Injury Report Insight: Week 13

A critical look at this week's first practice injury report.

Remind me again why we don't do Thanksgiving every week. That was awesome! A huge day full of binging accompanied by three good football games... okay, maybe two good games, but close enough. Week 12 did not disappoint, bringing us plenty of highs and lows, and of course, plenty of injuries. Thankfully, while we still had some important players go down, this was far from some of the blood-bath weeks we've seen this season.

Quarterbacks

Derek Carr, finger dislocations

Derek Carr dislocated his right pinky finger on Sunday. According to his brother, David Carr, he actually dislocated his pinky at two separate spots. That sounds about as gross as it looked on the broadcast. As Ian Rapoport reported, there were no fractures, which is an obvious relief. While this is the sort of injury that would virtually cripple me and lead to months of complaining, it's likely not something that will affect Carr all that much. Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger have both played through finger dislocations, and their injuries were to their index fingers. Carr was able to return to a full practice on Wednesday, and while he might wear a glove this weekend, it will likely make little difference to his throwing abilities.

Jay Cutler, shoulder

There have been no updates as to the health of Jay Cutler. Ian Rapoport originally reported that Cutler had a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, and while the Bears have denied that, they haven't countered with a different diagnosis. Cutler did not practice on Wednesday, so all signs point towards Matt Barkley getting his second start.

Andrew Luck, concussion

Andrew Luck has not yet cleared the NFL's concussion protocol, but from everything that's been reported, that sounds like a minor formality. He has returned to full practice, and has said that he feels great. The fact that he still hasn't been medically cleared isn't as big of a deal as it might sound, as the Colts don't play until Monday. The medical staff is likely taking some extra time simply because they have time to spare.

Robert Griffin III, shoulder fracture

Robert Griffin III fractured a bone in his left (non-throwing) shoulder back in the season-opener and was placed on injured reserve. After making steady progress, Griffin was designated as the Browns sole player to return from injured reserve. This week he was fully cleared for contact, and has returned to unlimited practice. Aside from that obviously ugly start, things couldn't be going better for Griffin right now. The Browns are in a lost-season tailspin and willing to try anyone at quarterback. The Week 13 bye is perfect for giving Griffin some much needed football reps, and he has a realistic chance to start Week 14. We should know more by this time next week. As for Griffin's health, this injury should have absolutely zero effect on his performance.

Aaron Rodgers, hamstring strain

Aaron Rodgers' hamstring strain appears to be very mild, and there are no signs so far that it will affect him in Week 13 or beyond. Both Rodgers and the Packers have downplayed the injury, and Rodgers was listed as a limited participant on Wednesday, though that's simply an estimation by the team, as they didn't actually practice on Wednesday. Even if Rodgers only puts in limited practices on Thursday and Friday, his status is not in doubt.

Trevor Siemian, foot sprain

It's too early in the week to predict whether Trevor Siemian will play on Sunday. He suffered a sprained foot in Week 12, and while he was able to finish the game, it appears the injury is bothering him now. He did not practice on Wednesday, and was sporting a walking boot, which is obviously not a good sign. Still, foot sprains are an injury that quarterbacks have been known to play through. Blake Bortles, Thad Lewis, and Ben Roethlisberger have all played through foot sprains without missing any time, so although he might look like a long-shot this early in the week, it's entirely possible that Siemian suits up this weekend.

Running Backs

David Johnson, finger dislocation

If Derek Carr's finger dislocations aren't that big of a deal, then the dislocation of one of David Johnson's fingers is barely even worth mentioning. In fact, if this injury weren't to such a clear top-tier running back, I wouldn't even bring it up. Johnson was able to return to Sunday's game without any real problems, and the Cardinals don't even have him listed on their practice report. This injury is a non-issue for Week 13.

Lamar Miller, ankle sprain

Lamar Miller has been battling a left ankle sprain since Week 10, but has been able to play through the injury so far. He left Week 12 with what appeared to be a an aggravation of the same ankle sprain, and was limited in Wednesday's practice. If Miller can continue to put in at least limited practices, he should be fine to play this week. Owners will need to check back to make sure he doesn't have a practice downgrade before Sunday.

Ryan Mathews, MCL sprain

Although Eagles head coach Doug Pederson continues to call Ryan Mathews, "day to day," with an MCL sprain, I think it's already safe to rule him out for Week 13. As I pointed out last week, Mathews is a notoriously slow healer who took much longer than expected to recover from an MCL sprain to the same knee back in 2014 (though I cannot confirm the severity of either sprain). As with most of Mathews' injuries, this is a situation where I'll believe it when I see it. His missed practice on Wednesday is already a pretty clear sign to me.

Mike Gillislee, hamstring strain

After suffering a slight hamstring strain in practice leading up to Week 12, Mike Gillislee was cautiously (and wisely) ruled out for that game. Gillislee was able to return to a limited practice on Wednesday, which is an optimistic sign that he'll be backing up LeSean McCoy this weekend. Check back later in the week to ensure he wasn't downgraded, but this looks promising thus far.

