Injury Report Insight: Week 5

A critical look at this week's injury report.

There seems to be a new trend in NFL injuries this year, whereby the biggest injury news seems to arrive on Wednesday rather than Sunday or Monday. Perhaps there have been less obviously-devastating injuries thus far. Maybe teams are dong a better job keeping injury information under wraps until they want to discuss it publicly. Or, more likely, we've just seen a few fluky weeks that don't really indicate an overall pattern at all. Whatever the reason might be, I've found myself surprised by the initial Wednesday practice participation report more times this year than I remember last year. Just this week, new injuries popped up for Frank Gore, Matt Forte, Eddie Royal, Marvin Jones, Brandon Marshall, Charles Sims, LaGarrett Blount, Latavius Murray, and plenty of others. As I'll point out time and time again, many of these injuries are likely just conservative treatments and days of rest, but I can tell you that it's made for some busy Wednesdays on the injury beat.

Quarterback

Carson Palmer, concussion

Carson Palmer suffered a concussion on Sunday, and was immediately behind the eight-ball, as he faced a short week with a travel day as well, as the Cardinals face San Francisco Thursday night. While Palmer will likely be fine for next week, he has already been ruled out for Week 5.

Cam Newton, concussion

On the opposite end of the spectrum from Carson Palmer is Cam Newton, who has the advantage of having one extra day to recover from his concussion, as he doesn't play until Monday night. Due to the fact that they play later in the week, the Panthers will not release their first official practice report until Thursday. It's too early in the week to speculate on Newton's status right now, but we should have a decent idea by Saturday at the latest. Going forward, I'm a little concerned about Newton's susceptibility to future concussions, as each concussion can make future concussions both more likely and more severe. Obviously, it would help if game officials started to realize that Cam Newton's head is a head, just like that of any other quarterback, and that it deserves at least the slightest protection from helmet-to-helmet hits.

Trevor Siemian, non-throwing shoulder AC sprain

This early in the week, it's a tough read as to whether Trevor Siemian will be able to play through his left, non-throwing shoulder injury this weekend. Siemian has said that he's feeling better, but I tend to give actions more weight than words, and it's notable that Siemian did not practice on Wednesday. While Siemian has looked better than anyone could expect from a 7th-round rookie, we shouldn't forget that he is indeed a rookie, and he likely needs practice time if he's going to play. Unless Siemian gets in a full practice this week, I would expect him to sit out again, but hopefully later reports will give us more clarity than my Wednesday hunch.

Jay Cutler, thumb sprain

It sounds as though Jay Cutler will miss Week 5, as he already started the week off by being held out of Wednesday's practice. That's never a good look on a quarterback. All signs so far point to Brian Hoyer getting the start this weekend against the Colts.

Running Back

Matt Forte, knee and rib injuries

I have no clue what to tell you about Matt Forte. He's been playing through an unspecified knee injury, and now he has an unspecified rib injury to boot. There were reports that he was seen riding the cart to the locker room on Sunday, but this was never really clarified. Coach Todd Bowles had a chance to fill us in on what Forte's injury might've been, but he used the opportunity to simply tell us that he had no knowledge of Forte having an X-ray. Thanks coach, very enlightening there. On the plus side though, Forte was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, so there's no indication yet that he's facing a serious injury. Owners will still want to check back on him later this week to make sure he hasn't had a downgrade.

Dwayne Washington, ankle and foot sprain

Ameer Abdullah's fill-in, Dwayne Washington, looks like he'll miss Week 5, as he was held out of practice on Wednesday. While they might not sound scary, foot sprains are serious injuries. Running backs such as Adrian Peterson, Lance Dunbar, Toby Gerhart, Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, and Demarco Murray have all missed games with this injury. Demarco Murray takes the cake for the longest rehab among that group, as he missed six games back in 2012 with a foot sprain. Most of the other players I listed missed between one and three weeks, so hopefully Washington isn't out much longer.

Ryan Mathews, ankle injury

It would appear that Ryan Mathews is back to full health, or at least as close to full health as Ryan Mathews can ever be. Sorry, couldn't resist that one, but it was a cheap shot. Mathews had the bye week to rest and rehab his troublesome ankle, and it appears that he's back on track, as he was able to participate in a full practice on Wednesday.

Charles Sims, knee injury

Similar to Matt Forte, I'm struggling trying to figure out exactly what the injury situation is with Tampa Bay's Charles Sims. Rick Stroud reported that Sims took a hit to his right knee in Sunday's game, but was able to return and finish out the game. He was not at practice on Tuesday but because the Buccaneers don't play until Monday, they don't release an official injury report until Thursday. My guess, based only on very limited information so far, is that Sims is fine and will play this week. The Buccaneers will still be without Doug Martin, and we've heard no talk of roster shuffling or practice squad promotions such as we might expect if the Buccaneers were down two running backs.

