NOTE: During the regular season, this column is a living document through Tuesday morning. 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.
Scroll to the bottom of this article for a quick look table of the week's most pressing injury situations and a review of players on injured reserve / PUP / NFI.
Footballguys will have close and detailed coverage of all injuries this season. Here's a look at my expected schedule. I will do my best to stick to this. Work and family responsibilities may sometimes cause brief delays.
Monday Injury Rounds: Posted Sunday night, updated through Tuesday AM. Detailed analysis of the week's injuries with table for quick review. Offensive injuries will be live Sunday night. Critical defensive and offensive line injuries will be added throughout the day on Monday. I'll be updating with news and analysis through Tuesday.
Midweek Injury Expectations: Posted Wednesday night. Analysis of the practice participation report with a table including my projection of each injured player's likely game status. Will include discussion of any major breaking injury news.
Sunday Gameday Expectations: Posted by Saturday afternoon, updated through Sunday morning inactives. Will include individual player blurbs with detailed thoughts on the week's injury news and my speculation on player availability and limitations. Will include table highlighting each day's practice participation, official game status, and my availability expectation.
I'll be contributing to our waiver wire podcast (Tuesday release) and our live Sunday morning pregame show (10 ET Sunday on YouTube). I will also be retweeting key pieces of news and my own reaction and analysis, so make sure you're following me @JeneBramel and checking my timeline on Twitter throughout the week.
James Conner | Right high ankle sprain | Week-to-Week | Questionable Week 14
Conner left Sunday night's game late in the fourth quarter with what television angles strongly suggest is a high ankle sprain. The injury did not appear particularly violent but Conner struggled off the field and was taken for x-rays. That raises the possibility of a lower leg or foot fracture. Most likely, x-rays will be negative and Conner will have an MRI to better define the injury on Monday.
Recovery from high ankle sprains can be variable. Some running backs and wide receivers return within 7-10 days from low grade injuries, others need 3-4 weeks with higher grade sprains. The Steelers will have a much better idea of Conner's Week 14 availability by Tuesday after the severity of the coming stiffness and swelling is known. Consider Conner a game-time decision until he proves he can cut at game speed without difficulty.
Monday Update: After the game, Mike Tomlin told reporters Conner suffered a leg contusion and then followed up with more reassurance on Monday. Ian Rapoport tweeted that his "understanding is the injury is not to Conner's ankle and not considered major at all." It's still difficult to dismiss video that is consistent with a high ankle sprain. If Conner did indeed only suffer a contusion and there is no significant swelling or stiffness through Tuesday, Conner may have escaped with minimal damage and be able to practice mid week.
A.J. Green | Aggravated right plantar plate strain | Week-to-Week | out Week 14 > likely out for season
Green tried to play through a foot injury that required additional imaging, a specialist evaluation to rule out surgery, and a month of rehabilitation. After a reassuring full week of practice, Green was cleared to return. Unfortunately, Green only made it through a quarter of play before aggravating his injury. Visibly frustrated, Green was carted off the field and did not return.
Surgery was a consideration previously and likely will be again as aggravated injuries are often worse than the initial injury. Even if Green chooses rehab again, he'll likely need another 3-4 weeks of recovery. With the Bengals rapidly falling out of playoff contention, it won't be a surprise to see Green moved to injured reserve this week.
Monday Update: Multiple reports on Monday night have Green strongly considering surgery. He'll visit w/ Dr. Robert Anderson on Tuesday. Expect to hear confirmation of surgery soon. The recovery timetable will likely be reported at 3-4 months but expect Green to be limited through OTAs next year. He should return at full strength for training camp.
Greg Olsen | Plantar fascia tear | Awaiting Information | Out Week 14
Olsen valiantly tried to play through a foot injury all season but a Week 13 aggravation will likely end his season. It was assumed Olsen was dealing with another injury to the bone he's had surgically fixated twice in the past 12 months. But Olsen told reporters after the game, he'd been trying to play through a "plantar" issue all season. He described this injury as a compensatory issue related to his prior injury. He said he felt a pop during the game and knew his foot had finally succumbed to the stress of continued play.
When Olsen described the injury, it sounded like a plantar plate injury -- a strain of the ligaments between the foot and toes similar to what A.J. Green has been trying to play through. Multiple reports later clarified the injury as a torn plantar fascia. That's a painful injury that rarely requires more than rehab. And some players notice that after the pain of the initial rupture fades they actually feel better than when the fascia was only partially strained. However, it sounds like Olsen recognizes his foot isn't healthy enough to aggressively rehab and seems resigned that his latest setback is a season-ending situation.
With the Panthers fighting for a playoff berth, it's possible Olsen will again try to rehab in the hopes of a return in late December or early January. But his Sunday comments suggest injured reserve is the more likely outcome.
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