As injuries continue to pile up, teams are sent scrambling

A mere five weeks into the season, the NFL's War of Attrition has nearly reached the state of shock and awe. Consider:

» Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme will undergo reconstructive, Tommy-John-like surgery next week, sidelining him seven to nine months.

» Miami quarterback Trent Green was, shockingly, feeling fine Monday, after suffering a severe concussion that knocked him out of Sunday's game against Houston. Green did, however, spend the day going through a battery of neurological tests that will help determine when or if he plays again.

» Arizona quarterback Matt Leinart broke his left collarbone and is out indefinitely, leaving Kurt Warner as the only quarterback remaining on the Cardinals roster.

» Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman suffered a high ankle sprain that will sideline him six to eights weeks, leaving the Buccaneers with a backfield virtually depleted.

» Broncos center Tom Nalen tore his biceps Sunday and will miss the rest of the season.

Just another week in War of Attrition that helps determine division winners and Super Bowl contenders.


Monday's announcement that Delhomme would need surgery was hardly surprising, though it was startling. Earlier in the day, Delhomme attempted to throw about three passes at the Panthers' training facility and found the pain in his elbow only intensified. Once it did, and after consulting with coaches and doctors, the decision was made and surgery was scheduled.

Delhomme is expected to make a full recovery for next summer's training camp, but elbow recoveries for quarterbacks can be as difficult to predict as concussions are for other players. Former Raiders quarterback Bobby Hoying suffered a similar injury to Delhomme in practice and never played again.

Elbow injuries also ended the careers of Hall of Fame quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana.

The Panthers are hopeful that the classy and competitive Delhomme will return, and the thinking is he will. But the thinking also was that Delhomme, initially, was day-to-day and would be able to play at some point this season.

In the interim, Carolina is shorthanded at quarterback as it prepares for Sunday's game against the also quarterback-needy Cardinals. Panthers starter David Carr has a back injury that is being treated and evaluated. Panthers coach John Fox declined to say much about Carr's injury Monday.

Carolina's other quarterback options are limited. It could explore the possibility of trying to trade a late-round pick for Browns backup Ken Dorsey, who is familiar with Panthers offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson's offense. Maybe it could look at Jets backup Marques Tuiasosopo, whom the Panthers expressed interest in during the off-season.

"Those are discussions that we have not yet had," Fox said Monday morning, shortly after learning about Delhomme. "We obviously know we're going to be doing something, but what that something is has not been hashed out yet."

Without Delhomme, the Panthers offense has taken its biggest hit of the season.


Green's future is just as muddled. When he awakened Monday he was said to be feeling fine, 100 percent, with no after effects. He spent part of the day undergoing more neurological testing, the results of which should be known in the next 24 hours.

To date, there have been few, if any, discussions about when or if Green will be able to resume his career. But those are not far off.

Should Green be cleared to resume his career, and if he would like to –- most football players struggle with the question of when to walk away from the game –- then surely some will suggest otherwise to the quarterback.

Green is 37, is financially secure, has a family, and now has suffered his second considerable head blow in the past two seasons. He is playing for a team that is winless, that does not appear headed to this year's postseason, leaving little incentive for Green to risk his health.

But in the coming days, Green will be forced to wrestle with the questions that so many players are, and it will not be easy.


With Leinart out at least eight weeks, if not the full season with a broken collarbone, the Cardinals need help at quarterback. And quick.

Warner is the only healthy quarterback remaining on Arizona's roster. Arizona wants to locate a veteran, bring him in and sign him –- pronto.

One quarterback on their radar is former 49er Tim Rattay, who is from the Arizona area. The Cardinals planned to reach out to Rattay on Monday afternoon and schedule a visit to their training complex. Rattay attended Phoenix Christian High School, played at Scottsdale Community College and probably would love the idea of playing for the Cardinals.

Arizona also is said to be eyeing at least one other veteran. But one should be signed in the next 24 hours.


No team has been hit harder at running back than the Buccaneers. Fullback Mike Alstott suffered a season-ending neck injury during training camp, running back Cadillac Williams suffered a season-ending knee injury last weekend and now Pittman has suffered an ankle injury that will sideline him six to eight weeks.

Now, the last two remaining healthy backs for the Bucs are Earnest Graham and Kenneth Darby, who was promoted from the practice squad last week.

Also last week, the Buccaneers worked out former Steelers running back Verron Haynes. They recently did the same with former Texans running back Wali Lundy.

One could be a possible stopgap measure, somebody to help bolster a backfield with only two backs standing. Tampa also could try to make a trade before next Tuesday's Oct. 16 deadline.

One player that could interest Tampa or any other team in the market for a back is Ricky Williams, but Williams might not be available for some time. His hopes of being reinstated before the trade deadline are slowly disappearing.

The NFL is not expected to make a ruling on Williams until Nov. 1, at the earliest, two weeks after the trade deadline will have passed.

This means the Dolphins will be forced to either carry Williams on their roster or release him, and Miami has not given any indication it has any intentions of bringing back its former running back.


One benefactor of the quarterback injuries could be the Oakland Raiders, who have kept four QBs on their roster.

Oakland will not deal No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell or Daunte Culpepper. It would be a surprise to see the Raiders trade Josh McCown, who used to play in Arizona. But this could be the week that the Raiders finally unload former third-round draft choice Andrew Walter, a talented quarterback who had drawn interest this season from, among others, Atlanta and Jacksonville.

Now other teams could decide to enter the bidding for Walter, who played for Jacksonville offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter at Arizona State. With the trade deadline quickly approaching, the expectation around the league is that the Raiders will be dealing.


Used to be that there were quarterback questions in Jacksonville. Not anymore.

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio clearly made the right decision in switching to David Garrard from Byron Leftwich. His timing was a bit off, but his thinking was not.

Through the first four games, Garrard has a quarterback rating of 105.4 and still has not thrown an interception on any of his 102 passes.


Nalen, a fixture on Denver's back-to-back Super-Bowl winning teams, is done for the season. The injury could even end Nalen's potential Hall of Fame career, though Broncos coach Mike Shanahan didn't think so. He predicted Nalen would be ready to start rehabbing in four months.

If it is the end for Nalen, he will be rememebered as the greatest center in Broncos history -- and maybe NFL history, at least in the mind of Shanahan.

"Tom, I believe, is the best center to ever play the game," Shanahan said. "That's what I really believe. He played the whole game with a torn bicep, and not many guys will do that. We couldn't run inside running plays, just outside running plays, because he didn't have any strength in there. That kind of gives you an idea of what kind of player he is."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.