Several teams have found themselves looking outside of the organization to address weaknesses, although only two deals went down before Tuesday's trade deadline. The Colts dealt for a plug to stop their leaking run defense; the Lions re-signed a familiar face to their backfield; and the Packers, Lions and Falcons all lost substantial players to NFL suspensions.
Let's go to the injury and roster report to find out who's in and who's out.
Strong safety Mike Brown has been placed on injured reserve after having surgery to repair ligament damage in his right foot. He suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of Monday's win over Arizona. Either Cameron Worrell or Todd Johnson could step into his role, but both lack his range, ball skills and leadership. The absence of those traits has caused the Bears' defense to slip in the past when Brown missed games because of injuries. The unit is already featuring a rookie free safety, Danieal Manning, so playing a combination of him with either Worrell or Johnson – both third-year performers – could provide opposing teams with the chance to make plays down the field. There is an outside chance reserve safety Chris Harris could also receive additional playing time, but he's been slowed by leg injuries. Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, who has missed the past two games because of a hamstring injury, is expected to return after the bye week at full strength.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Running back Ahman Green is expected to be in the starting lineup against Miami on Sunday as he is fully recovered from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him the past two games. His primary backup this week will be Noah Herron, who has passed Vernand Morency on the team's depth chart. Meanwhile, the combined loss of wide receiver Koren Robinson to a one-year NFL suspension and continued injury issues with Robert Ferguson will cause the Packers to use second-year receiver Ruvell Martin in a larger role. They'll also activate rookie Chris Francies from the practice squad, so the team's passing and return games will have a variety of youngsters involved over the next few weeks.
Offensive tackle Levi Jones will miss several weeks after undergoing surgery to repair his injured left knee. The Bengals have shuffled their line by moving Eric Steinbach to left tackle and inserting rookie Andrew Whitworth into the starting lineup at guard. Whitworth was one of the most experienced linemen available in last year's NFL draft, having started four years at LSU, so this week's promotion should not alter the Bengals' offensive game plan too much. Steinbach has good footwork and can handle most smaller, quicker edge rushers, but the new-look line might cause the offense to use more sets with the tight end staying in or fullback stepping up as a blocker rather than going out on pass routes. However, if that happens too often, it will allow opposing defenses the chance to double team star wide receiver Chad Johnson on the outside.
Defensive tackle Shaun Rogers was suspended four games for violating the league's drug policy, although the team says it was an over-the-counter supplement and not a steroid or other illegal substance. The loss of Rogers comes on top of second-year defensive tackle Shaun Cody being listed as out for this week's game against the Jets due to a toe injury. The Lions will start Tyoka Jackson and Marcus Bell, who have a combined 12 tackles this season. They have placed reserve running back Shawn Bryson on the season-ending injured reserve list because of a knee injury he suffered last week. As a result, they have signed former Rams/Lions backup Arlen Harris, who already knows offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system. The Lions also released wide receiver Scottie Vines from the PUP list after deciding that they would not have a role for him. If healthy, he will surely end up being a late-season pickup by any team looking for a solid possession-type receiver who also has a great work ethic.
They acquired veteran defensive tackle Anthony McFarland from Tampa Bay in order to fill the role of Corey Simon. McFarland gives them far better size and power to plug up the middle of their Cover 2 scheme, which he has plenty of experience playing. He will take up more space than current starters, Montae Reagor and Raheem Brock, and free up the team's leading tacklers, Cato June and Gary Brackett, to make more plays. If the Colts can finally get healthy on the defensive side of the ball and increase the pressure they are getting up front without sending more blitzers, then it will allow their issues in pass coverage to subside in future weeks. The Colts have 20 players on the injury report for this week's game against Washington, including running back Dominic Rhodes, who has been bothered by a minor ankle injury and is listed as questionable. If he's out, rookie Joseph Addai would see increased action.
