Injury Report Insight: Week 10

A critical look at this week's injury report.

While the quantity of injuries in Week 9 wasn't overwhelming, the quality of the players injured certainly was. Just among big-name starters that were injured, I count two quarterbacks, four running backs, and six wide receivers. Throw in a few tight ends, and that's two full fantasy rosters. As I said, the quantity of total NFL injuries didn't seem that large to me, but that's probably at least partially due to the fact that there were six teams on byes. Sadly, I expect the quantity of injuries only to increase, especially once we hit Week 12 and all teams are past their bye weeks. But enough of that, you're here for the breakdowns.

Quarterbacks

Andrew Luck, kidney laceration

Remember when all the injury talk about Andrew Luck revolved around his shoulder and ribs? Somehow that seems so long ago now that we know Luck will miss at least a few weeks with a lacerated kidney. In addition, as Adam Schefter reported, Luck is also dealing with a partial tear to an abdominal muscle, which is no slouch of an injury either. The initial reports speculated that Luck would miss 2-6 weeks, but you should just ignore the low end of that spectrum. In fact, according to ESPN's Ed Werder, the Colts are expecting Luck to miss at least one month, and possibly longer. It's telling that even Chuck Pagano, a man who (twice) tried to make us believe that Luck was going to play through his shoulder injury, has said that it's premature to put a timeline on Luck's kidney injury.

Of course, the real question here is, "how long could Luck really be out?" I have a few historical examples of kidney lacerations, but to be honest, there aren't a ton of them. I'd point out that when Keenan Allen lacerated his kidney in Week 8 this year, the Chargers sent him straight to injured reserve, despite (or maybe because of) his importance to the team. When linebacker Ahmad Brooks lacerated his kidney in 2010, he ended up missing the following 5 weeks. What's more interesting to me though is that after Brooks' injury, he wasn't even evaluated again for another two weeks. In other words, this is not the sort of injury where you would expect a medical staff to be inching a player, day by day, closer and closer to his return. Instead, this is a severe enough injury that rehab progress is taken very slowly and deliberately. If Andrew Luck played in any other division except the AFC South, I think this would be a season-ending injury. But with the Colts leading the division at 4-5, they still have a chance to limp into the playoffs even if backup Matt Hasselbeck can't muster too many wins. I have a hunch we've seen the last of Andrew Luck this season, but I can't back that up with any cold hard facts. Regardless, I don't see any way that he's back in less than a month, meaning maybe Week 14 could be the earliest possible return for him.

Ben Roethlisberger, mid-foot sprain

Ben Roethlisberger refuses to rule himself out for Week 10, but feel free to rule him out yourself. I'm not stepping too far out on a limb here by saying there's zero chance he starts this week, unless Roethlisberger can procure a unicorn eyelash and a jar of Leprechaun tears to make a wish upon. Despite Roethlisberger's legendary toughness (which we legally must comment on, always) a mid-foot sprain is a very serious injury that affects the stability of the foot. That's bad enough, but I should point out that there's some potential that this injury morphs into something even more serious. A decent amount of Lisfranc injuries start off being labeled as, "foot sprains," or, "mid-foot sprains," by the team staff. As long as Roethlisberger's injury stays a, "mid-foot sprain," and not a Lisfranc injury, he might have a shot to return after the Steelers Week 11 bye. But should this turn out to be a true Lisfranc injury, as fellow Footballguy Dr. Jene Bramel suspects, we could be looking at a much longer rehab. I'm hoping that Roethlisberger will be as open and honest about his current rehab as he was with his MCL injury earlier in the season, as he was fairly true to his words previously. This is certainly a volatile situation that could change drastically if the diagnosis changes or is clarified.

Josh McCown, ribs

For whatever reason, Browns head coach Mike Pettine seems determined to start Josh McCown when at all humanly possible. McCown has been piling up injuries, and missed Week 9 due to a rib issue that the team has never clarified. McCown was able to return to practice this week, and put in a limited practice on Wednesday, so he appears to be on track to start against the Steelers this weekend.

Teddy Bridgewater, concussion

Concussion rehabs can be difficult to evaluate, as there is often no real transparency of where the player is at in the concussion protocol. Having said that, it appears that Teddy Bridgewater might have a good shot at returning for Week 10 without missing any time. We have very limited information so far, but all of it has been positive, and the fact that Bridgewater practiced (even in limited capacity) on Wednesday is as optimistic of a sign as one could ever hope for. Obviously, Bridgewater isn't out of the woods yet, and his situation bears monitoring, but I'm not my usual pessimistic self when it comes to his chances of playing this week.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, thumb ligament

Playing through a torn ligament in his left (non-throwing) thumb, Ryan Fitzpatrick is expected to start Week 10, just as he did for Week 9. It's also expected, though not confirmed, that Fitzpatrick will undergo surgery on his thumb on Friday, the day after the Jets Thursday night game. This would give Fitzpatrick 10 days to rehab his thumb and get ready for Week 11. If this is the case, Fitzpatrick has a very realistic shot at playing Week 11, but we'll need to follow his updates next week to get a clearer picture.

