Injury Report Insight: Week 8

A critical look at this week's injury report.

As far as injuries, Week 7 brought us a little bit of everything. It wasn't a devastating week (remember the bloodbath of Week 2?) but it certainly wasn't quiet either. The mid-week injury fallout that we've grown accustomed to still came rolling in, but is was at least more contained than in previous weeks, with the news of C.J. Anderson's ankle injury leading the way. Sadly, there's always the chance that more mid-week news is on the way, as there are currently six teams on byes, and bye week news tends to travel slowly. Hopefully, that's not the case, and the stories to monitor will just be the ones listed here.

Quarterback

Jay Cutler, thumb sprain

I find it interesting that, as long as Brian Hoyer was playing well, Jay Cutler was officially not ready to practice, even more than a month removed from what was originally labeled a, "2-3 week," injury. However, now that Hoyer is out with a fractured forearm, suddenly Cutler is ready to practice and on track to play this week. I suspect that Cutler's been physically fine for some time now, but that the Bears wanted to avoid the spectacle of a quarterback competition, so they held him out of practice. The Bears don't play until Monday night, so they won't release their first official practice report until Thursday, but all reports so far indicate that Cutler will practice and play in Week 8. As for his effectiveness, I wouldn't expect it to be limited due to injury. As long as the injury wasn't more severe than was reported, Cutler has had more than enough time to rehab. As for Hoyer, there's always a chance he could return from injured reserve, but it wouldn't be until Week 16 at the earliest, so it's not really worth talking about.

Josh McCown, collarbone fracture

Cody Kessler, concussion

Josh McCown has missed the last five games with a hairline fracture to his left, non-throwing collarbone. Non-throwing collarbone fractures typically keep quarterbacks out at least seven weeks, but this seems to be a best-case-scenario due to the fact it was "only" a hairline fracture. McCown has been medically cleared for contact and practiced in full on Wednesday, so it appears that he'll be ready to start this week. That's perfect timing, as Cody Kessler is in the concussion protocol, and it's uncertain whether he'll be cleared before Sunday. 

Tony Romo, vertabra fracture

Coming out of their bye week, the Cowboys are getting close to having two healthy, talented quarterbacks on their roster. CBS's Jason La Canfora reported on Sunday that Romo still hasn't been cleared for contact, and that Week 9 was looking unlikely for his return. Yes, you read that right, La Canfora reported that Week 8 was basically out and that Week 9 was still unlikely. This seems to go against an earlier report from ESPN's Todd Archer, back on October 11th, in which owner Jerry Jones said Romo's back was healed and was, "as strong or stronger than what it was before the injury." It's possible both reports are true, and that Romo's vertabra is healed, but that doctors are being responsibly cautious in clearing him for contact. For now, it's fair to rule Romo out for Week 8, and pencil him in as questionable at best for Week 9. Practice reports in the next week (or weeks) should give us a pretty clear idea of when Romo's status shifts from being about his health to being about which quarterback gives the team a better chance to win. I challenge you to find me someone who doesn't have a strong opinion on that subject.

Ben Roethlisberger, meniscus trim

It sounds like Ben Roethlisberger is certainly trying to be ready for Week 9. Even though the Steelers are in their bye week, a time when many teams are noticeably silent on injury situations, Roethlisberger talked openly on the radio about his injury and his plans, as summarized here by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. You might remember last week that I pointed out Roethlisberger has a history of talking openly and honestly about his injuries on the radio, and that we'd likely get some level of clarity throughout this rehab. That was the case this week, and I would expect that we'll hear more details early next week from Roethlisberger himself that might give us a better clue as to his chances for a Week 9 return.

Joe Flacco, shoulder

The Ravens have a Week 8 bye for Joe Flacco to rehab his throwing shoulder, but this is a situation worth monitoring. We know nothing more than we did last week, which is that Flacco missed practice and had an MRI on his throwing shoulder before ultimately playing in Week 7. He had an awful performance in that game, though it's not clear how much of that was related to his shoulder injury. Watch next week's practice reports to get a better idea of whether the shoulder injury is still limiting Flacco. Don't worry, I'll bring it up again next week, so you don't actually have to remember to check yourself.

Running Back

C.J. Anderson, knee bone bruise

C.J. Anderson was known to have suffered some sort of knee injury in Week 7, but it was thought to be minor, as he was able to return and finish the game. On Wednesday, it was revealed that the injury was anything but minor. Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo both reported that C.J. Anderson had suffered what was believed to be a bone bruise in his right knee. But the volatile part is that Anderson is getting a second opinion, and that the injury might be more than just a bone bruise. According to Rapoport, Anderson is expected to be out at least a few weeks, and possibly more, even the rest of the season. I always hate to speculate so early after news breaks like this, because often by the time I go to print, new details that change the picture have emerged. Not to downplay a bone bruise, as it can be an incredibly painful injury (I've had one on my knee), but obviously, it's the, "something more," here that is alarming. We will likely know in the next few days if Anderson escaped further damage, or what exactly he's dealing with. For now though, the earliest return should probably be penciled in as Week 12, after Denver's Week 11 bye.

