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Injury Report Week 3
By Garth Pearce
Special to gzl-football.com

We are week behind the big news of the year where Falcon's QB Matt Ryan was taken out of the season by the Broncos with a broken elbow, but week 3 saw some significant injuries take their toll on teams:

QB Howard Christensen was on the receiving end of a defense set on punishing the signal caller for a change, suffering a fracture patella that will have him out all year. This hurts the Broncos chances significantly as they traded out heir able backup Ryan mallet during the off season and the depth of Fitzpatrick is very thin. There are not a whole lot of reliable and able backups at this position across the league and the free agency pool has Vince Young as the best of the rest, so Denver may be struggling to get a passing game going this year. If Fitzpatrick does stay as the starter it would be a struggle for anyone to fear the passing game, even though he has performed reasonably as a backup over his career, but the defensive focus will shift to shutting down Keith Payne on the ground. Don't expect too much from the Broncos this year as their good start is likely to be the only bright spot for the year.

San Diego suffered a similar fate int he same game as the Broncos, losing their chief play maker QB Blaine Gabbert for a further 4 weeks with a broken collarbone. This is the 3 year in a row that Gabbert has spent significant time sidelined and it must be wearing thin on GM Stanley. Whilst he isn't out for the year, the Chargers will be hard pressed to find a decent replacement in the interim as their position is compounded by the preseason injury to veteran backup Tony Romo who is still at least 3 weeks away from recovering from a torn pectoral. This leaves rookie free agent Parker Simms in charge for a few weeks that will need to deliver some Pat Devlin magic to keep the Chargers on the level playing field, however even with a solid short game shown last week he won't be a threat to any decent defense. With the Steelers, Buccs and Raiders in the next few weeks it will be a baptism of fire for them to stay in touch for the division at this early stage.

He's been a surprise packet from the 4thy round over the past few years and has given the flagging Vikings offense a solid work horse to keep the yardage coming, but now they'll need to find a new foil to Colt McCoy as HB David Wilson is out for 10 weeks with a broken jaw. 2nd round pick Joseph Randle is the likely replacement as he is already averaging 4.14 ypc for 149 yards behind Wilson's 6.23 ypc and 274 yards. Randle has better ratings than Wilson and with any luck should give Minnesota fans the same production. We will wait and see if his handle of the ball can be more secure than Wilson as he's fumbled once already this season, but he should fill the void for no noticeable loss to the Vikings offense.

He only saw 10 passes come his way last season before suffering a season ending injury and now WR Mario Manningham is sitting out 7 weeks of this year with a torn shoulder. Christian Ponder hasn't had the luxury of a full wide receiver corps in the past few years and he's managed to get things done, but with Manningham having claimed 5 TD's already with 359 yards it again will be a hard pill to swallow. 2nd year player Dave Aikman will have to step up and help Julio Jones. I don't think he can match Manningham's production, but Ponder will get the best out of him and will keep the Cardinals in the hunt with respectable numbers, but if they need more high scoring slugging matches against divisional rivals like in weeks 1 and 3 then he could be shown up.

Whilst Vincent Jackson has been hogging all the receptions from Matt Schaub, WR Kendall Wright has been the best of the rest as the 2nd option, but is now sidelined for 7 weeks with a broken collarbone. From his stats so far of 122 yards, 0 TD's and 2 drops it isn't a big stretch to imagine anyone equally his performance and filling the hole he leaves. The most likely candidate is the underused A.J. Jenkins (drafted 2 spots after Wright) who has the tools, just needs some time to show case them. It may the 6'3" Riley Cooper who takes the spot as he seems to be doing the slot work, but whoever it is they can only do better than Wright and Schaub will make them look good in the process.

OMG, CB Josh Norman is down for 3 weeks with a pinched nerve. Considering all he does for the Giants is special teams' returner it's not a big loss as his 20.12 kick return average shows. Eddie Royal has already done the job for 1 return of 31 yards, so if JP is willing to risk him here for a few games things can only be better than with Norman, otherwise any other schmuck should be able to get 20 yards a return.
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