There are injuries every year in the NFL. But last year seemed different. By midseason, established stars like Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, David Johnson, Odell Beckham, Jr., Eric Berry, and J.J. Watt were shelved for extended periods. Younger talents who were beginning to show great promise like Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, and Dalvin Cook also went down.
Thankfully, the offseason news cycles -- from post-season press conferences through combine and winter meeting interviews -- have been full of positivity. As you'll see below, nearly every offensive player recovering from injury is expected to be ready for training camp. Many of them should be available when offseason training workouts begin this month.
Expect surprises as the spring and summer progress. Veterans often miss April and May sessions for minor concerns and it's sometimes deep into offseason before enough pieces are found to see the image in the puzzle. Andrew Luck and Jordan Reed were glaring examples of a slowly building front turned major storm last summer.
I analyze the latest on the Luck and Reed situations, discuss the reasons for tempered enthusiasm on Wentz, and offer my thoughts on the recovery of Johnson and Beckham, Jr. below.
This feature will cover quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. I'll have a similar feature on the defensive side of the ball soon. It will be updated with any major news and fully refreshed monthly until training camp begins, when the Monday Injury Rounds feature will return to the weekly schedule.
|Quarterbacks (listed alphabetically)|
|Quarterback||Team||Injury||Date||Player/Team Says||FBGs Expects||Notes|
|Blake Bortles||Jac||Right wrist surgery||Late January 2018||Cleared in March||Ready for OTAs|
|Sam Bradford||Ari||Left knee arthroscopic surgery||November 2017||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs||Degenerative knee changes|
|Teddy Bridgewater||NYJ||Left knee dislocation / Multi-ligament reconstruction||August 2016||Likely for OTAs||Ready for OTAs||Wouldn't commit to OTAs in March|
|Chad Kelly||Den||Right wrist ligament repair||April 2017||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs||2016 Hernia surgery / ACL reconstruction|
|Andrew Luck||Ind||Right shoulder labrum repair||Mid January 2017||Chance for OTAs||Available in Training Camp|
|Josh McCown||NYJ||Left hand fracture fixation||Mid December 2017||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
|Aaron Rodgers||GB||Right clavicle fixation||October 2017||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
|Trevor Siemian||Min||Left shoulder posterior capsule repair||Early January 2018||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs||Will backup Kirk Cousins|
|Ryan Tannehill||Mia||Left ACL reconstruction||August 2017||Ready for OTAs||Ready for Training Camp|
|Deshaun Watson||Hou||Right ACL reconstruction||Early November 2017||No rehab concerns||Available in Training Camp||Reportedly ahead of schedule in February|
|Carson Wentz||Phi||Left ACL reconstruction / LCL repair||Mid December 2017||Expected for season opener||Likely start Training Camp on PUP||Wentz confirmed multiple ligament tears|
Andrew Luck | Right shoulder labrum repair | Mid January 2017 | Awaiting Information
The saga of Andrew Luck continues. After an extended and unsuccessful rehab lasted well into the 2017 season, there were frightening reports Luck would require additional surgery to address ongoing pain in his throwing shoulder. Luck would seek additional treatment in Europe -- likely for stem cell injections to treat inflammation around the shoulder joint -- and later told the media he did not need any additional surgery. His rehab has now progressed to include throwing weighted footballs and continued core workouts. Though the Colts won't commit to a timetable, there is hope Luck will be available to throw in OTAs.
While we've seen the Colts be overly optimistic when discussing Luck's status, this feels different. There were strong indications last June and July that Luck was frustrated with his post-surgical progress and no one would confirm what and whether he was throwing for months into the regular season. December reports from Chris Mortensen specifically described the cause of Luck's inability to progress through the throwing phase of his rehab as biceps tendinitis. Though important not to minimize the severity of any limitation around a quarterback's throwing shoulder, biceps tendinitis is arguably better than worries over how to approach lingering instability of the shoulder joint itself. Luck's tone in interviews -- and the fact he's doing interviews at all is reassuring -- has also been different this offseason.
It's still impossible to know whether the light at the end of this tunnel is a train or a sunny OTA session. If Luck's biceps tendinitis recurs as his throwing program progresses, it would be a frustrating and disappointing setback. Don't panic if Luck isn't throwing during OTAs. He -- and the Colts -- will not accelerate a recovery that's already stretched to 15 months. But if the interviews slow down or Luck shows signs of frustration or there are reports he has stopped throwing for any reason, it's time to grow concerned about Luck's long-term future.