 

LeSean McCoy, hamstring strain

The question we're all asking now is, "Why would the Bills try to rush LeSean McCoy, a player with a significant history of hamstring strains, back and put him into the starting lineup last week?" I have no answer to that. It was stupid, and many people came right out and said so at the time, before McCoy predictably aggravated the injury. It's a fair question, and it's not one I can answer. But it's a great example of the short-sighted focus that some teams and players seem to have when it comes to injuries. Just because you can play through an injury, doesn't necessarily mean you should. Note that this is the point where people tell me that I didn't play football, so I'll never understand drive, commitment, motivation, patriotism, whatever. My point is simply that the Bills took a huge risk in playing McCoy, and now it's looking like he's going to miss some time. McCoy did not participate in Wednesday's practice, so his status for this week is very much in doubt.

Dion Lewis, knee surgery

CSNNE's Tom Curran was the one to finally give us some long-awaited details on Dion Lewis' second knee surgery. Curran reported that Lewis had a patella stress fracture, likely related to his ACL reconstruction. The surgery to address this stress fracture involved inserting screws into the patella, or kneecap. This is a lot more invasive than the simple, "clean up," surgery that was originally reported. It should be noted that our own Dr. Jene Bramel was quick to point out at the time that Lewis' 8-10 week rehab estimate didn't match well with any minor clean-up surgeries that came to mind. As always, I'm quick to point out that I'm not a doctor, so I'm happy to defer to Dr. Jene on this one, and I found it interesting that he felt Lewis' return to practice at about 8 weeks was unusually fast. I would tend to agree, but again, #NotADoctor. I can't explain why the Patriots would attempt to bring back Lewis so quickly from such a surgery. In trying to sort through all the possibilities here though, the likeliest scenario is simply that Lewis has rehabbed quickly and the team honestly believes he has a shot to return in the next few weeks. Since Lewis was on the PUP list, he has a different set of rules than a player coming off of IR. Lewis can now practice with the team (he could not do so before) and the Patriots have until November 16th to decide whether to promote him to the active roster, or move him to season-ending injured reserve.

Tevin Coleman, hamstring strain

It appears that, in contrast to how the Bills handled LeSean McCoy's hamstring strain, the Falcons are settling in for at least one game without Tevin Coleman. He suffered a hamstring strain in Week 7, and there has been zero talk of getting him back on the field this week. To be fair, there's a good chance that Coleman's injury was more severe than McCoy's original injury. But still, it's notable how differently the teams have responded. Atlanta has already signed Stevan Ridley and promoted Terron Ward from the practice squad. It looks like they're being patient with Coleman, which is obviously the right thing to do here. Hopefully, they're just being conservative and Coleman can return in a week or two, but there's always a chance that he's out longer than that.

Devonta Freeman, hip

I hate to even bring up some of the Wednesday practice report injuries, as it comes across as simple fear mongering. Plenty of players extend some much-needed rest to Wednesday, and the injuries listed on the Wednesday report are frequently non-issues. I would guess that's what we're seeing with Devonta Freeman's limited practice with a hip injury. Unless we hear otherwise, I'd expect Freeman to receive a solid workload this week, as he will no longer be splitting his time with Tevin Coleman.

Lamar Miller, shoulder

Lamar Miller is battling through an undisclosed shoulder injury that he suffered in Week 7, but all reports thus far indicate that it's a minor injury and unlikely to affect his playing time. He was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday's practice, but Houston did not conduct a real practice on Wednesday due to the short week, so this limited participation is only an estimation of how Houston feels Miller would've practiced, had there been practice. Yes, I know that's overly complicated, but it's an important distinction. If Miller is able to put in limited practice in both Thursday and Friday practices, I'd be less inclined to worry about his Week 7 status. But as it stands, his fictitious participation in a fictitious practice should be ignored. Miller has an injury history that includes shoulder surgery, though it appears that this latest injury is to the opposite side.

Matt Jones, knee

According to the Washington Post's Master Tesfatsion, Matt Jones reported pain in his knee while cutting, and was held out of Wednesday's practice. There are a lot of minor injuries that could cause Jones to have pain when cutting, but most of the ones I can think of might require him to miss a week or two. The fact that Washington has a Week 8 game in London and a Week 9 bye make me think that Washington will err on the side of caution and rest Jones, though I really need to point out again that there are no details on the exact knee injury yet.

