Monday Injury Rounds: Should You Worry When Players Gain Weight

Should you worry when a player decides to gain or lose weight? Notes on Sony Michel's missed OTA workouts and rumors of Rob Gronkowski's return. Updating all offensive skill position injuries around the league.

Offseason weight changes -- Good thing or cause for concern?

We hear it every offseason. This year has been no different.

Marcus Mariota has added between five and ten pounds to be "able to absorb the hits" and "be healthy for a full year."

I'm asked the question on our live Audible podcast every offseason -- "What do you make of X player gaining/losing weight?"

On the surface, improvement in body weight makes sense. Physics would suggest adding weight should help smaller players absorb the pounding they take from bigger players over a six-month stretch of traumatic collisions. Adding mass should also keep a smaller player from being routinely overmatched by a larger player. Similarly, a skill position player could gain quickness from losing weight.

But it's not that simple. Bulk must be added with an understanding of where the weight is distributed. Care must be taken to avoid overloading joints or compromising flexibility.

NFL players and strength coaches understand this. Mariota acknowledged as much to reporters noting, "There isn't a specific number. It's really coming down to when I get out here, do I feel like I can move? Do I feel good with the weight? And if that is, just kind of continue to see how heavy I can get where I feel good and the happy medium is met."

Still, it's no surprise to see NFL talent struggle with the transition to the new weight. Adding weight too quickly and without regard to core strength, symmetry, and flexibility can lead to soft tissue injury. And there's no reason to think adding weight will prevent the biomechanical stress that leads to nerve injuries around the elbow, as Mariota dealt with last year. Putting on five to ten pounds of good body weight certainly won't improve Tennessee's offensive line play.

Good weight versus bad weight aside, my approach and answer to the question is a practical one.

Although most college players have access to NFL-caliber weight rooms and training programs, there's still room for young and physically maturing NFL players to naturally gain weight after they enter the league. You don't hear about those players. When we read an offseason story about weight gain or loss, it's invariably because a player is actively looking to make a change. It's to address a deficiency in preparation or ability.

It means a player is worried he cannot succeed at his current weight.

And that's the real issue. Sometimes a player's improved weight loss and conditioning have a dramatic and desired effect. Le'Veon Bell's improvement in lateral agility after losing weight is a clear example. More often than not, gaining or losing weight doesn't make up for the slight, but critical, differences in athletic ability a player truly needs to acquire to succeed in future years. There may be a placebo effect in play -- a player with improved conditioning likely has improved confidence, etc. -- but adding or dropping 5-15 pounds doesn't turn a player into a bionic, injury-resistant athlete.

So take these offseason stories with a grain of salt. It's reassuring to read a player is working hard to improve in the offseason. But heavier does not mean more durable. Lighter does not mean more agile. And neither guarantees health.


News and Notes - Michel, Gronkowski, and more

***Though he's been present, Sony Michel has yet to participate in offseason workouts. Trusted beat writer Mike Reiss speculates Michel is "likely being held back for health / medical reasons." There's been much consternation about the health of Todd Gurley's knee this offseason and whether a likely degenerative condition will limit Gurley's workload this season. Though the Patriots were comfortable enough with Michel's medical status to use a first-round pick on him in 2018, Michel required a procedure to relieve fluid in his knee joint as training camp began last year and are already choosing to limit his offseason workouts.

There's a good argument that proactive attempts to prevent issues that would require further maintenance and treatment are good practice. But this is an undeniable concern for a second-year player with a known knee condition. There are no reports of offseason procedures and Reiss doesn't feel Michel's absence is a big deal. However, Michel should have your attention in late July. If he's not able to pass his pre-camp physical and starts on the PUP list, it's obviously a major red flag.

***Cam Newton is cleared to throw during individual drills during Carolina's June minicamp this week. It's yet another positive step in his recovery from a January clean-up procedure.

***Philadelphia signed Carson Wentz to a contract extension last week. As postulated last month in the quarterback review, the commitment means the Eagles are satisfied with Wentz's recovery from serious knee and back injuries.

***The offseason rumor mill brought speculation that Rob Gronkowski would un-retire at some point this season. I've no opinion on whether Gronkowski will return to the Patriots. However, his health remains a significant issue. Love of the game will not change the multiple levels of degenerative disc disease in his lower back. It will not assist Gronkowski's conditioning (difficult to maintain core strength and flexibility no matter how dedicated his efforts may be) or recovery (also extremely difficult once inflammation recurs). If Gronkowski returns and the Patriots use him as a situational assassin, there may be some sustainable production. If he returns to his previous role as a dual blocking and receiving threat over 50-60 snaps, I can't see him remaining healthy and productive for long.


details on Todd Gurley, Carson Wentz, Travis kelce and more...

