Injury Report Insight, Week 6

A critical look at this week's injury report.

Despite the devastating loss of Jamaal Charles to an ACL tear, Week 5 was actually relatively quiet on the injury front. Granted, there were plenty of new injuries to keep my job interesting, but the majority of them this week fell into the, "day-to-day," category, or at least the low end of, "week-to-week." Unfortunately, we saw plenty of players trying to tough it out and play through these injuries, and we're now left to worry about their health and effectiveness for the coming weeks. I would have loved to have seen valuable players like Julio Jones and Fred Jackson take the day off and get the rest that might allow them to fully heal and stay fresh for the coming weeks.

Quarterback

Blake Bortles, AC sprain

As first reported by Jaguars.com writer John Oehser, Bortles suffered a mild, Grade 1 sprain to his AC joint. I would still like to get some solid confirmation from the Jaguars, but the consensus seems to be that Bortles suffered the injury to his throwing shoulder in his Week 5 game, but was able to play through it. While it's certainly possible to play through a mild AC sprain, it might not be advisable. An AC sprain would cause pain when throwing, which could affect accuracy and velocity. In addition, the pain could cause Bortles to change his throwing mechanics, and nothing good comes from that. More importantly, trying to play through an injury like this increases the risk of suffering a more serious setback. This is exactly what happened when Zach Mettenberger tried to play though a grade 1, throwing shoulder AC sprain last season and ended up missing the last three games. It's difficult to know if the Jaguars will start Bortles on Sunday, and unfortunately, the practice reports might not help much. Head coach Gus Bradley has already said that he wouldn't be alarmed if Bortles didn't practice on Wednesday. With that in mind, it's a pretty optimistic sign that Bortles was able to practice in full on Wednesday, which should indicate that he's having no substantial problems with his injured shoulder.

Andrew Luck, shoulder

Another week, another, "will he or won't he," Andrew Luck storyline. This week, it sounds more like Luck will play, but it should be noted that talk is cheap and plenty of people said he'd play last week too. The Colts released third-stringer Josh Johnson, so that's at least not a bad sign. In a nice change-of-pace, the media was actually allowed to watch Luck throw today, and the reports were that he looked decent. Officially, Luck's practice was only limited, and head coach Chuck Pagano has stopped short of saying that Luck will get the start on Sunday. I anticipate that, much like last week, we won't have a true answer on this until gameday, but it certainly sounds like Luck has a good chance of playing this week.

Tyrod Taylor, MCL sprain

In the span of 48 hours, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor went from being not injured, to being banged up, to having a nagging ankle injury, to having an MCL sprain that might keep him out multiple games. Boy, that escalated quickly. CBS Sport's Jason La Canfora reported the latest about the MCL injury and the possibility of Taylor missing multiple weeks. This seems to be quite a bit different from the ankle injury Rex Ryan was talking about after the game, but I have no reason to doubt La Canfora, as he has a great track record. As long as his report is correct, and depending on the severity of the MCL sprain, I wouldn't be surprised to see Taylor sit out until after Buffalo's Week 8 bye. An MCL sprain is the sort of injury that Tom Brady or Peyton Manning might be able to come back quickly from, as they are both traditional pocket passers that could cobble a game together while sitting on an antique wooden milking stool. Tyrod Taylor is as mobile as anyone right now, and I can't imagine him coming back and being effective within the next few weeks. Again, this all depends on the severity of the MCL sprain and how Taylor responds to treatment, and we'll know more about that when we see how he practices. However, just to make things exciting, we already seem to have dueling reports, as Sal Capaccio says that Taylor's status for Sunday is still yet to be determined. Those two reports aren't necessarily conflicting, and could both be entirely true, though they do paint different images as to the severity of the sprain. Taylor was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, and the latest is that a decision will be made by the end of the day on Friday. Keep a close eye on this situation.

Ben Roethlisberger, MCL sprain, bone bruise

Roethlisberger has missed three games while recovering from an MCL sprain and bone bruise, and Adam Schefter reports that he's already getting antsy to return. Earlier reports estimated that he'd miss 4-6 weeks, with 6 weeks being the more realistic end of that range. It's not outside the realm of possibilities that Roethlisberger will return this week, but I'd agree that it's a longshot. As tough as Roethlisberger is (and everyone is legally required to point that out every stinking chance they get), it would be hard to imagine the Steelers rushing him back with less-than-total mobility against the Cardinals this week or the Chiefs next week. Until you hear otherwise, consider him benched. On Wednesday, Roethlisberger put in a limited practice, but I don't expect this to change anything, and I still consider him doubtful for this weekend.

