There were a lot of question marks surrounding some key players heading into Week 5 and somehow there are even more as we turn our attention to Week 6.
Week 5 had a ton of action, surprise inactives, injured All-Pros, and one quarterback suffering his first injury in nearly a decade. Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of all the latest storylines as we head into Week 6:
Maxx Williams suffered a potentially season-ending knee injury on Sunday. The tight end has 193 yards on 16 receptions this season and Arizona is also missing Darrell Daniels, who is currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Demetrius Harris is the only other tight end on the roster and he did play a season-high 32 snaps on Sunday after Williams left. Harris has yet to record a catch this season and has never caught more than 18 passes in any season of his eight-year career.
The Falcons head into the bye hoping to get some help with their receivers in Week 7. Atlanta played without Russell Gage or Calvin Ridley on Sunday as the offense revolved around Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson.
Despite missing his top two receivers, Matt Ryan had his best game of the season, throwing for 342 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons’ first win of the season.
Sammy Watkins left Monday night’s game early with a hamstring injury. Watkins played just 20 snaps and failed to catch four passes for the first time all season. While Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews combined for 20 catches, 272 yards, and four touchdowns, it was Devin Duvernay who was taking Watkins’s snaps.
Matt Milano was inactive on Sunday night. A.J. Klein filled in at linebacker and finished second on the team in tackles. Milano shouldn’t miss too much time, Sean McDermott told reporters that the team was cautious with their defensive leader, hoping to limit his absence to just one game.
Christian McCaffrey seems to be nearing a return after missing two weeks with a hamstring injury. The running back seemed optimistic about returning against Philadelphia last week before being listed as “doubtful” and ultimately sitting out.
Chuba Hubbard impressed in his second NFL start, rushing for over 100 yards. However, McCaffrey was sorely missed in the passing game. Sam Darnold averaged just 4.5 yards per attempt on his short passes and 5.3 yards per attempt on screens.
Justin Fields hyperextended his knee on Sunday, but scans revealed “nothing concerning.”
The Bears finished the game without right tackle Germain Ifedi, who left early with a knee injury. Matt Nagy wasn’t interested in giving any injury updates on Monday, so we will have to wait until Wednesday for his status. Elijah Wilkinson filled in for Ifedi, playing 35 snaps and yielding zero pressure.
Trae Waynes aggravated his hamstring injury on Sunday. The cornerback didn’t make his 2021 debut until Week 4 after missing all of 2020. Waynes got burned for a 52-yard completion last week, but has played well otherwise, yielding 37 yards on the other four completions he’s allowed.
Waynes’s latest diagnosis could press Eli Apple back into starting action. The former Panther/Saint/Giant has allowed 196 yards on 21 completions in five games this season.
The Browns were decimated by injuries on Sunday. Cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams will both undergo MRIs after suffering neck and shoulder injuries. A.J. Green and Troy Hill were the corners who finished the game for Cleveland.
Jack Conklin has an injured knee and was replaced by James Hudson. Jadaveon Clowney was a surprise inactive on Sunday after dealing with knee soreness during pregame warm-ups.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah was hospitalized after suffering a throat injury. He spent the night in Los Angeles, but was discharged and returned to Cleveland on Monday afternoon. Mack Wilson should start if the rookie misses any time.
Ezekiel Elliott is dealing with soreness in his lower back and ribcage, but it shouldn’t affect his availability next week. The running back and the team are unhappy with the placement of the pylon cam that he fell on.
Elliott does rank fifth in the NFL in rushing attempts, but if he is limited in the coming weeks, Tony Pollard has proven to be an effective runner, leading the NFL in yards per carry this season.
The Broncos didn’t suffer any new injuries this weekend. However, the team expects Ronald Darby to be back this week after being activated from the IR over the weekend. Darby didn’t play on Sunday, but was activated after the team feared Pat Surtain II wouldn’t be able to go.
Quintez Cephus could be out for the rest of the season after suffering a broken collarbone. The second-year wideout was enjoying a solid season, catching 11 passes for 184 yards in his three starts. Rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown leads all Lions wide receivers in targets and expect Kalif Raymond or KhaDarel Hodge to get more attention in the passing game. Although the duo combined for just one catch in Week 5.
Taylor Decker is expected to return to practice this week. He has yet to play this season due to a finger injury. Rookie Penei Sewell has struggled at left tackle, allowing a team-high four sacks.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers’ secondary got real thin this week with Jaire Alexander landing on the IR and Kevin King missing time with a shoulder injury. That left Eric Stokes and Isaac Yiadom as the two outside corners by the end of Sunday’s game. The duo allowed six completions on 10 targets.
