Injury Rounds: Preseason Week 2

More concern on Jordan Reed's toe injury and updated analysis on Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Jay Ajayi, and many others

For the rest of the preseason, I'll have a Monday article updating the injury status of players around the league with quick-hitting articles during the week on any major injury stories that occur.

FOLLOWUP APPOINTMENTS

JORDAN REED | TOE INJURY | WEEK-TO-WEEK

I was ready to be optimistic about Reed after seeing tweets noting how well his first practice with his new foot orthotic went.

Then, I read this quote Reed gave reporters on Sunday:

"It's the cleats more than anything," Reed said. "The cleats prior to this were more narrow and pressing on the bone that I had the fracture in. These cleats are wider and the orthotics are softer so I don't feel it."

Wait, what?

Reed's injury had previously been reported as a toe sprain. Last week, he confirmed he has been dealing with the injury since last year and today confirms he had a fracture in the foot. There is still a piece or two missing from this puzzle. But a turf toe like injury associated with a fractured bone irritated by certain types of cleats sounds very much like a sesamoid bone issue.

There are two small sesamoid bones found within the tendon on the underside of the joint between the big toe and the foot. Inflammation around those bones, a stress response within the bones, or a fracture would all cause pain in the same area as turf toe/toe sprain. Players may choose rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and orthotics to treat these conditions, but sesamoid injuries often require surgery. Reed's visit to Dr. Robert Anderson -- the NFL's most prominent foot surgeon -- now makes a ton more sense.

Reed was very pleased with how his foot responded to the orthotic. And he told reporters he'd be back shortly. But the orthotic could be a final attempt to manage this condition through the season. There's been no confirmation about Reed's specific injury. But my spidey senses are tingling on this one. Reed may well make it through the year without difficulty. But his revelation today is worrisome.

ANDREW LUCK | RIGHT SHOULDER LABRUM REPAIR | JANUARY 2017 | WEEK-TO-WEEK

There was a brief firestorm on Twitter yesterday after Colts' general manager, Chris Ballard, and owner, Jim Irsay, separately addressed the media and would not commit to Luck playing in Week 1.

Irsay talked around the issue, saying, "I can't say that unequivocally he'll be ready for the Ram game. But I can say I feel confident he'll be ready to start the season. He could start out in Los Angeles. I don't want to act like that is a foregone conclusion that he's not going to be starting out there. He could, but he also could not."

That's a really long way of saying, "We're still not sure of his Week 1 status."

Though Irsay's ramblings above got the bulk of the media attention and discussion, it's this quote that actually provides actionable information: "I don't think we've let him throw like he can throw." That's the first confirmation we've had that Luck is throwing a football.

Ballard told reporters Luck's "strength levels are probably better than they were at any point last season." I wouldn't read too much into that line either. I don't know what "strength levels" means or how they may be measured.

The bottom line is this: Nothing has changed with Luck over the past week. He continues to progress in his prescribed throwing program. But Luck is still in the early stages of the program and the Colts have no plans to push him. The end stage of the program should have him ready for Week 1 but it's too soon for anyone to feel comfortable projecting his return with certainty. And you should still expect Luck to need some time to build stamina and accuracy in live game conditions.

CAM NEWTON | RIGHT SHOULDER SORENESS | EARLY PRESEASON | DAY-TO-DAY

Newton threw during team drills on Sunday. It was his first action outside of limited individual drills in two weeks. A visit with his surgeon in late July raised concern for limited range of motion in his shoulder, prompting the cool-off period to ensure Newton did not put himself at risk of a compensatory injury or other setbacks from changing his throwing motion due to pain. 

The Panthers continue to talk optimistically about Newton and are executing their previously stated plan of rebuilding arm strength slowly over the next 1-2 weeks. Having now progressed from light throwing to individual work with his receivers to brief participation in team drills without concern, the Panthers are reportedly deciding whether to prep Newton for a preseason game or wait until opening weekend to return their quarterback to live action.

For now, there has been no indication Newton will be unable to play Week 1.

JAY AJAYI | CONCUSSION | EARLY PRESEASON | WEEK-TO-WEEK

Ajayi returned to the field in pads after the team cleared him to return after two weeks of rehab for a concussion. He left the field with a trainer holding his helmet, which immediately prompted concern for a recurrence of symptoms. After practice, Adam Gase told reporters Ajayi was taken off the field to hydrate and was not experiencing concussion symptoms. He also clarified that Ajayi hadn't been formally cleared by an independent neurologist. 

