Injury Report Insight: Week 7

A critical look at this week's injury report.

Another week, another devastating mid-week of injury news. While we've seen plenty of injuries on the field on Sundays this season, it seems like the news and details of more of them are trickling in on Tuesday or Wednesday. This week, we saw this in the revelations or developments with Eric Decker, LeSean McCoy, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, and the drama that is the decimated Green Bay backfield. It sort of makes me nostalgic for the days when Sunday was the big injury day.

Quarterback

Ben Roethlisberger, meniscus trim

If you had, "Ben Roethlisberger tries to play through a serious injury," on your 2016 NFL injury bingo card, you're in good shape. But you probably knew that at the beginning of the season when you saw that square. Roethlisberger injured his knee Sunday, but was able to return and finish the game. It was later revealed that he had suffered a meniscus tear, and on Monday he had surgery to correct the issue. Specifically, Roethlisberger chose to trim the meniscus rather than repair it, which would usually mean that he'd have a chance to return after missing just a week or two. Unfortunately in Roethlisberger's case, there are either additional complications or additional damage in his knee (depending on how you interpret the scant details), likely dating back to his 2015 MCL sprain and bone bruise. This early in the rehab process, there might be a flurry of conflicting timelines, but the one being reported so far by the reliable and connected Chris Mortensen is that Roethlisberger will miss 4-6 weeks. Later on Wednesday, Steelers owner Art Rooney was quoted as saying that the best-case scenario might be 2-3 weeks.

Until more concrete details come out, I'd be uncomfortable speculating on what exactly the issue and diagnosis might be, and what an appropriate timeline would look like. For what it's worth, Footballguys own Dr. Jene Bramel's read on the situation so far is that the likely target has probably always been about 3-4 weeks, and it will be interesting to read his expanded thoughts on this as the week progresses.

On the bright side, Roethlisberger has a refreshing history of talking candidly about the specifics of his injuries and rehab on weekly radio spots, so we'll likely have reliable information shortly. In fact, in Mortensen's piece, Roethlisberger referred to this as a pain-management issue. Roethlisberger has always proven himself to be a player that can come back and play effectively through pain, so it's entirely possible he hits the low end of the estimate range, or even beats it entirely.

Joe Flacco, shoulder

One of the Wednesday injury surprises was the news that Joe Flacco was held out of practice with a shoulder injury. ESPN's Jamison Hensley quoted John Harbaugh as saying, "He has a legitimate shot at playing Sunday. I don't know what the percentage is." Those are not comforting words, coach. Flacco himself was decidedly more optimistic (in his own non-charismatic way), saying, "It’s nothing to worry about. I have a little shoulder soreness, so I just thought it was best to take the day off and come back and see how it feels tomorrow." Flacco underwent an MRI, but neither he nor the Ravens have revealed what the scan showed. It's notable that the Ravens have a Week 8 bye, so I suspect that if there's any question about Flacco's health, they will play this conservatively and rest him through the bye. We should have a better idea of their plan after seeing Thursday and Friday practice reports.

Jay Cutler, thumb sprain

So far, this was another week without any news of Jay Cutler practicing. He sprained his thumb in Week 2, and while I understand why a demotion might've been in order, I'm also surprised that we haven't seen him return to practice in any capacity. Cutler's thumb injury occurred on September 19th, so we're now past the one-month mark. If this is truly a simple thumb sprain that did not require surgery, I would've expected him to be throwing and practicing by now, even if he was ultimately benched in favor of Brian Hoyer. The Bears have an impenetrable firewall when it comes to injury information, but I'm beginning to suspect that something is amiss here. Either way, Chicago's Week 9 bye now looms large, and it's hard to see Hoyer facing any possible competition until after then, if at all.

Tony Romo, back surgery

Tony Romo's potential return from back surgery has turned into a full-blown soap opera in Dallas, and I'm loving every minute of it. Dak Prescott has looked good enough to buy Romo either a little more time, or a whole remaining season's worth of time, depending on which camp you're in. The Cowboys, especially owner Jerry Jones, continue to back off of earlier statements about Romo returning, "sooner, rather than later," and it's fair to say that this is a situation that goes beyond Romo's injury itself. The Cowboys are currently on a bye, but on Wednesday, Ian Rapoport Tweeted that Prescott will start Week 9 against the Eagles. Perhaps Week 9 practices will give us a clearer idea of when Romo will be fully healthy, though that might not clear up the situation much.

