Week 8 was another eventful week for a number of teams who are scrambling to replace starters. Two All-Pro players were injured, the Vikings are now down their top five cornerbacks, while both Baltimore and Green Bay have key players expected to miss time due to COVID-19.
Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of the biggest injury news heading into Week 9 of the 2020 NFL season:
Good news in Arizona, where it appears RB Kenyan Drake’s ankle injury isn’t as severe as initially anticipated and he could be back in Week 10 or 11. Linebacker Jordan Hicks left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury and was seen at practice, albeit without his helmet. Could Hicks’s absence finally give rookie first-round pick Isaiah Simmons extended playing time? Simmons played a season-low five defensive snaps on Sunday and Kylie Fitts got 25 defensive snaps against Seattle.
Calvin Ridley left Thursday’s game with a mid-foot sprain and is considered day-to-day. Ridley is in the midst of a break-out season, averaging career highs in yards per target and receptions per game. Russell Gage should be the next man up if Ridley misses Week 9.
The Ravens lost left tackle Ronnie Stanley for the rest of 2020 to a broken ankle on Sunday. Stanley was PFF’s second-rated pass blocking tackle in 2020 and his 80.0 overall grade ranked 13th at his position. With Stanley out, the Ravens juggled their offensive line, moving RT Orlando Brown to replace Stanley and putting DJ Fluker at right tackle. Brown started at left tackle in Week 4 this year and received an 84.9 pass-blocking grade from PFF. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey also announced he tested positive for COVID-19 with a rather nonchalant tweet.
Center Mitch Morse suffered the fifth concussion of his career just three snaps into Sunday’s game. Morse has been a tremendous pass-blocker this year, allowing just eight pressures and zero sacks all year. Jon Feliciano finished the game at center for Buffalo in his first game of the season. Feliciano received an overall grade of 79.6 from PFF for his effort on Sunday, but did allow two pressures in 22 snaps.
The Panthers are optimistic Christian McCaffrey will be able to return in Week 9 after being placed on the IR following Week 2. Starting CB Donte Jackson suffered a toe injury on Sunday, but it doesn’t seem too serious and Matt Rhule is hopeful Jackson participates in Wednesday’s practice. Corn Elder replaced Jackson on Sunday, allowing 52 yards on seven targets.
Right tackle Bobby Massie played just four snaps on Sunday before exiting with a knee injury. Center Cody Whitehair was already inactive with a calf injury and LG James Daniels is out for the year with a pectoral injury. Starting in place of Whitehair, Sam Mustipher struggled in his first career start, allowing four pressures and receiving an overall grade of 46.8 from PFF. Jason Spriggs replaced Massie and was even worse, allowing two sacks and grading out at a 40.8 overall.
The Bengals enter their bye week and it couldn’t come at a better time. Cincinnati’s entire starting offensive line missed Week 8. Michael Jordan was a late addition to that group as he was forced out of action on Sunday with an illness. However, all five starters could be back in Week 10 when the Bengals season resumes, including G Xavier Su’a-Filo, who has been on the IR since suffering an ankle injury in Week 1. Pro Football Focus ranks the Bengals 25th in pass-blocking this year, but Cincinnati is tied for seventh in run-blocking. Running back Joe Mixon could also return to action following the bye. He’s missed two games with an ankle injury.
Myles Garrett suffered a knee injury on Sunday, but as Kevin Stefanski told reporters, the Browns “dodged a bullet” and Garrett shouldn’t miss any time following the results of his MRI. Garrett was able to finish Sunday’s game, albeit in a limited role. However, with a Week 9 bye, the Browns should not be without their star pass rusher. Garrett ranks second in the NFL in both sacks and total quarterback pressures.
For the first time all year, Dallas remained relatively healthy throughout a game. However, the good news ended on Tuesday when the team announced Andy Dalton was being placed on the COVID-19 list and will miss his second-straight game. Prior to that announcement, Dalton was poised to start against the Steelers in Week 9. Once again, the Cowboys will turn to Ben DiNucci, who averaged 4.5 yards per attempt in his first NFL start last week.
