Once a week, Mark Craig will get on and off the field quickly, then focus a spotlight on a player and a coach.
Question: What goes through the mind of an NFL player when they see an injury as gruesome as the one Alex Smith suffered?
For this question, we turned to the Vikings players with the two longest current streaks for games played. Receiver Adam Thielen (right) has played in 75 straight games. Tight end Kyle Rudolph has played in 60 straight games — the longest current streak by an NFL tight end — and will make his 100th career start on Sunday at New England.
MC: As someone who could suffer the same fate on any given play, what goes through your mind when you see a guy like Smith break his leg in such a gruesome manner?
AT: “It’s scary. You see that injury. You see the Teddy Bridgewater injury. You see the Zach Miller injury. They’re scary. They are things you try to forget about quickly because it’s not something you want in the back of your head. It’s the reality of what we do and it’s why we fight so hard to get the salaries that we get. Because you just never know when your career will be done.”
KR: “You just know that’s part of what you sign up for as an NFL player. If you focus on those injuries or worry about them, it would be very hard to go out and do your job at a high level. Football is a game you can’t take for granted. On literally every play during every game, it could be your last. It really makes you appreciate the game and appreciate the opportunity to go out and play every week.”
Spotlight Player Of The Week
Philip Rivers, Chargers quarterback
What can Rivers do for an encore after completing an NFL-record 96.6 percent of his passes (28 of 29) in a 45-10 rout of the Cardinals last week? Easy. Beat an angry, 7-3-1 Steelers team coming off a loss. And do it in Pittsburgh. And live up to the words of Brett Favre, who this week said, “Philip Rivers is the most underappreciated quarterback, maybe ever.” Last week: Bobby Wagner, LB, Seahawks: Had a game-high 13 tackles and a forced fumble in Seattle’s 30-27 win at Carolina.
Spotlight Coach Of The Week
Doug Pederson, Eagles head coach
Pederson and his defending champion Eagles have been handed a small bucket of mulligans by virtue of being in the worst division in football, the NFC East. They’re 5-6 and currently hold the ninth seed in the conference. But if they do what they’re supposed to do and beat the Redskins at home on Monday night, they’re right back in the mix heading into a daunting final month that puts them on the road three times. Their final four games are: at Dallas, at the Rams, Houston, at Washington. Last week: Packers coach Mike McCarthy: Fell to 4-6-1 and 0-6 on the road as his team was overwhelmed by the Vikings on both sides of the ball.