Carson Wentz | Left ACL reconstruction / LCL repair | Mid December 2017 | Likely to start Training Camp on PUP | Questionable Week 1
Of the three quarterbacks recovering from reconstructive ACL surgery this offseason, Wentz is the most complicated. Six weeks after his mid-December surgery, Wentz confirmed what video of his injury suggested -- he also suffered an LCL injury requiring repair. Though Wentz told reporters in late January the rehab progression was the same and the additional tear would not delay his recovery, his recovery will not be that simple.
While we've seen 6-7 month recoveries after isolated ACL injuries from quarterbacks (and some superhuman non-quarterbacks like Adrian Peterson), that's not the routine expectation for more complicated ACL injuries. Rehab after LCL repair is limited by a period of immobilization to allow the ligament to heal -- and Wentz was still in a locked brace six weeks after surgery. Contrast that with ACL reconstruction, where range of motion is planned and desired much sooner. The delay in range of motion will extend Wentz's rehab time.
Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer was told by an Eagles medical source as much in January. While Wentz "should be ready for the start of the season" and "it will be safe for him to play" with a smooth recovery, Wentz "won't be 100% by then." Unsurprisingly, the Eagles rebuffed all offers for backup turned Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles this offseason.
The Eagles remain confident Wentz will be healthy enough to play in the season opener but have already told reporters he'll not participate in any offseason individual workouts. Expect Wentz to start training camp on the PUP list. Barring an extremely quick recovery, it's likely Wentz will have limited mobility in the pocket in early 2018 and you should not expect to see Wentz threaten defenses as a runner until much later in the season and possibly 2019.
DeShaun Watson | Right ACL Reconstruction | Early November 2017 | Probable for Training Camp
Every report since Watson's November surgery is positive. Watson posted a video of himself jogging on a treadmill in early February and Bill O'Brien repeatedly told reporters his young quarterback's recovery is ahead of schedule in February and March. There have been rumblings Watson may be able to participate in offseason workouts, including an early February tweet from Ian Rapoport suggesting Watson could be ready for 7-on-7 drills.
No matter how well Watson's rehab is progressing, don't expect to see him anywhere near contact until training camp. Conditioning and throwing drills would make sense for Watson, but there's no upside in 7-on-7 work. O'Brien and the Texans know this. O'Brien told reporters in late March he remained unsure how much Watson would participate.
Sam Bradford | Left knee surgery | November 2017 | Probable for OTAs
After struggling through a painful 2017, Bradford signed a one-year, $20 million deal with Arizona in March. Bradford played well in the 2017 opener for Minnesota but was limited for weeks by a bone bruise and later required arthroscopic surgery to remove several loose particles, clean up ragged cartilage, and smooth out a bone spur. While reassuring Bradford's previously reconstructed ACL has remained stable, the degenerative changes addressed by Dr. James Andrews may be an issue in the future. For now, Bradford was reportedly feeling well enough to ski in late February on the horizon of free agency.
Teddy Bridgewater | Left knee dislocation / Multi-ligament reconstruction | August 2016 | Questionable for OTAs
Bridgewater's return to the active roster last year -- and to the field, albeit for just nine snaps -- was an amazing recovery for a player who was emergently transported off the practice field and required reconstruction of multiple knee ligaments. Unfortunately, a full recovery to pre-injury ability remains a longshot. The Vikings did not obstruct Bridgewater's ability to reach free agency despite a lack of clarity about whether his PUP status last year meant he was still under team control. The Vikings did not make any effort to re-sign Bridgewater and head coach Mike Zimmer told reporters medical reports weren't reassuring.
In a competitive quarterback market of veterans and incoming rookies, Bridgewater only managed a one-year deal with the Jets with little guaranteed money. New York also re-signed Josh McCown (and reportedly told him he would start in 2018 before Bridgewater was signed) and is likely to add a strong rookie option in the draft. Bridgewater will have to prove himself healthy and capable quickly. Early interviews with the Jets' media weren't encouraging. In March, Bridgewater wouldn't commit to being ready for OTAs.