Running Back

Eddie Lacy, foot/ankle

Eddie Lacy has an injury that Ian Rapoport has called, "more than a sprained ankle." Rapoport also said that Lacy is expected to miss, "several weeks." In case all of that wasn't ominous enough, Adam Schefter reported that Lacy is getting a second opinion from foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson. Obviously, you don't get a second opinion unless you didn't like the first opinion, and you don't go to a top specialist with a mild injury. I'm dying to know what's going on with Lacy, but until we hear specifics, it's safe enough to just assume that he's inactive. Unsurprisingly, Lacy has been ruled out for Week 7.

James Starks, meniscus trim

With Eddie Lacy likely out multiple weeks, it's a shame that James Starks won't be available to soak up some of the spotlight. Starks had knee surgery to trim a meniscus last Sunday, and Mike Garafolo reported that he should return in, "about four weeks." Personally, I think that estimate might be a little high, but it's well within the right ballpark for a meniscus trim such as this. We'll have to wait and see if Starks is able to come back early enough to capitalize on Lacy's absence.

Carlos Hyde, shoulder

Carlos Hyde was seen with his right arm in a sling as recently as Tuesday, and while the 49ers haven't disclosed the exact injury, he has already been ruled out for Week 7. From the sound of it, it seems as though Hyde is expecting to return after the 49ers Week 8 bye. Until we hear an exact diagnosis, it's tough to guess whether that's an accurate timetable or not. The most likely injury here would be a mild AC sprain, and if that were the case, we could reasonably expect him to return for Week 9. Until I hear confirmation on that though, I'm not throwing any timeline guesses out there.

LeSean McCoy, hamstring strain

LeSean McCoy suffered a hamstring strain and was unable to finish Wednesday's practice. Mid-week injuries are never an awesome development, as they leave the player with only a few days to try to get right before Sunday. Of particular concern to me here is that, as any McCoy owner from last year can attest, he has a history when it comes to hamstring strains. Last year, McCoy missed three preseason games with a hamstring strain in his left leg, and then missed another two regular season games later when he suffered a setback in the same, left leg. We don't yet know the severity of this week's practice injury, but it's safe to say that this is a volatile situation that we need to keep tabs on. If McCoy can return to at least a limited practice Thursday or Friday, I'd be optimistic about his outlook going forward, though I'd probably still expect him to sit out this week.

Latavius Murray, turf toe

After missing the past two weeks with a turf toe injury, Latavius Murray is optimistic that he'll be able to return against the Jaguars this week. Murray was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, so there might be some truth behind his optimism. Look for at least one full practice this week to determine if Murray has any shot at returning to the Oakland backfield.

Theo Riddick, ankle

Theo Riddick missed Week 6 with an ankle injury, and so far it looks like he's on track to miss another week, as he was unable to practice on Wednesday. If he has any chance to suit up this weekend, he'll need to get in at least a limited practice sometime this week.

Dwayne Washington, foot and ankle sprain

Dwayne Washington has missed the last two games with what Detroit is calling a foot and ankle sprain. Whatever the details of the injury are, what's important here is that he was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, so it sounds like he has a reasonable shot at returning for Week 7.

Doug Martin, hamstring strain

Everyone, myself included, was ready to pencil Doug Martin in as the starting running back this weekend for Tampa Bay. Martin missed three games and had the team's Week 6 bye as well to rehab from a hamstring strain. But on Wednesday, it was revealed that Martin had suffered a setback during the team's bye week, and will miss Week 7. While we don't have any way to know for sure how long this setback could cost Martin, it's reasonable to think that it might be more than just Week 7.

Jamaal Charles, ACL

The questions surrounding Jamaal Charles' health are now more about his comfortability and effectiveness taking on a larger workload, and less about the ACL rehab itself. The Chiefs have been easing Charles along all season, and it's notable that coach Andy Reid and Jamaal Charles sometimes seem to be on different pages as to his health. In this piece from Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star, Reid seems to feel that Charles is not ready for a full workload, while Charles feels that he's at full health and ready for anything. For the record, I think Reid and the Kansas City medical staff are taking a commendable and responsible approach here by gradually ramping-up Charles' role and trying to minimize compensatory or conditioning-related injuries. But as a fantasy football owner, this is obviously maddening. Barring a setback, practice reports will likely mean little going forward, and we'll simply have to monitor snap-counts and carries to see how this backfield is balancing out.

