For the second time this season, the biggest injury in the NFL from the previous week belongs to a running back instead of a quarterback: Houston, you have a problem.s.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans
Houston's season probably was lost regardless, but Foster tore his Achilles' tendon in the Week 7 blowout loss in Miami and his season is over. Foster's career also is in some jeopardy as he has been injury-prone throughout his otherwise excellent career and he's going to be 30 when next season starts. That's usually when running backs fall off a cliff from a performance standpoint. Foster played in only four games this year after tearing his groin in training camp. He had 63 carries for 163 yards and a touchdown while catching 22 balls for 227 yards and two TDs. The Texans are expected to use a committee approach going forward of Alfred Blue, Chris Polk and Jonathan Grimes. That puts more pressure on QB Brian Hoyer, who no longer is backed up by Ryan Mallett. He was cut Tuesday after missing a team meeting and the charter flight last weekend. Sportsbooks don't have a line on the Texans' home game vs. Tennessee this week because of the status of ....
Marcus Mariota, QB Titans
... this guy. The one-time Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite, Mariota missed the Titans' Week 7 home loss to Atlanta with a sprained MCL. Mariota was set to take part in positional drills on Wednesday as of this writing. If that goes well, he would then practice more in full on Thursday. If there's a setback, then Mariota probably doesn't play against the Texans. Zach Mettenberger would start again if Mariota can't. Mettenberger was 22-for-35 for 187 yards, a touchdown and two picks in the 10-7 loss to the Falcons. His second interception was late in the game and ruined any chance of a Titans win. As noted above, Tennessee is in Houston on Sunday.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
Big Ben hasn't played since the third quarter of a Week 3 win in St. Louis due to an MCL strain. In the four games he has missed, the Steelers are 2-2. They offense wasn't very good last week in a 23-13 loss at Kansas City as third-stringer Landry Jones had to start because backup Michael Vick is also hurt. It appears the Roethlisberger will return for Sunday's big home game against unbeaten Cincinnati, which the Steelers essentially have to win to have any shot at repeating as AFC North champions. Roethlisberger went through a rigorous practice last Thursday and felt pain in the knee that night and Friday morning but there was no setback with the injury. This always was the realistic week that Pittsburgh had hoped Big Ben would get back. Jones will be his backup. The Bengals-Steelers game is a pick'em on NFL odds.
Josh McCown, QB, Browns
Cleveland hosts an Arizona team on a short week on Monday so it's the chance for a potential upset on NFL picks -- plus a 10 a.m. Pacific time start for the Cards -- if Browns starting QB Josh McCown can play. He is dealing with a shoulder injury but expects to start against Arizona. He might sit out Wednesday's practice and be limited through the week, but he anticipates playing. Johnny Manziel would get the call if McCown can't. Arizona has the NFL's No. 4 overall defense, the third straight Top-10 defense that Cleveland has faced. The Browns are +4.5 at sportsbooks.
Phillip Dorsett, WR, Colts
Dorsett is one of many disappointing Colts thus far in the season and the first-round rookie out of Miami is going to miss 4-6 weeks after fracturing his lower leg in the Week 7 home loss to New Orleans. The good news it was a clean break and no nerve or ligament damage. Dorsett had 11 catches for 167 yards and a touchdown on the year. Indy, a team in some turmoil, is a 7-point underdog on Monday night at unbeaten Carolina.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Buccaneers
Jackson, who has 21 receptions for 319 yards and two scores this season, isn't going to play in Week 8 at Atlanta and could miss multiple weeks with a knee injury. The Bucs also lost fellow receiver Louis Murphy to a torn ACL for the rest of the season. So that means second-year Mike Evans will likely be facing double-teams going forward until Jackson returns because Tampa has next-to-nothing behind Evans. The Bucs are +7 at the Falcons on Sunday.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys
Bryant took part in practice on Wednesday for the first time since Sept. 11. Bryant (broken foot) didn't go through a full workout, however. Coach Jason Garrett said the hope is Bryant can do more as the week goes on but wasn't ready to proclaim Bryant ready to play Sunday against the visiting Seahawks. If I'm the Cowboys, I sit Bryant one more week because you most likely aren't beating Seattle regardless. The Dallas passing game, now in the hands of Matt Cassel, has just two TD passes in the past four games. The Cowboys are +6 vs. Seattle.