While there remains a chance Ajayi was dealing with more than dehydration and reports recurrent symptoms on Monday, it looks like he's recovered and will continue practicing this week.

JOE FLACCO | DISC HERNIATION | OFFSEASON | WEEK-TO-WEEK

The Ravens told reporters this week they expect Flacco to return to practice this preseason but not play in any preseason games. A follow-up visit last week was reassuring and Flacco was said to be making progress. The official word on Flacco's injury continues to be "soreness" or "stiffness" but specialist visits and multiple weeks of rest suggest that Flacco's stiffness is likely related to a disc condition as was initially reported by Ian Rapoport.

That semantic note is important. Even if Flacco is cleared to practice soon, his prescribed period of rest -- and possibly more, though no steroid injections were reported -- puts him in a higher category of concern this year. Back spasms secondary to a herniated disc could recur at any time.

Mike Williams | Herniated disc | Offseason | Week-to-Week

On Monday afternoon, Ian Rapoport reported that several sources have told him Williams will practice in September and work toward playing in October. That means the team feels Williams will need an additional six (or more) weeks of rehab before he's cleared to return to live game action. Early October would be Week 4 -- but it could be longer. The team will want Williams available to practice during the early weeks of the regular season, making PUP unlikely. Should there be any setbacks, surgery would be a near certainty.

Others of note: Sammy Watkins (ankle) will return to practice this week. Donte Moncrief (AC sprain) was cleared to return to practice last week. Corey Davis (hamstring) is making progress but remains week to week. Latavius Murray (ankle) was activated off the PUP list and returned to practice last week. Eric Ebron (hamstring) is expected to return to practice this week. Sterling Shepard (ankle) returned to practice. Josh Doctson (hamstring) will reportedly need another week of rehab before returning. Jeremy Langford (ankle) and James Conner (AC sprain) both returned to practice last week. Matt Forte (hamstring) has yet to return to practice. Minnesota tackle Riley Reiff (back) was cleared to return to practice last week. Jalen Ramsey was activated off the PUP list last week and has returned to practice.


INJURY ROUNDS

Leonard Fournette | foot injury | preseason week 1 | day-to-day

Fournette did not miss practice prior to the team's first preseason game and looked fit on nine carries last week. However, the Jaguars held him out of practice on Sunday after he reported foot soreness. Doug Marrone was adamant that Fournette's absence was precautionary but that the team wouldn't rush him back if the soreness -- which was present before the preseason game -- persisted. For now, there doesn't appear anything of concern here. But nebulous foot injuries can linger and move into the nagging category without much warning. We'll see how the Jaguars approach Fournette this week. Multiple missed practices, a missed preseason game, reports of a specialist visit or an imaging study would all heighten concern.

Devonta Freeman | Concussion | Preseason Week 2 | Week-to-Week

Freeman is in the concussion protocol, according to the Falcons. Like Jay Ajayi, do not expect to see Freeman for at least a week. The team may choose to advance Freeman through the protocol quickly but it's rare for teams to move players through multiple stages in a single day as they sometimes do during the regular season.

Jordan Matthews | Sternum fracture | Preseason Week 2 | Week-to-Week

Matthews left practice yesterday -- his first with the Bills -- after sustaining a chest injury. After further evaluation, Matthews was found to have a "chip fracture in his sternum" and is said to be week-to-week. The most likely place for a small fracture around the sternum is at the bottom. It's very unlikely to have rib involvement or a lung injury in that area and the early report of a week-to-week timetable suggests the same.

Think of this injury as you would a rib fracture or contusion. Matthews will likely be cleared within a week or two and his return to practice will be based on pain tolerance. There's no looming regular season game to expedite Matthews' return. However, the Bills will likely get Matthews back running routes quickly to help him gain confidence with Tyrod Taylor and assure his conditioning doesn't become an issue. We may not see Matthews in a preseason game, but he should be practicing in advance of Week 1.

Ryan Kelly | Foot injury | Preseason Week 1 | Week-to-Week

The Colts did not provide specifics on Kelly's injury, with Mike Chappell reporting only that the center and anchor of the Indianapolis offensive line would miss "a few weeks." Without details, it's difficult to gauge an accurate timeline. I'll have more when possible.

DEMARCO MURRAY | HAMSTRING STRAIN | PRESEASON WEEK 1 | DAY-TO-DAY

Murray left practice with a hamstring injury last week but the Titans expect him to return to practice this week.