Arian Foster, hamstring

Just when we thought Arian Foster was recovered enough from his earlier groin injury and later hamstring strain, he ended up active but mostly on the sideline in Week 6. Foster was reportedly still not at full health, though it doesn't sound like he suffered a setback or re-injury or any kind. It's hard to know what to expect from him this week, as Jay Ajayi absolutely dominated in Foster's absence, which might've been enough to buy Ajayi a few weeks as the starter. On Wednesday, Foster had a limited practice, meaning he will likely be active again, but we might not be able to predict his role or workload.

Dion Lewis, knee surgery

While the New England media might've been all abuzz with speculation about Dion Lewis' possible return, it's notable that he did not practice in any capacity on Wednesday. Bill Belichick has been typically guarded about Lewis' health, but he did say earlier this week that Lewis was unlikely to return to practices leading up to Week 7. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where we simply won't know anything until the Patriots want us to know something.

Wide Receiver

Stefon Diggs, groin

Stefon Diggs has been troubled by a nagging groin injury since Week 3, and was held out of Week 5 before the Vikings bye week. Now, with that bye week behind him, Diggs was able to put in a limited practice, which is more than he had done since October 1st. This is a big step in the right direction, and if Diggs continues with even limited practices all this week, I would expect him to start on Sunday against the Eagles.

Steve Smith, high ankle sprain

The always-durable Steve Smith was unable to start in Week 6 due to an ankle injury, likely a high-ankle sprain. Smith missed Wednesday's practice, which isn't a great start to the week. Smith has proven to have a high pain tolerance and is a veteran that doesn't necessarily need to practice, so he would stand a chance to play if he were to have even one limited practice by Friday. Still, the Ravens have a Week 8 bye, and it's tough to picture them rushing Smith back for a game against the lowly Jets.

Odell Beckham Jr, hip pointer

Odell Beckham briefly left Sunday's game with a hip injury, giving fantasy owners a mild heart attack. It's likely that he suffered a hip pointer, which is basically a hip bruise that can be especially painful due to the location of a nerve that runs along the crest of the hip bone. Beckham was able to return to the game, where he absolutely torched the Ravens in the second half. Beckham was held out of practice on Wednesday, but this injury shouldn't be a large concern going forward.

Terrelle Pryor, hamstring strain

The Browns dynamic playmaker Terrelle Pryor missed Wednesday's practice with a hamstring injury that he sustained in Sunday's game. Pryor said that this latest injury was nothing like the hamstring injury that lingered through his 2015 preseason, and he sounds determined to work through and play. Still, unless Pryor can get in at least a limited practice this week, he has no shot to play on Sunday.

Jordan Matthews, knee tendinitis

The Eagles revealed this week that Jordan Matthews is dealing with tendinitis in his knee. As far as NFL injuries go, that's not a bad injury to have. Make no mistake, it's painful, and if ignored it could lead to serious complications such as tendon ruptures. But, with the right treatment, this is an injury that can likely be managed without cutting into Matthews' playing time. I'd expect to see a lot of missed or limited practices going forward, but unless we hear otherwise, I would still expect him to play.

Travis Benjamin, knee

Often, this early in the week, we're left with very little clarity on a new injury. Such is the case right now with Travis Benjamin. As of this writing, I know only that Benjamin missed Wednesday practice with a knee injury. Obviously, that's not helpful at all, but that's all there is at this point. Thankfully, these situations almost always clear up as the week progresses, and I'd expect the pertinent details to filter in on Thursday or Friday at the latest.

John Brown, hamstring

Similar to Travis Benjamin, I have no details on the hamstring injury to John Brown, except that he popped up as a non-participant in Wednesday's practice. Check back later in the week for better information.

DeSean Jackson, shoulder

While I'm listing wide receiver injuries that I don't have any clarity on, I might as well throw DeSean Jackson onto the pile. Jackson was held out of Wednesday's practice with a shoulder injury. Jackson has been plenty dinged up already this season, but his missed practices haven't resulted in any missed games. At least, not yet. Check back later in the week to confirm that this is just another minor injury.