Running Back

Justin Forsett, ankle

This one doesn't smell right to me, but I'm not the first one to catch a whiff. Our own Dr. Jene Bramel noticed that the mechanism of injury that was shown on broadcast didn't match up so well with what coach John Harbaugh said after the game. Harbaugh said Forsett's injury was not a high ankle sprain, and that he has a good chance to play this week. Bramel went into more detail about why he felt that high ankle sprain might still be a possibility in his Monday Injury Rounds. The part that swayed me was this screenshot Bramel tweeted of Forsett grabbing at his, "not high ankle sprain." For not being a high ankle sprain, Forsett is grabbing awfully high on his ankle. Aside from this speculation though, there is little to go on, so instead we're forced to just quietly monitor the practice reports. On Wednesday, Forsett did not practice, which is certainly not conclusive, but also certainly not a great start to the week.

Lorenzo Taliaferro, foot

With the status of Justin Forsett in doubt, it's noteworthy that Lorenzo Taliaferro was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday due to a foot injury. The Ravens have picked up running back Raheem Mostert off waivers from the Dolphins, but you can expect Buck Allen to get all the carries he wants, with little chance of anyone coming in to vulture the rushing touchdowns.

Marshawn Lynch, hamstring strain

Lynch has missed the last two games with a hamstring strain, but Pete Carroll seems confident that Lynch will be healthy enough to play this week against the Panthers. I'm always skeptical of coachspeak, but luckily for us, we might have a secret weapon here. On Monday, Carroll said that Lynch, "had a good workout, and should be on track to return to practice on Thursday." Lynch always sits Wednesday practice, but if he misses Thursday practice, we'll know for sure that he's not doing well and is more on the doubtful side for Sunday.

Fred Jackson, high ankle sprain

On Sunday, Fred Jackson risked a setback by playing through his high ankle sprain. In return for this risk, Seattle reaped the benefits of 34 yards. Really, does that seem worth it? This seems so shortsighted to me, but it's not uncommon in the NFL. Hopefully Jackson didn't suffer any setbacks by toughing it out. His Wednesday practice participation is still unknown at the time of press, but we should soon be able to tell whether he suffered any setback.

LeSean McCoy, hamstring strain

In contrast to Fred Jackson, LeSean McCoy is determined to wait until he's fully recovered from his latest injury. McCoy seems to have learned the hard way that it wasn't worth trying to rush back from his earlier hamstring strain, as he never seemed to be fully healed, and ultimately was re-injured. Nobody has a solid idea yet of exactly when McCoy will return, but McCoy was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, indicating that he might have a chance at playing this weekend. To get a better idea of McCoy's status, be sure to check his Thursday and Friday practice reports. McCoy has already missed two weeks, and if he ends up missing Week 6, I would wonder whether Buffalo might go ahead and hold him out until after their Week 8 bye.

Karlos Williams, concussion

Buffalo running back Karlos Williams missed Week 5 with a concussion, and his status for Week 6 is still unknown. I can't find many specific details, but the tone so far is that the Bills believe Williams might miss Week 6 as well, as reported by CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora. I don't usually pass along such vague reports about the, "feeling," among coaches, but it's notable here simply because of how early in the week it was reported. Williams did not participate in practice on Wednesday, so it appears he might already be trending towards doubtful for Sunday.

Joique Bell, Achilles

Ah-ha! The mystery of Joique Bell's health is a little closer to being solved. Bell has missed the last two games with what was only being called an ankle injury, but Bell finally opened up about what was really happening, as summarized here by MLive's Kyle Meinke. Bell's reported ankle injury is actually more of a lingering Achilles tendon complication relating to his March Achilles surgery. This pretty well encapsulates the struggles of trying to get honest injury information from most NFL teams. Yes, the body part that was bothering Bell was generally his ankle, so it wasn't dishonest of the Lions to report it as an ankle injury. But a more transparent and honest approach would've been to list Bell as having an Achilles injury. Given these new details, I'm very pessimistic as to Bell's health and effectiveness going forward. Perhaps he will return and play in Week 6, but I'm concerned about his long-term health. Playing through Achilles aggravations can lead to further serious injury such as full Achilles ruptures. The most notable example of this would be Shawne Merriman, whose career was quickly ended by Achilles complications and re-injuries. Despite my concerns, Joique Bell practiced in full on Wednesday, so perhaps I'm wrong and he's over whatever Achilles complication was troubling him.

