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NFL Week 5

Rodgers may miss a game as hits keep coming for Packers

Associated Press / October 12, 2010

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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a concussion and might have to sit out next Sunday’s game against Miami, the latest blow in a wave of injuries that have hit the team in a season it hoped would end in the Super Bowl.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers got the concussion during a helmet-to-helmet hit late in Sunday’s 16-13 overtime loss at Washington.

“It’s definitely possible,’’ McCarthy said of Rodgers sitting out a game. “I know at a minimum he’ll miss some practice time.’’

Green Bay’s backup quarterback is Matt Flynn, a third-year player out of LSU who has thrown 17 passes in his NFL career. Flynn said he’s ready to play if needed, but hopes Rodgers is healthy.

“I saw him this morning,’’ Flynn said. “He looked fine. We sat down, talked, just waited around and everything was kind of normal.’’

The Packers likely will need much of the week to evaluate Rodgers, who hasn’t missed a game since taking over as the starter in 2008.

Under stricter return-to-play guidelines for head injuries the NFL adopted late last year, Rodgers must be free of concussion symptoms, even after rigorous exercise, and cleared by the team doctor and an approved independent neurologist before he plays again.

That’s just the beginning of the bad news for the Packers.

Two players are scheduled for surgery this week: tight end Jermichael Finley on his knee and linebacker Nick Barnett on his wrist. McCarthy said he “would be surprised’’ if Finley’s surgery ended his season but was less definitive on Barnett, saying he was “holding out hope’’ that the linebacker would be back.

Outside linebacker Clay Matthews has a left hamstring strain, defensive lineman Ryan Pickett has an ankle sprain, tight end Donald Lee has a chest sprain, and safety Derrick Martin has a knee sprain.

Green Bay has already lost starting running back Ryan Grant to a season-ending ankle injury, starting safety Morgan Burnett to a torn ACL, and backup defensive lineman Justin Harrell to a knee injury. Cornerback Al Harris (knee) and safety Atari Bigby (ankle) might return to practice next week.

Going into the Miami game, that’s a lot of potential absences for a team that has lost two of its last three games.

“We’ll just gather as much information and we’ll look at our projected inactive list like we do every week,’’ McCarthy said.

Denver’s dilemma
The beaten-up Broncos will be without five key players, including three members of their secondary, when the Jets visit Invesco Field next weekend.

Coach Josh McDaniels already has ruled out safeties Brian Dawkins (knee) and Darcel McBath (ankle) and cornerback Andre’ Goodman (thigh), along with pass rusher Robert Ayers (leg) and special teams captain Wesley Woodyard (hamstring) for next Sunday’s game. McDaniels declined to discuss the severity of the injuries or the timetable for any player’s return. The Denver Post reported Ayers would miss up to three months with a broken foot.

The latest rash of injuries throws yet another wrench into the situation for a team that’s searching for ways not to get manhandled so much at the line of scrimmage.

“Certainly the injuries don’t make it easy, but we’ve been dealing with that for a long time now and I think the next guy has got to step up and play well,’’ McDaniels said.

Safety depth is a major issue. McBath is Dawkins’s backup, and he also plays in the nickel. It would appear either David Bruton or Nate Jones would start next to Renaldo Hill. The Broncos might also promote Kyle McCarthy, a rookie from Notre Dame, from their practice squad.

Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, the team’s top draft pick, underwent further evaluation on his head and neck after being knocked from Sunday’s 31-17 loss at Baltimore on a kickoff return. McDaniels said Thomas would try to practice later this week.

Rams lose Clayton
Mark Clayton, the leading receiver for the Rams and a reliable option for rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, is done for the year.

Coach Steve Spagnuolo said Clayton will have season-ending surgery on his right knee to repair a torn patellar tendon. Clayton was hurt early in Sunday’s 44-6 loss at Detroit. “He’s got a torn patella,’’ Spagnuolo said. “So that’s unfortunate for us.’’

Clayton is the third St. Louis wide receiver to suffer a season-ending injury in 2010. Donnie Avery and Dominique Curry both suffered torn ACLs.

Clayton, acquired from Baltimore Sept. 6, caught 22 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns in the first four games.

It’s Smith, for now
49ers quarterback Alex Smith is keeping his starting job for at least another game, but coach Mike Singletary said he plans to evaluate Smith’s status on a week-to-week basis from now on considering the team’s 0-5 start and inconsistent offense.

Singletary contemplated a switch early in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s 27-24 loss to the Eagles, but Smith talked him out of it once backup David Carr had already taken a few steps onto the field.

“It was something that needed to happen,’’ Singletary said of calling out his quarterback and seeing his reaction. “I think it was something that his teammates needed to see.’’

Smith’s response persuaded Singletary to stay with the former No. 1 overall draft pick for next Sunday’s game against the Raiders. Smith threw two interceptions and fumbled against Philadelphia — three of the 49ers’ five turnovers.

After throwing touchdown passes to Vernon Davis and Frank Gore, Smith got the 49ers past midfield again in the final minute, but he was hit by Trevor Laws while making a throw. Trevard Lindley intercepted the wobbly pass with 28 seconds to play, and the 49ers dropped to their worst start in 31 years with their third loss this season by 3 points or fewer.

Quintin Mikell returned Smith’s fumble 52 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter for the Eagles (3-2), and Kevin Kolb passed for 253 yards while capably filling in for the injured Michael Vick.

McCoy could start
Browns coach Eric Mangini said quarterbacks Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace are both “hurting’’ and it’s possible rookie Colt McCoy could make his first NFL start, against Pittsburgh next Sunday. Delhomme missed Cleveland’s previous three games with a high ankle sprain and had to play Sunday after Wallace injured his ankle on a sack in the first half of the Browns’ 20-10 loss to Atlanta. Shortly after Mangini met with the media, the agent for quarterback Brett Ratliff confirmed the Browns will re-sign his client off the Patriots’ practice squad . . . The Chargers reached an agreement on a five-year contract extension with Pro Bowl offensive tackle Marcus McNeill, ESPN reported. The five-year extension will be tacked on to the one-year, $630,000 tender McNeill accepted last month . . . Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski has a sprained shoulder, but coach Tom Cable said Gradkowski will remain the starter if he’s healthy enough to play. Gradkowski had an MRI yesterday to determine the extent of the sprain . . . Falcons wide receiver Michael Jenkins was cleared to play next Sunday in Philadelphia after missing all of the preseason and the team’s first five games because of a shoulder injury . . . Eagles defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley needs elbow surgery and will likely miss the rest of the season.

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