Monday Injury Rounds: Week 4

Making rounds on this week's injuries with thoughts on Russell Wilson, Jeremy Langford, Tyler Eifert, and others

NOTE: This column is a living document. I'll be updating as needed after team press conferences, imaging reports, Monday Night Football injuries, etc. Major changes to the content will be noted in red. I'll also be retweeting any key pieces of news and my own reaction and analysis, so make sure you're following @JeneBramel and checking my timeline on Twitter throughout the week.

Scroll to the bottom of this article for a quick look table of the week's most pressing injury situations and a review of the skill position players on injured reserve / PUP / NFI.


INJURY ROUNDS

Thankfully, Week 3 was much kinder to the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles of NFL players. The training room will still be busy, however, with a large number of ongoing injury rehabilitations and recoveries. Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, T.Y. Hilton, Stefon Diggs, Doug Baldwin, and Devante Parker all played through injury this week. Hopefully, Julio Jones and Willie Snead will be able to do the same on Monday night.

Russell Wilson | Left MCL sprain | Day-to-Day

Wilson had his left leg twisted awkwardly on a horse collar tackle. He was braced and returned to the game. The mechanism of injury was most consistent with an MCL sprain and Pete Carroll told reporters after the game Wilson had suffered a knee sprain. Wilson told reporters he felt he could've returned had the game been close. 

Data from the NFL shows most players with low-grade MCL injuries return within 7-10 days. Wilson has already recovered at the low end of a recovery timetable from his recent high ankle sprain, so it's tough to bet against a return in Week 4. Brandon Marshall, who returned to play in Week 2 with a similar injury, struggled to practice at all last week, so Wilson's recovery isn't yet assured. Expect limited practice this week and watch late week practice participation and media comments for more.

Monday Update: Pete Carroll confirmed the diagnosis of an MCL sprain in the team's press conference today.

Sammy Watkins | Foot soreness | Day-to-Day

It's tough to know how much to worry about Watkins. He returned and looked in form by the end of the preseason. Leading into Week 1, Adam Schefter reported Watkins' foot was still sore and problematic. After Week 1, Watkins was concerned enough to request an x-ray to reassess the surgical site. Immediately after getting a reassuring result, he denied his concerns were anything more than precautionary. Since then, Watkins has been limited in practice leading into Week 2, looked hobbled at times during the Thursday night game against the Jets ten days ago, then missed every practice leading into Week 3 after being "stepped on" during an early week walk through. I also think it's notable that Rex Ryan never seems pleased about Watkins' status when asked in press conferences.

Throughout these past 3-4 weeks of worry, there's been an undercurrent of reports that suggest Watkins and/or the team may be strongly considering resting Watkins until the pain in his foot subsides. Watkins has been telling reporters he wants to play -- and he did play effectively through the stress reaction in his foot last year.

That's a lot of useful data points without a clear conclusion. The next helpful data point comes Wednesday. If Watkins isn't practicing, prepare for a multiple-week absence and intensive rehab work. 

Jeremy Langford | Right ankle injury | Week-to-Week

I reviewed Langford's injury frame-by-frame. The precise moment of injury to his ankle is difficult to interpret but the position of his knee is most consistent with a high ankle sprain. On the television broadcast, Michele Tafoya said the medical staff seemed focused on his Achilles tendon. I didn't see an Achilles mechanism to the injury and Langford didn't react that way on the field. It's likely Tafoya saw the medical staff performing a squeeze test to evaluate for a high ankle sprain and misinterpreted that as an Achilles squeeze test. The exam is similar. If that's true, it's additional evidence for a high ankle sprain. 

Unfortunately, unless one of our friendly national media members cracks the case for us, we won't get anything of note from Chicago. John Fox runs the quietest injury ship in the league.

If Langford has a low grade high ankle sprain, it's possible but unlikely he'll be able to return in Week 4. That's a tough ask for a running back, however. Prepare for a 2-4 week absence.

Monday update: The Bears say Langford's injury is an ankle sprain and not a torn Achilles. They provided no specifics on the type or severity of sprain or a timetable for his return.

