Injury Report Insight

A critical look at this week's injury report.

All in all, it was a very quiet week for injuries. With six teams on their byes, we had a few less games than usual, and a few more injured players had an extra week to rest and rehab. We had a quiet mid-week as well, with no huge injury bombshells, though maybe they just weren't picked up and reported due to our focus on the political events of the week. But, regardless of the reason, I welcome any week where I don't have much to say, as it means the NFL is relatively healthy.



Alex Smith, Concussion

One week removed from Alex Smith's strange Week 8 injury situation, and we still don't have any clarity on what exactly Smith was diagnosed with. The Chiefs deny Smith ever had a concussion, though they can't explain why their answer was to put Smith into the concussion protocol. Smith returned for a full practice on Wednesday, with what the Chiefs listed as a, "head, ear," injury. The Chiefs had no problem listing Spencer Ware with a concussion, so it would seem that they truly believe Smith suffered a non-concussion head injury. Regardless of the exact details, Smith's full practice means that he should be set to play this weekend.

Jameis Winston, knee

While trying to scramble into the endzone, Jameis Winston took a scary shot to his upper body. The larger damage though seemed to be to his right knee or ankle, as his knee rotated while a defender had ahold of his planted ankle. Sideline shots did little to clear up exactly what area the medical staff was attending to, but it was obvious that walking and bearing weight was painful for Winston. Within hours of the injury though, Winston seemed fine, and the team quickly downplayed his injury. It appears that Winston is indeed fine, as he was able to put in a full practice on Wednesday. All indications so far are that he'll be fine for this weekend against the Bears.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, MCL sprain

Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered a sprained MCL in Week 9, but most reports seem to indicate it's a fairly mild sprain and shouldn't cause him to miss any time. Fitzpatrick was able to play through the injury, and was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday. These are both positive signs, but I'd also point out that quarterbacks like Tyrod Taylor and Marcus Mariota both missed time with MCL sprains last season, though those were likely more severe than Fitzpatrick's. This season, we've seen Russell Wilson try to push through a similar MCL sprain, and it hasn't been pretty. While all signs so far point to Fitzpatrick starting in Week 10, it's very possible that the injury limits his effectiveness.

Running Backs

Carlos Hyde, AC sprain

Even after missing two games and a bye week, Carlos Hyde has yet to shed his non-contact jersey, and is still only practicing on a limited basis. There have been no reports of a setback, but this rehab is now stretching just a little longer than I would've expected. At this point, I wouldn't be confident of his Sunday status until he was able to put in a full, unlimited practice.

Spencer Ware, concussion

Sometimes it's frustrating just trying to figure out where exactly a player is in the NFL's concussion protocol, as there's little (sometimes no) visibility of the process from where we sit. On Wednesday though, B.J Kissel reported that Spencer Ware had been cleared from his Week 8 concussion, so he should be back to full health for Sunday's matchup with the Panthers. With Jamaal Charles out on injured reserve, the feature back role belongs solely to Ware.

Tevin Coleman, hamstring strain

Tevin Coleman has been rehabbing his hamstring strain for two weeks now, and there's still a strong chance he sits out through Atlanta's Week 11 bye. Coleman did not participate in Wednesday's practice, which I would interpret to mean he is questionable at best for this week. Thursday and Friday practice reports should make his status clear though.

Todd Gurley, thigh

Todd Gurley didn't practice on Wednesday, and while the absence has been reported as precautionary, this is something owners obviously need to check back on later in the week.

Doug Martin, hamstring strain

The heavens opened and rewarded us with a welcome visage Wednesday, as Doug Martin returned to practice for the first time since his Week 2 hamstring strain. Martin was a limited participant, so his Week 10 status is still a murky read. Given the shortage in the Tampa Bay backfield though, I'd expect Martin to tentatively take at least a few snaps this weekend even if he can't get a full practice under his belt. Hopefully Martin can either get that full practice, or we hear news that will help us determine his status later in the week.

Jacquizz Rodgers, foot sprain

Doug Martin can't return soon enough, as it looks like Jacquizz Rodgers will miss at least one more week with a sprained foot. Rodgers spent last week with his foot in a walking boot, and was never close to suiting up for Week 9. While Rodgers is out of his boot now, he's still not practicing, so I'd agree with the Tampa Bay Times Greg Auman that Rodgers is very doubtful for Week 10.

Derrick Henry, calf

Derrick Henry suffered a calf strain during Week 9 pregame warmups and was held out of Sunday's game. He has since undergone an MRI, and head coach Mike Mularkey has said that he could be out, "a day or two weeks." Henry did not practice on Wednesday, so we can safely rule out the low end of that timeline already. Historically, calf injuries typically sideline running backs from 1-3 weeks, though there are plenty of examples where this injury can cost them even more time. I don't think that Mularkey is necessarily wrong in including that two week mark as the high end of his estimate. Obviously, Mularkey has more information on Henry's exact injury than I do. But I wouldn't rule out the possibility that Henry remains sidelined until after the Titans Week 13 bye. Then again, right after I wrote that, I read this report saying that Henry looked, "better than anticipated," at practice. I'm hoping that's true, but it's hard to figure out how a player who didn't practice could look better than the coach anticipated.

DeMarco Murray, toe

I hate to even mention injury situations that I'm fairly certain are nothing more than a day of rest, but with Derrick Henry potentially missing some time, I'd be negligent not to point out that DeMarco Murray missed Wednesday's practice with a toe injury. Murray has been missing practice time and playing effectively through this toe injury since Week 8, so I don't have any real concerns here unless things change.

