Monday Injury Rounds: Week 1

Making rounds on this preseason's injuries, with updates on Jamaal Charles, Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Thomas Rawls, and many others

The number of injuries around the NFL didn't decrease this preseason. It only seems that way because the skill positions were left unscathed. There were just two major injuries to critical offensive skill position players -- Tony Romo's lumbar compression fracture and Teddy Bridgewater's knee dislocation.

While I'd like nothing more for continued quiet in the training rooms around the league, injuries are coming.

For now, though, I am eagerly awaiting Monday press conferences and the first full injury report on Wednesday this week. With luck, we'll get some actionable tidbits of information on the large number of players recovering from last season's injuries, offseason setbacks, and recent minor injuries. The status of Jamaal Charles, Thomas Rawls, Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Carlos Hyde, John Brown, Carlos Hyde, Matt Jones, Jordan Matthews, Carson Wentz, and a handful of others could use clarification heading into Week 1. And I'm still waiting for any useful notes on Dion Lewis.

I'm also (somewhat less) eagerly awaiting the game status report on Friday, when we'll learn just how much confusion the NFL's new injury policy will cause national media members, beat writers, fans, fantasy football owners, and humble injury analysts like me. If you missed my earlier editorial thoughts on the changes to the injury report, the short version is this: The NFL has discontinued the use of the probable tag in the hopes fewer players will be listed on the injury report. It's very likely, however, that the change will prompt teams to list more players as questionable than ever before. It's something I'll be tracking throughout the early weeks of the season.

Injury Rounds

Today's rounds are going to be light on useful information. There's been little new on these situations over the past 10-14 days. I haven't formalized a schedule yet, but I'll be doing regular video updates on Periscope, Google Hangouts, and our podcast throughout the week. I'll pin the latest updates to my Twitter feed. I'm hoping this allows me to get timely updates to everyone more frequently and efficiently. This week, the Gameday Expectations column will be the most important update of the week. Next Sunday night and Monday's Injury Rounds will be more robust.

One other programming note: I had multiple requests to add a quick look table with the latest injury and return to play expectation data to this feature. You can now find that at the bottom of this article. Hope it's helpful.

Teddy Bridgewater | Left knee dislocation / ACL tear | Out for Season

The most devastating injury of the preseason came during an innocuous practice rep. On what was described as an ordinary movement outside the pocket, Bridgewater's left knee dislocated without contact. The Vikings described the injury as a knee dislocation, torn ACL, with other "associated damage." By definition, a knee dislocation involves multiple ligament tears. Given the gruesome reports and the need for immediate transport by ambulance, it's likely Bridgewater tore at least three ligaments in his knee. The Vikings also confirmed no nerve or blood vessel injuries in the knee, While this is going to be a long and difficult rehab, avoiding nerve and vessel injury are positive factors for Bridgewater's recovery.

What we don't know yet is what the "associated damage" entails. Hopefully, it's just the additional ligament tears not described in the team's statement. As yet, there's been no indication that Bridgewater suffered a patellar tendon tear, which would add a very difficult layer to his recovery. But it's possible Bridgewater tore meniscus tissue, damaged the cartilage around the joint, or injured other soft tissues in the posterolateral corner of his knee. Any of those injuries could complicate his recovery.

There aren't many comps for this injury. Napoleon McCallum, Robert Edwards, Willis McGahee, and Marcus Lattimore all suffered similar injuries. Because of the number of structures potentially involved, however, no two knee dislocations, surgeries, or recoveries should be considered comparable. Edwards is the only player whose injury occurred with little to no contact. McCallum had multiple nerve and blood vessel injuries. I don't believe McGahee had any associated soft tissue injuries.

Bridgewater has a chance to return in 2017, with the best case scenario being a return in Week 1. But it's difficult to handicap his odds without knowing the extent of the damage to his knee and in advance of any rehab reports.

I discussed Bridgewater's injury (with some thoughts on Tony Romo's injury) on Periscope here.

As an aside, if you've been resistant to opening a Twitter account, Matt Waldman put together an excellent primer this summer. I think Twitter is well worth your time if set up properly and Matt shows you how to focus your usage to keep from getting overwhelmed. If you have a smart phone, the immediacy of Twitter and interactive nature of Periscope are nice adds to your football experience. You can do both on your PC/laptop, too.

Jamaal Charles | Right ACL tear (recovering) | Week-to-Week

I misread the Charles situation this summer.

