It's every playoff team's worst nightmare: injuries.
Every year, key players go down in the weeks leading up to the playoffs. This week is no different. Some major stars left games with injuries, putting their status in doubt for the remainder of the season.
Here are some of the most notable injuries from Week 16 and the prognosis going forward.
Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans
Foster left yesterday's game with an irregular heartbeart. Tests were done, and it seems that the condition is not too serious. As Coach Gary Kubiak said:
“Arian had an irregular heartbeat,” Kubiak said. “He’s doing fine. That’s why we took him out of the game, but he’s doing fine. That’s something that happened once before in practice. I’m not sure when it happened... I just know it’s happened to him before at practice, he calms down, he’s fine... I don’t see any issues here. I know they’re on top of it. I know he’s feeling fine.”
Foster himself took to Twitter to say he's doing okay:
I appreciate all the concern and support. I am doing well. Saw a cardiologist today and everything is back to normal.— Arian Foster (@ArianFoster) December 24, 2012
Foster gave the Texans a scare, but he appears ready to go for Sunday's tilt against the Colts.
Mario Manningham, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Mario Manningham left Sunday night's game with an apparent knee injury after a big hit that was pretty gruesome. Manningham was carted off the field. Sports Illustrated's injury expert Will Carroll thinks that it may not be as bad as it looked:
OK, that looked ugly. But looks can sometimes be deceiving. Earlier Sunday, the oft-injured Beanie Wells came out of his end zone, jump-stopped and his knee buckled. Even with a brace, it just collapsed. He was in enough pain that he dropped the ball, allowing an easy TD recovery, but he was out there a couple series later. Manningham can only hope to be so lucky—he buckled in a similar way, but had no brace there to take the load. He’ll head for scans, but his loss would be a big one for the playoff-bound Niners.
Manningham had X-rays that came back "negative," but he will have an MRI to confirm. His status for Sunday is not yet clear.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears
Matt Forte injured his right ankle in the third quarter of yesterday's victory over Arizona. With Michael Bush on injured reserve, that left the Bears with only Khalil Bell and Armando Allen at running back.
For what it's worth, Forte says he'll be able to suit up next week (via the Chicago Sun-Times):
This is the third game that Forte has had to leave early due to that wonky right ankle. SI's Carroll says it could be a problem and lead to a change in the game plan:
Simple can be good or bad. Matt Forte has a simple ankle sprain—the “low” or “basketball” sprain that we’re used to seeing. He left the game in a walking boot, and there are questions about how serious the sprain is. A Grade II could keep him out longer than he has season left and it raises the issue of whether Forte wears down over the course of a year. He’s in fine physical condition and he wasn’t overworked, but at some point this becomes a “tissue issue”—perhaps Forte can’t hold up no matter what he or the Bears do. Listen for the grade of sprain, and then for him to do cutting to the opposite side of the injury.
That makes his ankle a major concern, but Forte's proclamation is the latest for now.
DeMarcus Ware, LB, Dallas Cowboys
DeMarcus Ware left yesterday's game with a strained right shoulder. It's an injury that has been prevalent all year. Ware did return for one play in overtime.
Ware has battled injuries all season, including a stinger and a bad elbow. Ware's status for next week is not clear. However, the Cowboys need to win the game to make the playoffs, and the fact that Ware has played through injuries all year suggests he could play through pain again. Still, there is no official update from the Cowboys as of now.
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
Randall Cobb sprained his ankle in the third quarter of yesterday's game, and he did not return. Will Carroll of Sports Illustrated breaks it down:
Randall Cobb sprained his ankle and did not return Sunday, but by the time the trainers had his tape off, the Packers were on their fifth TD. The blowout makes it a little tougher to read this. Some sources say Cobb could have returned if need be. Look for whether Cobb participates by Friday, but even so, expect the Packers to be conservative with their breakout WR. They have more than enough to make it through Week 17 and have him ready for the playoffs
Coach Mike McCarthy was cautiously optimistic, saying that:
"I hope it's not serious," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "The training staff on the field did not give me anything to believe that it was very serious, but as you know with ankle sprains and joint injuries, the next day is a huge indicator."
The Packers could choose to rest him in Week 17 in order to get him fully healthy for the playoffs, but it does not appear that Cobb will miss any postseason time.