|Running Backs (listed alphabetically)|
|Running Back||Team||Injury||Date||Player/Team Says||FBGs Expects||Notes|
|Chris Carson||Sea||Left high ankle sprain / fibula fixation||Early October 2017||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
|James Conner||Pit||Left MCL reconstruction||Mid December 2017||No rehab concerns||4-6 Months / Ready for Training Camp|
|Dalvin Cook||Min||Left ACL reconstruction||Early October 2017||No rehab concerns||Ready for Training Camp||"Pretty close" to ready for OTAs|
|Kenneth Dixon||Bal||Left knee meniscus repair||July 2017||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
|D'Onta Foreman||Hou||Left Achilles reconstruction||Late November 2017||Chance for Training Camp||Likely start Training Camp on PUP|
|Devonta Freeman||Atl||Right MCL / PCL sprain||Late December 2017||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
|Jeremy Hill||NE||Ankle surgery||Early November 2017||Cleared to Return||Ready for OTAs|
|David Johnson||Ari||Left wrist fixation||Mid September 2017||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs||Expected to be cleared for OTAs|
|Aaron Jones||GB||Right MCL sprain||Late December 2017||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
|Rob Kelley||Was||Left MCL sprain / high ankle sprain||Mid November 2017||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
|Ty Montgomery||GB||Wrist surgery||Early December 2017||No rehab reports||Likely ready for OTAs||Moving back to WR?|
|DeMarco Murray||FA||Right MCL sprain||Late December 2017||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
|Adrian Peterson||FA||Neck injury||Late November 2017||Cleared to Return||Available for OTAs|
|C.J. Prosise||Sea||Ankle sprain||Mid November 2017||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
|Donnel Pumphrey||Phi||Hamstring strain||Mid September 2017||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
|Darren Sproles||FA||Left ACL reconstruction / Fractured forearm||Late September 2017||Ready for Training Camp||Ready for Training Camp|
|Chris Thompson||Was||Right fibula fixation||Early December 2017||Ready for Training Camp||Ready for Training Camp|
|Spencer Ware||KC||Right PCL / LCL repair||Early September 2017||No information||Questionable for Training Camp|
David Johnson | Left wrist fixation / ligament repair | Mid September 2017 | Probable for OTAs
With the Cardinals out of playoff contention during the last month of the 2017 season, Johnson chose to continue rehabbing rather than risk playing before fully recovering the strength and range of motion in his injured wrist. Johnson said he was fully recovered in January and ready to return. New head coach Steve Wilks said he expected Johnson would be cleared for OTAs. Aggravation is unlikely. Expect Johnson to be in playing shape well in advance of opening week.
Dalvin Cook | Left ACL reconstruction | Early October 2017 | Probable for Training Camp
According to both Mike Zimmer and head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman, Cook's rehab has progressed well and the Vikings expect to have him back before the start of the regular season. Zimmer wouldn't commit to a timetable for Cook, telling Tom Pelissero his running back would be "pretty close" to being ready for OTAs. More likely, the Vikings will continue to recondition Cook with the intent of having him at full strength for training camp.
Devonta Freeman | Right MCL / PCL sprain | Late December 2017 | Probable for OTAs
The Falcons have yet to provide a detailed update on Freeman's status this offseason. After reports Freeman would not need surgery -- and it's somewhat unusual to choose rehab over repair of the PCL when more than one ligament is involved -- the quiet offseason is reassuring. We'll know Freeman's status when the Falcons report for spring OTAs.
Spencer Ware | Right LCL / PCL repair | Early September 2017 | Awaiting Information
The LCL-PCL combination is a difficult injury for an athlete. Neither ligament is an easy fix and there are other structures in that area of the knee that complicate recovery. There have been reports Ware's rehab and recovery are progressing well but the Chiefs have yet to discuss his offseason availability. Don't be surprised if Ware remains limited until training camp.
