Injury Report Insight: Week 11

A critical look at this week's injury report.

At the risk of offending the fantasy football gods and inviting their wrath to rain down upon us, I'll just go ahead and say that this is probably the lightest week I've ever seen for NFL injuries. That's not to say that everyone is in full health, as we shouldn't forget the ranks of players already filling the injured reserve list just because we didn't hear their names this week. But for the most part, the last few weeks seem to have brought us more big name offensive players returning to lineups than leaving them.

Quarterbacks

Robert Griffin III, shoulder fracture

You know it's a slow injury week when my lead-off quarterback blurb is about a possible return for Robert Griffin III. The quarterback who seems to have the worst luck with injuries (or creates his own bad luck with injuries, depending on whom you listen to) went down with a fracture to his left, non-throwing shoulder back in Week 1. ESPN's Josina Anderson reported Wednesday that Griffin had been cleared by doctors to return to practice. While it appears that Griffin's rehab has gone as well as could've been expected, I'd really like to see more details on this medical clearance. There's usually a big difference between, "cleared for practice," and, "cleared for contact," so I tend to wait for confirmation of the later before I start eyeballing a possible return. "Cleared for practice," could indicate that Griffin will simply start his conditioning work such as running and throwing. While that's a notable step, it's far from the medical clearance which would indicate Griffin is no longer at risk of re-fracturing the same shoulder. Also, as Ian Rapoport pointed out, Griffin cannot return to practice with the team unless the Browns designate him as their sole player to return from injured reserve. If the Browns activate Griffin, he will then have a 21-day window to practice with the team. If the team doesn't activate him to their 53-man roster by the end of that period, Griffin will remain on injured reserve the rest of the season.

Running Backs

Jordan Howard, ankle/Achilles

The injury miscommunication between Chicago head coach John Fox and Jordan Howard would seem weird to any of the other 31 teams in the league, but it seems to be more of the same for Fox, a coach who has made it his goal to be consistently misleading as to injuries. After Sunday's game, Fox gave fantasy owners a scare when he said that Howard had possibly suffered an ankle or Achilles injury. Minutes later, Howard himself denied he suffered any injury. It appears that Howard was correct, as he put in a full practice on Wednesday, and was not listed on the injury report.

Thomas Rawls, fibula fracture

As an injury guy, all I can tell you about Thomas Rawls is that all reports are that he is healthy enough to play this week. I can't speak to his role, his effectiveness, or the amount of carries he will have. Rawls has missed the last 8 weeks due to a hairline fibula fracture, and that should've been plenty of time for him to get healthy.

Carlos Hyde, AC sprain

Carlos Hyde made his return from an AC sprain last week, but you'd hardly have known he was back based on his performance. Hyde might've been hesitant in his first game back, or maybe the Arizona defense just bottled him up. Either way, Hyde practiced in full on Wednesday, so he should be considered as healthy as any running back can really be by Week 11.

Lamar Miller, unknown

I hate listing players as injured before I can even confirm that they are indeed injured, but that's exactly what I'm doing here. Lamar Miller was reported to have briefly left Sunday's game before later returning to the field, but there are zero details. In cases like this, I'd usually decide whether or not to even mention Miller depending on his Wednesday practice status, but the Texans don't play until Monday, so there's no official report on how Miller practiced on Wednesday. There's probably nothing to worry about here, but be sure to check Thursday and Friday reports to verify that he's fine for Week 11.

DeMarco Murray, foot

DeMarco Murray has missed plenty of practice time this season while recovering from a lingering toe injury, so his missed practice on Wednesday shouldn't be alarming. It's notable though that his injury is now listed as a foot injury rather than a toe injury. This is likely the same injury, and I doubt it will affect Murray's Week 11 status, but owners obviously need to stay informed on this one.

 

Wide Receivers

Larry Fitzgerald, knee

I'm not sure what to make of Larry Fitzgerald's knee injury yet. No specific details have been released, but Fitzgerald said it was sore following Sunday's game, and there are reports that he had an MRI. Fitzgerald was held out of Wednesday's practice. Taken together, all these facts tell us absolutely nothing. Knee soreness doesn't help me pin down exactly what the injury is, an MRI could just be precautionary, and Fitzgerald has missed plenty of Wednesday practices this year. If he can't return for at least a limited Thursday or Friday practice, that's when I'd be concerned.