T.J. Yeldon, groin

Rookie running back T.J. Yeldon suffered a groin injury before leaving early from Week 5's game. He has since said that the injury is minor, but he did not practice in any capacity on Wednesday. Unless he can get in at least limited practice on Thursday or Friday, I'd say he's doubtful to play this weekend. In related news, Jaguars running back Denard Robinson returned to practice for the first time after missing the last three games due to an MCL sprain.

Carlos Hyde, Foot

In a surprising move, 49ers running back Carlos Hyde did not practice on Wednesday due to a foot injury. Hyde is reported to have missed a few plays in last week's game, but there have been no specifics or diagnosis of any sort. Thursday and Friday's practice reports will bear watching in order to see if this is just a precautionary day of rest or something more ominous. If Hyde cannot play this weekend, we might see some fresh faces, as Reggie Bush is still sidelined with a calf strain.

Wide Receiver

Odell Beckham, hamstring strain

Rueben Randle, Hamstring strain

The Giants top two receivers were both sidelined with hamstring strains over the weekend. Hamstring injuries are always concerning when it comes to Beckham, as even at the young age of 22, he already has a significant history with this injury. Randle doesn't have a history with this injury the same way Beckham does, but Randle was immediately ruled out for the remainder of the game, whereas Beckham was allowed to return, meaning that Randle's injury might be more significant. Ralph Vacchiano reported that coach Tom Coughlin is, "hoping Randle and Beckham will at least be limited in practice late in the week." Unfortunately for the sake of fantasy owners, the Giants don't play until Monday night, meaning that the earliest official practice report won't come until Thursday evening. The, "late in the week," practice that Coughlin references could in fact come as late as Saturday, so our answers will likely come much later than usual. Keep an eye on the Giants practice reports for more clarity the next few days.

Julio Jones, hamstring strain

It was reported that Julio Jones escaped last weekend's game without suffering any setbacks to his ailing hamstring. Anyone who watched the game might have a hard time believing that, as Jones was seen noticeably limping at times, and clearly was not his best. At what point will the Falcons sit Jones and give him some time to truly recover? In my mind, this week would be the perfect chance for some much-needed R&R for Jones. The Falcons face a short week as they have to play in New Orleans on Thursday night. The Saints are not good at defending against the pass, but they're even worse against the run, so Devonta Freeman might be able to carry the load on his own. If the Falcons do choose to play Jones, I wouldn't be surprised to see him limited, ineffective, or both. No matter what his status ultimately is, I wouldn't expect to see Jones practice at all this week. On Wednesday, Jones managed to get in a limited practice for the first time this week, so that's a promising sign that he'll start on Thursday. Indeed, the Falcons now list him as probable.

Leonard Hankerson, ribs

Hankerson briefly exited Atlanta's week 5 game with a rib injury, but was able to return after halftime. All signs point to Hankerson being active for Thursday. He practiced in full on Wednesday, so it would appear this injury is a non-issue for him.

Alshon Jeffery, hamstring strain

This being the Bears, we still have no clear indication whether Alshon Jeffery will play this week. Jeffery was able to put in limited practices last week, but was not active for game day, leaving many to question whether he had suffered some sort of setback. On Wednesday, Jeffery was able to put in a limited practice, so the talk of a setback was probably premature. It's worth noting that Chicago has a Week 7 bye, so if the Bears are on the fence about Jeffery's Week 6 status, they might just opt to hold him out, giving him two extra weeks to rehab.

Eddie Royal, ankle

So far, there are zero details on the ankle injury that kept Eddie Royal out of the Week 5 game, but we do know that Royal did not practice on Wednesday. As I pointed out in regards to Alshon Jeffery, the Bears have a Week 7 bye, so if Royal's ankle injury is significant, I would expect the team to keep him out this week, giving him some extended rehab time.

Marques Colston, AC sprain

Saints receiver Marques Colston suffered an AC sprain in his Week 5 game, and Ian Rapoport reported that the injury could be even worse, including structural damage. I don't want to get into the slippery-slope of sloppy medical terminology that is, "structural damage," but it certainly looks like Colston will miss Week 6 at least. Later, Rapoport followed that up with another Tweet, saying that while Colston was doubtful for Thursday, the injury was no longer thought to have any long-term consequences.