Dion Lewis, knee surgery

Plenty of folks have been eager to see how Dion Lewis fares in his long-awaited return from the the Physically Unable to Perform list after suffering a setback to his surgically-repaired knee. The trouble is, the Patriots have yet to activate Lewis to their roster. Lewis is practicing with the team, but the Patriots still have until November 17th to make the call on whether to bring him back or shut him down. The only way we can be sure of his return will be when (or if) we hear of his activation.

James Starks, meniscus trim

After being sidelined for the last four games, James Starks was able to return to a limited practice on Wednesday. While this is good news, I would hold off on trying to figure out the Green Bay backfield until Starks has gotten in at least one full practice. Thursday and Friday practices should help clear up this picture and tell us if Starks has a shot at playing this weekend.

Wide Receivers

Mike Evans, concussion

Early signs this week indicate that Mike Evans probably won't have any trouble passing the concussion protocol and returning to the lineup this weekend. Evans was no doubt helped by the fact that the Buccaneers played on Thursday, giving him a few extra days to recover. He was listed as a full participant in practice on Wednesday, though most reports indicate that he has not yet been cleared for contact. That final clearance should come in the next few days, as long as Evans doesn't suffer any setbacks. 

Allen Hurns, concussion

It's anyone's guess as to whether Allen Hurns will clear the concussion protocol in time for his Sunday game. Hurns has a bit of a history with concussions, but (sadly) nothing unusual for an NFL player. He recovered from a 2014 concussion during the team's bye, and missed one game with a different concussion in 2015. None of that means that this current recovery will be quick or straightforward, but it's at least promising that he doesn't have a scary and extensive history there. If Hurns is cleared, we should know before Saturday.

Jeremy Maclin, groin

Jeremy Maclin attempted to play through a groin injury that was nagging him going into Week 9, but he suffered an in-game aggravation and spent most of the game on the sideline. He missed practice on Wednesday, and while the team is still working the, "day to day," angle, I would speculate that Maclin will miss Week 10. If not handled conservatively, groin injuries can linger and possibly even snowball into a more severe injury that would require surgery. I see no reason for the Chiefs to rush Maclin back given how serious the consequences could be.

Will Fuller V, leg

We still have no details on the exact leg injury that is troubling Will Fuller V. The most logical assumption is that this a continuation of the hamstring injury that limited Fuller earlier this season, but that's just an educated guess. Whatever the injury, it's not a great sign that Fuller, coming out of his bye week, was still only able to put in a limited practice. That doesn't necessarily mean that he won't be ready for Week 10, but it does mean that we'll need more information before penciling him into any lineups.

Travis Benjamin, PCL sprain

Travis Benjamin has been attempting to play through a moderate PCL sprain for the last three weeks, but all indications are that something changed on Sunday and he was unable to finish the game. Whether this is a true setback or not remains to be seen, but the fact that Benjamin did not practice on Wednesday likely tells us all we need to know about his Week 10 status. The Chargers have a Week 11 bye, so the easy call here is to rest Benjamin until Week 12 at the earliest.

Victor Cruz, ankle sprain

I'm sure many of us had a sinking pit in the stomach feeling when we heard the words, "Victor Cruz," and, "MRI," in the same sentence this week. All indications so far are that the imaging scan done on Cruz's ankle was only precautionary, and that Cruz has nothing but a garden-variety ankle sprain. The Giants don't play until Monday night, so they won't release their first official practice report until Thursday. Hopefully, Cruz will practice to some extent this week, and return just fine for Week 10.

Larry Fitzgerald, ankle sprain

Much like with Victor Cruz, there doesn't seem to be any reason to worry about Larry Fitzgerald's ankle sprain. He suffered the injury back in Week 8, but had the Cardinals' bye week to rest and rehab. He was limited in Wednesday's practice, but there's no reason to think that's anything to be concerned about.

DeSean Jackson, shoulder

I'll level with you. I'm really sick of writing about DeSean Jackson's injury status. This season, he has played through ankle, knee, hamstring, and shoulder injuries. He frequently misses Wednesday practices, but always plays on game day. There are rarely any updates or details about the injuries, and to make matters worse, he's not exactly fantasy-relevant lately. With all that in mind, I'm not sure what to say about his latest missed Wednesday practice, this time due to an undefined shoulder injury that he suffered in Week 8. Coming out of his bye, I would've thought he'd be practicing in full, so we're now left wondering whether this is a true injury or just a day of rest. Unfortunately, the only answer we'll get won't come until Thursday and Friday practice reports.

Tight Ends

Ladarius Green, ankle surgery

Week 10 might mark Ladarius Green's return from the Physically Unable to Perform list. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler seems to think so, and he's a trustworthy Steelers reporter. Before he can play though, he'll have to be activated to the roster, so watch for that first. As far as expectations for Green, I wouldn't expect much early on if/when he does return, as he's made some odd comments as recently as last week, alluding to his being hesitant and not being back to full speed. Perhaps Green is just being cautious here, but this stood out.

Hunter Henry, knee

Hunter Henry had been attempting to play through an unspecified knee injury for the last few weeks, but ultimately ended up missing Week 9. He was able to put in a limited practice on Wednesday. While that's generally an optimistic sign, it's worth pointing out that the Chargers have a Week 11 bye, so I would expect that if this comes down to a game-time decision, they'd be inclined to hold Henry out. Hopefully though he'll have a full practice later in the week so that we don't have to take this decision into the weekend.

Jacob Tamme, shoulder

Although it's still early in the week, things don't look promising for Jacob Tamme, who is still recovering from a Week 8 shoulder injury, likely an AC sprain. After sitting out Week 9, Tamme was unable to practice on Wednesday. Until we hear otherwise, it's safe to assume that Austin Hooper will get another start at tight end.

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