There were multiple injuries that happened this week that made our hearts stop. One was defensive end Rob Ninkovich, who claims to be fine- although more will be known later. Ninkovich went to the locker room, but was able to come back to the sideline before ultimately calling it a game. Hopefully his injury is minor and will be resolved over the bye week.
The other injury was to safety Steve Gregory. Gregory was sub-par last season, but he's definitely taken a command to this year's defense and has been one of the most consistent players on the field. His leadership is respected (he was the oldest defense starter until the Patriots acquired Isaac Sopoaga) and he wears the green dot on his helmet to relay the play calls to the defense.
Gregory was forced out of the game and it was obvious that he wasn't coming back. He was holding his wrist to stabilize it and the team doctors did more of the same on the sideline. It was clear they didn't want his hand to move. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport says that Gregory will undergo tests on his hand tomorrow to see if his thumb is dislocated or broken. Rapoport even followed that up by saying the injury isn't expected to be season ending and that he may be able to play through it.
I call that good news.
When looking at both potential outcomes (broken thumb or dislocated thumb), Gregory has two different timetables.
If the thumb is broken, then there is usually a 2-6 week time period for recovery, which would take Gregory off the field for the third quarter of the season. Depending on the severity of the injury, Gregory could play with a club, but it's likely that the Patriots would opt to play rookie Duron Harmon and let Gregory recover for the playoffs. We saw earlier this season in the Packers' Clay Matthews that a player with a broken thumb can't play with a club.
In this worst case scenario, Gregory is missing for a few weeks, but should return in time for the final weeks of the regular season.
If the thumb is dislocated, the two options are surgical and non-surgical. The surgical route would force Gregory out for the same amount of time as if he'd broken it. The non-surgical route would be the best case scenario, as it could mean Gregory would be ready to play after the bye week. He'll have to wear a cast on his hand for 2-3 weeks, but he should be able to play through it and be a full impact player within the month.
Tomorrow we'll hear a lot more about his status, but we'll all be hoping for the best case.