Will Fuller, hamstring strain

Will Fuller was active for last week's game, but did not see any snaps due to a hamstring strain. This week, Fuller has the benefit of an extra day of rehab, as the Texans don't play until Monday night. Since Fuller suited up for last week's game, I suspect that the strain was mild and that he will play this week. But since the team doesn't issue their first official practice report until Thursday, owners need to check back later in the week to be sure. While I'm optimistic in this case, I should point our that if Fuller's hamstring strain lingers through this week and keeps him out of Monday's game, the Texans face a short week before their Week 9 bye.

Josh Doctson, Achilles tendinitis

If there is any good news right now when it comes to Josh Doctson's lingering Achilles tendinitis injury, it's that Washington coach Jay Gruden has said, "it's safe to say," that Doctson will be held out through the team's Week 9 bye, as reported by the Washington Post's Liz Clarke. I know that's not the good news that owners or fans want to hear, but it's good in the larger sense, as it means Washington seems to be finally recognizing the severity of this injury and backing off the typical comments that Doctson was nearly ready to return, such as we regularly heard earlier this year. That's not intended to criticize Washington's medical staff, but more to criticize the consistent disconnect between what Gruden says and what is realistic when it comes to Doctson's rehab. Achilles tendinitis is far more than a simple pain management issue, as it leaves Doctson susceptible to a full Achilles rupture. Treating this injury slowly and conservatively is the right call, and it sounds like Gruden is finally coming to terms with that. Looking forward, this is a case where I wouldn't reasonably expect anything out of Doctson this season, leaving myself to be pleasantly surprised if he is able to contribute at any point.

Eddie Royal, toe

Eddie Royal is quickly missing out on his chance to fill the vacuum left by receiver Kevin White. After playing through a lingering calf injury, Royal has now been sidelined by a toe injury, and has been ruled out for the Bears Thursday night game. Perhaps the long week will help get him healthy for Week 9, but this being the Bears, we shouldn't take anything for granted.

Robert Woods, foot

Robert Woods wasn't reported to have suffered any injury in Week 6, but he started this week by missing practice with a foot injury. Furthermore, he was spotted in a walking boot. A source I am unfamiliar with, Josh Reed, Tweeted that Woods said he had been playing through a foot injury for some time, but that it, "gave out," on Sunday. ESPN's reliable Bills beat reporter Mike Rodak retweeted Reed's report, so that lends it enough credence for me to play along. Foot injuries can be devastating to receivers, so this is a situation to steer clear of if possible. But if you've rostered Woods, you were probably looking for a reason to cut and run anyway, so this is it.

Markus Wheaton, shoulder

Markus Wheaton is reported to have re-injured his shoulder, and has said that he expects to sit out until after the Steelers' Week 8 bye. This is a bit of a non-story in the fantasy football world though, as Wheaton wouldn't have had much value with Landry Jones at the helm anyway.

Dez Bryant, knee injury

Dez Bryant seems to be getting closer and closer to a return from a knee injury that is either a bone bruise or a fracture, depending on whom you listen to. Regardless, Bryant has a bye this week in order to continue his rehab. I would guess that he'll play next week, but at this point it is just a guess. Next week's practice reports will give us a better idea of how close he is to returning.

Donte Moncrief, shoulder blade fracture

Donte Moncrief will miss his fifth game this week due to a fractured shoulder blade. Chuck Pagano originally estimated that Moncrief would be out "4-6 weeks," and despite the fact that Pagano has said that Mocncrief is getting closer to a return, he is nowhere to be seen at practice.

Corey Coleman, hand fracture

Corey Coleman has now missed four games due to his hand fracture. His original estimate was, "4-6 weeks," but it looks like Coleman isn't close yet, as he hasn't been cleared to practice in any capacity yet. Given the fact that he is a rookie who will need to be brought up to speed, I'd guess that he won't return for at least another two weeks.

Vincent Jackson, ACL

Vincent Jackson suffered a knee injury back in Week 5, but there was no news of his progress during Tampa Bay's Week 6 bye. This week, the team revealed that Jackson likely has an ACL tear, and has been placed on injured reserve. There are still questions about the exact diagnosis and whether Jackson will need surgery, but the roster move to injured reserve tells us all we need to know about his prospects for the year. It is technically possible that he could return late in the season, but that's doubtful.

