This was supposed to be the season Matt Ryan got the type of protection he needed to be the elite quarterback he's capable of being.
Instead, it's become a next-man-up scenario almost every week along the offensive line.
The Atlanta Falcons shelved yet another offensive lineman for the year Monday as center Peter Konz suffered a season-ending torn ACL on Sunday, a source confirmed to ESPN Insider Adam Caplan. Konz took over for Joe Hawley, who suffered a torn ACL in a Week 4 loss at Minnesota. And now the Falcons have to turn to undrafted rookie James Stone to hold things together at the position.
The Falcons have five offensive linemen on IR with projected starting left tackle Sam Baker (knee) and reserve Mike Johnson (Lisfranc) injured in the preseason, and Hawley, Konz, and Lamar Holmes (foot) going down within the first seven games of the regular season.
The Falcons signed veteran tackle Jonathan Scott on Monday, but he's more like just another body than a player who will come in and make an immediate impact.
With Stone set to start at center against the Detroit Lions in London this Sunday, the Falcons will march out their fifth different starting offensive line in eight games.
In other words, offensive line coach Mike Tice has quite a task ahead of him. But Tice knew to prepare for the worst. He made an interesting comment after Hawley and Holmes were placed on IR simultaneously.
"I think what we lost more than anything is quality depth," Tice said Oct. 3, two days prior to a road loss to the New York Giants. "Now we have to groom some depth over the next few weeks for the next wave of things that can happen. Something's always going to happen. This is the NFL. You don't get through the season unscathed."
Well, something else happened.
Konz, who lost his starting job to Hawley last season, actually performed admirably in two-plus games as the starter before the ACL injury. Without him, the Falcons lose a player comfortable as a communicator and a player used to snapping the ball to Ryan.
Implementing the rookie Stone into the lineup might not be the biggest concern up front. Rookie left tackle Jake Matthews continues to battle through an ankle injury that has noticeably affected his play. Matthews received a minus-9 grade from Pro Football Focus. It contributed to Ryan being sacked a season-high five times and being hit eight times at Baltimore. Ryan was pressured on a season-high 32 percent of his dropbacks against the Ravens, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
The Falcons haven't been as dynamic on offense as they were at the start of the season, and breakdowns along the offensive line have a lot to do with it. Matthews is supposed to be the anchor. But it's not one person. The entire unit has to have better cohesion.
But that's hard to do when there's a different body in the lineup every week.
McCoy said after Flowers was evaluated by the team's medical staff, he was cleared to return to the field. But after a few defensive snaps, Flowers left the field again, and was taken to the locker room. Flower came back out with the rest of the team in the second half, but never returned to the field.
"We'll go through the normal protocol in the next couple days," McCoy said about Flowers. "If he's healthy enough to play, he'll play. If not, he won't play."
The Chargers did not practice on Monday. But according to league rules, the Chargers had to release an estimated injury report.
According to that report, Flowers, Donald Brown (concussion), Ryan Mathews (knee), Manti Te'o (foot) and Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring) would not have practiced on Monday. Jason Verrett (shoulder) and Steve Williams (groin) would have been limited participants.
McCoy does not know if Verrett, who missed the Kansas City game, will be ready for Thursday.
"He's working extremely hard," McCoy said. "He worked extremely hard last week. And we've got a couple days before we play."
Foster was injured during the Saints' 24-23 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday. The exact nature of the injury is unknown, though it was obviously significant enough to place him on IR.
Although the second-year pro had just one tackle and no sacks this year, he'll be missed as a rotational pass-rusher. Last year, Foster had three sacks as an undrafted rookie out of Illinois. He was averaging about 12 snaps per game this season, sometimes playing in a four-end pass-rush formation.
The Saints' entire defensive line has struggled to generate the same kind of pass rush as they did last year, so it hurts to lose any player that could have been a possible asset. They still have decent depth at defensive end, though, with starters Cameron Jordan and Akiem Hicks and backups Tyrunn Walker and end/tackle Brandon Deaderick. So it's unclear if they'll look to replace Foster with another end or look to add a player elsewhere on the roster.
As for the Crabtree/Davis move, it's hard to speculate on why the Saints wanted Crabtree back. He was presumably signed as insurance two weeks ago after starter Jimmy Graham suffered a shoulder injury, but he was released when it became clear that Graham could play (30 snaps in a limited role Sunday). So maybe he's still Graham insurance, or maybe the Saints liked enough of what they saw to potentially use him as an extra tight end and special teamer.
Davis was promoted from the practice squad on Saturday because the Saints were thin at linebacker with backups Ramon Humber and Kyle Knox both sidelined by ankle injuries. Perhaps the Saints are optimistic that one or both will be able to return. Davis will likely be re-signed to the practice squad if he clears waivers.