King has already missed time this season due to a concussion, but the team doesn’t know just how long this new shoulder injury will keep him out.
Laremy Tunsil has a torn UCL in his thumb, and despite the need for surgery, he is expected to try to play through the pain and hold off on the surgery until the offseason. The left tackle is having another solid season in pass protection, allowing zero sacks through five games.
Geron Christian replaced Tunsil on Sunday and would be his long-term replacement, should Tunsil opt for surgery. The former Washington Football Team member allowed six sacks and 24 pressures last year, but pitched a clean sheet on Sunday.
The Colts lost a thriller on Monday night, but it wouldn’t have gotten so interesting if it wasn’t for Rodrigo Blankenship’s balky hip. The kicker was injured during warmups and “felt a stabbing pain” in his kicking leg.
The pain was so bad that he didn’t attempt a kick at the end of the first half. Rigoberto Sanchez missed, but after a penalty gave Indianapolis a second try, Blankenship was able to muster the energy to convert the try.
The kicker ended up missing a pair of kicks in the fourth quarter that allowed Baltimore to come back and win in overtime.
Linebacker Myles Jack is “day-to-day” after suffering an oblique injury against the Titans. Jack has struggled with injuries throughout his career, but this year he is just struggling. He has allowed a passer rating of 141.7 when targeted this season and only 15 linebackers have more missed tackles this season.
Shaquille Quarterman would start in Jack’s spot, should this injury lead to him missing games.
Kansas City Chiefs
Clyde Edwards-Helaire will miss “a few weeks” after suffering a sprained MCL on Sunday night. The second-year back has been an effective runner this season, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, but he did lose two fumbles earlier in the season.
Darrel Williams should take over as the lead running back during Edwards-Helaire’s absence. Williams is averaging 3.8 yards per carry this season, which is right in line with his career mark.
Joe Thuney somehow played every snap on Sunday, despite having a fractured hand. He earned Pro Football Focus’s fourth-highest pass-blocking grade among guards for his efforts. Thuney has never missed a game in his six-year career and there’s a chance he remains in the starting lineup for Week 6.
Las Vegas Raiders
Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins suffered a back injury on Sunday. Despite playing the most snaps among interior linemen on the team, Hankins ranks seventh in quarterback pressures and has made just one defensive stop.
We will learn more about Hankins’ condition on Wednesday when Rich Bisaccia takes the podium for his first press conference.
Los Angeles Chargers
Oday Aboushi tore his ACL on Sunday and will miss the rest of the season. Playing in a starting role for the first time in his career, Aboushi was solid, allowing zero sacks and just five pressures.
Michael Schofield will step in and start at right guard for Los Angeles. He was the Chargers’ starting right guard in 2018 and 2019 before moving to Carolina last year. The 32-year-old did allow a quarterback hit in relief of Aboushi on Sunday.
Los Angeles Rams
Darious Williams suffered a mild ankle sprain on Thursday night and has already been ruled out for Week 6. Rookie Robert Rochell filled in for Williams against Seattle and allowed three completions for 36 yards and a touchdown.
Williams had a breakout season in 2020, intercepting five passes and allowing completions on just 48.7% of his targets. While his numbers this year haven’t been as flashy, he hasn’t allowed a completion longer than 20 yards.
Tua Tagovailoa is expected to return to practice this week. Head coach Brian Flores is hopeful that Tagovailoa will be ready to go in Week 6, especially while Jacoby Brissett is dealing with a hamstring injury.
The Dolphins have struggled out of the gate this season, winning just one game so far and scoring over 17 points just once as well. If Tagovailoa is healthy, it would be a huge boost for a passing game that ranks 31st in net yards per attempt.
One of the more surprising inactives on Sunday was Dalvin Cook. The running back is dealing with a sprained ankle, but told reporters last week he expected to play through the pain.
Cook managed just 34 rushing yards in Week 4, but Alexander Mattison stepped up again in Week 5, scoring the only Vikings touchdown and finished with 153 yards from scrimmage.
New England Patriots
The Patriots placed right tackle Trent Brown on the IR, meaning he will miss at least two more weeks with a calf injury that forced him to miss 11 games in 2020. The Patriots were missing four starters on their offensive line against Houston and didn’t have much trouble protecting Mac Jones. In fact, the only sack allowed was blamed on running back Brandon Bolden
New Orleans Saints
The Saints enter their bye week hoping Taysom Hill is able to recover from his concussion in time for a Week 7 contest in Seattle. Hill has just 17 carries and three catches this season, but he is the only Saint with multiple rushing touchdowns this season. His presence in the red zone would be missed if he isn’t ready for next week.
