High-Profile Injuries: Week 14

Scout.com's Senior NFL Reporter, Adam Caplan, provides his expert analysis on the impact that key injuries will have on this weekend's NFL action.

The focus of this article isn't to analyze how each team would be affected statistically, but to see what the impact tactically would be for each players' team and also for the opponents in this week's matchups.

Roy Williams, WR - Lions
Injury: Knee
Opponent: Cowboys

The fourth-year pro will miss at least the next few weeks with a PCL sprain. Veteran WR Shaun McDonald will replace Williams in the lineup. What's interesting here is McDonald goes from being No. 4 on the depth chart to essentially the top spot. McDonald got the benefit of not only single coverage in his previous role, he often got matched up with the opponent's dime back. Now he'll draw matchups with much better cover players, so Sunday's matchup with Dallas will be a big challenge for McDonald. And McDonald has played mostly out of the slot this season, so he'll be moving outside in Williams' spot.

Troy Polamalu, SS - Steelers
Injury: Knee
Opponent: Patriots


Troy Polamalu hits Packers quarterback Brett Favre during preseason action.
(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

In the marquee matchup of the week, the Steelers won't have their marquee defensive player and movable chess piece. Polamalu has the unique ability handle just about any running back or receiver in coverage. But where he'll also be missed is against the run. Polamalu is seen as one of the best in-the-box players at his position in the league. And with New England having the league's best passing game, journeyman safety Tyrone Carter will have a major challenge on hands. He will be replacing Polamalu for the third straight game.


Gibril Wilson, FS - Giants
Injury: Knee
Opponent: Eagles

The fourth-year player will miss his second straight game due to a knee issue. Replacing him again is rookie safety Michael Johnson. Philadelphia poses a problem as they have a pass-first mentality and because the Giants have a high blitz percentage (they blitzed over 20 times last week vs. Chicago).  This will put pressure on the rookie not to make mistakes. Tight end L.J. Smith, who finally seems to be healthy, could be a big factor in this game — especially down the middle when New York brings pressure with their linebackers. Smith is too big and strong for the Giants' defensive backs.


Brandon Jones, WR - Titans

Injury: Knee
Opponent: Chargers

The third-year pro began the season as a starter but lost the job to fellow third-year WR Roydell Williams after Week Three. In this matchup, Jones will be missed since teams like to spread the inconsistent San Diego secondary out. The Chargers have replaced CB Drayton Florence with second-year CB Antonio Cromartie and rookie S Eric Weddle is taking snaps away from FS Marlon McCree.

With Jones on the sidelines on Sunday, fading WR Eric Moulds will handle the No. 3 role. The player to watch at the receiver position for Tennessee is fifth-year pro Justin Gage who has already set career highs in receptions and yards. The former Chicago Bear was an underachiever for his tenure there but is starting to realize his potential. The tall wideout runs quite well and has become QB Vince Young's top target in the passing game of late and it has become quite obvious offensive coordinator Norm Chow has confidence in Gage to beat coverages.

Adam Caplan is the Senior NFL Reporter for Scout.com.  His breaking news and analysis, reports from Senior Bowl week, NFL Combine, and free agency have been featured for the past three years.

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