Injury Report Insight

A critical look at this week's injury report.

Were you a victim of the absolute carnage that was the NFL this week? It probably won't make you feel better to know that at least you weren't alone if you were one of those unlucky owners to lose a solid starter like Adrian Peterson, Jonathan Stewart, Doug Martin, or Danny Woodhead. It also probably won't help if I stress that your season might well depend on how you respond and where you go from here. However, I might be able to help at least a little right now, as I'll walk you through what I know and hopefully help you make an informed decision moving forward.

Quarterback

 

Jay Cutler, Thumb Sprain

Jay Cutler exited Week 2 with a thumb injury. Early reports indicated that Cutler might have ligament damage in his thumb, while later reports seem to have been scaled back to a, "thumb sprain." Technically, there's no medical difference between the two diagnoses, as a sprain is by definition ligament damage. Still, the term, "thumb sprain," as used in the injury reporting world usually implies a mild-to-moderate injury that does not require surgery. On Wednesday, Ian Rapoport Tweeted that Cutler was likely to miss, "2-3 weeks, depending on how he heals over the next few days." This being the Bears, we will get exactly zero useful information from coach John Fox. But, looking into my injury database, I can tell you that I think the 2-3 week timetable is entirely reasonable based on what few details we know. Obviously, if those details change and Cutler were to require ligament surgery, I'd be inclined to push that timeline back a little. But as it stands now, it's probably safe to assume that Brian Hoyer will get the start for at least Weeks 3 and 4.

Jimmy Garoppolo, AC sprain

There have been some odd stories coming out of Foxborough in regards to Jimmy Garoppolo. Despite the implied severity of an AC sprain to his throwing shoulder and the short week, the Patriots have refused to admit that Garoppolo will miss Week 3. They've listed him as a limited practice participant on Wednesday and Thursday, though there are reports he hasn't been able to lift his arm. The Patriots play Thursday night, and Garoppolo has officially been listed as doubtful. In Patriots-speak, "doubtful," is often reserved for cadavers, so it's safe to assume that Garoppolo will not play this week. Beyond that is anyone's guess, and we'll have to check the practice reports next week for more clarity.

Josh McCown, shoulder

No specific details have been released on Josh McCown's shoulder injury, but most sources seem to agree that it's a fairly severe AC sprain to his left, non-throwing shoulder. Adam Schefter reported that the injury is likely to cause McCown to miss multiple weeks. While it might be odd to think of a sprain to the non-throwing shoulder sidelining a quarterback for multiple weeks, it's not uncommon. Sam Bradford missed two games in both 2009 and 2015 with a similar injury. Alex Smith and Chad Henne have also missed multiple weeks with a similar injury, though one could argue that those benchings were convoluted by roster management in addition to the actual injury. Until we hear more specific details, I think it's safe to trust Schefter's report and consider McCown out for Week 3 and likely Week 4.

Andrew Luck, shoulder

There are still no details on exactly what type of shoulder injury Andrew Luck is playing through, and the Colts are unlikely to help us out by providing anything more than the league-required minimum of information. As such, Luck was limited in practice on Wednesday, same as he was last week. It would appear that Luck has some sort of wear-and-tear injury, and that the team is simply trying to keep him fresh for game day. I would expect that we will see limited practices like this for Luck for weeks to come. Barring any downgrade or missed practice, Luck should be considered a lock to start.

 

Running back

 

Adrian Peterson, meniscus repair

After waiting for news as to Adrian Peterson's meniscus tear, we were given a gloomy outlook on Wednesday when ESPN's Josina Anderson reported that Peterson had chosen to undergo surgery to repair his meniscus. Had he opted for a less complicated meniscus trim, Peterson might've been able to return within a few weeks. But a surgical repair such as he opted for will likely sideline him the rest of the season. If there is a silver lining here, it's that this surgical option might well allow Peterson to return to full form next season, and might allow him to continue his career for longer than he would have had he opted for the lesser meniscus trim.

Doug Martin, hamstring strain

Doug Martin said that he "tweaked," his hamstring in Week 2, and didn't initially seem worried about the injury. Despite this, he had an MRI on the injured muscle, and on Wednesday, Ian Rapoport Tweeted that Martin was likely to miss, "about three weeks." I've read some speculation that the injury must've been much worse than Martin initially believed, but I don't necessarily think that's the case. It is entirely possible that this is a minor hamstring injury and Martin could miss three weeks. While players often like to believe they could play through minor sprains and strains, that's not always a great plan, and sitting Martin for a few weeks, even for a "minor" injury might well be the right call. Had the timeline been set at something like, "3-6 weeks," then I'd be more inclined to believe that this was a moderate-to-severe strain. As our own Sigmund Bloom pointed out, Tampa Bay has a Week 6 bye, so a Week 7 return could dovetail nicely with Martin's expected rehab.

