Each week of the NFL season, injuries alter the landscape. Football is a rough game, after all, and people frequently get hurt playing it. Oftentimes, those people have a significant impact on subsequent games. Which NFL Week 4 injuries move the needle — or don’t, as the case may be?
TheLines will examine each week’s injury report on Thursday, typically the biggest “swing” day. That is, players who miss practice Thursday often sit out, and those who can practice usually play. We’ll try to divine what effect these injuries should have on markets from game spreads to player props. Games on Thursday Night Football won’t be included in this piece.
Keep in mind this list is by no means exhaustive. There are too many potential impactful injuries each week to keep note of them all in this space.
Impactful NFL Week 4 Injuries
Titans Potentially Missing Two Star WRs
Last year, the Titans leaned hard on star playmakers AJ Brown and Derrick Henry. They added former undisputed top WR Julio Jones and seemed set to repeat their offensive fireworks. Except, now they might miss both Jones and Brown, leaving Henry and QB Ryan Tannehill to fend for themselves behind a mediocre offensive line.
Both wideouts have been hobbled by hamstring injuries. If they both sit — which looks likely since neither has practiced this week — they’d leave a rather anonymous mix of replacements. Do Chester Rogers, Josh Reynolds, Cameron Batson or Nick Westbrook-Ikhine tickle your fancy? How about the immortal Racey McMath?
An already bad and now injury-ravaged Jets secondary makes for an interesting matchup with this group.
Maybe you’re thinking the Titans can just run them over with Henry and eschew the pass. Keep in mind the strength of the Jets defense is their muscle up front. Football Outsiders ranked their run defense eighth last year and has them 13th thus far in 2021.
Colts OL Juggling Multiple Injuries
RT Braden Smith has missed the past two games and failed to practice this week. He’ll likely miss this weekend’s game at Miami.
LG Quenton Nelson — as close as you can get to a superstar at the position — left last weekend’s game with an ankle injury and didn’t return. Reports followed of a high ankle sprain and those typically take some time to heal. He has also not practiced this week and seems unlikely to play.
RG Mark Glowinski popped up on the injury report, missing Thursday with a knee injury after he was limited on Wednesday.
Some of their backups — Chris Reed and Matt Pryor — have experience but Will Fries is a seventh-round rookie with zero snaps.
Making matters worse, the Dolphins defense likes to bring pressure. A lot of pressure. Only the Bucs have blitzed more frequently this year, and only then by 0.2% according to Pro Football Reference. With Wentz’s mobility already shot, this looks like a combustible situation.
49ers’ Top-Two Corners Now Out
Jason Verrett was lost to IR as usual — he has started four games or less in four of his six seasons since becoming a full-time starter. K’Waun Williams joined him on the sidelines and will miss “a few weeks” with a calf injury.
Flanking Emmanuel Moseley — the only semi-proven performer left upright — will be fifth-round rookie Deommodore Lenoir with off-the-couch signings Buster Skrine, Dre Kirkpatrick and Josh Norman providing the depth. It’s a rough situation.
Luckily, the Seahawks only have two proven threats at receiver. Unluckily DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett can both ruin your day in a hurry.
If the 49ers can’t consistently produce pressure on QB Russell Wilson then their corners will have a long day.
Other NFL Week 4 Injuries To Keep An Eye On
Which QB Will Start For Chicago?
Franchise savior Justin Fields has been an unmitigated disaster so far for Chicago. After an inauspicious debut in which he threw a horrendous pick, Fields produced a hard-to-believe one net passing yard as he absorbed nine sacks against the Browns.
Luckily for Fields, Myles Garrett will not await every week, even if he haunts his nightmares for awhile.
If he does have to start this week, he at least gets to face the Lions.
But, the Bears have indicated multiple QB scenarios are in play. Starter Andy Dalton has logged two limited practices and may return. Fellow vet Nick Foles may also draw the start if the staff is reluctant to subject Fields to further potential ugliness.
The market has seemed confident in the Lions all week, pushing them off of +3 to +2.5 in some spots. That came after the look-ahead line plummeted down three points already. Competent quarterback play can go a long way, and Dalton or Foles might not excite, but they probably bring more competence than Fields at this stage.
Giants’ Most Notable NFL Week 4 Injuries At WR
Like the Titans, the Giants seem likely to miss two top wideouts for Sunday. In this case, Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard have failed to practice.
Shepard in particular crushed it the first two weeks with 16 catches for 207 yards and a TD. He failed to haul in just three of his targets, boosting the offense’s efficiency big time. And Slayton’s speed always threatens the defense.
The good news here for Sunday’s tough road game in New Orleans is the Giants do have some capable depth.
New 2021 signing Kenny Golladay — a limited participant himself — should pick up some of the slack. First-round draftee Kadarius Toney will continue to get more run after playing 66% of the snaps against Atlanta. He has the talent to do some damage. And Collin Johnson has acquitted himself capably in backup duty as a pro, hauling in 23 catches and two TDs.
Plus, TE Evan Engram is basically a glorified receiver himself.
In a game with a total of , the Giants don’t need a ton of offense to compete.