Injuries are an inherent part of football. How well a team is prepared to weather the inevitable loss of players usually dictates its success. FOX Sports Senior NFL Writer Alex Marvez ranks the most impactful injuries suffered in Week Seven among the players who are out or not expected to play in Week Eight and/or beyond.
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1: Houston running back Arian Foster
Injury: Foster tore his right Achilles tendon in last Sunday’s loss to Miami. Prognosis: Foster was placed on injured reserve and is out for the season. Likely sub: Expect the Texans to use a committee of Alfred Blue, Chris Polk and Jonathan Grimes unless one of those players emerges as a bell-cow rusher. Impact: An already awful season for Houston (2-5) has gotten even worse with the loss of Foster, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher who is also a key component of the passing game. Foster, 29, may have played his final down for the Texans. He missed 11 games the past two seasons with injuries and is set to earn $6.5 million in base salary next season. Houston would clear $6.8 million in cap space by releasing Foster during the 2016 offseason.
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2: San Francisco running back Carlos Hyde
Injury: Hyde suffered a stress fracture in his foot during a Week 5 loss to the New York Giants. Prognosis: Hyde was declared out for Sunday’s game at St. Louis. Likely sub: Reggie Bush, whose playing time has been greatly limited this year because of a recurring calf injury, fills in for Hyde. Two rookies (Mike Davis and former Australian Rules Football star Jarryd Hayne) who have combined for 45 yards on 23 carries are the backups. Impact: As if 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick and the NFL’s 32nd-ranked offense didn’t already face a Herculean task in trying to move the chains against a punishing Rams’ defense even if Hyde had played. Hyde’s production has declined in each of the past three games since getting hurt, bottoming out with an 11-carry, 40-yard outing in last Sunday’s loss to Seattle.
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3: Tampa Bay wide receiver Vincent Jackson
Injury: Jackson strained his hamstring in last Sunday’s collapse against Washington. Prognosis: Jackson hasn’t practiced all week and is listed as doubtful. Likely sub: Kelvin Shepard, who returned to practice this week from a hamstring injury, would start if Jackson couldn’t play. Impact: Jackson’s expected absence is compounded by the loss of No. 3 WR Louis Murphy to a season-ending knee injury versus Washington. Donteea Dye, a rookie who caught a TD on his first and only career catch against the Redskins, should see snaps in Murphy’s spot. Mike Evans will likely be the only experienced WR for rookie QB Jameis Winston to work with Sunday.
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4: New Orleans outside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe
Injury: Ellerbe hurt his hip in last Sunday’s win at Indianapolis. Prognosis: Ellerbe is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s home game against the New York Giants. Likely sub: Ramon Humber would start in Ellerbe’s place. Impact: Saints coach Sean Payton credited Ellerbe’s return from an early-season toe injury has coincided with New Orleans’ recent defensive improvement. Acquired in an offseason trade with Miami, Ellerbe has registered 27 tackles in the past three games. The Saints are already thin at LB with strong-side David Hawthorne (hamstring) already declared out Sunday. Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who was just signed earlier this week following his release by St. Louis, could join Mike Mauti as backups and special-teams players against New York.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportDerick E. Hingle
5: Kansas City left guard Ben Grubbs
Injury: Grubbs hurt his neck in last Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh. Prognosis: Grubbs was declared out for Sunday’s game against Detroit in London. Likely sub: Jeff Allen is the listed backup on Kansas City’s depth chart but Zach Fulton will likely start at left guard. After starting the past three games at right guard, Fulton lost his first-team job to Laurent Duvernay-Tardif versus Pittsburgh and Allen started at right tackle. Impact: The Chiefs upgraded their O-line by acquiring Grubbs in an offseason trade with New Orleans. But because of injuries and performance-based decisions, Kansas City (2-5) will start its fifth different unit against Detroit. Fortunately for the Chiefs, the Lions are ranked 24th against the run and are tied with Atlanta for the league lead in rushing TDs allowed with 10.
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6: New York Jets strong safety Calvin Pryor
Injury: Pryor has remained in a protective walking boot all week after spraining his left ankle during last Sunday’s loss at New England. Prognosis: Pryor was declared out for Sunday’s game at Oakland. Likely sub: Dion Bailey, who was claimed by the Jets after being waived in September by Seattle, gets the nod. Impact: While a roster move could be made Saturday, the Jets seem ready to play the Raiders with Bailey and Marcus Gilchrist as the only safeties on the 53-man roster. 'All of the cornerbacks can back up at safety,' head coach Todd Bowles told Jets media Friday. 'From that standpoint, we’re not worried about it.' Bowles, though, should be concerned about a Raiders passing attack that generated 289 yards and three TDs in last Sunday’s thumping of San Diego.
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY SportsGreg M. Cooper
7: Atlanta strong safety William Moore
Injury: Moore strained his groin in last Sunday’s win over Tennessee. Prognosis: Moore was declared out for Sunday’s NFC South matchup against Tampa Bay. Likely sub: Kemal Ishmael, who started 10 games last year when Moore was injured, should return to the first-string defense. Robenson Therezie, an undrafted college free agent from Auburn, may receive some snaps in the safety rotation after sealing Atlanta’s win over Tennessee with a late INT. Impact: Nobody in Atlanta’s secondary can provide the same type of hard-hitting presence as Moore. But his absence may be lessened by all the injuries in Tampa Bay’s WR corps.
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8: San Diego left guard Orlando Franklin
Injury: Franklin sprained his left knee in last Sunday’s loss to Oakland. Prognosis: While fears of a serious injury were allayed after an MRI exam, Franklin was declared out Sunday at Baltimore. Likely sub: Chris Hairston should be starting at his third different position after getting the nod at left tackle and right guard earlier this season. Impact: Franklin was San Diego’s prized offseason signing, leaving the Broncos for a five-year, $36.5 million free-agent deal. Franklin, though, missed three games earlier this season with an ankle injury and is now sidelined again. With the Chargers set to field their fifth different starting O-line and rookie RB Melvin Gordon struggling with injuries and underachieving when healthy, San Diego is fielding the NFL’s 29th-ranked rushing offense.
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9: Dallas running back Joseph Randle
Injury: Randle suffered a lower-back injury after two carries in last Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants. Prognosis: Randle was declared out for Sunday’s matchup against Seattle. Likely sub: Darren McFadden will start but he would have gotten the nod even if Randle was healthy. McFadden rushed for a season-high 152 yards and one TD on 29 carries versus New York. Impact: Randle’s disappointing season extends beyond his back ailment. ESPN reported this week that Randle faces a suspension under the NFL’s personal conduct policy stemming from an off-field incident. Christine Michael, who was acquired last month in a trade with Seattle, will receive increased playing time in Randle’s absence.
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10: Indianapolis wide receiver Phillip Dorsett
Injury: Dorsett fractured his left fibula during last Sunday’s loss to New Orleans. Prognosis: Dorsett underwent surgery last Tuesday and is expected to miss between 4-6 weeks. Likely sub: Griff Whalen should receive more opportunities playing with the Colts’ top receiving trio of T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Andre Johnson. The No. 5 receiver role will be filled by Quan Bray, who was promoted last Tuesday from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. Bray also should contribute on special teams. Impact: With 11 catches for 167 yards, Dorsett hadn’t posted dynamic receiving numbers through the first seven games. But the Colts’ 2015 first-round pick was beginning to assume a larger offensive role as his rookie campaign unfolded, especially with Johnson (20 receptions for 207 yards) looking like a free-agent bust.