New York Giants
Where to begin with the Giants? Daniel Jones has a concussion. Saquon Barkley has a sprained left ankle. Kenny Golladay hyperextended his knee. Kadarius Toney has an ankle injury that puts his availability for Week 6 in doubt.
If Jones is out, Mike Glennon will start at quarterback. Glennon went 0-5 as the Jaguars QB last year and hasn’t won a start since 2017. Things won’t be easy with the Rams and the Panthers slated as the Giants’ next two opponents.
Barkley and Golladay will both be out at least one week, if not two. Devontae Booker is the next in line at running back, but he has struggled this year too, averaging just 2.8 yards per attempt and having zero rushes over 14 yards.
The Giants receiving corps might be the biggest issue with Golladay and Toney joining the already-injured Darius Slayton and Sterling Shephard on the bench. However, the latter two are expected to rejoin the team at practice this week.
New York Jets
The Jets seem to be getting healthy as they head into their bye week. Robert Saleh told reporters on Monday that he expects Jarrad Davis and Marcus Maye to return to the field, but isn’t guaranteeing anything.
The Eagles face a short turnaround, hosting the Buccaneers after beating Carolina on Sunday. The biggest issue in Philadelphia remains the absence of Lane Johnson, who left the team days before their Week 4 game and hasn’t been seen at the practice facility since.
With Johnson out, the Eagles flipped Jordan Mailata to right tackle and elevated former first-round pick Andre Dillard to starting left tackle. Dillard has thrived in his natural position. He is the only left tackle to not allow a sack or quarterback hit all season.
Mailata struggled at right tackle against the Panthers, allowing a pair of sacks to Haason Reddick on back-to-back plays.
Dallas Goedert is more than likely going to miss Thursday night’s game after being added to the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Juju Smith-Schuster will need surgery on his injured shoulder and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Smith-Schuster hasn’t topped 52 yards or scored a touchdown.
A pending free agent, Smith-Schuster has seen his stock plummet after catching 111 passes for 1426 yards in his second year in the NFL. He signed a one-year deal with Pittsburgh in the offseason in hopes of rehabilitating his vale.
James Washington might take Smith-Schuster’s snaps, but most of the Steelers’ passing game already revolves around the trio of Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool.
San Francisco 49ers
No team is in more need of a bye than San Francisco and they will enjoy it this week. Trey Lance is dealing with a sprained ankle, but we won’t know more about the severity of the injury until the team reconvenes next week.
George Kittle won’t be returning until Week 9 after the team placed him on the IR.
Russell Wilson suffered the first major injury of his career, dislocating his middle finger and rupturing a tendon on Thursday night. Originally thought to be at least a two-month absence, it seems there is some optimism that Wilson could be back after just four weeks.
Seattle does a bye week in Week 9, so that means in the best-case scenario, Wilson could only miss three games against Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Jacksonville, whose combined records are 5-10.
Geno Smith will be commanding the offense for the time being. The former Jet has won just one start since the end of the 2014 season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lavonte David suffered a sprained ankle and will miss some time. Expect Kevin Minter to be his replacement in the starting lineup next to Devin White.
The bigger news revolves around Tom Brady’s throwing hand that kept him limited in Monday’s simulated practice. However, Brady told reporters that the injury is merely discomfort and he doesn’t expect it to linger.
Tennessee has a couple of tough matchups on deck, playing Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in back-to-back weeks, but the Titans may not have the services of top cornerback Kristian Fulton after he injured his hamstring on Sunday.
Fulton has allowed just 11 completions on 28 targets this year and his 72.7 passer rating allowed is the lowest on the team among players targeted at least five times.
Rookie first-round pick Caleb Farley could be pressed into action after playing just 32 defensive snaps this season.
Washington Football Team
After missing the first three weeks of the season due to a groin injury, Curtis Samuel is now considered week-to-week with the same injury. Washington is being cautious with Samuel after signing him to a big contract in the offseason.
Perhaps more worrisome is the stress fracture in Antonio Gibson’s shin. Gibson was able to play through the injury on Sunday, scoring two touchdowns, but averaging just 3.0 yards per carry on 20 totes.
His status will be worth monitoring as the season progresses. Washington’s next leading rusher is Taylor Heinicke and J.D. McKissic has just 55 yards this season on17 carries.