The Chiefs had been fairly clear that they planned to limit Charles in camp and in the early weeks of the regular season. I took that as veteran caution rather than evidence Charles recovery wasn't progressing as hoped. I'm still not sure why the team was comfortable allowing Charles to participate in OTAs in May and June, activating him off the PUP list midway through camp, and clearing him for limited team work shortly afterwards. But last week's reports that Charles had yet to run with the first team, was seeing very little contact, and had his coaches concerned that he would need more time to recover are obviously more worrisome. 

The other possibility here is that Charles hit a snag in the late stages of his rehab. It's now been 10 months since his ACL tear. Most players with isolated ACL injuries complete their rehab within 8-9 months and sometimes sooner. While ACL recovery should not be assumed in every player, the closer this recovery gets to 11-12 months (mid-October), the more I'll wonder if there's more to Charles' recovery.

I'm still not ready to preach gloom-and-doom here. I think there's plenty of time for Charles to return to his former self in the early weeks of the season. But his recovery is more complicated than it should be. It looks like Spencer Ware is going to get a chance to earn a larger role in the Kansas City backfield. If Charles isn't cleared for contact practices early this week and doesn't make the Week 1 active roster, we could see his situation remain cloudy for multiple weeks.

Jordy Nelson | Left knee tendinitis (recovering) | Day-to-Day

Like Charles, Nelson's recovery from ACL surgery hasn't been smooth. Unlike Charles, Nelson has likely recovered well enough to see close to his usual workload in Week 1. The Packers showed caution with Nelson's reconditioning injury and he has responded well. He was cleared to return to full contact practices last week and there have been no reports of setbacks. I'm anticipating a full week of practice for Nelson.

Julio Jones | Right low ankle sprain | Day-to-Day

Jones turned his right ankle ten days ago in the Falcons' third preseason game. The team has been in no hurry to return Jones to practice, but multiple reports suggest he'll return this week. If he's held out through Wednesday, it'll be time to re-evaluate his status. But the mechanism of injury and tone of reports since have been positive. I expect Jones to be ready for a full Week 1 workload.

A.J. Green | Left knee contusion | Day-to-Day

I'm including Green here only because there's been no report of any kind on his injury since last week. I don't know what the Bengals and Andy Dalton were thinking -- at least two of Green's targets in the final and useless preseason game were hospital balls. Frankly, Green was lucky to make if out of the first quarter with only a minor injury. The Bengals immediately minimized the severity of Green's injury and allowed him to do a late second half television interview. So, there's likely nothing to see here. Still, watch the early-week news for any sign of concern.

Brandon Marshall | Hip Soreness | Day-to-Day

I'm anticipating Marshall practicing this week and seeing his usual gameday targets in Week 1. But he's had hip impingement surgery in the past and recurrence of symptoms is a known concern for athletes who have undergone these procedures. There may not be much to Marshall's "soreness" but I'd like to see him practice fully before I'll feel fully confident in his health.

Larry Fitzgerald | MCL sprain | Day-to-Day

Fitzgerald's MCL sprain was likely more significant than he and the team thought initially. Fitzgerald was expected to return to practice quickly but ended up being held out to rehab and recover through the final week of the preseason. We're now over ten days since the injury and it's possible Fitzgerald is dealing with more than a low-grade sprain. Fitzgerald has recovered from MCL injuries during the regular season before, so he's aware of what full recovery means here. Like the other receivers above, it's reasonable to expect Fitzgerald to practice this week and play.

Thomas Rawls | Left fibula fracture (recovering) | Day-to-Day

Rawls' recovery took a little longer than anticipated and Christine Michael has been impressive in Seahawks' camp. But Rawls felt good enough to play in the final preseason tuneup and most beat writers believe he's ready to assume the majority of opening week carries. Watch his practice participation closely. With luck, we'll get some detailed information on the rushing game plan in advance of Week 1.

Carlos Hyde | Concussion | Day-to-Day

Jordan Matthews | Knee contusion | Day-to-Day

Matt Jones | Left AC sprain | Day-to-Day

All three are expected to return to practice this week and play. Hyde has yet to clear the final stage of the concussion protocol. Matthews has been returned very slowly after an early preseason bone bruise. Jones suffered a low-mid grade shoulder sprain and has yet to return to practice. Watch the practice participation report for all three carefully.


