Monday Injury Rounds: Week 13

Making rounds on this weekend's injuries, focusing on Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, with updates on Marshawn Lynch, Devonta Freeman, Allen Hurns, and many others

NOTE: This column is a living document. I'll be updating as needed after team press conferences, imaging reports, Monday Night Football injuries, etc. Major changes to the content will be noted in red. I'll also be retweeting any key pieces of news and my own reaction and analysis, so make sure you're following @JeneBramel and checking my timeline on Twitter throughout the week.


rob gronkowski | knee | status pending

Everyone held their breath after Gronkowski took a hit to the same knee he'd previously suffered a torn ACL and MCL, watched him writhe in pain, and then be carted to the locker room. Fortunately, the mechanism of injury -- the hit occurred while Gronkowski's leg was airborne rather than with his foot planted -- was reassuring, and all news has been positive since the injury.

Gronkowski was allowed to walk back to the locker room after his x-rays without crutches. That means the medical staff saw no serious bony injury that would prevent Gronkowski from weight bearing and their initial exam showed no findings that required immobilization of his knee. That doesn't rule out a ligament injury, but further reports from Dianna Russini and multiple other national media members said the team felt Gronkowski's injury didn't "appear to be serious." And that is reassuring against a major ligament injury as high grade sprains to any knee ligament are usually diagnosed in the locker room well in advance of an MRI.

Hopefully, those reassurances will prove accurate after tomorrow's imaging studies and Gronkowski will miss little, if any, time. After a year full of major injuries to stud talent, it will be very welcome if Gronkowski's initial reaction proved to be only a scare rather than a season-ending situation. But it's still too early to confuse "not believed to be serious" with "further imaging will show no injury" or "Gronkowski is not expected to miss any time."

jimmy graham | patellar tendon tear | out for season

The television broadcast cut away during the most pertinent parts of the on-field exam, but the quick call for a knee immobilizer and cart was a clue Graham had suffered a season-ending injury. Of the possibilities, a patellar tendon tear is the worst injury Graham could have suffered. Though we've seen some players return to play -- Jerod Mayo, Nate Allen, and a couple of offensive linemen over the past few years -- I think it's reasonable to argue that no player has yet recovered to their pre-injury form.

Patellar tendon repair is a major open knee surgery that leaves residual scarring in the tendon and forces a player to rehab from severe loss of quad muscle in the early stages of recovery. It's very hard for a player to return to his former explosiveness and agility. While we shouldn't close the book on Graham's career just yet, he'll have a very tough 5-6 months ahead even if his rehab goes smoothly. And, as we've seen with many other recoveries, re-tears and reconditioning injuries are common. Victor Cruz is the most recent example. Hopefully, Graham's rehab goes perfectly and he's cleared for all football-related activity in training camp.

ben roethlisberger | concussion | week-to-week

I hope Roethlisberger's decision to self-report symptoms of a possible concussion in a critical part of the fourth quarter yesterday gets lots of play in the sports media this week. Though self-reporting probably occurs more often than we know, it's very rarely reported and discussed and it's a vital part of the continuing education process on the diagnosis and care of concussed athletes.

Roethlisberger's return to play will depend on how quickly his symptoms resolve. We'll know more as the week progresses.

allen hurns | concussion | week-to-week

Hurns was immobilized and carted off the field after a blow to the back yesterday. After a period of observation (and likely imaging studies) at the hospital, Hurns was released and felt well enough to send a tweet of thanks by early evening. If the concussion was Hurns' only injury, his return will be based on how quickly his symptoms resolve. If there is an associated neck sprain/strain, Hurns will need to prove he has the strength and range of motion to protect his head and neck before he'll be cleared to return to the field. Watch for updates on Hurns throughout the week.