Cornerback Omar Bolden, who had also lined up as the Broncos' kickoff returner at times Sunday, is not expected to be available for Thursday's game. He suffered a concussion in the closing minutes of the win over the San Francisco 49ers and is now under the guidelines of the league's concussion protocol.
Bolden suffered the injury with 1 minute, 19 seconds to play in the game when he collided with 49ers wide receiver Bruce Ellington.
Linebacker Steven Johnson, a special teams regular, suffered what Broncos head coach John Fox called a "mild ankle sprain."
Fox said Monday the Broncos also spent some of their time this past offseason reviewing how to construct the team's schedule in a short week after last season's loss to the Chargers in a Thursday night game. The Chargers' 27-20 victory on Dec. 12 was the Broncos' only home loss last season.
"We've already addressed this long before now," Fox said. "Just preparation and I think we've got a good plan, we'll see how we execute it."
And the Thursday night games have been a target of criticism this season with questions about whether the short week has affected the quality of play in those games. At least publicly, the Broncos offered Monday they were ready to get back to work to keep their current win streak going.
"I like it," said linebacker Von Miller. "I like playing on Monday nights, I like playing on Thursday nights. You hear a lot about it's a short week and all this stuff, but I like it. I enjoy it; it's another prime-time game. They are doing the exact same thing that we're doing. They have a short week also. So I like it. You ... just hop in the ice tub, get stretched, get some body work and you'll be ready to go. I enjoy playing on Thursday nights and I'm looking forward to it."
"You just have to look at the game as a quick turnover, meaning it's a good thing or you check your oil on those type of games ... in saying what type of team are we," said Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware. "I think [the criticism is] overblown. I don't see any guys complaining on our team about having a Thursday game, we're just looking at it as yes, it's a quick turnaround and we have to do what we have to do to get the job done."
Niners coach Jim Harbaugh said in his weekly news conference Monday that Kilgore will undergo season-ending surgery Tuesday.
"It's an obstacle to overcome, and he's made of the right stuff," Harbaugh said of Kilgore. "No doubt that he'll overcome it.
"We'll say a prayer and hope the surgery goes real well tomorrow, which I'm confident it will, and he'll start healing."
Kilgore was in his first year starting at center, replacing three-year starter Jonathan Goodwin, and had been playing well. He was injured in the third quarter when Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall rolled up his leg from behind while tackling Frank Gore for no gain.
Undrafted rookie Dillon Farrell replaced Kilgore but had to leave the game after rolling an ankle with about seven minutes to play, though Farrell showed no ill effects in the immediate aftermath of the game.
Third-round draft pick Marcus Martin figures to assume the starting center role, as he has been recuperating from a left knee injury suffered in the third exhibition game.
"He's excelled at the mental aspects, before and after he was injured," Harbaugh said of Martin. "I've been real impressed with that.
But Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arian wasn't a fan of Dockett's antics.
"It won't happen again," Arians said Monday afternoon.
Dockett told ESPN.com he hasn't been fined by the team for the whiteboard message.
Here's a photo of the sign taken by a Cardinals fan in Oakland:
Recapping the rest of Arians' Monday news conference:
- Arians said there's no structural damage to Andre Ellington's ribs. The running back is "just sore."
- There's a possibility defensive end Calais Campbell could return to practice this week. He's been out with a strained MCL since suffering the injury against Denver in Week 5.
- Arians said safety Rashad Johnson is being evaluated for a patellar tendon but it could be severe tendinitis.
- Rookie tight end Troy Niklas is doubtful for the Eagles game, Arians said.
- Second-year running back Stepfan Taylor lost weight to get quicker but lost some power at the same time, Arians said.
- Arians explained how the Cardinals could be 31st about the pass but No. 1 against the run: "They can't run. They're going to throw." When he was asked if Arizona could win with the second-worst pass defense, Arians said "We have so far."
- Arians said he won't push Ellington to practice on Wednesdays even though it's hindering the timing in Arizona's pass game: "He can't if he can't hardly walk."
- Arians on the fake punts the St. Louis Rams pulled off against Seattle: "That was some big cojones as Good (offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin) would say."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny knew immediately something bad had happened.
He felt a pop and searing pain on the right side of his chest when he sacked Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer midway through the fourth quarter of the Jaguars’ 24-6 victory over the Browns on Sunday. He stayed down on the turf for a moment, grabbed his chest with his left hand, and then slowly got up and went back into the defensive huddle.
It wasn’t until he came off the field after Hoyer’s incomplete pass on third down one play later that he found out just how badly he was injured. He had torn his right pectoral muscle away from the tendon that attaches it to his shoulder.
"I knew something was wrong [when it happened] but not that wrong, you know what I mean?" Posluszny said Monday afternoon. "You know how it is. We’re winning, we’re up, you want to finish the game."