T.J. Yeldon, ankle

T. J. Yeldon has been battling through an ankle injury, but was still able to play last week. He missed Wednesday's practice, but it's unclear if that means that he had a setback or if the team is simply being conservative. Unfortunately, either scenario could result in Yeldon missing future practices this week, so there's not necessarily a point where we can be certain about his Week 13 status.

Chris Ivory, hamstring strain

Chris Ivory was unable to finish Week 12 due to a hamstring strain. His absence from Wedneday's practice indicates that this strain might be serious, though I still have no real details on that. I would not be surprised if Ivory sits this weekend, though again, that's mostly just an educated guess at this point.

Mark Ingram, toe

Mark Ingram wasn't reported to have suffered any injury during his Week 12 game, so his absence from Wednesday's practice is likely just a much-needed day of rest. Still, the, "toe," designation is a bit worrisome, as it could indicate turf toe, a painful and nagging injury that can linger and sap a running back of his explosiveness. As of now, there's no reason to jump to that conclusion, but if Ingram misses more time this week, a turf toe injury could be a very real possibility.

DeAngello Williams, knee scope

While there was some early optimism that DeAngello Williams might return to the lineup this week after missing the last three games, it's notable that Williams did not practice in any capacity on Wednesday. Obviously, this situation could change if Williams is able to practice later in the week, but for now, I'm doubtful that he'll be active on Sunday.

Wide Receivers

Jordan Matthews, ankle sprain

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is new enough that I'm not yet sure how much to trust his injury information. After a few years on the injury beat, I've gotten a decent feel for the relative honesty (or dishonesty) of most head coaches. On the honest side, you have Bruce Arians and, well... it's tough to think of anyone else that's honest. Sometimes Andy Reid. On the dishonest end, there's the Harbaughs, John Fox, Marvin Lewis, and anyone even remotely associated with the Saints or Lions. Somewhere in between are the stonewalling, but not exactly deceptive, guys like Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll. I'm not sure where Doug Pederson falls on this spectrum, but the case of Jordan Matthews might give us a good indication.

Jordan Matthews injured his ankle in Monday's game against the Packers. He went to the locker room for x-rays, then returned for one series after halftime before ultimately leaving again. He missed Wednesday's practice, but Pederson said that Matthews was held out as a precaution and that he expects Matthews to play on Sunday. I'd like to believe that's true, and there's a good chance that it is. But the quick trip to the locker room for x-rays indicates to me that this might've been more than a simple ankle sprain, perhaps a high-ankle sprain. If so, there would be a good chance that Matthews misses more practices and sits out this week. If this was indeed a relatively minor low ankle sprain as Pederson implies, Matthews should return to practice on Thursday or Friday and be in no danger of missing Week 13. If that's the case, I'd finally be able to list at least two coaches who tend to be honest with injury info.

T.Y. Hilton, back

T.Y. Hilton was unable to finish his Week 12 game due to a back injury, but no details have been reported. The Colts don't play until Monday night, so their Wednesday practice was unofficial. Still, it's notable that T.Y. Hilton participated in practice, though his level of participation is unclear. The fact that he's returned to practice in any capacity though likely indicates that this was a muscle or bone bruise situation, rather than anything more severe like a fracture. We should know more later in the week, but we're off to a positive start already.

Jeremy Maclin, groin

Jeremy Maclin has missed the last three games due to a groin injury, but he was finally able to return to practice on Wednesday. While his participation was limited, that's still a fairly optimistic sign that he could play this weekend. Even a week of limited practices might still result in this decision coming down to a game-time-decision, so there's nothing even remotely certain thus far. Luckily, the Chiefs play in the early-slate on Sunday, so answers should come in plenty of time to set lineups.

Robert Woods, knee sprain

Robert Woods was held out of Week 12 due to a knee sprain, and things don't look much different so far this week, as he was held out of Wednesday's practice. Unless Woods can return to at least a limited practice on Thursday or Friday, he'll likely sit at least one more week.

Sammy Watkins, foot

Unfortunately, it looks like Sammy Watkins might've suffered a setback. Watkins unsuccessfully tried to play through soreness in his surgically-repaired foot early this season, before landing on injured reserve. The Bills designated him to return, and he appeared to have gotten through his Week 12 game none the worse for wear.

Given all this, I was a little surprised to see he was held out of Wednesday's practice with the same foot soreness that had plagued him earlier. While I hope that Watkins is able to work through this and see more playing time, it's probably more likely that he is shut down for the rest of the season. I'll point out that's more based on my own gut-feeling here, and I hope that I'm wrong. But really, if nine weeks off wasn't enough time for Watkins to get fully healthy, then it's not realistic to think that a few days or weeks now could make a difference. Either way, his practice reports later in the week will give us an obvious indication of his Week 13 status at least. (12/1 update: Watkins returned to limited Thursday practice, so hopefully this isn't the setback that I feared.)

Stefon Diggs, knee

The Vikings have not disclosed exactly what the knee injury was that kept Stefon Diggs out of Week 12's Thanksgiving game, but whatever it was, it might be behind him now. Diggs put in limited practices on Monday and Tuesday, but was able to practice in full on Wednesday. The Vikings play Thursday night, and while Diggs is officially listed as questionable, he seems like he would've been given the, "probable," tag had it not been eliminated this season.

