This week's injury review reads like a law firm as the combination of Johnson, Fitzgerald and Peterson all found their way to the sideline during last week's games.
Meanwhile, we also saw one Redskin get his "Hall" pass; found out that "Alexander the Great" is not quite ready to play; and witnessed the losses of several key rookies who had started to make an impact.
Let's go to the injury report and find out who's in, who's out and who might be getting signed or even suspended.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The Saints lost impressive rookie safety Roman Harper (left knee) for the rest of the season. Harper needs surgery to repair a torn ACL. The Saints signed veteran Jay Bellamy, who had been the team's starter at that position for the past five years, but likely will start fellow veteran Omar Stoutmire this weekend against the Eagles. Safety Bryan Scott, acquired in the offseason, could also get additional playing time if he overcomes a persistent thigh injury. Both Bellamy and Stoutmire have far more experience than Harper, but lack his straight-line speed and range. So opposing teams are likely to test the Saints over the top. The Eagles would love nothing more than to have speedy former Saints wide receiver Donte' Stallworth in the lineup for Sunday's game.
Running back Shaun Alexander continues to rehab from the broken bone in his left foot and will sit out Sunday's game against the Rams. Since his injury, the front office has looked at free agent running backs. None have much more experience than current backup Marquis Weeks. The trade deadline is a week away and depending on the results of this week's evaluation of Alexander, the Seahawks could go after a veteran reserve from another a team.
Middle linebacker Mike Peterson has been lost for the season (torn pectoral muscle), the second major injury to hit the Jaguars defense. They lost starting defensive end Reggie Hayward to an Achilles tendon injury against Dallas. The team also lost linebacker Pat Thomas, who had started next to Peterson on the outside. When the Jaguars return from the bye week, they will have at least three new defensive starters from the Week 1 lineup. Peterson was leading the team with 32 tackles. Now the Jags will be forced to turn to either backup Tony Gilbert or shift Nick Greisen into the middle, and hope that rookie Clint Ingram can step into a starting role. The Jaguars have played fairly well considering they had six other starters on the injury list last week, including wide receiver Matt Jones. Jones missed the game against the Jets, but expects to return after the bye. The Jaguars added cornerback Ahmad Carroll to replace Peterson, but will likely spend the bye week searching the waiver wire for a veteran linebacker who can add depth.
The Redskins decided to sign free agent kicker Nick Novak after John Hall (groin/leg) continued to be bothered by an assortment of injuries to his leg and was placed on IR. Novak has a solid leg, converting 8 of 10 field goal attempts while playing for the Redskins and Cardinals in 2005. His deep kickoffs were also impressive. Novak now has a chance to handle the kicking duties for the rest of this season and audition to be the team's long-term solution.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger left Sunday's game with his right elbow in a sling. Team doctors have diagnosed the injury as tennis elbow. It could be a sign that Roethlisberger is suffering from a tired arm. Roethlisberger has struggled this season and the Steelers (1-3) are at a crossroads as they play host Kansas City on Sunday. While Roethlisberger's elbow injury is not considered serious, it could allow coach Bill Cowher to consider using backup Charlie Batch if the team is not moving the ball or if the offense continues to be slowed by turnovers. Keep an eye on rookie wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who will be returning punts until fellow rookie Willie Reid (foot) can return from an injury he suffered last week.
Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) will be out for about a month (pulled right hamstring). The Cardinals will start Bryant Johnson opposite Anquan Boldin, and slot receiver/return man Troy Walters should see additional playing time. The Cardinals might try to get their tight ends more involved in the passing game as they face Chicago on Monday night. The Cardinals also could be without a pair of linemen. Starting offensive guard Milford Brown and defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy could be sidelined with ankle injuries. Their absences would create openings for a pair of first-time rookie starters, guard Deuce Lutui and defensive tackle Gabe Watson. Lutui has good strength and experience to step in on the line. And he played college ball with starting quarterback Matt Leinart. Watson offers more size and strength to the interior of their defense, but he lacks the quickness and experience of Clancy.
Rookie defensive tackle John McCargo could be out 3-5 weeks after suffering a broken left foot in Buffalo's loss to Seattle. It is the third major injury to hit the Bills' defense. Buffalo is already without starting linebacker Takeo Spikes (hamstring) and safety Troy Vincent (hamstring). The team might also be without starting cornerback Nate Clements (wrist and leg injuries), Clements will use the bye week to rest. The Bills are likely to sign a free agent defensive tackle since McCargo's injury leaves them with just three healthy tackles.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson (neck) was able to practice Wednesday after suffering a painful neck injury following a facemask tackle. Team officials want to be extra careful with their prized runner, but he is expected to start against Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Chiefs will be without backup running back Michael Bennett (hamstring), so Dee Brown or rookie Derrick Ross could see additional carries. … New York Giants All-Pro tight end Jeremy Shockey had an MRI on his injured right ankle, but results were negative. He is expected to try to practice with later this week, but is likely to be listed as questionable for the Giants game against Atlanta. New York will need to have all of its offensive weapons this week, as the Falcons' run defense has been strong. Having Shockey threatening the middle of the field would be key to the Giants establishing a consistent ground attack. Minus Shockey, the Falcons would simply load up the box to stop running Tiki Barber as they have confidence in their cornerbacks to play straight man coverage. … The Chicago Bears expect to have starting defensive end Adewale Ogunleye (hamstring) back for Monday night's game against Arizona. … Detroit Lions starting wide receiver Roy Williams (back) and offensive guard Damien Woody (foot) are both expected to be listed as probable or questionable after being banged up in their loss to Minnesota. Williams was knocked out of the game after a hit by Vikings safety Darren Sharper, while Woody walked off slowly after leading a block for running back Kevin Jones. Green Bay Packers starting running back Ahman Green (hamstring) is expected to return to the lineup after the team's bye week. You can also expect to see more of reserve running back Noah Herron, while one-week wonder Vernand Morency will likely go back to returning kickoffs and situational carries. He fumbled the ball twice this past weekend. … Philadelphia Eagles starting cornerback Sheldon Brown (ankle) was replaced in the second half of their win over Dallas by reserve defensive back Joselio Hanson. Brown seemed to roll his ankle while making a tackle. The Eagles were also without nickel back Roderick Hood (heel), so if Brown's injury is more serious than expected, the team might have to go back on the market for a free agent cornerback. … Minnesota Vikings added wide receiver Bethel Johnson to the active roster with the hopes of observing him during the bye week. Minnesota wants to see if Johnson can provide them with the same type of spark that Koren Robinson did a year ago on kickoff returns. Johnson was traded over the summer to the Saints, but could not stay healthy, and was released before the start of the season. He has averaged 25.1 yards per kickoff return, including a pair of scores in his career. … Denver Broncos starting safety John Lynch (head/neck) had an MRI after suffering a possible concussion and pinched nerve in his neck in Monday's win over Baltimore. He will be closely evaluated throughout the rest of the week before a final decision is made on his status and availability for this week's game against Oakland.