seemed to be examining him with that diagnosis in mind. We should know more on both players by mid-week, but it’s unlikely that either will be available for Week 5.
While there’s not a list of newly injured players to discuss today, a handful of key players returned from injury at less than full strength yesterday. Not surprisingly, none of them had effective games.
Reggie Bush faced a strong front seven in Arizona, but his lack of effectiveness had as much to do with his hesitancy at the point of attack as his strong competition. Bush did not play with the downhill style he’s shown over the past two seasons and often looked to protect himself while being taken to the ground. His patience paid off on a 21-yard third quarter run, but his left knee buckled when he planted to make an upfield cut at the end of the run. There were no concerning post-game reports. Expect him to be limited in practice this week and hopefully look more comfortable after another week of rest.
Fred Jackson didn’t show the hesitancy that Bush did in his return from an LCL sprain, but he was heavily braced and had very little lateral agility or straight line explosiveness. His less dynamic running style was probably more heavily influenced by his knee than the brace itself, but it’s hard to see Jackson returning to full form for another week or two. C.J. Spiller may have been a little hesitant to take it up between the tackles on an early carry and his AC sprain may well have contributed to his goal line fumble, but he gutted it out through the fourth quarter even after a relatively minor fall seemed to have aggravated his shoulder earlier in the second half. He’s not likely to be 100% in Week 5 either, but should be in better condition after another week of rest.
The return of Pierre Garcon was a great sign. He wasn’t explosive at the line of scrimmage and seemed to struggle a bit on the few times the Bucs jammed him at the line of scrimmage, but did not use an extra step to gather himself to make a block (though he wasn’t effective blocking at all) or to slow himself down at the end of plays. It’ll be another strong sign for his recovery if he’s able to increase his practice participation this week and avoid any re-conditioning injuries.
Greg Jennings didn’t return to yesterday’s game after his touchdown catch early in the second quarter. There didn’t appear to be an obvious re-aggravation on that play, but Jennings hadn’t looked comfortable getting off the line and missed a handful of snaps after gingerly getting up after a pass thrown behind him in the first quarter. Re-aggravations of muscle strains are often more significant than the initial injury and a known risk of returning at less than full strength. There’s a chance that Jennings only had a little added tightness and the Packers were being cautious, but that doesn’t wash in a tight, critical game or with the post-game comments about an aggravation. It’s more likely that Jennings misses multiple weeks than he plays in Week 5.
Finally, don’t buy any report that Julio Jones was seriously hindered by his hand laceration yesterday. Even if the laceration is near a finger or his palm, it’s not likely to be something that would keep him from being targeted or making catches. The Falcons’ game plan seemed to rely heavily on attacking Carolina’s front seven with the run and targeting Josh Norman over Chris Gamble. Julio Jones narrowly missed making multiple big plays and his targets were limited by Carolina’s coverage decisions and much better than usual pressure off the edge.
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