Monday NFL preview: Patriots, Seahawks suffer significant injuries

Gronk leaves game with right knee injury

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is carted off the field in the fourth quarter after he takes a hit to the right knee by Broncos DB Darian Stewart.

NFL Nation reporters look ahead to what Monday has in store for each team.


Buffalo Bills: The Bills have a 5-6 record as they return home this week for their first game at Ralph Wilson Stadium in four weeks. After Sunday's crushing loss to the Chiefs, Rex Ryan said that the Bills' upcoming game against the Texans is one they must win. At this point, the Bills might need to run the table to earn a playoff berth. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: Dolphins center Mike Pouncey injured his foot in the first quarter of Sunday's loss to the Jets and didn't return. He was in a boot after the game, which is a sign that Pouncey could miss at least the next game. The team must decide Monday if it wants to stick with rookie Jamil Douglas -- a converted guard -- or find a backup center via waivers for next week's game against the Ravens. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: The Patriots suffered three key losses on Sunday, but one may have a greater impact on the rest of the season. The Patriots will be awaiting word on the status of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was carted off the field with a right knee injury in the fourth quarter of the Patriots' overtime loss to Denver. It was the first loss of the season for the Patriots, leaving the Panthers as the last undefeated team. But losing Gronkowski would be devastating for a team that is now without its top four receivers. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower also left Sunday night's game with a knee injury late in the second quarter. -- ESPN.com staff