The injury prevented him from finishing the game and it’s also going to keep him from finishing the season, too. Posluszny is trying to schedule surgery this week and the Jaguars are going to place him on season-ending IR. It’s certainly a blow to a defense that has played its best over the past three weeks but it’s just as disappointing for Posluszny, who had only missed one game in his three-plus seasons since he joined the Jaguars as a free agent in 2011.
"It’s not easy, especially [because] you get the feeling now that we’re just starting to pick things up and the team’s going to roll a little bit and get on a nice winning streak and play some good ball, so you want to be a part of that," he said. "It’s tough to get hurt now and know that I’m not going to play football for a long time."
Posluszny said team physician Kevin Kaplan hasn’t given him a timetable on the rehab process but assured Posluszny that it would not impact his preparation for the 2015 season. Posluszny has two more years remaining on the six-year, $45 million contract he signed in 2011 and is scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2015 and 2016.
Posluszny is in his fourth season with the Jaguars after spending four years with Buffalo. The 2013 Pro Bowler has recorded at least 110 tackles from 2008-2013 and was second in the NFL with 162 tackles in 2013. Not only is he the team’s leading tackler (69) and best defensive player this season, he’s also responsible for making the defensive calls and is one of the team’s leaders.
The Jaguars’ defense has played its best football in the last three weeks, allowing only two touchdowns and 32 points over that span. They’ve forced four of their seven turnovers during that time as well, including three against Cleveland.
That was with Posluszny in the lineup, though.
"That’ll be huge, losing Poz," defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said. "Poz is the guy that jells our defense together. He’s the leader of our unit, so losing him will be huge. But Poz, he’s a leader. He’ll step in. Any question a guys has to ask, Poz will be there to answer the question and help the guys through the game plan. It’ll be big for him to be in there in the meeting room helping the guys."
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said it’s likely that fourth-year player J.T. Thomas will take over as the middle linebacker. He was cross-trained at outside and inside linebacker during training camp but has played mainly on special teams this season and has just three tackles. Second-year player LaRoy Reynolds, an undrafted rookie in 2013, will move into Thomas’ spot. He started at OTTO in the first three games before getting benched because of poor play and has played mainly on special teams since then.
"The guys are going to do a great job," Posluszny said. "Our D-line’s going to continue to play really, really well. That’s going to set the tone for the entire defense. The linebackers are going to step up and take advantage of the opportunity."
CINCINNATI -- The battered Bengals, shut out at Indianapolis over the weekend, may get a lift Sunday if the good news they have been receiving of late about A.J. Green's toe injury continues throughout the week.
Coach Marvin Lewis said during his news conference Monday that Green has "made a lot of progress." Those comments stand in stark contrast to ones he made Friday when he said the timing of Green's return was "up in the air."
For now, signs seem favorable that the Pro Bowler could return to action this Sunday when the Bengals host Baltimore.
"He's made significant progress and feels good about everything that he's being told," Lewis said Monday. "What the prognosis is is, I guess, the most important thing. It's been a consistent message he's gotten. As we said earlier, the time [off] will allow things to progress and so forth that way."
Green has been dealing all season with an injury to his right big toe that he considers "something like turf toe." After suffering the injury in the opening quarter of the Bengals' 23-16 win over the Ravens in Week 1, Green ended up playing through that game. He lasted just six plays the week after, removed because of pain from the injury. He has since missed two complete games, including Sunday's 27-0 loss to the Colts.
Before Sunday's game, the Bengals tweeted a short video of Green jogging along their sideline. The video was captioned "A.J. testing out his toe."
The Bengals amassed just 135 yards of total offense in the blowout. Receiver Mohamed Sanu, who slipped into Green's role, caught just three passes for 54 yards, including a 32-yard reception in the fourth quarter. The week before, he caught 10 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown.
Some will have to be around the facility, however, to get treatment for various injuries. And there are a few significant Giants injuries to monitor over the next couple of weeks.
"Schwartz has got a long way to go," Coughlin said.
Coughlin also pointed out Jennings is trying to work his way back from a pretty serious knee injury -- an MCL sprain he suffered in the Week 5 victory over Atlanta. Jennings said his goal is to get back in time for the Week 9 "Monday Night Football" game.
"That's what we're trying to get to," Jennings said. "We've got the bye week and we've got some down time, so I'm just working. Preparing my body so that when it heals I can pick up where I left off."
Jennings said he would do more running this week and then "eventually get into the cuts." Schwartz said the goal for him was to practice on the field with the team next week when they return from the bye week.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Giants are banged up as well. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins left Sunday's game in Dallas in the first half with a calf strain. An MRI on Monday confirmed the strain and nothing more, but Jenkins was still on crutches and in a walking boot Monday and said it was "probably going to be at least a couple weeks" before he could play again.