DeSean Jackson, rotator cuff

DeSean Jackson's shoulder has been troubling him since Week 8 and we finally have some clarity on the issue. Ian Rapoport reported Jackson has a rotator cuff injury, which would certainly explain how the injury has lingered, even through the team's Week 10 bye. Rotator cuff injuries can be devastating for wide receivers, as they are painful and limit the range of motion needed to catch a football. Not a great combination there. Depending on the extent of the injury, there's a chance this will eventually require surgery to repair. Such was the case earlier this year with Eric Decker, who ended up on injured reserve after trying to rehab a partial tear to his rotator cuff for a few weeks. So far, there's been no talk of shutting Jackson down for the season, so hopefully his injury is less severe than that of Decker.

As for Jackson's status going forward, that's a tough call. This piece from ESPN's John Keim made two important points. The first point is that coach Jay Gruden admitted an injured Jackson does nobody any good. As obvious as this is, it's still refreshing to hear, as it indicates that the team is looking beyond Jackson's day-to-day health. The second point made by Keim is that Washington has a short turnaround before playing on Thanksgiving day. If Jackson returns to the lineup for Week 11, it might very well risk his Week 12 status. On Wednesday, Jackson was able to put in a limited practice. That's an optimistic sign that he might be ready for Sunday, but it's still tough to guess exactly which way this one will go.

Will Fuller, leg

Will Fuller missed Week 10 with an unspecified leg injury, though I assume it's related to the hamstring issues he's battled all season. Because the Texans don't play until Monday night, their first official practice report won't come out until Wednesday. Be sure to check to see if Fuller is practicing, and if so, in what capacity.

Jeremy Maclin, groin

Jeremy Maclin missed Week 10 with a groin injury, and it's not a great sign that he did not practice on Wednesday. Groin injuries can linger if not rehabbed correctly, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Maclin miss another week, though that's simply a guess at this point. Check his practice reports later in the week for something better than my early guess.

Jordan Matthews, back spasms

Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews was held out of Wednesday's practice with back spasms, according to head coach Doug Pederson. While Pederson doesn't seem to think that this will affect Matthews' availability for this weekend, that should obviously be followed up on later in the week. Even one limited practice participation would be enough for me to believe that Matthews will be active.

Ty Montgomery, illness

Ty Montgomery missed Wednesday practice with an illness, but ESPN's Rob Demovsky reports that it is unrelated to his earlier kidney injury and sickle cell trait. If this is indeed just a minor illness, it shouldn't affect his Week 11 status, but you'll want to check practice reports later in the week to confirm his return. Of bigger concern to Montgomery owners should be the fact that Montgomery again seems to be without an offensive role now that James Starks has returned to the lineup.

 

Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski, lung/chest

We had a case of dueling reports on Monday about the health of Rob Gronkowski. Ian Rapoport reported that Gronkowski had suffered a punctured lung and would likely miss Week 11. Hours later, Adam Schefter countered with a report of his own, saying that Gronkowski had a chest injury, but not a punctured lung, and that the injury wasn't considered serious. Rapoport and Schefter are arguably the two most reliable NFL reporters, so it's likely that they're both at least somewhat correct here. The easiest way to reconcile these differing reports is to assume that someone close to the situation at least feared that Gronkowski had a punctured lung, even if that was later ruled out. Another take might be that Gronkowski has lung bruising or perhaps a cracked rib. Being that this is the Patriots, we'll likely never know the exact diagnosis. But we do know that Gronkowski was held out of Wednesday's practice with what the team called a chest injury. Given the differing reports of severity, I suspect that the Patriots might play this one fairly conservatively and rest Gronkowski this week. Thursday and Friday injury reports should give us a better idea of his expected status.

Jared Cook, high ankle sprain

It appears that Jared Cook is nearing his return from a high ankle sprain. Cook suffered the injury all the way back in Week 3, but Wednesday marked his first full practice. While that seven week absence indicates that this was a pretty severe high ankle sprain, there's no reason to think that the injury will linger or cause any limitations on Cook moving forward.

 


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