Return to Play Expectations

QUARTERBACK INJURY DATE TEAM SAYS FBG EXPECT NOTES
Joe Flacco Left ACL/MCL tear Early Dec 2015 RTP PS W3 Ready W1 Returned to play PS W3
Carson Wentz Rib fracture PS W1 3-4 WK Week-to-Week Could be ready W1
Jared Goff Tailbone contusion PS W3 Day-to-Day Ready W1  
Tony Romo L1 compression fracture PS W3 6-10 WK 8-10 WK (W8+) Min 6wks before contact; poss IR
Teddy Bridgewater Left knee dislocation/ACL tear/+ Late August IR 9-12 Mo + (2017) Associated damage key
           
RUNNING BACK INJURY DATE TEAM SAYS FBG EXPECT NOTES
Jamaal Charles Right ACL tear/? Mid Oct 2015 Active roster Week-to-Week Slow rehab vs setback
Thomas Rawls Left fibula fracture Mid Dec 2015 RTP PS W4 Ready W1  
Le'Veon Bell Right PCL/MCL sprain Early Nov 2015 RTP PS W3 Ready W4 Suspended first three games
Ezekiel Elliott Right hamstring strain Pre PS W1 RTP PS W3 Ready W1  
Matt Forte Hamstring strain Pre PS W1 RTP PS W3 Ready W1  
Carlos Hyde Concussion PS W3 Day-to-Day Ready W1 In concussion protocol
Arian Foster Right Achilles tear Late October 2015 Active roster Ready W1  
Matt Jones Left AC sprain PS W2 Week-to-Week Ready W1 Could be limited W1
Kenneth Dixon Left knee sprain PS W3 4 WK 3-6 Wk (W4+)  
Dion Lewis Left ACL tear/? Awaiting details Undetermined Undetermined On Reserve/PUP
Lance Dunbar Left ACL/MCL/patellar tendon tear Early Oct 2015 Off PUP Ready W1  
Darren McFadden Right elbow fracture Early Jun 2015 2-3 MO / NFI W6+  
Keith Marshall Left UCL sprain PS W3 3-4 WK / IR W6+  
           
WIDE RECEIVER INJURY DATE TEAM SAYS FBG EXPECT NOTES
Jordy Nelson Right ACL tear / Left knee tendinitis Late July Cleared to return Ready W1  
Julio Jones Right low ankle sprain PS W3 Day-to-Day Ready W1 Expected to practice
A.J. Green Left knee contusion PS W4 Day-to-Day Ready W1  
John Brown Concussion July 31 RTP PS W4 Ready W1 Watch practice report
Larry Fitzgerald MCL sprain PS W2 Day-to-Day Ready W1 Watch practice report
Brandon Marshall Hip soreness Pre PS W3 Day-to-Day Ready W1  
Jordan Matthews Knee contusion PS W1 Cleared to return Ready W1  
Julian Edelman Left fifth metatarsal fracture / revision surgery Mid November / Early May RTP PS W4 Ready W1  
Sammy Watkins Fifth metatarsal fracture Late April RTP PS W3 Ready W1  
Kelvin Benjamin Left ACL tear Mid August 2015 Active roster Ready W1 Limited snaps?
Dez Bryant Concussion PS W3 Cleared to return Ready W1  
Josh Gordon Quad strain July (pre-camp) RTP PS W3 Ready W5 Suspended x 4 gms
Steve Smith Right Achilles tear Early November Active roster Week-to-week  
DeVante Parker Hamstring strain PS W4 Week-to-Week Week-to-week Possible aggravation
Victor Cruz Groin strain PS W1 RTP PS W4 Ready W1  
Danny Amendola Ankle / Knee surgery Offseason Active roster Week-to-Week  
Breshad Perriman Left partial ACL tear Mid June RTP PS W4 Ready W1  
Josh Doctson Left Achilles tendinitis Mid May Active roster Week-to-Week  
Kendall Wright Aggravated hamstring strain August 1 / 29 Week-to-Week 4+ WK (W3+)  
Jeff Janis Right hand fractures PS W1 4-6 WK 4-6 WK (W2+)  
Bruce Ellington Hamstring strain PS W3 IR    
           
TIGHT END INJURY DATE TEAM SAYS FBG EXPECT NOTES
Tyler Eifert Deltoid ligament repair Late May 4-6 Months 5-6 Months (W4+)  
Eric Ebron Left ankle sprain PS W1 Active Roster Week-to-Week (W1+)  
Jimmy Graham Right patellar tendon tear Late November 2015 Active Roster Week-to-Week (W1+)  
Ladarius Green Ankle surgery / ? Headaches January PUP Week-to-Week (W6+) Steelers say ankle not ready
Jared Cook Metatarsal fracture fixation Early June RTP PS W3 Ready W1  
Dennis Pitta Finger fracture Early August Active Roster Ready W1 Hip seems healthy

I'll be updating this feature throughout the day. Footballguys Insiders will get a full update from Craig Zumsteg with additional fantasy perspectives on Wednesday and analysis of the week's game-time decisions early Sunday morning. Follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking injury news and analysis throughout the week.