Doug Martin, hamstring strain

Doug Martin's hamstring strain is most likely going to keep him out through the team's Week 6 bye. Martin was not spotted at practice on Tuesday, so it's probably safe to assume that Sims will again get the start this week. Do me a favor and double check that when Thursday's practice reports come out though. We likely won't have any clarity on Martin's rehab during the bye week, but hopefully we'll see him return to practice the following week, indicating that he has a shot to play in Week 7.

Jonathan Stewart, hamstring strain

As with Doug Martin, Jonathan Stewart's hamstring strain might keep him out through Carolina's bye week, though that's Week 7 for Stewart. He has now missed two weeks with a hamstring strain that coach Ron Rivera said could take as long as four weeks to rehab. So far, it sounds like Week 5 is doubtful, though as with the Buccaneers, the Panthers don't release an official practice report until Thursday. If Stewart sits this weekend, be sure to watch next week's reports to see if he has any chance of returning before the bye.

Arian Foster, groin strain

There has been no promising news that would lead me to believe Arian Foster has a chance at suiting up this weekend. Foster suffered a groin strain in Week 2, and was unable to practice up until Wednesday, when he returned to a limited practice. Due to Foster's extensive history with groin and lower-leg soft tissue injuries, I won't believe that Foster is close to a return until I see him put in a full practice. There's always a chance he gets that full practice later in the week, so this situation could change.

Rashad Jennings, thumb injury

Rashad Jennings has now missed the last two games with an unspecified injury to his left thumb. Judging from the cast, later replaced by a splint, it's likely that Jennings suffered a thumb fracture. In previous weeks, it sounded like his benching was not due to concerns over his health, but to his inability to catch the ball with his thumb either in a cast or a wrap. This week, Jennings appears to be practicing on a limited basis, same as he did last week before ultimately being held out. As of now, there's no way to know which way this could go, but reports later in the week should give us a better picture.

Latavius Murray, toe injury

Latavius Murray did not practice on Wednesday, and CSN Raiders reporter Scott Bair tweeted that Murray has been seen in a walking boot recently. I'm not comfortable guessing as to Murray's injury or his status this weekend, but I will say that the combo of a boot and a Wednesday DNP is a fairly pessimistic start to the week. Indeed, before I could finish this piece, Adam Schefter tweeted that Murray is doubtful for this weekend.

Frank Gore, chest injury

There's probably nothing here, as there were no reports of Frank Gore being injured last week, but he missed Wednesday's practice with what is being listed as a chest injury. My guess is that this is simply a veteran's day of rest, as Gore receives these regularly. But, as with all new injuries that catch us by surprise, this is worth checking back on later in the week.

LaGarrette Blount, hip injury

Similar to Frank Gore, I think LaGarrette Blount was just getting a bit of rest when he had a limited Wednesday practice due to a hip injury. Had Blount not gone on injured reserve with a hip injury towards the end of last season, I wouldn't even written this blurb about his practice. But given that history, owners will want to check back on this one throughout the week and perhaps throughout the season. This is likely nothing though.

Wide receiver

Eric Decker, rotator cuff tear

Eric Decker suffered a partial rotator cuff tear in Week 3 and was inactive for Week 4. We are now firmly stuck in wait-and-see mode as Decker and the Jets evaluate his injury and decide whether he should attempt to play through it or whether he should have season-ending surgery. Based on limited but reliable reports (such as this from ESPN's Rich Cimini) I'm becoming concerned that Decker will soon be shut down and undergo surgery. Historically, this is an injury that could go either way. defensive end Michael Bennett effectively played through a partial rotator cuff tear in 2012. Many other players though, even those with only partial tears, had immediate surgery and were shut down. Were we late into the season and the Jets were in the playoff picture, I'd be more open to the idea that Decker would attempt to play through this injury. But this is a very painful injury that will likely hinder his abilities as a receiver, and it can only truly be fixed with surgery. Decker did not practice on Wednesday, so there are serious doubts about his playing status this week and perhaps beyond.

Dez Bryant, bone bruise

Somehow, Dez Bryant's knee injury went from being a tibia plateau fracture to a bone bruise. Typically, when the media reports injuries as specific as, "tibia plateau fracture," you can trust the diagnosis. Not this time. This discrepancy explains why the Cowboys were treating this as a day-to-day injury while I was on Twitter telling everyone that the right rehab ballpark was about seven weeks.

Now, knowing that this is a bone bruise in Bryant's knee, I would agree that this is likely a, "day-to-day," injury or at least on the lesser side of a, "week-to-week," injury. As long as no new details emerge and the diagnosis remains as a bone bruise only, Bryant could return soon. Whether or not he returns this week is up in the air, though he did sit out Wednesday's practice. I would add that I hope Bryant waits until he's fully healed before returning, as nobody wants to see another version of 2015 hobbled Bryant playing at far less than 100%.

Josh Doctson, Achilles tendinitis

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that we haven't yet heard any of the Washington staff tell us that Josh Doctson is being shut down for at least a few weeks. Doctson has battled Achilles tendinitis since May, with little success. At this point, you'd think the team would ease off a little and put him on the shelf. Aside from being painful, attempting to push through Achilles tendinitis can actually lead to a full Achilles rupture, which would be the last thing Doctson needs at this point. Doctson was held out of Wednesday practice, so he's likely out for this weekend unless we hear otherwise.