Monday night update: Adam Schefter tweeted Langford is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. That's even more evidence for a high ankle sprain. Langford likely narrowly avoided a broken bone with this mid-grade sprain.

Shane Vereen | Triceps tear | Injured Reserve

The Giants revealed Vereen's injury today, moving him to injured reserve. There's a slim chance he'll be able to return to the active roster late this season if his post-surgical rehab goes smoothly. The early timetable given today was two months. We've seen players recover quickly from torn muscles, but tendon tears requiring surgery are more difficult to recover from in the same season.

Dez Bryant | Right knee injury | Day-to-Day

Bryant returned to Sunday night's game after having his right knee twisted and driven into the turf. Television replays showed mechanisms consistent with an MCL sprain and/or a knee contusion. Bryant didn't show any limitations after a halftime cool down, but these injuries sometimes are worse the following day. There may be nothing of concern here but watch for Bryant's practice participation to be certain.

Ryan Mathews | Ankle injury | Day-to-Day

Mathews was ineffective early yesterday, left the game, and never returned. There was speculation he was dealing with ongoing ankle soreness and the Eagles confirmed as much today. Philadelphia has a bye this week, giving Mathews time to recover without missing additional snaps. Doug Pederson said today Mathews would remain the starter when healthy.

Michael Floyd | Concussion | Day-to-Day

Floyd was evaluated for a head injury during the game yesterday and cleared. He reported a headache after arriving at the team facility this morning and was put into the concussion protocol. Expect limited practice early in the week, with the Friday practice participation report key. If Floyd does enough to be cleared to practice, there's a good chance the independent neurologist will clear him to return this week.

Josh Doctson | Achilles tendinitis | Week-to-Week

Doctson was a surprise Sunday scratch after expressing concern over his Achilles tendinitis during pregame warmups. Washington has given Doctson multiple weeks to rest and recover more than once since May and the injury has never fully responded. They've limited his practice time in each week during the regular season and he's still having difficulty staying in condition. This may prove to be a minor setback but the team may have to consider shutting him down for multiple weeks once again to minimize the risk of a major cascade injury.

Jordan Cameron | Concussion | Week-to-Week

Cameron was diagnosed with a concussion this week and has already been ruled out of the Thursday night game. With his history of concussion, this could be a multiple week recovery.


Followup Appointments

Tyler Eifert | Deltoid ligament repair | Day-to-Day

Eifert returned to practice this week as he continues his prescribed 4-5 month rehab from ankle surgery. I think there's a good chance Eifert returns to limited duty on Thursday night and continues to rehab over the following ten days with the hope he'll be able to return as close to full form as possible by Week 5. However, don't be surprised if the Bengals stay conservative and continue to slowly rehab Eifert into mid-October. We'll know more midweek.

Thomas Rawls | Right leg contusion | Day-to-Day

Lower leg contusions are tough injuries to rehab. There's not much muscle overlying the lower leg bones and any bleeding into those spaces is painful and takes time to resorb. Rawls was unable to practice last week. That means his injury didn't respond well to treatment. Without more specifics, it's impossible to know whether this turns into a multiple week recovery or if Rawls will be back fully practicing on Wednesday.

Monday Update: The Seahawks re-evaluated Rawls after his inability to return to practice last week. Further imaging studies showed a hairline fracture in his fibula, the smaller bone in the lower leg. The fibula isn't the major weight-bearing bone in the lower leg -- the bigger shin bone takes about 80-90% of the weight -- but the bone will still need to heal for Rawls to return. Media reports today set the timetable for a "few weeks." I think the over-under for Rawls' return is around six weeks from the date of injury and I'd lean slightly to the over.

Doug Martin | Right hamstring strain | Week-to-Week
Arian Foster | Groin strain | Week-to-Week
Jonathan Stewart | Hamstring strain | Week-to-Week

After some early optimism for each of these running backs, it was clear early last week that each player had more than a low grade strain. Both Martin and Stewart were given 3-4 week timetables, which means both have at least mid-grade injuries. Running backs with mid-grade strains often return at the long end of the return to play timetable. The Buccaneers have a Week 6 bye, which puts Martin's earliest likely return at Week 7. The Panthers have a Week 7 bye, which could mean Stewart won't be able to return until Week 8 if his injury doesn't respond to treatment over the next week. Foster was given a week-to-week timetable but his recoveries from muscle strains rarely go smoothly.