They will be without defensive tackle Seth Payne for the remainder of the year after he suffered a season-ending knee injury last week against Dallas. The Texans signed veteran Lional Dalton to replace him on the roster, but now lack the size or experience to keep opposing teams from double-teaming rookie defensive end Mario Williams. Williams is also likely to see an increased volume of downs inside at tackle. He has been confused at times on the field and rather than allow him to play and learn one spot, they have used him in a variety of roles. The way he's been used has created some false steps on his part and a bit of hesitancy in his play. Rookie offensive lineman Eric Winston expects to play against Jacksonville on Sunday after missing a few series last week with a dislocated finger. He might have to start in place of starter Zach Wiegert, who suffered a sprained left knee against Dallas. Former starting outside linebacker Kailee Wong (knee) and cornerback Demarcus Faggins (foot) will both return to the field this weekend after long absences from the lineup. Wong has been out since suffering a knee injury early last season. His return would be welcomed if he can provide some pass rush off the bench. Faggins could eventually step back into the starter's role if he has regained all of his speed. His impact is crucial given the team released former starting corner turned nickel back Phillip Buchanon earlier this week. Safety Glenn Earl, who is questionable after hurting his neck last week, would be replaced by veteran Jason Simmons or backup Guss Scott if he cannot play on Sunday. Watch out for the play of Jaguars rookie running back Maurice Jones-Drew this weekend against this banged up defensive unit, which lacks the speed and coverage ability to hold him down without a big play for four quarters.
- The Philadelphia Eagles will wait until later in the week or even Sunday before deciding whether running back Brian Westbrook (knee) and wide receiver Donte' Stallworth (hamstring) will play against Tampa Bay. Both have injuries that will seemingly linger on the rest of the season. Meanwhile, starting strong safety Michael Lewis is potentially another big play allowed or miscue from being replaced with Sean Considine, who has become a favorite of the team's coaching staff. Given the fact that Lewis is in the last year of his contract, the team would like to see how Considine looks over an extended period of action on the field.
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have re-signed defensive tackle Jon Bradley, who has looked good at times the past few years in limited chances, to fill the roster spot vacated by the trade of McFarland to the Colts. The Bucs, who have brought in several former Raiders who once played for coach Jon Gruden, also decided to sign under-achieving former first-round pick, cornerback Phillip Buchanon. He was released by the Texans after never getting on track once he was dealt from Oakland. General manager Bruce Allen, with the Raiders when Buchanon was drafted, is well aware of both Buchanon's talents and faults, but hopes he can be rejuvenated over the rest of this season. They're counting on it considering they have a rash of injuries to their secondary, including Brian Kelly (foot), Torrie Cox (hip) and Juran Bolden (hip).
- The Atlanta Falcons will be without starting offensive guard Matt Lehr for the next four weeks after he was suspended for violating the NFL's drug policy. As a result, the team will use reserve Tyson Clabo, who is physically bigger but less mobile, in his place, starting this week against Pittsburgh. It will be interesting to see how the first-time starter deals with the Steelers stunts, zone blitzes and if he can help contain All-Pro nose tackle Casey Hampton.
- The Oakland Raiders are hoping to have the services of offensive tackle Langston Walker (concussion) for Sunday's game against Arizona after reserve tackle Chad Slaughter was called for a total of four false start penalties in last week's game against Denver. Without Walker, the line could see additional changes, although coach Art Shell has said he expects his starting right tackle to be in this week's lineup.
- The Tennessee Titans were unable to find a suitable trade partner for free-agent-to-be running back Chris Brown. According to sources close to the former 1,000-yard back, he is no longer dealing with any lingering effects of the turf toe injury that sidelined him earlier this season, but also does not expect to be activated for game days unless current starter Travis Henry is injured. The reason: the Titans want to see rookie LenDale White receive six-10 carries per week.
- The Washington Redskins will be without cornerback Carlos Rogers (thumb) for at least this week's game against the Colts and fellow starter Shawn Springs is still bothered by a groin injury that sidelined him for the first few weeks of the season. Minus Rogers and Springs, the Redskins will enter the game against the passing attack of the Colts with the combo of Mike Rumph and Kenny Wright starting at cornerback. That could be too much to overcome against the diversified scheme employed by offensive coordinator Tom Moore, and All-Pro quarterback Peyton Manning. So far, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne have yet to reach their maximum performance level. This Sunday's matchup should allow them to break that early trend.