tyler eifert | stinger | day-to-day

A stinger is essentially a bruised nerve. Many times, symptoms of a stinger -- painful burning along the length of the nerve injured, weakness of the muscles related to damaged nerve function -- resolve within seconds or minutes. Other times, the weakness can persist for hours to days to weeks. If the Bengals' post-game report can be believed, Eifert's symptoms resolved quickly and the team chose not to clear him to return as a precaution in a game the team was comfortably winning. Eifert will not be cleared to practice if there's concern, so the Bengals' participation report will be important all week. I think we'll see Eifert limited early in the week and progress from there but watch to be sure he's returned to practice.

andre ellington | foot | week-to-week

chris johnson | knee | week-to-week

The television broadcast did not provide a clear enough angle of Ellington's injury to see a mechanism of injury. Later in the broadcast, Ellington was shown having the top of his left foot examined, then pushing on the area behind his big toe after putting his shoe back on. If Ellington was localizing his injury at that point, it's the area that would be concerning for a turf toe like injury. It's also the same foot Ellington fought through a peroneal strain last year, though that injury would be to the outside of the foot.

Johnson's mechanism of injury was most consistent with an MCL sprain. As we've seen many times this season, backs usually miss at least a week while the MCL heals. Johnson will likely have an MRI tomorrow, with more information possible then. For now, Kent Somers tweeted after the game that he felt Bruce Arians was hinting that both running backs could miss time.

Jeremy Hill was in and out of Sunday's game with ankle issues. Karlos Williams was quickly ruled out after suffering a shoulder injury. The Bills have yet to update Williams' condition and the mechanism wasn't clear enough to speculate on whether a collarbone or AC joint injury is more likely. Heath Miller tried to return after receiving treatment for an injury to his ribs, but later was ruled out. I'll be watching for updates on these and any other yet to be reported injury situations early this week.


MArshawn lynch | core abdominal surgery | 4-6 weeks

As feared last week, Lynch wasn't in Philadelphia for a second opinion alone and chose to have surgery to reattach an abdominal muscle to his pelvis. Jay Glazer continues to contend Lynch's injury is not a sports hernia, but multiple reports on the location of Lynch's injury, the surgeon he sought out, and the reports of the type of surgery he had strongly suggest otherwise. The semantics of the injury aren't critical now, but they do help us determine whether the recovery timetable we're given is trustworthy or not.

Glazer, among others, are suggesting that Lynch could return in three weeks. While within the realm of possibility, it's very unlikely to happen. The average return to play after these surgeries is in the 4-6 week range, with most players returning after five weeks of rehab and reconditioning. A running back who must cut frequently and withstand hits from unexpected angles isn't likely to hit the optimistic end of the recovery timetable. It's possible we could see Lynch return in Week 15 or 16 if he's close and the Seahawks are in a must win situation and something unexpected has happened with Thomas Rawls. But I think it's much more likely the team allows Lynch to recover fully and reconditions him with limited duty in Week 17.

devonta freeman | concussion | day-to-day

Freeman was cleared to do light exercise during pregame warmups on Sunday and watch the game from the sideline. It's proof he's successfully moving through the return to play protocol. Dan Quinn told reporters after the game Freeman would likely be cleared to fully practice this week. Wednesday is a critical day for Freeman. If he's not at least participating in limited drills, there's reason to worry about Week 12. But all signs appear positive now.

danny amendola | knee sprain | week-to-week

It's very difficult to gauge the recovery of injured players in New England, especially when specifics on the injury diagnosis and severity are not known. Amendola was healthy enough to be listed as a limited practice participant last week but not close enough to playing to travel to Denver with his team. David Chao believes Amendola's injury was worrisome for a PCL sprain, which could keep Amendola out multiple weeks. Without more information, however, we're left to monitor practice reports and media comments.

Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning are still multiple weeks away from returning. Zach Ertz and Ryan Mathews will continue to work through Philadelphia's return to play protocol. I'll also be watching for additional news on Martellus Bennett's rib injury (not believed serious, but was inactive on Thanksgiving) and the ongoing saga of Austin Seferian-Jenkins' shoulder injury.

I'll be updating this feature throughout the day. Footballguys Insiders will get a full update with additional fantasy perspectives on Wednesday, with analysis of the week's game-time decisions early Sunday morning. Follow me on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking injury news and analysis throughout the week.