I'm happy to say that I've never been hit so hard that my spleen burst.
However, Tampa Bay QB Chris Simms can no longer say this. The Carolina defense crunched this kid so hard, and often, that his internal organs started rupturing. That sucks. By the way, who here thinks Steve Young should maybe offer another apology for backhandedly questioning Simms' toughness, calling him "laissez-faire" a couple years back? Simms pretty clearly had one of his organs either exploded or pushed to the verge of exploding in the third quarter of Tampa's game on Sunday, but despite the fact that he was vomiting and on the verge of passing out, he told his coaches he could return in the fourth, and led his team on a go-ahead touchdown drive near the end of the game. That the Bucs lost was no fault of Simms – it had something to do with the atomic leg of John Kasay.
Chris Simms = tough dude.
Unfortunately, if other burst spleens through history are any indication, it seems unlikely the Simms will be back playing in the NFL in '06. More likely is that sixth-rounder Bruce Gradkowski out of the University of Toledo will be given the first shot at holding the job, with former Niner Tim Rattay in the wings. Let's take a look at the week's other key injuries.
Frank Gore, SF – On his goal-line fumble against Philadelphia (which was returned by Eagles DL Mike Patterson for a 98-yard TD), Gore strained his abdominals and had to leave the game. He didn't return. Gore has been a tremendous story so far this year, but even a quasi-depleted Philly defense did a pretty good job holding him down; the injury just makes him even a little shakier. There are conflicting reports about whether he'll be able to play in Week 4.
Corey Dillon, NE – The most we could get out of the Patriots is that Dillon suffered a "human-being" injury, and that he has soreness "on his person." Okay, no, actually the ultra-secretive Patriots did tell the world that Dillon hurt his arm, and that's why he didn't return on Sunday night. He's being considered week-to-week at this point, but then, aren't we all?
Chris Brown, Ten – What a surprise: Chris Brown was inactive. If medical science could find a way to harness the getting-injured abilities of this man's toes, we'd easily be able to cure the common cold. Brown was out with turf toe (again) this week. Travis Henry got the bulk of Titans carries in his absence, but …
Travis Henry, Ten – … Henry's toe hurts, too. According to the Tennessean, Henry was seen limping around after the game, with ice on his toe. Remember: his toe is what caused Henry to miss Week 2. LenDale White could still be the primary beneficiary of all this toe-carnage.
Reuben Droughns, Cle – Droughns was inactive in Week 3, too, and I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that the Browns were facing the vicious Ravens defense. Anyway, in Droughns's case, it's his shoulder that hurts. Jason Wright was the clear starter in his stead, and depending on how Droughns shapes up over the course of this week, Wright could make a sneaky pickup – Cleveland plays the dreadful Raiders next week.
Daimon Shelton, Buf – The Bills' starting fullback suffered a first-half head injury and didn't return. His absence in the second half could explain why Willis McGahee's production sharply tailed off as the game progressed.
Donte' Stallworth, Phi – Stallworth torpedoed a lot of fantasy hopes this weekend by becoming a last-minute inactive for the Eagles. Hank Baskett and Greg Lewis saw a lot of time as a result of Stallworth's balky hamstring.
Matt Jones, Jac – Jones's calf injury was a bit less of a surprise than Stallworth's hammy, but Jones actually did suit up, though he was clearly not 100 percent. He didn't start, and when he did play (which wasn't often), he didn't get much separation.
Vernon Davis, SF – The same play that claimed Frank Gore took down Davis, and in the rookie tight end's case, the injury is definitely more severe. While trying to chase down the fumble-rumbling Mike Patterson, Davis felt his leg, um, break. Ouch. He's out for at least four weeks.
Desmond Clark, Chi – Everyone's (okay, my) favorite sleeper tight end this week strained his foot against the Vikings. He tried to stay in for one more play, as the Bears were down close to the Minnesota goal line, but Clark collapsed by simply trying to take a few steps on the subsequent play, and had to be helped off the field. He didn't return.
Robert Royal, Buf – It looked like Royal hurt his arm; he held it gingerly coming off the field, went to the locker room, and didn't return. Let's face it, though: if you're considering starting this primarily-blocking tight end, you've got worse problems than a possible arm injury.
Ross Verba, Det – Verba suited up against his old team (Green Bay) and tried to go, but he'd already been questionable with a bad hamstring, which he pulled again. He was playing in his first game since 2004.
Chris Gray, Sea – The Seattle offensive line continues its death by a thousand cuts. This time, the other starting guard (Floyd Womack already didn't play against the Giants) sprained his knee in the second quarter and didn't return. Rookie Rob Sims played in his stead.
Zach Piller, Ten – Piller, a starting guard, sprained his ankle and didn't return. He wore a boot in the locker room after the game.
John Tait, Chi – Tait, one of the highest-paid tackles in football and a guy who's looked great for the Bears so far this year, hurt his shoulder but did return to the game.
Terrell Suggs, Bal – Suggs had a sack, two tackles and knocked down a pass before a pulled hamstring forced him from the game. He didn't return, but seems to think he'll be all right for next week's game against San Diego.
Al Wilson, Den – Wilson aggravated his hamstring injury while warming up for Sunday night's game in New England. He was in and out of the game itself, but gets a week to rest his leg during Denver's Week 4 bye.
Carlos Emmons, NYG – Emmons strained a pectoral muscle in the Giants' blowout loss against Seattle and didn't return.
Odell Thurman, Cin – No, Thurman wasn't suddenly allowed to play; he's still serving his suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He's included here because he was arrested for drunk driving on Sunday night. No word on how or whether this will affect his current suspension.
Roderick Hood, Phi – And now we reach the all-Eagles portion of our program. Hood was already questionable with a sore heel. He did start the game, but aggravated the injury and left the field in the fourth quarter. He didn't return.
Michael Lewis, Phi – Lewis hurt his quad muscle on one of the final few plays of Philadelphia's blowout win in San Francisco.
Brian Dawkins, Phi – Dawkins was concussed and didn't return. However, he was up and talking in the locker room after the game, and told reporters that he expected to be able to play next Monday night against the Packers.
Sean Considine, Phi – Yes, that's right. Another Eagle. Four members of the Philly secondary left this game. Considine strained his hip, and didn't return. At some point, all these injuries to the secondary (don't forget Lito Sheppard is out, too) has to bite these guys on the butt, right? Among the guys the Eagles thought they'd be starting back there this year, only Sheldon Brown is healthy. Brett Favre may be looking like a fine play next Monday.
Eugene Wilson, NE – What's that? He's not an Eagle! Wilson hurt his leg (or should we call it a "lower-body" injury?) in the second half of Sunday night's game, and his absence was immediately felt, as the Broncos burned the Pats' depleted secondary for a long TD on the very next play.
Nick Harper, Ind – The already-depleted Colts secondary lost another one. Harper strained a groin muscle in the first half. He tried to return, but wasn't able to stay on the field.