Here's an honest question from an injury guy... is it better to hear that it's been a relatively quiet start to the football season as far as injuries, or does that only make it sting more if you're one of the unlucky few fantasy football owners to have been decimated by injuries? I could see that one going either way, so I don't want to get too carried away, but the truth is that devastating injuries have largely missed the big name palyers thus far. Add in the fact that some of those injured players seem to be returning sooner than might've been expected, such as J.J. Watt, Thomas Rawls, Jimmy Graham, and Breshad Perriman, and you'd be forgiven for thinking this has been a light year thus far for the injury beat. It certainly feels that way from where I'm sitting. But I should shut up before I bring a catastrophic wave of bad luck upon us all, so let's get to this week's injuries.
Russell Wilson, ankle sprain
Russell Wilson is dealing with an ankle sprain, most likely a mild high-ankle sprain, but is still expected to start against the Rams on Sunday. Russell put in a full practice on Wednesday, and anything other than a setback with missed practices means that he will attempt to play through the injury. Plenty of quarterbacks have successfully played through mild high-ankle sprains, so I wouldn't be too concerned about his mobility, though I might expect him to dial down the scrambling a tad. Luckily for Wilson, he's facing the Rams, and can likely beat them without having to run for his life.
Robert Griffin III, shoulder fracture
Robert Griffin III suffered a fractured coracoid bone in his non-throwing shoulder on Sunday. You know how I'm always talking about my vast database of NFL injuries? I'll be the first to tell you that it's useless here, as Griffin is the first player I've noted with this particular injury. All reports indicate that Griffin is likely out for the season, and that he won't even be medically reevaluated for another 3-4 weeks. I'd note that in the sports injury world, there's a huge difference between, "reevaluation," and "return," and nobody seems to be suggesting any real optimism that Griffin could play again this season.
DeAngelo Williams, not injury related
It's always a little alarming when someone puts up huge numbers on Sunday and then misses Wednesday practice. Such was the case with DeAngelo Williams today, but the Steelers have designated his absence as not injury-related. Hopefully everything is fine and Williams returns to full practice Thursday.
Chris Ivory, undisclosed medical issue
We still have no details on what exact medical condition required hospitalization for Chris Ivory over the weekend. Ivory is now out of the hospital, but he didn't practice on Wednesday. While we might not have many (or any) pieces to this puzzle, it's probably a safe bet to say that Ivory isn't likely to play this weekend. Hopefully we'll have more information soon.
Jamaal Charles, ACL
Charles has been a bit slow to work his way back from an ACL tear he sustained last October, and the Chiefs seem to be in no hurry to rush him. He has been able to practice to at least a limited extent since late August, but hasn't appeared all that close to actually making the game day roster yet. According to Chiefs reporter B.J. Kissel, Charles worked with the scout team on Wednesday. I don't need to tell you that that's not the most promising development, do I? Without knowing anything about the specifics of Charles' rehab (such as possible setbacks) it's easy to see how this process could be especially slow right now, as his replacement, Spencer Ware, has been playing at an amazing level. Charles' Wednesday practice was again limited, and I would expect that we'd see at least one full practice before Charles started working his way into the game day rotation, whenever that might be.
Spencer Ware, toe sprain
Spencer Ware has made the most of his chance to shine during Jamaal Charles' absence, but it sounds like the workload might be catching up with him, as he's now dealing with what has been reported as a sprained toe. In NFL injury talk, this is almost always the same thing as, "turf toe," which is a nagging ligament injury to the big toe. This is a common injury for running backs, and while it can usually be played through, it can also rob a runner of his effectiveness at bursts and cuts. Ware did not practice on Wednesday, and it's tough to know this early in the week how big of an issue this might be. My best guess (and it is mostly a guess) is that having Ware sit out a practice or two might be enough rest to allow him to start this weekend. I would not be worried if Ware didn't practice on Thursday, but if he doesn't return to at least a limited practice on Friday, I would suspect that it might be next-man-up and that Charcandrick West would see more time. Like I said though, it's still too early in the week for any speculation like that.
Devonta Freeman, quad strain
In case Devonta Freeman wasn't having a bad enough week after losing snaps to Tevin Coleman, it now appears he might be nursing a quadriceps injury. Freeman was still able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, so it's entirely possible this is a minor injury that will not affect his outlook. But this is a situation that should be monitored throughout the week. If Freeman is still having trouble practicing by the end of the week, it might mean that we'll see more of Coleman this weekend.
Arian Foster, hamstring strain
To be honest, I don't know what to make of Arian Foster being listed as a Wednesday practice non-participant due to a hamstring injury. For the most part, the media seems to be treating this as a likely day of rest for an entrenched veteran starter. It might well be exactly that. But Foster has an extensive history of hamstring problems, so if the Dolphins wanted to calm people down on a day of rest, perhaps choosing, "hamstring," as the injured body part wasn't the wisest move. Still, I'll go with the flow and try not to freak out over this unless Foster doesn't return for a full practice on Thursday.