Cornerback A.J. Bouye suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win just one week after returning from a shoulder injury. Bouye has allowed a passer rating of 109.0 when targeted this season. Bryce Callahan moved over to fill Bouye’s spot on Sunday and picked off Justin Herbert late in the game to seal the victory. Callahan has been tremendous this season, allowing a passer rating of 46.0 when targeted this season and ranking as the third-highest graded CB on PFF.
Kenny Golladay suffered a hip injury on Sunday, playing just 18 snaps and catching zero passes before exiting. Per Ian Rapoport, Golladay is already expected to miss Week 9 and is considered “week-to-week” moving forward, however, he doesn’t seem to be an IR candidate. Marvin Hall was a revelation filling in for Golladay on Sunday, catching four passes for 113 yards. However, the Lions are also trying to add to their depth at receiver, reportedly working out Mohamed Sanu this week.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers travel to San Francisco on Thursday night and have a huge question mark in their backfield. Starting RB Aaron Jones hasn’t played since Week 6 with a calf strain and RB AJ Dillon was placed on the COVID-19 list on Monday morning. Unfortunately, Jamaal Williams will miss Thursday night’s game as well after being considered “close-contact” with Dillon. That leaves Dexter Williams and Tyler Ervin as the only healthy running backs on the Packers roster. Ervin has four carries for 43 yards in 2020, Williams has played just 15 special teams snaps. Left tackle David Bakhtiari was limited in Monday’s practice as well as he recovers from a chest injury.
The Texans are coming off their bye week, but did receive some good injury news. After getting injured in Week 7, CB Bradley Roby is expected to return in Week 9, as is TE Jordan Akins, per Romeo Crennel. Roby has graded as the 19th-best cornerback in coverage this season on PFF.
Rookie WR Michael Pittman Jr. returned from IR, but caught just one pass for six yards. Linebacker Darius Leonard played for the first time since Week 4, recording nine total tackles and forcing a fumble. However, both WR TY Hilton (groin) and WR Ashton Dulin (knee) were unable to finish Sunday’s game. Both guys will be “monitored” this week according to Frank Reich. Running back Jonathan Taylor also seems to have suffered an ankle injury on Sunday, but the Colts don’t seem too concerned about it.
Gardner Minshew will miss Week 9 a thumb injury that was not disclosed to the team until after Week 7. Despite putting up similar numbers to his rookie campaign, Minshew is just 1-6 as a starter this season. Replacing Minshew will be rookie sixth-round pick Jake Luton. The Oregon State product will take his first NFL snaps on Sunday after throwing 28 touchdowns and just three interceptions in his final year of college. In other news, Doug Marrone expects both LB Myles Jack and S Jarrod Wilson to return in Week 9.
Kansas City Chiefs
Mitchell Schwartz missed his second-straight game with a back injury. The right tackle ranks 21st among all tackles in pass-blocking in 2020, per PFF. Mike Remmers started for Schwartz again and struggled, allowing two pressures and receiving a 35.2 run-blocking grade from PFF.
Los Angeles Chargers
Joey Bosa left Sunday’s game with a concussion and is currently in concussion protocol. It’s still too early in the week to know if Bosa has a shot of returning for Week 9. Isaac Rochell picked up the slack after Bosa left, finishing the game with a sack and two pressures in 19 pass-rushing opportunities. Guard Trai Turner was considered a game-time decision on Sunday, but was inactive for the fifth-straight game.
Los Angeles Rams
Jalen Ramsey was out on Sunday due to an illness and RB Darrell Henderson played just 18 snaps before exiting with a thigh injury. However, Sean McVay said Ramsey was “feeling better” and Henderson is “good,” so neither guy should be expected to miss time. Tight end Tyler Higbee returned from a hand injury that forced him to miss Week 7, but caught just two passes for 14 yards in 57 snaps.