Ameer Abdullah, foot sprain

On Wednesday, the Lions announced that Ameer Abdullah had been moved to injured reserve due to a foot injury which required surgery. This injury was initially reported as a foot sprain, but Abdullah spent Tuesday with renowned foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, and his prognosis must not have been good. I have no details on the injury aside from the fact that surgery was required, but I suspect that what started as a foot sprain turned out to be a Lisfranc injury. That doesn't mean the initial news of foot sprain was necessarily wrong, just that the injury is probably a very severe version of a foot sprain. Dr. Anderson is a fantastic doctor, but if an injury requires his intervention and surgery, it usually means the injury is severe enough to keep the player out the rest of the year. Foot injuries, especially mid-foot or Lisfranc injuries, can be devastating to running backs and wide receivers, and a conservative approach with Abdullah is the smart play to give him a better chance for a full recovery.

Arian Foster, groin strain

Just when it looked like Arian Foster had made an impressive recovery from last year's Achilles injury and wrestled the starting role away from Jay Ajayi, he suffered a groin injury in Week 2. Foster is no stranger to groin injuries, as he missed three weeks with what was initially reported as a minor groin strain back in 2014. Then in August of 2015, Foster suffered a groin injury that required surgery, and he missed the first three games of the season. Sort of, "po-tay-to, po-tah-to," here, but the 2015 injury can also be categorized as a core muscle injury, also known as a sports hernia. Obviously, this history doesn't make one optimistic that Foster will play this week, nor does the fact that he did not practice on Wednesday. I feel it's already safe to rule Foster out for Week 3, but be sure to check that before the game to confirm. As for his status for Week 4, I would simply be guessing, though I might point to his three games missed in 2014 as a starting point for a ballpark estimate of what we might expect. We should have more answers with future practice reports though, so don't just trust my historical comps.

Jonathan Stewart, hamstring strain

Carolina coach Ron Rivera has already said that Jonathan Stewart will miss 2-4 weeks with his hamstring strain, which is actually a little refreshing, as it means we don't need to play the day-to-day or game-time-decision game for probably the next two games. The 2-4 week timeline would suggest that this is a fairly mild hamstring strain, though obviously not mild enough for Stewart to attempt to play through. It might be worth noting that Carolina has a Week 7 bye, so if Stewart were to come in on the high end of that 2-4 week timetable, his first game back might be Week 8.

Thomas Rawls, shin

To be honest, I don't know what to make of Thomas Rawls' injury or injuries yet, as nobody seems to be able to agree on exactly what ails him. Some call it a leg bruise, sometimes with an accompanying leg strain. But the Seahawks official practice report simply lists his injury as, "shin." Whatever it is, Rawls was held out of practice on Wednesday. Until we have some better information, or at least a limited practice, anything I say here would just be a guess.

Chris Ivory, unspecified medical condition

It sounds like Chris Ivory might be back on track to start this week after his missed time due to a medical condition that required hospitalization. Ivory was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday. If he can continue to practice, even in a limited capacity, without setbacks, I would expect him to contribute on Sunday, though likely as part of a committee.

Rashad Jennings, hand injury

Although the Giants haven't given us any specific details, Rashad Jennings was sporting a cast on his left thumb earlier in the week. He was able to put in a limited practice with a much smaller wrap on his injured thumb on Wednesday, so he will likely play this weekend.

Jamaal Charles, ACL

As with last week, it already sounds like Jamaal Charles isn't quite ready to return to game action. Charles is again practicing in limited fashion with the scout team, which is never what you expect to see from a fully healthy player. Ian Rapoport quoted Andy Reid as saying, "another week is going to help him." Sounds like Spencer Ware will remain in the spotlight for at least one more week.

 

Wide receiver

 

Donte Moncrief, scapula fracture

After waiting on MRI results from Donte Moncrief's injured shoulder, the Colts revealed that Moncrief had fractured his scapula, or shoulder blade. Coach Chuck Pagano has said that Moncrief will miss 4-6 weeks, and he will not need surgery. I'm always spouting off about my injury database, but scapula fractures are fairly rare in the NFL, so I don't have many of them. In fact, Moncrief will be the fourth that I know of. Wide receiver Jaron Brown suffered one in the playoffs of the 2014 season, and was given an estimate of 4-6 months, not weeks. Running back Bruce Miller had a similar injury in 2013, but it fell too close to the end of the season to be useful here. But in 2014, cornerback Davon House returned to play after missing only three games with the same injury. While the rehabs of House and Brown might be at different ends of the spectrum, at least it shows us that a 4-6 week return might indeed be possible. 

Brandon Marshall, MCL sprain and foot injury

Although Brandon Marshall was able to return to his Week 2 game and play at a high level even after injuring his knee, there now seems to be doubt about his status this weekend. He was held out of practice on Wednesday, and a new unspecified foot injury was added to go along with the MCL sprain that he suffered. It's possible that Marshall's knee injury swelled up after the game and that he could now miss time, but players sometimes are able to play through very mild MCL sprains. The best way to judge the severity of Marshall's injury and his chances at suiting up is simply to keep an eye on how he practices this week. Marshall is a veteran that doesn't need the repetition of practice to stay sharp, but if he can't put in at least a limited practice in which he runs at full speed, then it's safe to say he won't play. Also, I need to note that coach Todd Bowles later tried to backtrack and say that Marshall did not suffer an MCL sprain, but I'm mostly ignoring that, as I don't find it credible and consistent with the rest of the facts.