Jerick McKinnon, ankle

Jerick McKinnon suffered an ankle injury and was in and out of the game on Sunday. After getting his right ankle taped, McKinnon was able to return, but it appeared the injury was still bothering him. I would guess McKinnon was dealing with a garden variety ankle sprain and nothing more serious, but there are no details to verify that yet. Since Minnesota doesn't play until Monday night, they don't release their first official practice injury report until Thursday. I would expect McKinnon to be limited in practice this week, but ultimately active on Monday, though he might lose some snaps to Matt Asiata.

Jeremy Hill, shoulder/chest

Jeremy Hill has been dealing with what has been called either a shoulder or a chest injury lately. Whatever the injury is, he has played through it, and was not listed on Wednesday's practice injury report. Either Hill is healthy, or more likely, he's healthy enough that the Bengals don't feel the need to list him on their report. Although that might be against the spirit of the rules, it's not actually a violation. As long as Hill remains off the injury report, owners can expect a full workload from him this weekend.

Theo Riddick, ankle

Theo Riddick has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, likely a high ankle sprain, but he was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday. If Riddick's ankle injury was indeed a mild high ankle sprain, a two week rehab might well be long enough, and he could return and play effectively this week.

Dwayne Washington, foot and ankle

Theo Riddick might not be the only Detroit running back to return to service this weekend, as Dwayne Washington was able to put in a full practice on Wednesday. Washington has sat out the last three games with undisclosed foot and ankle injuries, though the full practice nearly guarantees that he returns this week, barring any setback.

Jamaal Charles, knee

When talking about a player coming back from ACL reconstruction, using the term, "setback," can feel similar to yelling, "fire," in a crowded theater. Both are liable to cause panic, so you need to be careful with your words. With that in mind, I'm not sure how to discuss the latest developments with Jamaal Charles. He experienced swelling in his surgically-repaired knee last Friday, and barely touched the field on Sunday. Jay Glazer reported that Charles had undergone MRI's on both knees, as they were both sore. Are we supposed to feel better that both knees are sore, instead of just the surgically-repaired one? It's tough to know how serious this latest development is, and how Charles might be able to proceed. It's notable though that Andy Reid and the Chiefs medical staff have been nothing but conservative with Charles up until now. Given that history, it's hard to imagine that Charles, even in the best-case scenario, would see more than limited snaps this week. On Wednesday, Charles was able to put in a limited practice, so there's at least some hope that last week's situation wasn't a true setback.

Bilal Powell, toe

Matt Forte, knee

There's no reason yet to think this is a major concern, but Bilal Powell missed Wednesday's practice due to a toe injury, while Matt Forte was limited with a knee injury. I would expect both players to be fine for Week 8, but owners need to check back later in the week to verify this.

Doug Martin, hamstring strain

Nearly two weeks removed from a setback in his recovery from a hamstring strain, Doug Martin still is not practicing. Martin was three weeks into his rehab when he suffered the setback, and a good rule of thumb is to expect about the same amount of time, if not more, after a setback. Martin can safely be ruled out for Week 8, but there's no way to predict his status beyond that without seeing how he practices.

Wide Receiver

Dez Bryant, knee

Everything I read tells me that this is the week that Dez Bryant will return to play. It's not that I don't believe that, it's just that it's hard to figure out exactly what is different this week. Bryant put in a limited practice on Wednesday, same as he did a full two weeks ago. To be fair, the prudent move all along was for the Cowboys to rest Bryant through the Week 7 bye, and I'm glad to see that's the course they ultimately chose. In order to believe this is Bryant's week, I'd really like to see at least one full practice this week, but I'll drink the Kool-Aid and expect to see him this weekend even if he only continues with limited practices.

Tajae Sharpe, knee

Tajae Sharpe missed Monday's practice (which in reality was just a walk-through) with a knee injury, but he wasn't listed on the Titans' Tuesday or Wednesday injury report. While he's officially questionable for Thursday's game, there's little doubt that he will play.

John Brown, hamstring

Michael Floyd, hamsting

Arizona receivers John Brown and Michael Floyd are dealing with hamstring injuries, but I would expect both to play this week. Brown's injury is related to a sickle cell trait (Dr. Jene described it far better than I could here) and kept him out of Week 7. Floyd suffered a hamstring injury of his own in Week 7, but was able to play through it. Brown was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, while Floyd was held out completely. Both should be monitored throughout the week.