Las Vegas Raiders
Right tackle Trent Brown was slated to return from the COVID-19 list on Sunday, however, an issue with a pregame IV led to him being sent to a Cleveland hospital. As of Tuesday morning, it was reported Brown was released from the hospital and headed back to Las Vegas to join his team. Brown’s status for Week 9 remains in question. Sam Young started for Brown on Sunday and really struggled, allowing two sacks in just 12 pass-blocking opportunities before being benched for Brandon Parker, who performed much better in the passing game and should be the starter at right tackle if Brown remains out.
The Dolphins remained relatively healthy on Sunday, with an elbow injury to LB Elandon Roberts being the only malady that could factor into Week 9. DeVante Parker made his return from a groin injury he suffered in Week 6, but played only 29 snaps and caught just one pass for three yards, although it was a touchdown.
Perhaps no position group in the NFL is as banged up as the Vikings secondary. Mike Hughes has been on IR since suffering a neck injury in Week 6 and Holton Hill hasn’t played since Week 4 due to a foot injury. But things went from bad to worse on Sunday when Cameron Dantzler was carted off the field with a neck injury, Mark Fields suffered a “pinhole puncture” of his lung and Kris Boyd left the game with a knee injury. Rookies Jeff Gladney and Harrison Hand finished the game for Minnesota on the outside, with safety Anthony Harris forced to play in the slot. Dantzler was able to fly home with the team on Sunday night, however, Fields’s father told reporters his son had to be driven home on Monday and will miss 2-3 weeks. Gladney was targeted 10 times on Sunday by Aaron Rodgers, allowing seven catches for 62 yards and two touchdowns.
New England Patriots
Star cornerback Stephon Gilmore sat out Sunday’s game after “tweaking” his knee in practice this week. However, with all the trade talk surrounding Gilmore, it seems like that may have been a precautionary move. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year has taken a significant step back this season, allowing a 100.9 passer rating when targeted, up from 48.0 in 2019. The Patriots lost two other starters on defense on Sunday when DT Lawrence Guy (shoulder) and LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (groin) were unable to finish the contest. While New England is thin along the defensive line, help could be coming in the form of DT Beau Allen, who is in the midst of his 21-day return period on the IR. Rookie Josh Uche could replace Bentley if he misses time. The second-rounder from Michigan played his first NFL snaps on Sunday, recording one tackle and one quarterback hit in 12 snaps.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints were without receivers Michael Thomas and Marquez Callaway on Sunday. Thomas hasn’t played since Week 1 due to an ankle injury, a team-issued suspension, and a hamstring injury. Callaway is dealing with an ankle injury after enjoying a pair of big games, catching two touchdowns against the Chargers and eight passes for 75 yards against Carolina. However, the bigger development is on the other side of the ball where DT Sheldon Rankins is expected to miss three weeks with a sprained MCL. David Onyemata played a season-high 52 snaps in Rankins’s absence and recorded a sack and three pressures. Shy Tuttle and Malcolm Roach should be the guys who move up the depth chart with Rankins out.
New York Giants
The Giants put up a valiant effort against Tampa Bay on Monday night, but their offense sputtered for most of the second half. New York was without Devonta Freeman, who suffered an ankle injury in Week 8, but should be back for Week 10. Wayne Gallman got the majority of the work in Freeman’s absence, playing 32 snaps, while Alfred Morris and Dion Lewis each played 21. Starting CB Ryan Lewis was a late scratch with a hamstring injury, pressing Isaac Yiadom into action. The former Bronco was given an overall grade of 60.9 by PFF for his performance on Monday night. Yiadom allowed four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown on seven targets.
New York Jets
The Jets are dealing with some minor injuries to a few of their key players. Quarterback Sam Darnold is dealing with soreness in his right shoulder again after being hit in the fourth quarter on Sunday. Adam Gase would only say the team is doing their “due diligence” when it comes to the young QB’s condition. Gase did say DT Quinnen Williams will miss some practice this week after tweaking his hamstring against the Chiefs, but couldn’t give an update on his status for Monday night’s game against the Patriots. The former first-round pick has totaled eight pressures in the last three weeks.