Peyton Manning, foot

I'll just tell you right off the bat that I have zero idea what's going on with Peyton Manning. There was no mention of him being injured in his loss to the Colts. But Manning did not participate in Wednesday's practice, instead observing from the sidelines in street clothes. Hopefully we'll hear more about this on Thursday, and we'll have a better idea of whether or not this is a real injury to monitor or just some veteran rest.

Running Backs

LeSean McCoy, shoulder

It's hard to figure exactly how injured LeSean McCoy is, and even more difficult to know what to expect from him in Thursday's game against the Jets. McCoy was taken out of his Week 9 game with what was eventually reported as a, "shoulder strain." While that's entirely possible, I wouldn't be surprised if this is actually an AC sprain, as that's a more common injury at the running back position. Either way, McCoy was limited in practice this week, and it doesn't sound like he's anywhere near 100%. Shoulder injuries often revolve around pain management, but they can still limit a running back's effectiveness. Whereas a healthy running back might not shy away from dropping his shoulder and initiating contact, a player with an injured shoulder might hesitate and attempt to avoid such hits, thereby losing yards. So even if McCoy starts on Thursday, I'm not positive that he'll be effective.

Latavius Murray, concussion

Raiders running back Latavius Murray suffered a concussion in Week 9, and did not practice on Wednesday. As I said with Bridgewater, it's tough to know how a player is responding and recovering from a concussion, but Murray's missed practice doesn't bode well for his chances to play Week 10. Murray doesn't have an extensive history with concussions, but he did miss one game due to a concussion in 2014. Until proven otherwise, I would assume that he will ultimately be held out of Week 10.

Matt Forte, MCL sprain

Squeezing reliable injury information from the Bears organization is a Herculean task, and I'm simply not that strong of a guy. Forte injured his MCL in Week 8, and I've read some speculation that he might be active this week. Poppycock. This is the same player who had a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection last week. As Dr. Jene Bramel pointed out, PRP injections are not given to players that are about to return to play. If they were, we would've seen Victor Cruz back on the field by now. A PRP injection is an experimental (meaning largely unproven) way to stimulate healing through the introduction of a concentration of your own blood platelets. The Bears medical staff would probably not have recommended this PRP therapy unless Forte was at least a few weeks away from return, so we can safely rule Forte out this week. Looking at the practice report, we can see that Forte was able to get in a limited practice on Wednesday, but I would expect that this is a case of John Fox throwing out a ninja smoke bomb, and that Forte's practice was much more limited than we might imagine.

Eddie Lacy, groin

I can't figure out what to make of Eddie Lacy this year. Looking back, it's obvious that his ankle injury was bothering him far more than he, or the team, admitted. Given that history, it might be fair to wonder what to make of his latest groin injury. While Lacy was able to put in a full practice on Wednesday, it's tough to really believe that he's operating at full health. While groin injuries don't always lead to missed time, they're also not something that should be quickly dismissed. In order to be satisfied, I'd like to see Lacy practice in full all this week. Also, it wouldn't hurt if he had one really good game, but that's just me getting chippy.

DeAngelo Williams, foot

This early in the week, it's tough to know how serious DeAngelo Williams' swollen foot really is. On the one hand, coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that Williams wouldn't practice on Wednesday, so at least this wasn't a surprise. It's possible that Williams just needed a conservative day of rest after his huge Week 9 game. The only thing I've found so far that alarms me is ESPN's Jeremy Fowler's wording of, "...inflammation in the middle of his foot..." That mid-foot thing always sounds alarm bells to us folks on the injury beat (see Roethlisberger, Ben), but without further details, that's not something to freak out about yet. If Williams misses further practices this week though, I'd be very concerned.

Wide Receivers

Sammy Watkins, ankle

After a week of limited practices due to an ankle injury, Sammy Watkins looks like he will play in Week 10's Thursday night game. Watkins' ankle injury has lingered since Week 6, including through the Bills Week 8 bye. This sort of timeline would usually suggest that this is not a minor injury, yet Watkins was able to play through it for an impressive stat line in Week 9. Given his ability to play at a high level, I see no real concern going forward, as long as Watkins does not suffer any setbacks.

Eddie Royal, knee

Bears receiver Eddie Royal missed Week 9 and was unable to practice on Wednesday due to an unspecified knee injury. Unless the Bears actually give someone, anyone, some details, we're just left to watch the practice reports. Until Royal can get in at least a few consecutive limited practices, I'd say we're nowhere close to his return. But again, there's no real information to go on yet.