Randall Cobb, hamstring

Randall Cobb made a surprise appearance on Wednesday's practice report, being limited by a hamstring injury. This is likely nothing, and I wouldn't be concerned unless there's a later downgrade, but, as always, this is worth checking back on later this week.

Eddie Royal, toe

Maybe it's just me, but I'm starting to think that no Chicago receiver is ever truly healthy. After dealing with a calf injury earlier, Eddie Royal missed Week 7 with a toe injury. The Bears don't play until Monday, so they won't release a practice report until Thursday, but I would expect to see Royal on it with either a missed or limited practice.

Robert Woods, foot

Whatever the unspecified foot injury was that kept Robert Woods out of Week 7, he's making progress and might be available to play Week 8. Woods has previously said that he was playing through an ongoing foot injury, but that he felt something, "give out," on him in Week 6. This is concerning, but the fact that he was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday is at least a step in the right direction.

Marquise Goodwin, concussion

Marquise Goodwin suffered his second concussion of the season in Week 7, and is currently in the concussion protocol. He missed Wednesday's practice, and should be considered doubtful for Week 8.

Travis Banjamin, knee

Tyrell Williams, knee

Travis Benjamin missed some practice time last week with a knee injury, but was ultimately active on Sunday, so we shouldn't necessarily be concerned that he was held out of Wednesday's practice. There were no reports of Tyrell Williams being injured in Week 7, so his missed practice is likely just a rest day or a minor ailment. Both players should be checked on later in the week however.

Donte Moncrief, scapula fracture

How many weeks do you miss with a fractured shoulder blade? According to Donte Moncrief, the answer is likely five weeks. The original estimate for Moncrief's injury was, "4-6 weeks," and it looks like he's right in line with that, as he was able to return to a limited practice on Wednesday. According to Moncrief himself, he will start this weekend, though a check back later in the week will give us a more reliable prediction.

Corey Coleman, hand fracture

Rookie receiver Corey Coleman is nearing a return from a fractured hand, but is still a week or two away, according to Browns beat-reporter Mary Kay Cabot. Cabot reports that although Coleman had a limited practice on Wednesday, he was only running routes, and never attempted to catch a football. This conditioning work is an important step in his return, but the true test won't come until Coleman attempts to catch passes, likely with a splint on his hand. It sounds as though that's not on the table for this week.

Tight End

Jordan Reed, concussion

Early reports this week indicate that Jordan Reed will visit a neurologist on Thursday, and that he has a shot to travel with the team to London and return to the lineup. Reed was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday, but it should be noted that Reed has a huge concussion history, and he had a limited practice last week before missing Week 7, so nothing can be taken for granted in his rehab.

Hunter Henry, concussion

Hunter Henry suffered a concussion in Week 7, and is currently in the NFL's concussion protocol. It's always impossible to know how quickly players will progress through the protocol, so it's hard to say if Henry has a shot at playing this week. He had a limited practice, which although better than a missed practice, doesn't necessarily tell us much. If Henry is cleared for contact later in the week, that's when we can safely assume that he'll play.

Dwayne Allen, ankle sprain

It looks like Dwayne Allen will miss at least one more week as he recovers from his high ankle sprain. He was unable to practice on Wednesday, and I wouldn't expect him to return to practice until next week at the earliest. It's very possible that Allen might not play until after the Colts' Week 10 bye, but we won't have clarity on that until next week.

Delanie Walker, chest bruise

Delanie Walker missed Monday's walk-through with a chest injury, but was fine in practice the rest of the week. He should be fine for Thursday's game against Jacksonville.

Julius Thomas, ankle

Similar to Delanie Walker, Julius Thomas should be fine for Thursday, though he did miss Tuesday's practice with an ankle injury. The fact that he was able to return to a limited practice on Wednesday indicates this was a minor injury, and won't affect his Week 7 status.

Eric Ebron, ankle and knee

Eric Ebron returned for his first practice since his Week 4 ankle injury, though only in a limited capacity. Ebron had been playing through a knee injury, but suffered what was likely a high ankle sprain, and missed the next three games. His limited practice is a great sign of progress, but in no way guarantees that he'll play this weekend. If he can get three consecutive limited practices, I'd give him a good chance at returning this week. Be sure to check back later in the week.

Jimmy Graham, knee

As with other teams on the West Coast, Seattle often doesn't release their practice report until much later in the day. Consequently, I'm sometimes left writing up injuries that I have no clarity on. Such is the case today with Jimmy Graham, who missed Wednesday's practice with a knee injury. You'd think that we would've heard about this from every outlet if it was serious, so there's probably no reason to be concerned. But obviously, make sure to follow up on this later in the week when more information is available and confirm that it was just a simple day of rest.


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