Demaryius Thomas, hip
Demaryius Thomas appeared to suffer a hip injury on Sunday, and later reports indicated that MRI scans of his hip were sent out for a second opinion. While we still have no official word on what the injury could be, our own in-house Dr. Jene Bramel suspected that it might be an injury to either the labrum or cartilage around the hip joint. If indeed it is a hip labrum injury (which, as I stress, is just an educated guess) Thomas might be able to play through the discomfort and delay surgery until after the season, such as Sammy Watkins did last year. For now, however, we're left waiting for more information in order to get a clearer picture. All we know so far is that Thomas had a limited and at times frustrating practice on Wednesday, with Broncos reporter Cameron Wolfe noting that Thomas kept grabbing his hip and grimacing. Despite this, head coach Gary Kubiak stated that he expects Thomas to start on Sunday. My own educated guess here is that while the current plan is for Thomas to play through the injury, we'll need to see some improvement in practice before we can believe that plan is realistic. If Thomas is still looking bad at practice on Friday, there's likely more to this injury than we're being told.
Sammy Watkins, foot soreness
Maybe I'm missing a down-to-the-wire call from Week 1, but I think Sammy Watkins might be our first official, "game time decision," for the 2016 season. Watkins has been experiencing pain in his surgically-repaired foot, but reporters can't seem to agree upon much beyond that. Some have said that Watkins might be shut down for some time, while others have said that he will play through the pain. Taking all these reports together, the most likely scenario to me is that Watkins' symptom is simply a pain issue and that the team hopes he can play through it. It sounds as though surgery would not help, but that rest might. If this is indeed only a pain-management issue, we might be in for plenty more game-time decisions, so buckle up. The Bills play in the Thursday night game, so owners will not be able to wait for the usual Sunday morning news cycle to clue them in as to his status. I would caution that even if Watkins does play through the pain, there is a chance he is not effective, such as when Dez Bryant tried to return from his foot injury last year.
DeVante Parker, hamstring strain
Devante Parker has been sidelined with hamstring strains in each of his legs since late August. He was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, but that alone doesn't mean much to me. I wouldn't be confident that he was going to see the field this weekend unless he manages to improve to at least one full practice on either Thursday or Friday. He is still a rough prospect, and I don't see him being able to return without some solid practice under his belt.
Julio Jones, ankle sprain
Julio Jones doesn't seem to be able to shake a lingering ankle sprain. Luckily, all signs indicate that this is a garden variety low ankle sprain, and not anything more troubling. He was limited in practice on Wednesday, but Jones is not the sort of player who needs a full practice in order to play. As long as Jones doesn't have a practice downgrade, he will start against Oakland on Sunday.
Mohamed Sanu, ankle sprain
Just as with teammate Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu appears to be dealing with a minor ankle sprain. Sanu was also able to put in a limited practice, which is a good sign that the injury was mild. Barring any setback, Sanu should start opposite Jones on Sunday.
Breshad Perriman, calf
Ravens receiver Breshad Perriman missed Wednesday's practice with what Adam Schefter reported as, "a minor calf issue." I'm sorry to be the guy that keeps bringing up old business, but you'll have to forgive me on this one. Last season, Perriman had what the Ravens downplayed as a minor tendon strain, and he ended up missing the entire season. What started as a small injury ended up being a PCL sprain which required surgery. If that history wasn't enough reason for caution, keep in mind that Perriman is playing with a partial ACL tear that he suffered in June. I have no reason to think that these previous injuries are related to this latest calf injury, but with a recent injury history such as Perriman's, I want to see him put in at least one full practice before I believe that this is a truly minor condition. Hopefully Perriman will get that full practice in on either Thursday or Friday. If he does not, I would question whether he will play on Sunday.
T.Y. Hilton, unknown
There was some speculation that T.Y. Hilton suffered a left arm or shoulder injury on Sunday, but he is not listed on the Colts injury report. That means that either the Colts are playing fast and loose with the rules, or Hilton's injury was nothing that we should be alarmed about. I'll choose the latter option.
Rob Gronkowski, hamstring strain
Rob Gronkowski was limited in Wednesday practice, and, this being the Patriots, that's really as much as we know about his injury situation. I have a hunch that he will play on Sunday as long as he continues to put in at least limited practices, but really it's only that... a hunch. Hopefully by Friday we'll have more info so that nobody has to trust my gut.
Zach Ertz, rib displacement
Zach Ertz suffered a nasty injury when he displaced his first rib in Week 1. This is a scary injury, and as Dr. Jene pointed out, is fairly akin to a sternoclavicular dislocation in terms of severity. The only two players in my injury database to suffer such injuries are Danny Amendola and Ben Roethlisberger. Amendola missed four weeks (three games plus a bye) in 2012, while Roethlisberger (who I'm legally obligated to point out never misses time for any injury) missed three weeks, also in 2012. Using these two historical comparisons as a rough guide, the earliest likely return date for Ertz might be Week 5, October 9th, right after the Eagles Week 4 bye.
Julius Thomas, ankle sprain
Julius Thomas injured his ankle on Sunday, but was able to finish the game. The injury appears to be of little concern, as Thomas was able to put in a full practice on Wednesday.
Dwayne Allen, unknown
As with teammate T.Y. Hilton, there was some speculation that Dwaye Allen was injured on Sunday. Also, just as with Hilton, Allen wasn't listed on the team's injury report, so it appears he is just fine and ready for a tough match against the Broncos.
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