Next Man Up: NFL Players Stepping up in Week 4 due to Injuries


Photo courtesy of Pat Pryor

Written By: Roy Countryman


Here we are rumbling into Week 4 on the NFL schedule, and there is a laundry list of teams that the injury bug bit hard. Let's dive into some of the key injuries.


Jimmy Garoppolo QB 49ers

Torn ACL/Possible MCL damage (IR)

Replacement: C.J. Beathard


Bottom Line

What a sick feeling 49er fans are feeling this week, after seeing their franchise QB get hurt. This week they now turn to a second year QB, who doesn’t nearly come close to his predecessor's talent level. Beathard is the type of QB who can make it a long time in the league as a backup QB, due to being a very intelligent, and solid all around ability. Although the offense will have to be scaled back due to his lack of pure arm strength, and shaky accuracy, he can get hot from time to time when he can get into rhythm. Kyle Shanahan should lean heavily on his young RB (Breida), emerging WR’s (Dante Pettis/Trent Taylor), and intriguing TE (Kittle). All in all buckle up niner fans for a long rest of the season.


Aqib Talib CB Rams

High-Ankle Sprain/Surgery (IR-designated to return)

Replacement: Sam Shields


Bottom Line

Here is one well stocked roster. Out goes your top two CB’s in Talib as well as Marcus Peters, and here comes a seasoned veteran trying to make a comeback. Sam Shields has plenty of starting experience from his days in Green Bay, but had missed the most of the last two seasons due to issues with concussions. After proving that he is healthy coming out of the preseason, he is hoping to show off ballhawking ability. Shields is blessed with good length to disrupt at the catch point, closing quickness, and great ball skills, he should be able to help buoy the loss of the CB’s until they can get back to 100%.


Ricardo Allen S Falcons

Tore Achilles (IR)

Replacements: Jordan Richards-S, Kemal Ishmae-S/LB, Brian Poole-NCB


Bottom Line

Talk about beaten, and bruised. The Falcons IR list is starting to look like a MASH unit of starters. Initially Keanu Neal went down with a Torn ACL, now Allen who was the FS, shifted over to Neal’s spot to help ease Damontae Kazee into the lineup. Now the Falcons are tasked with replacing both of there safeties in the backend. Jordan Richards is first off the bench, he the trade acquisition from New England before week 1. Richards is a heady player, who excels at coming downhill and influencing the run game. He is not without his limitations though, and struggles somewhat in being able to cover the deep third. Coach Quinn also conveyed that NCB-Brian Poole will get in some practice time at S, as well as Special Teams standout Kemal Ishmael, who has mostly lined up as a LB, may get some snaps in the defensive backfield as well.


Evan Engram TE Giants

Sprained MCL (Expected to miss 2-4 weeks)

Replacement: Rhett Ellison


Bottom Line

One of Eli’s favorite targets goes down with a short term injury, but for a team struggling to find their footing could have a dramatic effect on their ability to score going forward. Ellison is on the opposite end of the athleticism scale than Engram. A very well-rounded player, who can be trusted to make combat catches, block efficiently in-line as well as in space, an do all the little things to hold down the fort until Engram can get back. Eli already has a rapport with him, and should be able to make a smooth transition.


Sean Lee LB Cowboys

Left Hamstring Injury (Expected to miss 2-3 games)

Replacement: Leighton Vander Esch


Bottom Line

Are we witnessing the breakdown of another quality LB? Lee never seems to make it through a season without some sort of injury. This hamstring injury seems like it will be a multi-week layoff, but at least Dallas decided to address the LB depth chart in this past year’s draft. Vander Esch was one of not only the best LB’s in the class, but one of the best all around athletes at any position. Blessed with a great height, length, and speed. Quickness, and change of direction is high quality, and should allow him to make plays sideline-to-sideline both in run defense, as well as dropping off into coverage. The Cowboys may be seeing there next star LB born, at the cost of one of there old faces of the franchise.


William Hayes DE Dolphins

Torn ACL (IR)

Replacement: Charles Harris


Bottom Line

The Injury to Hayes should be highlighted, due to the circumstances surrounding how it happened. Contorting his body to try an avoid getting one of the horrible roughing the passer calls that are making their way around the league. Now the 3-0 Dolphins are tasked with replacing one of their best pass rushers, luckily they are getting a hungry DE that they selected last year in the first round a chance to prove their judgement right. Harris possesses a great burst off the LOS, a variety of pass rushing moves, and a grasp of how to convert speed to power, he may be able to put up strong numbers given his opportunity.


Muhammad Wilkerson DT Packers

Ankle Injury/Surgery (IR)

Replacement: Dean Lowry


Bottom Line

One of the Packers big time Free Agent acquisitions this year gets his season cut short, but now an underrated DE in Lowry gets a shot to develop. A standout performer at Northwestern, where he actually finished with more TFL than Joey Bosa did. A fiery competitor who excels at all the little things that a two gapping down lineman in a 3-4 should. Has a motor to make up for any lack of elite burst off the LOS, and shows an ability to get skinny, and shoot some gaps.


Patrick Robinson CB Saints

Broken Ankle (IR)

Replacement: P.J. Williams (3 Safety-Dennis Allen Look)


Bottom Line

A swiss-cheese defensive backfield, takes a big loss. A key Free Agent that resigned with the Saints, now they must shuffle in a young CB, or either turn back to a three safety look that Dennis Allen showed in previous years. Back to P.J. Williams though, he has a skill set that is more suited to play outside due to his length, speed, strength to jam WR, and nose for run defense. He is not the most fluid mover inside out, and it would maybe be best if he played out wide, and Ken Crawley or a Safety slide inside.


Chris Conte S Buccaneers

Torn PCL (IR-Could be designated to return)

Replacement: Jordan Whitehead


Bottom Line

Conte may have been put on IR for bruised pride, after Vance McDonald, straight up ran over him. The coaches after the game said he was trying to gut it out, and play through the pain, but went out soon after said play. Jordan Whitehead is a versatile Safety, who can cover RB’s and TE’s down the field, or come barreling downfield in run defense. He also possesses good fluidity to drop down and cover from the slot, or in the deep third. He lacks elite height for the position, but his athleticism, and instincts give him a chance to make up for it.

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