The Indianapolis Colts might have to make their final playoff push without one of the team’s top playmakers, wide receiver Austin Collie.
Less than 24 hours after Collie left his third game in seven weeks with a head injury, coach Jim Caldwell said he didn’t know when — or if — Collie would return this season.
“We lean totally upon those who are in charge,” Caldwell said, referring to the doctors. “Here’s the thing: There’s not a coach that makes any decision based on anybody who has a concussion. Once he’s cleared and ready to go, that’s the case.”
The second-year receiver was injured late in the first half Sunday when Jacksonville linebacker Daryl Smith appeared to hit Collie in the head with his forearm as Collie went low to make a catch.
Unfortunately for Collie, it’s been a recurring theme.
Since the second half of a Nov. 7 game at Philadelphia, Collie has played in only three quarters, leaving games twice with diagnosed concussions and a third time with what the team described as “concussionlike symptoms.” Caldwell couldn’t say definitively whether the third instance was considered a full-blown concussion.
But losing Collie could be another blow to the Colts’ postseason hopes.
Despite missing five games and more than a half in three others, he leads all Indy receivers with eight touchdown catches, is second in receptions (58) and third in yards (649).
The Colts targeted Collie 10 times Sunday, and he had eight catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
■ PACKERS — Green Bay couldn’t say for sure that Aaron Rodgers will be able to play this weekend against the visiting New York Giants.
Rodgers sat out Sunday night’s game a week after sustaining his second concussion of the season. Coach Mike McCarthy said he will have more information on Rodgers’ availability Wednesday.
The Packers are virtually ensured a playoff spot if they win their final two games.
■ JETS — Coach Rex Ryan said quarterback Mark Sanchez had an MRI exam on his right shoulder, which was “kind of sore” after it was banged up early in New York’s 22-17 win Sunday at Pittsburgh.
Ryan downplayed the injury, saying the MRI exam was strictly “precautionary” and that Sanchez should be fine to play at Chicago on Sunday.
■ STEELERS — Star safety Troy Polamalu, who missed Sunday’s loss to the Jets with an Achilles’ tendon injury, probably won’t play Thursday against Carolina (2-12).
The Steelers having only three full days off hinders the chances of Polamalu returning this week.
But Pittsburgh expects tight end Heath Miller to play after missing two games with a concussion.
■ RAVENS — Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said tight end Todd Heap could return for Sunday’s road game against the Cleveland Browns after missing the past two games with a pulled right hamstring, which he suffered in a loss to Pittsburgh in Week 13.
■ EAGLES — Rookie safety Nate Allen ruptured his right patellar tendon in Sunday’s win over the Giants and will have season-ending surgery.
Allen, drafted with the second-round pick Philadelphia acquired from Washington in the Donovan McNabb trade, is the Eagles’ fourth defensive starter to go down for the season.
Also, middle linebacker Stewart Bradley is out with a dislocated elbow and might not return until the playoffs.
■ BENGALS — Terrell Owens had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee, ending his season.
The receiver hurt the knee a couple of weeks ago but kept playing. He aggravated the injury while making a cut on the opening series of Cincinnati’s 19-17 win over Cleveland on Sunday and left the field.
Owens, 37, joined the Bengals on a one-year contract and is a free agent after the season.
■ COWBOYS — Since Tony Romo broke his left collarbone Oct. 25, Dallas has pointed toward having him back in the lineup this week. But team owner Jerry Jones said Sunday that he was not optimistic, and interim coach Jason Garrett was noncommittal Monday.
“We’ll just see how he does (today), see how he feels,” Garrett said.
The Cowboys are usually off on Tuesdays but will be practicing because they play Saturday in Arizona. They have only two games left and can’t make the playoffs, so it seems pointless to take even a minimal risk of Romo getting hurt.
■ CARDINALS — Outside linebacker Joey Porter has a triceps injury that coach Ken Whisenhunt said could be significant.
Whisenhunt said further tests were planned on the 33-year-old four-time Pro Bowler, who was hurt in the Cardinals’ 19-12 loss at Carolina on Sunday.
■ RAMS — Fullback Brit Miller will miss the rest of the season with a right knee injury sustained in Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Coach Steve Spagnuolo said Miller will require surgery, probably in about a month after swelling subsides.
■ BRONCOS — Tim Tebow will start again at quarterback Sunday.
Rather than keep everybody guessing, interim coach Eric Studesville made the unusual move of announcing that Tebow would be under center when the Broncos (3-10) host the Texans (5-9).
Studesville said Kyle Orton is still bothered by bruised ribs and that Tebow did a good job managing the game plan, the team and the crowd in his first NFL start Sunday despite Denver’s 39-23 loss at Oakland.
In other news, the Broncos waived rookie linebacker Kevin Alexander hours after he was arrested on a domestic violence allegation.
■ SEAHAWKS — Matt Hasselbeck will remain the starting quarterback in Seattle.
Coach Pete Carroll made the announcement, noting the Seahawks are 6-8 and still fighting St. Louis for the NFC West title.
Special teams captain Roy Lewis was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury that will require surgery, but coach Pete Carroll remains hopeful cornerback Marcus Trufant (back spasms) will be able to play Sunday at Tampa Bay.
■ BROWNS — Cornerback Eric Wright, a former UNLV standout, will miss Cleveland’s final two games with a left leg injury.
■ CONCUSSION DONATION — The NFL’s charitable foundation is awarding nearly $1 million in grants for research related to concussions, an issue in the forefront all season.
NFL Charities is donating a total of $1.6 million for sports-related medical studies at 16 organizations this year, including a record $988,224 to 10 groups focusing on head injuries and neurological problems.
■ FINANCIAL ADVISER SENTENCED — A former financial adviser to Michael Vick and several other NFL players was sentenced to more than five years in prison for stealing more than $3 million from the players in a Ponzi scheme.
U.S. Attorney Deborah Gilg said Mary Wong of Omaha, Neb., was sentenced to 63 months in prison for securities fraud. Wong pleaded guilty in September.