Steve Smith, back

John Harbaugh has said that he is hopeful Steve Smith can return to the lineup this week, but with either Harbaugh, honest injury talk can be hard to find. The best clarity we will have on Smith's possible return will come in the practice reports. On Wednesday, Smith had a limited practice. We'll need to check Thursday and Friday reports for a better idea of whether a Sunday return is realistic, but it is certainly a possibility. The Ravens have not specified what the exact injury is, but most reports revolve around small back or rib fractures that pose no long-term danger to Smith if he returns as early as this week.

Davante Adams, ankle

Davante Adams has missed the last two games after re-aggravating an ankle injury that he insists was not a high ankle sprain. Despite his words, this extended rehab fits well with that of a high ankle sprain, so I continue to doubt Adams' denials. This week, Adams was able to get in a limited Wednesday practice. Unless he can practice in full this week, his status for this weekend will be questionable.

DeSean Jackson, hamstring strain

DeSean Jackson has missed the last four games with a significant hamstring strain. Judging by the amount of time missed, one would think that Jackson might be ready to return, but it seems like Washington is being conservative with Jackson's health. That's a good thing, as it should reduce the chances of a re-injury. Head coach Jay Gruden has said that Jackson's reps should increase in practice this week, so at least we know what we should be looking for on the practice report. On Wednesday, Jackson put in a limited practice. That's a good start, but his participation would likely need to improve this week in order to fulfill Gruden's requirements.

Sammy Watkins, calf strain

Multiple reports out of Buffalo say that things are trending in the right direction for receiver Sammy Watkins, and that we might see his return to action this week. On Wednesday, Watkins put in a limited practice. As long as he continues to practice in any capacity for the remainder of the week, he has a good shot at starting Sunday against the Bengals.

Stevie Johnson, hamstring strain

Stevie Johnson strained his hamstring in Week 4, and has not practiced since. Unless Johnson can practice on Thursday or Friday, he can safely be ruled out for Week 6.

Cecil Shorts, shoulder dislocation

Cecil Shorts is reported to be, "ahead of schedule," in his rehab from a dislocated shoulder. On Wednesday, Shorts was able to put in a limited practice, so perhaps he has a chance to return for this week's game in Jacksonville.

Nelson Agholor, shin strain

According to Nelson Agholor, his injury is a muscle strain near his shin, not an ankle injury. Agholor went on to say that he plans on playing Week 6. Hopefully he's correct, and this is a minor injury. Because the Eagles don't play until Monday night, they aren't required to release an official practice report until Thursday, but it was reported that Agholor did not practice on Wednesday, which is obviously not a good sign.

Tight ends

Jordan Reed, concussion

Due to Jordan Reed's scary history with concussions, he is expected to miss at least one more week. Coach Jay Gruden has wisely refused to set any sort of timeline for Reed's return thus far. On Wednesday, Reed did not practice. I would not be surprised if this week-to-week approach continued until after Washington's Week 8 bye, but that's simply a hunch on my part.

Eric Ebron, MCL sprain

The Lions are known to be pretty tight-lipped about injuries (see Bell, Joique), and the exact injury of tight end Eric Ebron has never been clarified by the team. It was originally reported as a knee bruise, which I took to mean a bone bruise at or near his knee. On Wednesday though, Adam Caplan reported that the injury involves Ebron's MCL as well. MCL injuries, even mild ones, often require multi-week rehabs, so I would consider Ebron questionable for Week 6. He was able to get in a limited practice on Wednesday, so perhaps he's close to returning. Be sure to watch future practice reports to see if he can increase his practice participation before the weekend.

Crockett Gillmore, calf strain

Ravens tight end Crockett Gillmore had not practiced since suffering a Week 3 calf strain. Calf strains are stubborn injuries, as we've seen this year with Alshon Jeffery among others. On Wednesday, Gillmore was able to practice, though only in a limited capacity. Be sure to check Thursday and Friday's reports to get a better idea of whether or not Gillmore will be back to share time with Maxx Williams.

Vernon Davis, knee

It looked like Vernon Davis had a legitimate chance to return for Week 5, but he ended up sitting out for his second-straight game due to a deep knee bruise. Coach Jim Tomsula has already expressed confidence that Davis will be active for Week 6. On Wednesday, head coach Jim Tomsula said that Davis would practice, though likely in a limited capacity, which is exactly what Davis went on to do. It would appear that Davis is doing everything he needs to be doing, and that he will return this weekend to face the Ravens.