Kevin White, ankle injury

In a flurry of Kevin White updates Wednesday morning, Ian Rapoport reported that White suffered a fractured fibula and a high ankle sprain and will be placed on injured reserve. First of all, god bless Ian Rapoport, as reports like this are the only way we ever get reliable injury information out from behind the Gauze Curtain of secrecy that is the Chicago Bears. Secondly, based on historical comparisons, players who suffer fibula fractures like these rarely come back within the same season. There are other reports that indicate that White's fracture might be a small spiral fracture, meaning that it probably wouldn't require surgery. If those reports are true, then I suppose there's a chance White returns this year. But as it stands now, I think it's safe to assume White will miss the remainder of the season.

Brandon Marshall, foot injury

The good news is that Brandon Marshall is no longer listed on the injury report with a knee injury. The bad news is that he was limited on Wednesday due to an unspecified foot injury. As with a lot of the veteran players in today's column, this is likely nothing. But as always, check back and make sure later in the week.

Stefon Diggs, groin injury

Stefon Diggs has been playing through a groin injury, and hopefully this week he can continue to do so. He was held out of practice on Wednesday, but his status shouldn't be in doubt as long as he returns to practice later in the week.

Marvin Jones, foot injury

Eddie Royal, calf injury

Marvin Jones and Eddie Royal get lumped together here because they were both surprising additions, as both were held out of practice on Wednesday. As with so many others, I have no reason to suspect that these are serious injuries, but I would've been a lot more comfortable saying that had either of them put in a limited practice rather than missing it entirely. These two need to be checked back on later in the week.

Tight End

Rob Gronkowski, hamstring strain

The NFL's Mike Garofolo reported on Wednesday that Rob Gronkowski's hamstring either still isn't 100% or that the Patriots don't want to open up Gronkowski's role and test whether he's fully healed. Watching that clip, you could come away with either conclusion. This is an interesting story, and I don't mean to downplay it, but it's not too important going forward. Gronkowski has returned to the lineup and played one full game without suffering a setback, so it's fairly safe to say that he's at least getting close to 100%. Perhaps Gronkowski is still a week or two away from being the player we remember, but we have no way of predicting that now based upon the information we've been given.

Tyler Eifert, ankle surgery

Tyler Eifert had surgery to repair damaged ligaments in his ankle back in May, and it was expected that Week 5 would mark his first game back. Instead, Eifert has suffered a back injury, and is likely to sit out this week. The good news so far is that it sounds as though this back injury is minor and that his ankle has not suffered any sort of setback. Hopefully Eifert can return to practice next week.

Eric Ebron, ankle and knee injuries

Eric Ebron has been playing through an ankle injury, but he's now added an unspecified knee injury as well. He did not practice on Wednesday, leaving his Week 5 status uncertain. I have read both optimistic and pessimistic predictions, so I'm staying out of this one. Check to see if he can return to at least limited practice later in the week.

Antonio Gates, hamstring strain

Hunter Henry's window might be closing, as it appears that Antonio Gates might return this week. After missing the last two games, Gates was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday. Gates is a true veteran that doesn't need to practice in order to play, but I would still like to see him put in at least one full practice before saying with any confidence that he will play this weekend.

Virgil Green, calf strain

After missing the last two weeks with a calf strain, Virgil Green was able to return to limited practice on Wednesday. As with Antonio Gates, check later practice reports to see if Green is truly back into playing shape.

Vance McDonald, hip injury

Vance McDonald missed last week with a hip injury, but was able to put in limited practices all this week. He is officially questionable for Thursday's game, but I would expect him to play in some capacity.

Zach Miller, rib injury

Zach Miller wasn't known to have suffered any sort of injury in Sunday's game, but he was held out of Wednesday practice with a rib injury. Hopefully Miller is just a little bruised and receiving a day of rest. Since John Fox will never provide any injury clarity, we'll need to check back on practice reports later in the week to see if this is a true injury that needs to be monitored.

Jordan Cameron, concussion

Jordan Cameron has an extensive concussion history, and it appears that he and the Dolphins medical staff are being diligent and taking their time in assessing when he might return from his latest concussion. While that might be maddening to fans and fantasy owners, it's absolutely the right thing to do. Until we hear otherwise, we can safely rule Cameron out.

Larry Donnell, concussion

Larry Donnell suffered a concussion from a huge hit he took while blocking in Monday's game. He was held out of Wednesday practice, and while I wouldn't expect him to return in time on a short week, I have no reason to think that Donnell won't be ready for Week 6.

Kyle Rudolph, clavicle and/or rib injury

Kyle Rudolph was an unpleasant surprise addition to the growing list of injured tight ends this week, as he didn't appear to suffer any injuries in another solid performance. Still, he was held out of Wednesday's practice with what the Vikings simply listed as, "clavicle/rib." Hopefully this will turn out to be nothing, but there's no way of knowing this early in the week. Follow up on this one for sure.


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