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 5 among the players who are out or not expected to play in Week 6.
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1: Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles
Injury: Charles tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in last Sunday’s loss to Chicago. Prognosis: Charles is out for the season. Likely sub: Charcandrick West, who joined the Chiefs as an undrafted college free agent in 2014 from Abeline Christian, is elevated into the starting lineup with Knile Davis serving as backup. Impact: Humungous, as Charles is one of the NFL’s top multi-purpose backs. As the team’s top rusher and third-leading receiver, Charles accounted for 29.4 percent of Kansas City’s yardage through the first five games. The Chiefs only mustered 52 yards on five possessions once Charles went down against Chicago. Charles’ absence places even more pressure on the NFL’s 21st-ranked passing attack and QB Alex Smith, who has gotten sacked an AFC-high 21 times.
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2: Detroit linebacker DeAndre Levy
Injury: Levy aggravated a hip injury after playing just 17 snaps in his season debut during last Sunday’s loss to Arizona. Prognosis: Levy was ruled out of Sunday’s game against Chicago and will undergo surgery that could be season-ending. Likely sub: Josh Bynes returns to starting lineup in Levy’s absence. Impact: Levy’s absence is another major blow to the reeling Lions (0-5). He finished second in the NFL in tackles last season with 151 and has the uncanny gift of sniffing out screen passes. The Lions signed Levy to a five-year, $37.5 million extension this summer but it looks like that deal won’t start to pay dividends until 2016.
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3: Denver outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware
Injury: Ware was carted to the locker room after hurting his back in last Sunday’s win over Oakland. Prognosis: Broncos outside LB Von Miller told co-host Bill Polian and me on SiriusXM NFL Radio that Ware would be out 'a couple of weeks.' Ware won’t play Sunday at Cleveland and the Broncos have a Week 7 bye. Likely sub: Shaquil Barrett, who joined the Broncos as an undrafted college free agent from Colorado State in 2014, makes his first NFL start ahead of 2015 first-round pick Shane Ray. Impact: Miller and Ware are arguably the NFL’s top pass-rushing duo so the latter’s absence will likely hurt the league’s No. 1-ranked defense. Ware ranks second in career sacks among all active NFL players with 131.5.
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4: Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor
Injury: Taylor suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee on a horse-collar tackle in last Sunday’s win over Tennessee. Prognosis: Taylor is questionable with the Bills saying it will be a 'game-time' decision whether he plays Sunday against Cincinnati. Likely replacement: E.J. Manuel took the bulk of first-team snaps during practice this past week. Impact: With a slew of injuries at RB and WR, Taylor has carried the bulk of Buffalo’s offense. His 76 yards rushing against Tennessee was a Bills single-game record for a QB. Manuel isn’t nearly as mobile and has a 6-8 career record. Buffalo will get a boost if RB LeSean McCoy (hamstring) and WR Sammy Watkins (calf) can return.
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5: Washington left tackle Trent Williams
Injury: Williams began experiencing concussion symptoms in the aftermath of last Sunday’s OT loss at Atlanta. Prognosis: Williams is out this week and needs to pass the NFL’s concussion protocol before being cleared to return. Likely sub: Ty Nsekhe, a journeyman who has also spent time in the Arena League and Canadian Football League, makes his first NFL start Sunday against the New York Jets. Impact: The Redskins aren’t just losing their best O-lineman in Williams. Center Kory Lichtensteiger (shoulder/neck/finger) also will be out, which pushes Josh LeRibeus into the starting lineup. Plus, Washington already lost a strong run blocker last month when LG Shawn Lauvao (ankle) was placed on IR. Playing with a patchwork O-line doesn’t bode well against a blitz-happy Jets defense.
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6: Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden
Injury: Haden suffered a concussion in last Sunday’s OT win over Baltimore. Prognosis: Because he hasn’t gotten cleared under the NFL’s concussion protocol, Haden was ruled out of Sunday’s game against Denver. Likely sub: Pierre Desir replaced Haden two weeks ago against San Diego and will start again versus Denver. Impact: While the Broncos are struggling in the passing game, QB Peyton Manning can still pick apart an opposing D if given sufficient protection. Cleveland also will be without another Pro Bowl member of its secondary with Tashaun Gipson sidelined by a sprained ankle. Jordan Poyer, who earned a game ball for his play against Baltimore, will replace Gibson again.
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7: Oakland defensive end Justin Tuck
Injury: Tuck tore his right pectoral muscle trying to make a tackle in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s loss to Denver. Prognosis: Tuck underwent surgery Friday and is out for the year. Likely sub: Mario Edwards Jr., a 2015 second-round pick, likely slides into Tuck’s starting spot when the Raiders return from their Week 6 bye. Denico Autry also is in line for increased snaps. Impact: Tuck was more than a productive player for the Raiders. The 11-year NFL vet also provided leadership as a team captain. One piece of good news for Oakland: Aldon Smith is starting to reemerge as an impact pass-rusher.
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8: New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara
Injury: Amukamara suffered a partially torn pectoral muscle during last Sunday night’s win over San Francisco. Prognosis: Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Amukamara will be out for 2-4 weeks. Likely sub: Jayron Hosley starts in place of Amukamara. Impact: After a poor 2014, Hosley has rebounded playing under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Still, the Giants already are riddled with injuries on defense and losing Amukamara stings. Trevin Wade is now in line for increased playing time. He took snaps at nickel CB last Sunday night with Trumaine McBride (groin) ailing.
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9. Houston outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney
Injury: Clowney sprained his ankle during a Week 5 loss to Indianapolis. Prognosis: Clowney was ruled out for Sunday’s game at Jacksonville after missing three days of practice. Likely sub: Whitney Mercilus will shift to Clowney’s spot at 'Jack' LB with John Simon replacing him on the other side at OLB. Impact: After missing 12 games during his rookie season, Clowney’s bad luck with injuries continues. But while he still hasn’t registered his first NFL sack, Clowney has at least flashed some of the talent that made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
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10: Kansas City nose tackle Dontari Poe
Injury: Poe suffered a high ankle sprain in last Sunday’s loss to Chicago. Prognosis: Poe is out Sunday against Minnesota and could miss several more games as well. Likely sub: The Chiefs hope that Jaye Howard, who helped Kansas City score a defensive TD against the Bears, can continue his hot play while filling in for Poe. Impact: Following his emerging as one of the NFL’s top nose tackles, Poe has spent the 2015 season trying to work his way back after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. While Howard is an excellent run-stopper, Poe’s presence could be missed Sunday as the Chiefs try to stop Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson.