Jake Delhomme, QB - Panthers
Injury: Right Elbow
Veteran signal caller Jake Delhomme of the Carolina Panthers suffered an injury to his right elbow during their game at the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 23. Delhomme hasn't played since that game and was placed on injured reserve earlier this week.
The problem that exists now is quarterback David Carr, who is slated to take over the starting job, is dealing with a bad back. Carr, who has struggled as a passer in recent seasons, could face a heavy blitz from an Arizona Cardinals. Carr tends to hold onto the ball too long which is why he takes a lot of sacks.
Here's another issue. If Carr doesn't get cleared to play Sunday, the team could turn to rookie undrafted free agent QB Matt Moore who would be starting his first NFL game. Their other choice would be soon-to-be 44-year old QB Vinny Testaverde. Either way, Arizona should bring a lot of pressure against whoever starts behind center on Sunday. With that being the case, you could SS Adrian Wilson playing in the box more than usual. The seventh-year pro had 13 sacks in 2005-2006 but has yet to record a sack this season.
Todd Weiner, RT/Wayne Gandy, LT - Falcons
Injury: Knee (both players)
In a rarity, a team will be without both of their starting offensive tackles for a given game. The Baltimore Ravens are also facing the same issue this week in their matchup against the St. Louis Rams.
But in Monday's game against the New York Giants, the Atlanta Falcons are in for a major challenge.
LT Wayne Gandy has been lost for the season due to a torn ACL. And RT Todd Weiner had arthroscopic knee surgery this week and will miss at least the next two games.
To make matters worse, the coaches will have to turn to undrafted free agent LT Renardo Foster to take over for Gandy. Foster had gotten some playing time in recent weeks since Gandy had also missed some time due to injury. And journeyman OL Tyson Clabo takes over for Weiner.
With RDE Osi Umenyiora facing Foster and LDE Michael Strahan going up against Clabo, it could be a long evening for Falcons quarterback Joey Harrington. And let's not forget strongside LB Mathias Kiwanuka who has 4.5 sacks in his last three games. And on third downs, DE Justin Tuck comes in as a situational pass rusher -- making life possibly even worse for Harrington.
Rudi Johnson, RB - Bengals
RB Rudi Johnson
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Power-back Rudi Johnson of the Cincinnati Bengals suffered a hamstring injury in their game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 23. He missed their last game against the New England Patriots before last week's bye.
A hamstring injury is a tough injury for a back to have since there is so much starting and stopping on each series and on each carry. So even if he plays against the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday, Johnson may not be quite 100 percent. The Chiefs' run defense certainly hasn't been that solid, so the power-running game that sets up the Bengals' high-powered passing attack will be counted upon. That means we could see more of backup running back Kenny Watson than normal with Johnson at less than full speed, even if he does wind up playing.
It also doesn't help that the team will be without RT Willie Anderson for the first time in a game since the 1999 season.
Anthony Henry, CB - Cowboys
You couldn't pick a worse time for the Dallas Cowboys to be without RCB Anthony Henry as they will face a New England Patriots offense that operates out of shotgun formation around 70 percent of the time -- regardless of the down. This is a similar approach that the Green Bay Packers take, as noted in last week's column.
With Henry likely out again with a high ankle sprain, LCB Terence Newman will move over to Henry's spot again for the second straight week. CB Jacques Reeves, who has shown improvement in recent weeks, starts in Newman's normal position.
The problem now is New England uses WR Wes Welker out of the slot so much that dime CB Nathan Jones will have to be on the field much more than Dallas would like. That wasn't an issue against the Buffalo Bills last week, but it certainly will be this Sunday. Look for New England to exploit this matchup.