Mike Gillislee | Hamstring strain | Offseason | Week-to-Week

The Patriots heavily use the PUP list every preseason, stashing players with minor injury and conditioning concerns until they're ready. So it's odd to learn Gillislee has missed multiple practices with a hamstring injury he's reportedly been fighting since OTAs. The injury isn't expected to be serious but hamstring aggravations are difficult recoveries for running backs. If Gillislee isn't cleared to return soon, it's definite cause for concern.

Others of note: Doug Baldwin suffered a foot injury in practice last week that is not believed to be serious. Amari Cooper missed practice last week with a non-specific leg injury. Bilal Powell didn't practice last week with soreness in his neck but there are no indications the team is concerned. Kerry Hyder Jr likely has a torn Achilles and will miss the season. Denzel Perryman left with an ankle injury and was seen on the sideline in a walking boot later in the game. Jordan Matthews is under evaluation for a chest injury (see above for more details). Raekwon McMillan has an ACL tear and will miss the season. Green Bay guard Don Barclay has an ankle injury of unknown significance. Baltimore guard Alex Lewis will miss the season with a shoulder labrum tear. Miami center Ted Larsen is expected to be placed on injured reserve after surgery to repair a torn biceps. DeForest Buckner, Derek Wolfe, and Tyrone Crawford have ankle sprains and will be week-to-week.