Jamaal Charles | ACL recovery | Week-to-Week

Another week has passed in Charles' recovery with mostly scout team reps in practice and him watching from the sideline on gameday. There seems little urgency from Charles or the Chiefs to accelerate his rehab and consider him a viable part of their weekly game plan. With Spencer Ware continuing to play well and Charcandrick West healthy, it's likely we'll continue to see Charles recondition. At best, he'll return to take a handful of snaps in Week 4.

Antonio Gates | Hamstring strain | Week-to-Week

Gates did not practice last week and gave no media interviews. That's an ominous sign for a player who has played through MCL sprains and torn plantar fascia effectively in recent years. I think we'll learn this week that Gates suffered a higher grade strain and is expected to miss multiple weeks.

Delanie Walker | Hamstring strain | Week-to-Week

Walker was strikingly optimistic after a limited Wednesday practice, telling reporters there was "no chance" he'd miss yesterday's game. But his hamstring didn't improve through the week and Walker did not practice on Friday. He was close enough to put the medical staff to a decision in pregame warmups. As long as the Friday DNP wasn't due to a late week setback, Walker should have a good chance to return in Week 4. 

Rashad Jennings | Right thumb sprain | Day-to-Day

The Giants had prepared to play with Jennings as an early down option only but decided against risking a setback or a turnover due to the splint on his thumb. If Jennings can practice with his thumb taped instead of splinted this week, he should be able to return to play in Week 4.

Zach Ertz | First rib displacement | Week-to-Week

The Eagles are on bye this week. Though not precisely the same injury as the sternoclavicular dislocations suffered by Ben Roethlisberger and Danny Amendola in the past, the recovery concerns are similar. Both Roethlisberger and Amendola returned in 3-4 weeks. If Ertz heals at a similar rate, he should be able to return to practice and prepare to play in Week 5.

Jay Cutler | Right thumb sprain | Day-to-Day

Cutler was reportedly working to convince his medical staff he was capable of playing yesterday. And there were reports last week that Cutler had been playing through a low grade sprain for some time. The original timetable given was 2-3 weeks here, but it's possible Cutler convinces the team he's ready sooner.

Jimmy Garoppolo | Right AC sprain | Day-to-Day
Jacoby Brissett | Right thumb sprain | Day-to-Day

The Patriots have one more week before Tom Brady returns. Both options for this week will be limited by injuries to their throwing arm. Garoppolo had no chance to recover from a shoulder sprain in time for Thursday night's game but there have been multiple reports that he has a chance to return this week. Brissett's thumb injury isn't serious enough to require surgery, but grip strength will be an issue. He'll have an extra few days to recover. Practice participation will define this competition better by midweek.

Kenneth Dixon | Left MCL sprain | Week-to-Week

The Ravens had tentatively expected Dixon back around Week 4 but he's yet to return to practice. Generally, players who miss multiple weeks of practice need at least a week of limited practice and conditioning before they're able to return to the active gameday roster. Dixon isn't there yet and it's unlikely he'll be ready for Week 4.

Tony Romo | L1 compression fracture | Week-to-Week

Now cleared to throw on the side, Romo's rehab is progressing well. However, it will be 3-4 additional weeks before Romo will have healed sufficiently to be cleared for contact. Don't expect to see Romo before Dallas' Week 7 bye.