Vincent Jackson, knee

Speaking of no real info, we still have no clue what exactly is wrong with Vincent Jackson's knee. We know that he's missed the last two games, and is still not practicing. Dr Jene speculates that Jackson might have PCL damage from a hyperextended knee, and I'll admit that I'm jealous I didn't think of that. There are many possibilities, but a PCL sprain would be a good fit based on what little we know. Regardless, Jackson should be considered doubtful for Week 10.

Allen Hurns, foot sprain

Jaguars receiver Allen Hurns sprained his foot in Week 9, and most people don't expect him to play in Week 10. Hurns started the week in a protective boot on Monday, and sat out Wednesday's practice, so it's not a tough read to think that he's doubtful for this weekend. As with all sprains, foot sprains can vary widely in severity. Historically, some players miss zero games, some miss six or more games. Really though, missing one or two games is pretty common, so we'll want to keep an eye on next week's practice reports to see how close Hurns is to returning.

Nelson Agholor, ankle sprain

All signs point to Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor finally being 100% recovered from his Week 5 high ankle sprain. He practiced in full Wednesday, and is expected to start this weekend.

Malcom Floyd, shoulder labrum

Malcom Floyd tore the labrum in his left shoulder in Week 9, and Ian Rapoport reported that Floyd will attempt to rehab and play through the injury, delaying surgery until after the season is over. Playing through a torn labrum might prove difficult for a wide receiver, as it would likely make it difficult for Floyd to raise his left arm. That's not to say that this hasn't been done before. In 2011, Sidney Rice sat out three games due to a torn shoulder labrum, then returned to play through the injury. He had a decent season too, though it was cut short by multiple concussions. The Chargers have a Week 10 bye, so at least Floyd has a week off to figure out what his best course of action will be.

Kendall Wright, MCL sprain

It looks like Kendall Wright will probably miss at least one more week with his MCL injury, as he was unable to practice on Wednesday. This would be Wright's second missed game, and only practice reports next week will help us judge whether he has a shot to return for Week 11.

Emmanuel Sanders, ankle

Emmanuel Sanders suffered an ankle injury in the Week 9 loss to the Colts, and did not practice on Wednesday. I don't have enough information in order to read much into this situation, but it bears watching throughout the week.

Amari Cooper, quad

Raiders beat writer Scott Bair reported that Amari Cooper left Wednesday's practice due to a quad injury and did not return. Much like with Emmanuel Sanders, there just isn't enough information yet to make a guess as to Cooper's Week 10 status, but that should become more clear with Thursday and Friday's practice reports.

Dez Bryant, knee

While we're talking about players to watch this week, I might as well mention Dez Bryant. I was already keeping an eye on him to see how his fractured foot would respond to his increased workload, but now it appears that his knee is bothering him, and kept him out of Wednesday's practice. I expect that this is nothing, but it obviously bears watching throughout the week.

Calvin Johnson, ankle

Add Calvin Johnson to the list of wide receivers that we should keep an eye on in practice this week. Johnson injured his ankle before the Lions Week 9 bye, and hasn't practiced fully since. Johnson is a veteran who regularly has his practice limited in order to keep him fresh for game days, so his limited practices shouldn't necessarily be alarming. But if his ankle is truly bothering him, despite coming out of a bye week, we should be at least a little worried. Watch to see how he practices the rest of the week.

Tight Ends

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, shoulder strain

It's tough to know exactly when Austin Seferian-Jenkins will return, as he's been practicing for weeks now. He has stated that he wants to wait until he's 100% before he returns. At this point, I'm beginning to question what sort of shoulder strain Seferian-Jenkins could've had that would keep him out for 7 weeks, possibly longer. The word, "strain," indicates that the injury is to a muscle, rather than a ligament. If this is accurate, I wonder if he might've actually suffered a partial tear (moderate strain) to a muscle near his shoulder such as a biceps or pectoral. This time frame would match well for either of those. This rehab would also match well for a serious shoulder sprain such as to the AC joint or even a partial labrum tear such as we're seeing with Malcom Floyd. From where I sit though, I just don't see shoulder strains that lead to extended absences such as this. Of course, none of my speculation really helps us figure out whether Seferian-Jenkins will play this week. But then again, neither have the practice reports, as they led us to believe that he was going to play Week 8 and Week 9. Perhaps we'll get lucky and have some better details slip out before Sunday.

Ladarius Green, ankle

Antonio Gates, MCL sprain

San Diego's bye could hardly have come at a better time for their banged-up tight ends. Ladarius Green has missed one game already with what is most likely a high ankle sprain, and should have a decent shot of returning after the bye. Antonio Gates has started the last two games but is still clearly hobbled by his MCL sprain, so any extra time to rehab should be huge for him. I would expect both to be back to full health by Week 11 or 12.

Larry Donnell, neck

Giants tight end Larry Donnell suffered a neck injury in Week 8, and while it has been downplayed as simply a, "sore neck," things are not looking great for Donnell. He missed Week 9, then started off this week by missing Wednesday's practice. Neck injuries are always scary, and I would categorize Donnell as doubtful to return this week.