INJURED PLAYERS ON ACTIVE ROSTER

Quarterbacks Injured But on the Active Roster
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Andrew Luck Right shoulder labrum repair Mid January Active - PUP Week-to-Week | Week 1 Return Throwing phase of rehab
Cam Newton Right rotator cuff repair / soreness  PS W1 Day-to-Day Day-to-Day  
Joe Flacco Disc herniation Offseason Week-to-Week Week-to-Week Making progress in rehab
Teddy Bridgewater Left knee dislocation / Multi-ligament repair August 2016 Active - PUP Month-to-Month Week 1 return tough ask
Running Backs Injured But on the Active Roster
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Demarco Murray Hamstring strain PS W1 Day-to-Day Day-to-Day  
Devonta Freeman Concussion PS W2 Week-to-Week Week-to-Week  
Jay Ajayi Concussion Late July Day-to-Day Day-to-Day  
Leonard Fournette Foot injury Early August Day-to-Day Day-to-Day  
Latavius Murray Right ankle surgery Late March Activated off PUP   Returned to practice
Matt Forte Hamstring strain Early August No information Week-to-Week Missed > 1 week practice
Bilal Powell Neck soreness Early August No information Day-to-Day  
Mike Gillislee Hamstring strain Chronic No information Week-to-Week  
Kenneth Dixon Meniscus repair Late July Out for season 4-6 Months | 2017 return Likely IR soon
Devontae Booker Wrist fracture fixation Late July 6-8 Weeks 6-8 Weeks | Early season return  
Jeremy Langford Ankle sprain Late July Returned to practice    
Lance Dunbar Complications Oct 2015 knee injury   Active - PUP Week-to-Week "No resolution in near future"
James Conner AC sprain Late July Returned to practice    
Wide Receivers Injured But on the Active Roster
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Sammy Watkins Right ankle sprain PS W1 Cleared to practice    
Doug Baldwin Right foot injury PS W2 Day-to-Day Day-to-Day  
Amari Cooper Leg injury PS W1 No information given Awaiting information  
Donte Moncrief AC sprain PS W1 Returned to practice    
Corey Davis Hamstring strain PS W1 Week-to-Week Week-to-Week  
Jordan Matthews Sternum fracture PS W2 Week-to-Week 3-4 Weeks  
Will Fuller V Clavicle fracture PS W1 8-12 Weeks 8-10+ Weeks  
Mike Williams Disc herniation | Multiple steroid injections May | July Active - PUP 6+ Weeks Progressing in rehab
John Brown Quad strain Late July  Week-to-Week Week-to-Week Returned to individual drills
Sterling Shepard Ankle sprain Early August Cleared to practice    
Josh Doctson Hamstring strain PS W1 Week-to-Week Week-to-Week Likely to miss another week 
Quincy Enunwa Neck injury PS W1 Out for Season 2018 Return  
Malcolm Mitchell Knee soreness Early preseason No information given Week-to-Week  
Breshad Perriman Hamstring strain Early preseason Week-to-Week Week-to-Week  
Markus Wheaton Finger fracture PS W2 No timetable given 3-4 Weeks  
Marquise Lee Right high ankle sprain  PS W2 Week-to-Week 3-4 Weeks  
Sammie Coates Jr Arthroscopic knee surgery  Late July 3-4 Weeks 3-6 Weeks  
Paul Richardson Jr Right AC sprain PS W2 Week-to-Week Week-to-Week  
Tavon Austin Hamstring strain Early preseason Week-to-Week Week-to-Week  
Curtis Samuel Hamstring strain Late July Not practicing Week-to-Week  
JuJu Smith-Schuster Concussion PS W2 No timetable given Week-to-Week Returned to individual drills
Carlos Henderson Thumb surgery PS W2 No timetable given 4-6 Weeks  
Tight Ends Injured But on the Active Roster
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Jordan Reed Toe sprain | Ankle injury July Active - PUP Week-to-Week Now has custom orthotic
Eric Ebron Hamstring strain Late July Expected to practice Day-to-Day  
Offensive Line Injured But on the Active Roster
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Taylor Decker Shoulder labrum repair Early June Active - PUP 5-6 Months  
Terron Armstead Shoulder labrum repair June Active - PUP 5-6 Months  
Ryan Kelly Foot injury PS W1 Few Weeks 4-6+ Weeks Awaiting specifics
Max Unger Lisfranc repair Early May Active - PUP | Week 1 Return 6-9 Months Something doesn't add up here
Riley Reiff Back injury Offseason Returned to practice    
Kyle Long Ankle surgery / complications November 2016 Limited practice Day-to-Day  
Don Barclay Ankle injury PS W2 Awaiting information Awaiting information  
Ted Larsen Biceps injury PS W1 Likely IR Month-to-Month Possible return designation
Alex Lewis Shoulder labral tear PS W2 Out for season 4-6 Months 2018 Return
Josh Garnett Arthroscopic knee surgery Early August Week 1 Return Minimum 3-4 Weeks  
Forrest Lamp ACL tear Early August   Out for season  
Nico Siragusa Knee dislocation | ACL/MCL/PCL tear Early August   Out for season  
Defensive Players Injured But on the Active Roster
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Deone Bucannon Ankle surgery Mid May Active - PUP | W1 return 4-5 Months On target for W1 return
Jalen Ramsey Core abdominal muscle repair Mid June Activated off PUP   Returned to practice
DeForest Buckner Ankle sprain Early preseason Day-to-Day Day-to-Day  
Ezekiel Ansah Undisclosed   Active - PUP Day-to-Day No update from team last week
Kerry Hyder Jr Left Achilles tear PS W2 Out for Season 2018 Return  
Dont'a Hightower Undisclosed   Active - PUP Day-to-Day No update from team last week
Derek Wolfe Ankle sprain PS W2 No timetable given Week-to-Week  
Denzel Perryman Left ankle injury PS W2 Awaiting information Awaiting information  
Su'a Cravens Knee injury PS W2 2-3 Weeks Week-to-Week  
Raekwon McMillan ACL tear PS W2 Out for season 2018 Return   
George Iloka Knee sprain PS W1 3-4 Weeks 3-4 Weeks  
Clayton Geathers Cervical discectomy / fusion Mid May Active - PUP 4-6 Months Expected inseason PUP
Pernell McPhee Undisclosed knee   Active - PUP Awaiting information  
Tamba Hali Undisclosed   Active - PUP Awaiting information  
Tyrone Crawford Ankle sprain PS W2 Day-to-Day Day-to-Day  
Shane Ray Wrist ligament repair Late July 6-8 Weeks 6-8 Weeks  
Vernon Butler Knee sprain PS W2 Week-to-Week Week-to-Week  
Malik McDowell Concussion / Facial injuries Late July Active - NFI Week-to-Week  
Zachary Orr Spinal malformation   Yet to be cleared by NFL team    

INJURED PLAYERS NOT ON ACTIVE ROSTER

Notable Quarterbacks on PUP/NFI/IR
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Ryan Tannehill Left ACL reconstruction Mid August IR 2018 Return  
Notable Running Backs on PUP/NFI/IR
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
           
Notable Wide Receivers on PUP/NFI/IR
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
           
Notable Tight Ends on PUP/NFI/IR
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Crockett Gillmore MCL reconstruction Early August IR 2018 Return  
Notable Offensive Line on PUP/NFI/IR
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
           
Notable Defensive Players on PUP/NFI/IR
Player Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Trent Murphy ACL reconstruction / MCL sprain PS W2 IR 2018 Return  
Malcolm Smith Pectoral tendon tear PS W1 IR 2018 Return  
Dominique Easley ACL reconstruction Early August IR 2018 Return  

Check back for more injury analysis throughout training camp and follow on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking injury news, commentary, and analysis of injury news around the NFL