|Wide Receivers (listed alphabetically)|
|Wide Receiver||Team||Injury||Date||Player/Team Says||FBGs Expects||Notes|
|Odell Beckham||NYG||Left high ankle / fibula fracture w/ surgery||Early October 2017||No rehab concerns||Ready for Training Camp||May not participate in preseason games|
|Kelvin Benjamin||Buf||Right knee meniscectomy||? January 2018||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
|Chris Conley||KC||Left Achilles reconstruction||Mid October 2017||No rehab reports||PUP candidate|
|Julian Edelman||NE||Right ACL reconstruction||Late September 2017||Ready for Training Camp||Ready for Training Camp||Unlikely to participate in OTAs|
|Quincy Enunwa||NYJ||Cervical discectomy and fusion||Late August 2017||Ready for Training Camp||Ready for Training Camp||Unlikely to participate in OTAs|
|Will Fuller||Hou||Arthroscopic knee surgery||Early January 2018||No rehab reports||Ready for OTAs|
|Pierre Garcon||SF||Cervical pedicle vertebral fracture||Late October 2017||No rehab concerns||Ready for OTAs|
|Carlos Henderson||Den||Thumb ligament repair||Mid August 2017||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
|Alshon Jeffery||Phi||Rotator cuff repair||Mid February 2018||Questionable for Training Camp||Likely PUP candidate|
|Zay Jones||Buf||Shoulder labrum repair||Mid January 2018||No rehab reports||Ready for Training Camp|
|Brandon Marshall||NYG||Ankle ligament repair||Mid October 2017||No rehab concerns||Ready for Training Camp||Likely to be released by NYG|
|Jordan Matthews||FA||Left knee / right ankle surgeries||Late December 2017||No rehab reports||Ready for Training Camp|
|Cameron Meredith||Chi||Left ACL reconstruction / MCL tear||Early September 2017||No rehab concerns||Ready for Training Camp|
|Malcolm Mitchell||NE||Knee injury||Chronic||Chance for OTAs||Status Unclear|
|Allen Robinson||Chi||Left ACL reconstruction||Mid September 2017||No rehab concerns||Ready for Training Camp|
|John Ross||Cin||Shoulder labrum repair||Early December 2017||No rehab concerns||Ready for Training Camp|
|Curtis Samuel||Car||Left high ankle / fibula fracture w/ surgery||Late November 2017||No timetable for return||Ready for Training Camp|
|Kevin White||Chi||Fractured scapula||Early September 2017||No rehab concerns||Ready for Training Camp||Could participate in OTAs|
|Terrance Williams||Dal||Right foot fracture fixation||Late February 2018||Unavailable for OTAs||Probable for Training Camp|
Odell Beckham, Jr | Left high ankle / fibula fracture w/ surgery | Early October 2017 | Probable for Training Camp
Other than a somewhat cryptic tweet where Beckham suggested he wouldn't participate in any preseason games, there's been little discussion of Beckham's injury. Still, there are no indications Beckham's recovery from ankle surgery is slower than expected. Expect to hear more trade rumors than medical updates through the OTA season. Beckham should be available to participate in individual drills throughout the offseason.
Alshon Jeffery | Rotator cuff repair | Mid February 2018 | Questionable for Training Camp / PUP candidate
Jeffery played through a torn rotator cuff throughout the 2017 season. The initial recovery timetable was measured in months, suggesting a more extensive repair. Jeffery won't be ready for OTAs and may have to start training camp on the PUP list but should be ready in time for opening week.
|Tight Ends (listed alphabetically)|
|Tight End||Team||Injury||Date||Player/Team Says||FBGs Expects||Notes|
|Jake Butt||Den||Right ACL reconstruction||December 2016||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
|Tyler Eifert||Cin||Microdiscectomy||Late October 2017||Cleared for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
|Hunter Henry||LAC||Kidney laceration||Mid December 2018||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
|Zach Miller||FA||Right knee dislocation w/ popliteal artery rupture||Late October 2017||No rehab reports||Unlikely to play in 2018||Surgery spared leg, career likely over|
|Jordan Reed||Was||Sesamoidectomy?||? January 2018||Unavailable for OTAs||Ready for Training Camp|
|Jonnu Smith||Ten||MCL sprain||Mid January 2018||Ready for OTAs||Ready for OTAs|
Jordan Reed | Sesamoidectomy | ? january 2018 | probable for Training Camp
Reed started his 2017 season on the PUP list with chronic foot and toe issues and ended it on injured reserve with a frequently aggravated hamstring strain. At the end of March, when asked whether Reed would be available for offseason workouts, head coach Jay Gruden replied, "Heck, no." Gruden followed up by telling reporters Reed had "procedures done on his toes" and would "hopefully" be "100% healthy by training camp."
Players choose rehab over surgery whenever possible but Reed was never at full strength in 2017 after dealing with a fracture near the toes of his foot and managing the injury with orthotics until the hamstring injury. I wrote about the most likely issue Reed faced last August -- a chronic fracture of the sesamoid bone -- and the difficulty he may have avoiding surgery. Gruden's comments strongly suggest Reed had a definitive surgical procedure earlier this offseason.
If Reed did not have ligament issues addressed, he should have no difficulty recovering in time for training camp. If the procedure was more extensive, there's a chance he could again start training camp on the PUP list. Either way, Reed should be much closer to full strength after recovering.
Tyler Eifert | Microdiscectomy | Late October 2017 | Probable for OTAs
Eifert was reportedly cleared to return to action before free agency began but didn't generate much interest. He re-signed with Cincinnati on a one-year, heavily-incentive laden deal with bonuses for every game he's on the active roster. After ankle stabilization surgery and two microdiscectomy procedures in the past three years, Eifert must prove he has recovered his pre-injury mobility. With multiple surgeries to address degenerative back changes, that's no sure thing for Eifert.
Follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking injury news and analysis throughout the offseason.