No less than 12 injuries were sustained in week 5 outings, with majority of them listed in the major to severe category requiring quite a few weeks recuperation. Corners were hit fairly hard this week, although once again Quarterbacks are taking a mighty share of the pain.
One of two teams this week to receive multiple injuries, the Jags are left without the services of corner Matthew Diaz for the remainder of the season, whilst receiver Chip Hankerson is only questionable for this week, which is lucky considering they have the bye. With any luck Hankerson will be up to full fitness by the time they take on the Texans in week 7, so the #2 wide out spot won't be an issue. On the flip side, Diaz is the nickel corner behind Revis and Allen and hasn't seen a lot of impact over the first 5 weeks (8 tak, 2 def, 2 ctha). There is some decent depth at corner in Jacksonville, with Pat Lee floating between the nickel and dime spot, whilst Nolan Carroll hasn't seen a defensive down all year. Lee or Carroll are able to cover Diaz in the slot whilst the other takes the 4th place on the depth and will show skills similar to Diaz. Neither of these injuries will have a big impact on the Jaguars play style or ability to perform, so look for them to continue their winning streak after the bye week.
The second season out this week is the big corner in Steven Yates. Seatlle only has the 4 men at corner this year so will be forced to find a replacement out of FA or a trade to keep roster requirements, but how do they fill the void that a 6'4" corner leaves? Sure he won't match the speed of many receivers, but you need a lot of separation to get over that height. Enter mighty mover Tyrann Mathieu who has been a swingman over Yates depending on the matchup. 5'10" with super speed he'll now have to cover the short and tall of it for the rest of the year, which in the end will only help his stocks and his overall progression. He has been shown to let a few passes through to date, but a consistent run at it should see those numbers improve, and as few teams have the tall stocks of Yates in the nickel position and they survive should see Mathieu able to cover the position to the satisfaction of GM St. Marie.
Much like Yates, Meadows is a swing man used to cover taller opponents, but he normally moves from #4 to #1 on the depth chart in doing so. He was supposed to be covering Marques Colston this week but suffered an 11 week layoff with a broken jaw in doing so. As the raiders are only 4 men strong at the position this will see the end of his year as he goes to injury reserve and a free agent is added to cover his spot. With speed missing in the 3rd corner of Glover Quin it is likely to be someone who can match speed for speed rather than smarts and hands as Quin provides. Meadows isn't providing a big presence in the secondary, but his height will be missed in some matchups, although his absence shouldn't be a big concern in Oakland.
Another starting QB has taken on one too many hits and will ride the pine for 7 weeks. Terrance Bennett has suffered a dislocated elbow in their week 5 loss to the Ravens. Luckily for the Texans they have the best depth out of any team in the GZL, with the #1 pick in the 2015 draft Kendall Irving waiting in the wings, alongside veteran mentor Kyle Orton. Whilst this is a good sign for the Texans that their ability to perform is in no danger of dropping off just yet, the fact that all 3 QBs saw playing time against the Ravens points to their vulnerability as players, or lack of protection from the pass rush. There is a growing number of teams this year who would love to have Irving or Orton on their roster right now to fill a void, but if this team continues to play in the same fashion they might be all done in short order if they're not kept on their feet and looked after by a proper blocking scheme. If kept safe the Texans will see no noticeable drop off in performance, but if last week's antics continue then they might be asking an empty free agency pool for someone to fill their roster, or even pull a Parker Simms.
Kenny Vaccaro is a young stud at free safety, but unfortunately he's been playing in a defense that has allowed no less than 28 points in a game this year. One would think that any player stepping into this unit wouldn't be able to do any worse when there isn't a whole lot to write home about, but that job is most likely left to Chip Vaughn. Vaughn himself has some physical talent, but hasn't been given a fair shot in his previous 6 years in the league. Likely he's got the reins for the next 5 weeks while Vaccaro nurses a broken jaw, but his addition won't be the spark that this defense needs to turn its game around, so impact wise not much will change.
It's a double whammy to wear in New Orleans this week as MLB DeAndre Levy and LOLB Brian Orakpo have some time out for the third broken jaw of the week and second dislocated elbow respectively. Levy had a hard day of it against the Raiders, leaving prior to this injury with bruising before finally succumbing to the relentless pounding of the Oakland running game. One linebacker at a time you can maybe cover, but 2 talents like this are going to leave a distinct gap in the Saints' defense. As already shown from the last game, the Saints went from allowing an average of 43 rushing games in their previous 4 encounters (172 total yards), to 175 in one game alone. If the backups are forced into playing for 30 minutes of any other game over the next 4 weeks than the situation is likely to get worse. Casey Matthews is a likely candidate for Levy's job in the middle and only shows a drop in field awareness and tackling ability, so he'll do a fair job when called upon, but replacing Orakpo with the likes of Skuta or Joyce sees the brains, physical prowess and tackling ability gone out the window. The Saints were on a massive defensive run before week 5, but this is likely ended knowing 2 big play makers are out. When you think the volatile and raw Matt Scott along with the diminutive Jacquizz Rodgers need to keep the defense off the field, things don't look to promising in New Orleans.
Another corner has an injury and for the third time this week it's a nickel corner wearing the pain. Chris Cook has some nice tools but hasn't seen much love for his time in the league, hence why he's been relegated to nickel again, this time behind rookie David Amerson. Cook is only out for 2 weeks, one of which is a bye, so his absence won't be a huge factor in the Minnesota camp. Gilberto Lawrence would be the likely candidate to fill his shoes for a week or so, which will only hurt in his lower ability to read the play and potential to make a big pick. In an improving defensive unit (one that has shown brilliance and despair so far this year) this shouldn't be a game breaker for a short term layoff.
The Browns face a big divisional game this week against the Steelers and are likely to be without young gun Boston Mallet leading the way. The Mallett train has come off its rails a bit this year after an outstanding sophomore year, but even so there is no substitute for the 6'8" gunslinger, especially not with Matt Moore. The strained shoulder suffered in the loss to the Cowboys is most likely to see him sidelined for at least this week, which puts a lot of pressure on the rookie running back Johnathan Franklin and QB Moore, which is likely to bring a change in game plan to accommodate this missing piece of the plan. In any case they'll need to sign a QB filler no matter the situation for roster minimums, but a missing Mallett is not a good sign in Cleveland even after their 1-4 start, plus a shoulder injury on a passer can be niggling and keep him out for longer than originally forecasted.
The Ravens are another team with a bye this week which will help MLB Jameel McClain get over his sprained ankle and hopefully regain full fitness for week 7.
Denver has a probable starter in SS Phillip Thomas as his sprained shoulder won't restrict his ability to take the field, even if it lessens his ability to catch or tackle, but with the way the rest of the secondary is playing his lowered colours won't be noticed.