New York Jets: The Jets have to be happy with their run defense. They set a franchise record by holding the Dolphins to 12 yards on nine carries. They added a new wrinkle, using weakside linebacker Demario Davis in a rotation with Erin Henderson. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: Quarterback Matt Schaub, who is replacing the injured Joe Flacco on Monday night in Cleveland, is seeking his first win as a starter since September 2013. Since that victory, he has thrown four touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His passer rating is 63.0, which ranks 41st in the NFL over that span. "I have absolutely every expectation that he's going to play very, very well," coach John Harbaugh said. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: Tight end Tyler Eifert still has protocols to go through to get his strength and range of motion back following a third-quarter stinger he received in Sunday's win over the St. Louis Rams. He said he considers himself to be "fine" and expects to play at Cleveland on Sunday. As the Bengals go through the week, the tight end's status will be worth monitoring, regardless of what he says. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: The Browns play Baltimore on Monday night with the loser gaining in the draft rankings. This game means little to all but the two teams, which enter the game with a combined five wins. After Johnny Manziel was demoted, Josh McCown will get the start at quarterback. He hasn't played since Nov. 1, when he had three touchdown passes and an interception in a loss to the Cardinals. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers await the results of Ben Roethlisberger's concussion protocol after the quarterback took a shot from Michael Bennett in the fourth quarter of a 39-30 loss to Seattle. The Steelers won't let him see the field until he has passed all testing hurdles. A source said the symptoms are not lingering, which is a good sign. The Steelers will have the option to prepare Landry Jones for a potential start against Indianapolis in Heinz Field. It's too early to rule out Roethlisberger, depending on how he responds to treatment. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: The Texans showed a little bit of creativity on offense again Sunday in their 24-6 win over the Saints, most notably with a three-yard touchdown "pass" from Brian Hoyer to Cecil Shorts in the first quarter. Shorts went in motion before the snap and darted in front of Hoyer, who took the snap and immediately pitched it forward to Shorts. He then ran to the edge and into the end zone for the Texans' second touchdown of the day. "Easiest touchdown pass of my career for sure," Hoyer said. Said Shorts: "It's fun. Especially when it works. When you get positive yards on those plays, it makes the game a whole lot of fun." -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts hope to have results of the MRI on linebacker Jerrell Freeman's injured hamstring on Monday. Freeman left Sunday's game against the Buccaneers in the third quarter after suffering the injury while chasing down quarterback Jameis Winston on a scramble. Freeman is second on the team in tackles with 82. Expect Nate Irving to start in Freeman's place if Freeman is forced to miss Sunday's game at Pittsburgh. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: Wide receiver Allen Hurns has never missed a game in his career (27 consecutive games), but that streak, which he said meant more to him than his seven games in a row with a touchdown catch, may be in jeopardy after he suffered a concussion Sunday against San Diego. He spent a short time in the hospital and was released Sunday night. The Jaguars will provide an update on his condition Monday afternoon. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: The Titans felt they did what they needed to do in order to beat the Raiders. But a fourth-down stop came undone when officials flagged cornerback B.W. Webb for holding Amari Cooper on the opposite side of the field from where Derek Carr threw incomplete. The Titans may be due an apology from the NFL if a close look shows the same mild contact from the telecast's distant shot. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: The Broncos tried and tried to get Demaryius Thomas involved Sunday night with 13 targets, but Thomas turned that into just one catch in a flurry of dropped passes. Still, his 36-yard reception came on the Broncos' fourth-quarter drive that gave them a short-lived lead. The Broncos need Sunday night's game not to turn into the kind of slump Thomas had before the bye week this season. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs will be looking to add offensive linemen after losing tackle Eric Fisher and center Mitch Morse during Sunday's win over the Bills. The Chiefs, after inserting backups Zach Fulton and Donald Stephenson in the game, had nobody else available on their bench. The only other lineman on their roster, Ben Grubbs, hasn't played in four games because of a neck injury. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: Seth Roberts had a huge game for the Raiders in the win over the Titans, making it clear he is the No. 3 receiver. He had six catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner. Amari Cooper also had his best game of the month with seven catches for 115 yards. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: Chargers coach Mike McCoy and his players breathed a sigh of relief after earning a 31-25 win over the Jaguars, snapping a six-game losing streak. It is San Diego's first road win this season. Receiver Stevie Johnson said it felt good to finally be on the winning side of things for the first time since Week 4. "It means a lot to win, period," Johnson said. "To me, it's still bittersweet, knowing that we won't be in the playoffs. We're chasing the playoffs and the Super Bowl. But it's cool, though, to get that win." -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: Mathematically, the Cowboys are still in the NFC East race with Washington beating the Giants on Sunday, but the Cowboys are 0-7 this year without quarterback Tony Romo. They will turn their attention back to Matt Cassel, as Romo's season is over with a broken left collarbone, and hope that Cassel's four games of experience allows them to do more offensively. In two of his four starts, the Cowboys didn't score a touchdown, and he threw for fewer than 200 yards twice. The Cowboys will use their final five games to determine if Cassel can be the backup for 2016, but that will not dissuade them from taking a quarterback early in next year's draft. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: Giants guard Geoff Schwartz left Washington hoping his lower leg fracture wouldn't be season ending. He said the plate he had put into his ankle exactly one year ago Monday was the cause of this latest fracture, and that more evaluations would be done this week. Regardless, he's sure to miss at least a few more games, which is rotten news for an offensive line that was already down another starting guard (Justin Pugh, concussion) and its starting center (Weston Richburg, ankle) before it even left for the game. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles won't return to the practice field until Tuesday, but we should get some answers from coach Chip Kelly on Monday. He is scheduled to talk to reporters at 1 p.m. Kelly has already said that defensive coordinator Bill Davis is safe, but he could explain what he intends to do after losing three games in a row, the past two by a combined score of 90-31. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: Redskins cornerback Quinton Dunbar, who played a terrific game vs. the Giants and intercepted a pass in the end zone, will see a hand specialist Monday to determine the severity of his dislocated right index finger. The Redskins can't afford any more losses in the secondary -- Dunbar already was filling in for injured corner Chris Culliver. The Redskins' depth in the secondary continues to be tested. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: The Bears (5-6) return from a three-day break with an opportunity to reach .500 for the first time all year. With a matchup against the 49ers on the horizon, the Bears have an extra day to prepare and heal up. The club did not suffer any key injuries in Chicago's surprise win at Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving, but tight end Martellus Bennett (ribs) and safety Antrel Rolle (knee) will be re-evaluated Monday. It's unclear when the Bears plan to welcome back wide receiver Eddie Royal (knee). Royal has yet to practice since he badly injured his knee on Nov. 1 against the Vikings. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: Lions safety Glover Quin was out of his walking boot Sunday, but his status for Thursday night's game against Green Bay is unknown. The Pro Bowler missed practice Sunday, potentially a bad sign for his availability against the Packers. If he's not able to go, that would be a massive blow for a defense that needs him. James Ihedigbo would likely slide into his spot opposite Isa Abdul-Quddus. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: After perhaps his worst game as a pro with three dropped passes in last Thursday's loss to the Bears, receiver Davante Adams can't wait to get back on the field Thursday night at Detroit. "I could play right now," Adams said. "Obviously you get down on yourself a little bit because you know you want to perform better than you did, but I'm ready to get out there and have a better game than I did last time." -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings once again have a one-game lead in the NFC North after their win Sunday, but coach Mike Zimmer has no plans to let up on his young team. Zimmer told the Vikings they wouldn't get a Victory Monday after beating the Falcons, though he said he'd shorten their workload on Thursday before the Vikings play host to the two-time NFC champion Seahawks on Sunday. "We are nowhere near where we need to be," Zimmer said. "But this team has a lot of fighters on it." -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: Falcons coach Dan Quinn said running back Devonta Freeman should be a cleared for full action at some point this week after coming off a concussion. Freeman missed Sunday's loss to the Vikings as a result of the injury but ran around during warm-ups and met with the doctors before kickoff. Freeman has 11 touchdowns this season and is expected to return again Tampa Bay next Sunday. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: Carolina players will have a third straight day off on Monday before returning Tuesday to begin preparation for Sunday's game at New Orleans. The biggest injury concerns are defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and defensive end Mario Addison, who both suffered ankle injuries in Thursday's win at Dallas. Neither were high ankle sprains, so there's a chance they could be ready for the Saints. The Panthers also have worked out a few cornerbacks with the status of Charles Tillman (knee) in doubt for another week or two. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: What a horrible time for the Saints to be in one of their worst offensive slumps in the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era. They have gone six straight quarters without scoring a touchdown, and now they have to face one of the NFL's stingiest defenses when the 11-0 Panthers come to town Sunday. "I'm confident that we've shown ourselves that we can play at a very high level," Brees said. "I think we've faltered here over the last few weeks. But we still have a lot to play for, and obviously Carolina coming to town will be a really big divisional game for us." -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa Bay failed to go above .500 for the first time since 2012, but the players in the locker room remained upbeat after a 25-12 loss to the Colts on Sunday. The Bucs are looking forward to going home for consecutive games against Atlanta and New Orleans, teams they have already defeated on the road. "It's not disappointing," quarterback Jameis Winston said. "We're disappointed in the loss, but not our situation. We've lost before, but we bounced back." -- Mark Montieth


Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals lost three starters -- including two at one position -- in the third quarter, but no details on their statuses were available Sunday night. Cornerback Jerraud Powers went out with a calf injury, running back Chris Johnson left with a knee injury and running back Andre Ellington suffered a foot injury. "It doesn't look like anything too major," Johnson said. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: After a 31-7 blowout loss to the Bengals, the Rams are reeling with four consecutive losses, and it's hard to see how they can turn it around now. At quarterback, Nick Foles started Sunday because Case Keenum is still in the concussion protocol. Jeff Fisher said once Keenum clears that, he will return to the starting job. But regardless of who is playing quarterback, the Rams are still searching for answers for one of the league's worst offenses. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers defense played well in a heart-breaking loss to the league's top-ranked offense in the Cardinals. Or, as inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman put it, he's not into "moral victories," but "it's something to build on." -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: Quarterback Russell Wilson played one of the best games of his career Sunday, completing 21 of 30 passes for 345 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions against the Steelers. He has eight TDs and no picks in his past two games. With running back Marshawn Lynch and tight end Jimmy Graham sidelined, the Seahawks are going to need Wilson to stay hot if they want to make a late-season run. Graham had 48 catches for 605 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games with the Seahawks. According to ESPN's Stephania Bell, the injury is the same as the one Giants receiver Victor Cruz suffered last year. Graham will undergo surgery and start rehab, while tight end Luke Willson replaces him in the lineup. -- Sheil Kapadia