Eric Decker, hip and shoulder surgeries

It sounds like it's been quite a week for Eric Decker, as it was revealed that, in addition to his rotator cuff surgery, Decker also needed hip surgery to address an undisclosed issue, most likely a hip labrum injury. Decker had that hip surgery on Tuesday, and his return-to-play timeline is now looking very sketchy. It turns out that Decker must recover from the hip surgery before he can have surgery on his shoulder, as the crutches required due to his hip surgery would interfere with his shoulder surgery. This seems like the injury equivalent of swallowing the spider to catch the fly. Since Decker must now rehab his hip before starting the long shoulder rehab process, it's fair to wonder whether he'll be ready in time for next August's preseason or possibly even the season opener. The two weeks that the Jets spent trying to conservatively rehab Decker's shoulder and delaying surgery might well come back to bite them. This is one of the reasons that teams are often quick to address injuries with surgery, as it establishes a mostly-predictable, controlled timeline. Frankly, the actions in this case would've made a lot more sense had they unfolded in December with the Jets in the playoff hunt. As it stands now, they might've delayed the eventual return of a valuable receiver while toiling away in the AFC East basement.

Tight End

Jordan Reed, concussion

Given Jordan Reed's scary history of concussions, I've always expected that Washington will bring him along slowly and deliberately. With that in mind, Wednesday's news that Reed participated in individual drills at practice doesn't change my assumption that Reed won't play this weekend. His small but notable progress is great news, but it's hard for me to think it will affect his Week 7 status. I think he still has plenty of hurdles left to clear, but it does open up the possibility that perhaps he returns before the team's Week 9 bye.

On a related note, I was blown away to read the Washington Post's Mike Jones report that Reed knew he has suffered a concussion in his Week 5 game, but tried to hide the symptoms from the team. This is exactly what Reed tried to do back in 2013, and it led to a second, more severe concussion that caused him to miss the last six games of the season. Sounds like Reed has really matured.

Dwayne Allen, high ankle sprain

As our own Dr. Jene Bramel predicted, and as Ian Rapoport later basically verified, Dwayne Allen suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 6, and will likely miss multiple weeks. High ankle sprains commonly sideline players somewhere in the ballpark of 2-6 weeks depending on the severity. Looking at the schedule, I'd agree with Bramel that a return after the Colts' week 10 bye is probably the most likely scenario.

Tyler Eifert, back and ankle

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but we might be getting close to Eifert's return this season. Emphasis there should be on the "might," as we went down a similar road a few weeks ago before Eifert suffered a back injury. He was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, which is more than he's done for weeks. Watch Eifert's practice reports and what beat reporters see him doing on the field later this week to get a better idea of whether he has a realistic shot to return this week. Frankly, until proven otherwise, I'm pessimistic that this is Eifert's week to return.

Eric Ebron, knee and ankle injuries

We still have no details of the exact knee and ankle injuries that are keeping Eric Ebron out of the lineup. What we do know is that he did not practice on Wednesday, so unless he can turn things around in the next two days, he will miss Week 7 as well. There were observations that Ebron was running on the sideline on Wednesday, so perhaps a return to at least limited practice is possible this week.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, ankle

I was probably a little tough on Austin Seferian-Jenkins last week, but it looks like he's back on the right track, as he was able to return to a limited practice on Wednesday. If he can continue that trend, he stands a good chance of playing this weekend.

Ladarius Green, ankle and/or concussions

While Ladarius Green said he was planning on returning for Week 7, he did not practice on Wednesday. It looks like Green is out until Week 9 at the earliest, though we still have no useful details here.

Antonio Gates, hamstring

While Antonio Gates has returned to play after his Week 2 hamstring strain, I found it notable that he was quoted as saying he's still not 100%, and hinted that he's mostly on the field as a decoy. This would certainly explain why Gates continues to lose targets to the dynamic rookie Hunter Henry. With the injury of Travis Benjamin, there's a chance that we'll see both Gates and Henry taking on increased roles, though it remains to be seen whether Gates' body would be up to that challenge.


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