Right tackle Lane Johnson was expected to play on Sunday, but was a late scratch due to swelling in his knee. Jordan Mailata was able to flip to right tackle with Jason Peters returning, but struggled, receiving a pass-blocking grade of 30.3 and an overall grade of 53.0 from PFF. Both DT Malik Jackson (quad) and Darius Slay (ankle) were forced out of Sunday’s game, but Doug Pederson claimed both guys should be ready to go when the team returns from their bye week. The Eagles did welcome back TE Dallas Goedert and WR Jalen Reagor from the IR, but the duo combined to catch four passes for 33 yards, although Reagor did have a touchdown. Running back Miles Sanders is expected to be back after the bye week as well.
The Steelers remain the NFL’s lone unbeaten team after their defeat of the Baltimore Ravens, but Pittsburgh suffered a pair of injuries to defensive linemen on Sunday. Cam Hayward suffered a quad injury that is considered “minor” and he could be back next week against Dallas if everything goes well in practice. As for Tyson Alualu, his non-contact injury turned out to just be a sprained MCL and he could miss just a few weeks. The Steelers have a very favorable schedule the next few weeks, playing at Dallas, hosting the Bengals, and then traveling to Jacksonville before a rematch with the Ravens. Former sixth-round pick Isaiah Buggs could fill in for Alualu if he has to miss time. Buggs played a season-high 34 snaps on Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers just can’t catch a break in 2020. Jimmy Garoppolo suffered another ankle injury and is now expected to miss six weeks after missing two games earlier this year with a high-ankle sprain. Once again, Nick Mullens was first of the bench for Kyle Shanahan, but Mullens was benched for C.J. Beathard in his last start in Week 5. George Kittle broke his foot on Sunday and is expected to miss at least eight weeks. Kittle missed some time earlier in the season, but was spelled by Jordan Reed, who is currently on the IR with a sprained MCL. Reed is expected back in the next two weeks. Ross Dwelley should get the start in Week 9 if Reed doesn’t return. Dwelley did catch a touchdown in Week 8, but that is his only catch since Week 3.
Jamal Adams missed another game, however, Pete Carroll was pretty adamant that his absence was due to an illness that kept him off the practice field and Adams is ready to go for Week 9. Carroll didn’t seem as enthused for the potential return of Chris Carson, saying they’re just taking it one day at a time with the running back. Guard Mike Iupati (ranked 20th among guards by PFF) has missed three games and it sounds like the Seahawks are being cautious with the aging vet. Jordan Simmons has played well in Iupati’s place, allowing just three hurries and zero sacks in his three starts this season.
On Tuesday, Phillip Dorsett had surgery on his foot and isn’t expected to return soon. It’s also likely he misses the rest of 2020.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Scotty Miller got the start opposite Mike Evans on Monday night with Chris Godwin out and Antonio Brown serving the final week of his suspension. Godwin has a “50-50 chance” of playing next week against New Orleans, despite the original prognosis being 4-6 weeks. But with the signing of Brown and the emergence of Miller as a threat, Tampa may opt to let Godwin rest up a bit more. Godwin missed time this year for a hamstring injury and a concussion before suffering the finger injury.
Wide receiver Adam Humphries suffered a concussion on Sunday, but Mike Vrabel said the receiver was up and moving around. However, Humphries will have to make it through concussion protocol before getting back on the field. The bigger injury was dealt to punter Brett Kern, who suffered a wrist injury and is expected to miss some time. Replacing the 2019 All-Pro could be the wonderfully named Tucker McCann, who currently resides on Tennessee’s practice squad. The rookie is listed as a kicker, but he did punt at Missouri too, with 25 of his 68 punts in 2019 being downed inside the 20-yard-line.
Washington Football Team
Washington is coming off a bye week. Montez Sweat suffered a concussion in Week 7, but should be ready to return in Week 9. The big loss will be Landon Collins, who is now on the IR with a torn Achilles. Rookie seventh-round pick Kamren Curl should get the start on Sunday against the Giants. Curl has zero passes defended this season and has allowed a passer rating of 110.4 when targeted.