Quarterbacks Injured But on the Active Roster
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Russell Wilson Left MCL sprain W3 Day-to-Day Day-to-Day  
Jay Cutler Right thumb sprain W2 Day-to-Day Week-to-Week Will try to convince med staff to play W4
Josh McCown Left AC sprain / Clavicle fracture W2 Week-to-Week 3-4 Wk High-grade AC sprain
Jimmy Garoppolo Right AC sprain W2 Day-to-Day W4 earliest return  
Jacoby Brissett Right thumb sprain W3 Day-to-Day Week-to-Week  
Tony Romo L1 compression fracture PS W3 6-10 WK 8-10 WK (W8+)  
Running Backs Injured But on the Active Roster
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Jeremy Langford Left ankle injury W3 No timetable given 4-6 Weeks Likely high ankle sprain; Schefter says 4-6 Wk
Jamaal Charles Right ACL tear Mid Oct 2015 Week-to-Week Week-to-Week  
Doug Martin Right hamstring strain W2 3 Weeks 3-4+ Weeks Mid-grade injury or worse
Thomas Rawls Fibula fracture W2 "Few Weeks" 6 Weeks  
Arian Foster Groin strain W2 Week-to-Week Week-to-Week  
Jonathan Stewart Hamstring strain W2 2-4 Weeks 3-4+ Weeks  Mid-grade injury or worse
Ryan Mathews Ankle injury W3 Day-to-Day Day-to-Day  W4 bye
Rashad Jennings Right thumb sprain W2 Day-to-Day Day-to-Day  
C.J. Prosise Hand injury PS Day-to-Day Day-to-Day  
Kenneth Dixon Left knee sprain PS W3 4 WK 3-6 Wk (W4+) Has not returned to practice yet
Wide Receivers Injured But on the Active Roster
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Julio Jones Right knee contusion / Calf strain W2 Day-to-Day Day-to-Day Expected to return to play Monday night
Sammy Watkins Foot soreness related to fracture repair Ongoing Day-to-Day Day-to-Day  
Donte Moncrief Fractured scapula W2 4-6 Weeks 4-6 Weeks  
Willie Snead Toe sprain W2 Day-to-Day Week-to-Week Game-time decision Monday night
Corey Coleman Fractured hand W3 4-6 Weeks 4-6 Weeks  
Josh Doctson Achilles tendinitis Ongoing Day-to-Day Week-to-Week Another flare in Week 3
Braxton Miller Hamstring strain W2 Week-to-Week Week-to-Week  
Kendall Wright Aggravated hamstring strain August 1 / 29 Week-to-Week 4+ WK (W3+)  
Tight Ends Injured But on the Active Roster
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Tyler Eifert Deltoid ligament repair Late May 4-6 Months 5-6 Months (W4+) Returned to practice, shot at limited W4 duty 
Antonio Gates Hamstring strain W2 Week-to-Week Week-to-Week  
Delanie Walker Hamstring strain W2 Day-to-Day Day-to-day  
Zach Ertz First rib displacement W1 Week-to-Week 2-4 Weeks (W5) Eagles have W4 bye
Virgil Green Calf strain W2 Week-to-Week Week-to-Week  
Jordan Cameron Concussion W3 Week-to-Week Week-to-Week Already ruled out W4
Notable Quarterbacks on PUP/NFI/IR
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Teddy Bridgewater Left knee dislocation/ACL tear/+ Late August IR / 2017 9-12 Mo + (2017) Associated damage key
Robert Griffin III Left AC sprain / Coracoid fracture W1 IR / 10-12 Weeks 2017 Return Browns lengthened timetable last week 
Notable Running Backs on PUP/NFI/IR
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Adrian Peterson Right knee meniscus tear W2 IR / 3-4 Months 2017 Return  
Dion Lewis Left ACL tear / Arthroscope during rehab PS W4 PUP / Undetermined Undetermined Still no details reported
Ameer Abdullah Left foot sprain W2 IR / 8-10 Weeks 2017 Return Torn ligament is early report
Danny Woodhead Right ACL tear W2 IR / 2017 2017 Return  
Shane Vereen Triceps tear W3 IR / 2 Months 2017 Return  
Darren McFadden Right elbow fracture Early Jun 2015 NFI / 2-3 Months W6+  
Keith Marshall Left UCL sprain PS W3 IR / 3-4 Weeks W6+  
Notable Wide Recievers on PUP/NFI/IR
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Keenan Allen Right ACL tear W1 IR / 2017 2017 Return  
Bruce Ellington Hamstring strain PS W3 IR / 2+ Months 2017 Return  
Notable Tight Ends on PUP/NFI/IR
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Ladarius Green Ankle surgery / ? Headaches January PUP / Undetermined W6+ Steelers say ankle not ready

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.