DeVante Parker, back

It seems like Devante Parker just can't catch a break. After a rookie season in which he was plagued by a lingering foot injury, Parker has spent his sophomore season trying to get over nagging strains to both his hamstrings. Just when it looked like he was past those injuries and starting to live up to his hype, he injured his back. We don't have any concrete details on Parker's back injury and how long it might keep him out, but the Dolphins held him out of Wednesday's practice. Hopefully Parker can return to practice later in the week, giving us some clarity as to his Week 13 status.

Tyrell Williams, shoulder labrum

Tyrell Williams will attempt to play through a shoulder labrum injury, something he also played through in college. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune's Michael Gehlken (the go-to guy for Chargers news), Williams played through a similar labrum injury back in 2014 during his senior year of college. That injury required off-season surgery, as this one likely will. Chargers fans might remember when Malcom Floyd attempted the same last season, though Floyd ended up missing one game plus a bye week before returning to the lineup. Still, this is an injury that can sometimes be played through, though receivers seem to have varying results doing so. Williams will face a decrease in his range of motion, which is obviously critical for someone at his position.

John Brown, hamstring strain/sickle cell trait

The Cardinals thought that John Brown was over his earlier leg injury, but it has returned and he is visiting specialists this week. Brown has a sickle-cell trait that has caused leg pain similar to a hamstring strain. Bruce Arians gave more details in an interview, and admitted that it's a baffling situation. This is a scary situation, and I'd expect the Cardinals will continue to take a very cautious approach with Brown. He's quickly trending towards doubtful for this week.

Allen Hurns, hamstring strain

It looks like Allen Hurns might miss some time. He was in obvious pain in Sunday's game and was seen lying on the ground grabbing his left hamstring. While no specific details have been released, Hurns was unable to practice on Wednesday. Taken together, I would guess that Hurns has a mid-grade hamstring strain, and could easily miss at least the next two games, if not more. Hopefully we'll get more concrete information soon, as I don't love ballparking an injury so early without more to go on.

Julian Edleman, foot

Julian Edelman has been limited at a lot of practices this season with a vague foot designation. On Wednesday, he missed practice completely, so this bears monitoring. There's only a slight chance that this is a true injury, but I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't at least mention it.

Kelvin Benjamin, shoulder

Kelvin Benjamin appeared to aggravate the injury to his left shoulder on Sunday, and was held out of Wednesday's practice. Hopefully this is a mild AC sprain, and Benjamin will have no trouble returning to practice and playing this week. Benjamin doesn't play until Sunday night, so owners need to be proactive in checking back on him later this week to avoid getting painted into a corner with a late lineup change.

Odell Beckham Jr., thumb

Odell Beckham Jr. left Sunday's game to have his hand examined, but was able to return quickly to the game. Newsday's Tom Rock had a detailed piece about Beckham's injury, with Beckham saying that it's basically a jammed thumb and that he has a long history with it. Everything thus far sounds like this is non-issue, and the Giants didn't even list Beckham on their injury report.

A.J. Green, hamstring strain

There have been no concrete updates on A.J. Green's rehab from what appeared to be a serious hamstring strain. I still think that we're unlikely to see Green return before Week 16, but that's only because that's what I predicted last week and I haven't heard anything one way or the other that would change my initial thoughts. Any real update would go a long ways in helping to project a more accurate timeline.

Tight Ends

Jordan Reed, AC sprain

Jordan Reed suffered a Grade 3 (meaning severe) AC sprain on Thanksgiving, but was able to return and play effectively through the injury. Our own Dr. Jene Bramel outlined the injury very well in his piece here, and I completely agree that, while this injury is painful, there's a good chance Reed continues to play through it. My injury database doesn't hold a lot of confirmed Grade 3 AC sprains, but I can tell you that A.J. Green played through such an injury back in 2011. The fact that Reed missed Wednesday's practice doesn't really mean much, as he'll probably miss plenty of practices both this week and next. The only useful information we might get before Sunday afternoon's lineup announcement might be from press conferences.

Rob Gronkowski, back

If you're looking to me for guidance on this one, I'm sorry, but I have no great insight on Rob Gronkowski's back injury. While Gronkowski missed Wednesday's practice, that's not necessarily telling. Gronkowski has missed plenty of practices, and with his recent chest or lung injury and his older back history, it's not surprising that the Patriots would play this conservatively. One thing I'd point out though is that in the past when there were long-term injury scares with Gronkowski, wired-in reporters were usually very fast to break the stories. This doesn't appear to be the case this time around, at least so far. I'd like to say that we should have clearer information soon, but this is the Patriots, so nevermind.

Julius Thomas, back

Julius Thomas missed Week 12 with a back injury, and the fact that he was unable to practice on Wednesday tells us he might well miss Week 13 too. Even one limited practice later in the week would be a very optimistic sign that Thomas is ready to return to the lineup, but barring that consider him questionable at best.

Jimmy Graham, knee

Nothing to see here, just another missed Wednesday practice for Jimmy Graham. This has been his normal routine this season, so owners don't need to fret about it.


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