Middle linebacker Jon Beason re-aggravated the toe injury that cost him all of training camp and three games earlier this season, and Coughlin said Beason likely would go back to see the same foot specialist he's seen a few times this year. It's possible the Giants will end up having to shut Beason down due to this injury, but Coughlin said that's not in the plans at this point.
And cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie plans to continue to play through the leg and back injuries that have been limiting him. "It's going to be a continuous kind of thing here," Coughlin said, though he's hoping the two weeks of rest will help.
Wayne injured his elbow and had it wrapped while standing on the sideline at the end of the game. Freeman left the game with a hip pointer but later returned, and Richardson left the game in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. He could have returned, but coach Chuck Pagano kept him as a precaution because the outcome had already been determined in the Colts' shutout.
The Saints certainly hope Lewis will be back this week, since they'll need their top corner more than ever Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers and their dynamic passing offense.
Center Jonathan Goodwin left via a cart with an unspecified leg injury. The severity is unknown, but Goodwin and teammates reacted on the field as though it might be significant before he was helped off the field by trainers.
Defensive end Glenn Foster was also ruled out of the game with a knee injury and was later seen on crutches. Nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley was ruled out after being tested for a possible concussion. And receiver Kenny Stills was sidelined on two separate occasions for undisclosed reasons. He mentioned afterward that he was ill, but it's unclear if that's the only issue he was dealing with.
Coach Jason Garrett said Carr tweaked his hamstring, but “we don’t think it’s too, too bad.”
Garrett said left tackle Tyron Smith suffered no ill effects from a sprained ankle that kept him out of a day of practice last week.
With the Cowboys’ next game coming on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” against the Washington Redskins, the Cowboys will have an extra day of rest/preparation. The players will be off on Monday and Tuesday.
“You do get a bonus day and different teams use the bonus day in different ways,” Garrett said. “Maybe earlier in the season teams might use it as a practice day but we chose to give our players off and let them do stuff on their own, do their rehab and get their running done, get their preparation started. We’ll come in on Wednesday as if it’s a Tuesday, we’ll clean up the game from Sunday and then get ready to go back to work on Thursday.”
There is no rest for the coaches, nor is there extra time to look at the Nov. 2 opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, with a short prep week to follow.
“We focus on this team who we’re playing, the Redskins on Monday night,” Garrett said. “Our energy will be to that. Because of the bonus day, the days may be a little shorter for us in a good way where we can spread the work out.”
Fuller's status is unknown for the Week 8 trip to New England to face the 5-2 Patriots.
"Up to this point today, I've heard it [the broken hand] as being a non-surgical issue," Trestman said.
"He went out of the game because of his hip more than his hand, so we'll just see. He said he felt good today, but it'll be day to day. I don't know that the hand will deter him. I don't know that, I haven't talked to [the training staff] about it. But that's what I understand at this time."
The No. 14 overall selection of the 2014 NFL draft, Fuller replaced Charles Tillman (injured reserve) on the first team in Week 2, recording three interceptions and three forced fumbles in five starts.
Fuller's third-quarter exit on Sunday forced the Bears to play Sherrick McManis at cornerback opposite Tim Jennings, with Demontre Hurst lining up at nickelback.
Konz is Atlanta's fourth starting offensive lineman to suffer a season-ending injury.
Konz hurt his knee in the Falcons' 29-7 loss at Baltimore on Sunday. Rookie James Stone, who signed with the team in May as an undrafted free agent from Tennessee, took over for Konz and looks like the presumptive starter moving forward.
"It was time to get out there, do my job," Stone said. "That's why we're all out here, to play football. I go out there with those guys and play at the highest level I can."
Atlanta's patchwork offensive line struggled against Baltimore. Matt Ryan was sacked five times.
"We had way too much pressure," coach Mike Smith said. "Our quarterback was hit and sacked way too much. There were times where we really didn't have a chance to get the play off, and that's very difficult for a quarterback, and we have to do better with our protection."
Smith said he wouldn't use injuries as an excuse for the team's fourth straight loss.
Ducasse said he felt a "sharp pain" in his knee after Jerick McKinnon's 3-yard run late in the first quarter, when Bills tackle Marcell Dareus appeared to make contact with the back of Ducasse's leg and cause him to fall down while Dareus was attempting to tackle McKinnon.
"Vlad, he bumped his knee, so we'll see," Zimmer said.
Center John Sullivan is still going through the league's concussion protocol after getting injured on the same play as Ducasse. Zimmer wasn't sure about Sullivan's status for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Joe Berger and Mike Harris replaced Sullivan and Ducasse at center and guard, respectively.