Eric Decker, shoulder

As if the possible loss of Brandon Marshall wasn't scary enough for Jets fans, Eric Decker has a shoulder injury that kept him out of practice on Wednesday. Decker himself seems to feel that the injury won't keep him out this week, and without knowing any specifics, I tend to trust him, as shoulder injuries are far less limiting than the knee sprain that Marshall is working through. Obviously, as with Marshall, check back on the practice reports on Thursday and Friday.

Markus Wheaton, shoulder

After missing the last two games with soreness in his right shoulder, Markus Wheaton appears to be on track to start Week 3. Of course, Wheaton has always insisted that he's ready to play, so we should take his words with a grain of salt. Still, he was able to practice in full Wednesday, so that's as good of a sign as any that he'll be active on Sunday.

Corey Coleman, hand fracture

The late-breaking injury news on Wednesday evening was that rookie Corey Coleman suffered a fractured hand during practice. No further details are known, so this is a tough one to provide much context on. Surprisingly, some players are able to play through hand fractures without missing time, such as DeMarco Murray did in 2014 when he played just days after having surgery. Obviously, that's not the norm, but it is possible. Coleman's prognosis will likely depend on the location of the fracture and the bone's stability. Until we hear otherwise though, it's probably safe to assume Coleman will sit out this week at least.

Tyler Lockett, knee

Doug Baldwin, knee

Seattle's wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin both seem to be a little worse for the wear, as they were both limited by knee injuries in Wednesday's practice. I have no reason to suspect that either injury is serious, but I don't have any real information to go on yet, so be sure to follow up later in the week as to both of these players.

Allen Robinson, illness

Allen Robinson was unable to practice on Wednesday due to an undisclosed illness. In the NFL world, illnesses are almost always minor, and players typically play through them. But with a player as important as Robinson, you owe it to yourself to follow up later in the week and confirm that he's fine.

DeSean Jackson, knee and ankle injuries

As with a few of the other injuries listed above, this one was a practice report surprise. If DeSean Jackson was injured in Week 2, it certainly wasn't widely reported. Jackson was unable to participate in Wednesday's practice, so his status for this weekend is unclear.

Alshon Jeffery, knee

Maybe this is just my cynical side, but I'm starting to suspect that the Bears enjoy listing surprise injuries for Alshon Jeffery. I doubt that this latest injury is anything serious, as Jeffery was able to put in a limited practice. Still, owners need to check back on this one before the weekend, as you can't take anything for granted with either the Bears or Jeffery's health.

Julio Jones, Calf strain

After battling through a nagging ankle sprain, Julio Jones strained his calf in Week 2. So far, the injury appears to be of little concern to Jones or the Falcons, but this is a situation that bears monitoring. Because the Falcons don't play until Monday night, their first official practice participation report won't be released until Thursday afternoon. Be sure to check that report in order to get more details on Jones, as well as teammates such as Mohamed Sanu and any opposing Saints players.

 

Tight End

 

Zach Ertz, rib displacement

I've maintained all along that Ertz isn't likely to return from his rib injury before the team's Week 4 bye, and I might be on to something there. Although coach Pederson has said Ertz will be a game-time-decision, Ertz still wasn't practicing on Wednesday. That doesn't sound to me like someone who is close to returning. Thursday and Friday reports should help give us a clearer picture though.

Rob Gronkowski, hamstring strain

As with most New England injuries, we really have no information to go by in trying to figure out if this is the week Rob Gronkowski returns from his hamstring strain. As with last week, Gronkowski put in another week of limited practices and is listed as questionable on the injury report. While we were able to evaluate video of Gronkowski's practices last week and see how little activity he was participating in, we have no such clarity this week. This week's status seems like a true coin flip to me. If there's a saving grace here, it's that at least the Patriots play in the Thursday game, so Gronkowski owners will have a chance to pivot to a backup plan if he is declared inactive. Some consolation, I know.

Tyler Eifert, ankle sugery

Wednesday marked Tyler Eifert's first practice participation since May ankle ligament surgery. Eifert was able to put in a limited practice, which is our first sign that he's nearing a return. I think it's far fetched to think Eifert has a chance to play this weekend, but I do feel like we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now, and he could be back in the next few weeks.

Antonio Gates, hamstring strain

Eric Ebron, back

Delanie Walker, hamstring strain

Virgil Green, calf

You'll have to forgive me for lumping all these players into one blurb, but it's been a long night. Truthfully, I've grouped them together simply because they are all surprise injuries. Gates, Ebron, Walker, and Green weren't reported as having suffered any injuries in their Week 2 games, and now all four of them were held out of Wednesday practices. With the exception of Ebron, these are veteran players that might just be getting a little much-needed rest. Gates in particular has a history of resting on practice days. All of these situations should be checked back on later in the week. If I had anything specific to go by, I'd try to give a better breakdown, but the truth is, there's just not enough information at this point.


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