All offensive skill positions are now combined into a single feature and table below. If you missed the last month of position-specific articles, you missed a close examination of Todd Gurley's knee condition, which is more straightforward than the Rams would have us believe, deep dives on Cam Newton and Carson Wentz, and details on the post-season surgeries and recoveries on Travis Kelce and Jack Doyle.

You can find all those discussions -- updated through early June -- and more here:

Quarterback Update
Running Back Update
Wide Receiver Update
Tight End Update


Quarterbacks
Player Team Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Andrew Luck Ind Calf strain Offseason 2019 Not participating in OTAs Probable for training camp
Cam Newton Car Arthroscopic shoulder procedure Late January 2019 Limited participation in OTAs Probable for training camp Now cleared to throw
Carson Wentz Phi Lumbar stress fracture Mid-December 2018 Participating in OTAs Ready for training camp
Jimmy Garoppolo SF Left ACL reconstruction Early October 2018 Limited in OTAs Probable for training camp Expected in 7v7 during OTAs
Marcus Mariota Ten Ulnar nerve contusion | Recurrent stinger Multiple episodes 2018 Ready for OTAs Ready for training camp
Andy Dalton Cin Right thumb ligament repair Late November 2018 Ready for OTAs Ready for OTAs
Alex Smith Was Right tibia/fibula fixation | Post-surgical infection Late November 2018 | Early December 2018 Unlikely to play 2019 Unlikely to return to NFL
Colt McCoy Was Right fibula fracture fixation | Follow up procedures Early December 2018 | March & April 2019 Ready for training camp Probable for training camp

Running Backs
Player Team Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Todd Gurley LAR Left knee inflammation Recurrent 2018 Not participating in OTAs Probable for training camp
Christian McCaffrey Car Shoulder surgery Early offseason 2019 Ready for training camp Ready for training camp
Devonta Freeman Atl Core abdominal muscle repair Mid-October 2018 Participating in OTAs Ready for training camp
Ito Smith Atl Left knee meniscus repair Mid-December 2018 Ready for training camp Ready for training camp
Sony Michel NE Chronic knee condition June 2019 Not participating in OTAs Probable for training camp
Derrius Guice Was Left ACL reconstruction Mid-August 2018 Ready for training camp Probable for training camp Individual work in OTAs?
Bryce Love Was Right ACL reconstruction Mid-December 2018 Questionable for training camp PUP to start camp
Phillip Lindsay Den Right wrist fracture / ligament sprain Late December 2018 Limited in OTAs Probable for training camp
Aaron Jones GB Right MCL sprain Mid-December 2018 Expected in OTAs Ready for OTAs
Kerryon Johnson Det Left knee sprain Mid-November 2018 Ready for OTAs Ready for OTAs
Jerick McKinnon SF Right ACL reconstruction Mid-September 2018 Did not participate in OTAs Probable for training camp
Matt Breida SF Pectoral muscle tear Mid-May 2019 Did not participate in OTAs Probable for training camp
Raheem Mostert SF Right forearm fracture Early November 2018 Did not participate in OTAs Probable for training camp
Bilal Powell NYJ Cervical microdiscectomy Late October 2018 Cleared to return Ready for training camp Re-signed by NYJ
Frank Gore Buf Left foot sprain Mid-December 2018 Ready for OTAs Ready for OTAs
Chris Carson Sea Knee procedure Offseason Did not participate in OTAs Probable for training camp
C.J. Prosise Sea Core abdominal muscle repair Early December 2018 Ready for OTAs Ready for OTAs
Miles Sanders Phi Hamstring strain June 2019 Limited in OTAs Probable for training camp
Josh Adams Phi Shoulder labrum repair January 2019 Questionable for training camp Questionable for training camp
Corey Clement Phi Right knee sprain Early December 2018 Questionable for training camp Ready for training camp
Ryquell Armstead Jac Hamstring strain Early June 2019 Not participating in OTAs Probable for training camp
Isaiah Crowell Oak Achilles tendon repair Mid-May 2019 Injured reserve Injured reserve Out for 2019 season
Kenneth Dixon Bal Undisclosed June 2019 Returned to practice Probable for training camp
Jeremy Hill NE Right ACL reconstruction Early November 2018 Questionable for training camp Questionable for training camp
Jay Ajayi FA Left ACL reconstruction Early October 2018 Questionable for training camp Questionable for training camp Free agent
Rodney Anderson Cin Right ACL reconstruction Late September 2018 Ready for training camp Probable for training camp

Wide Receivers
Player Team Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
DeAndre Hopkins Hou Right AC sprain Early January 2019 Ready for training camp Ready for training camp
Will Fuller V Hou Right ACL reconstruction Late October 2018 Did not participate in OTAs Questionable for training camp
Julio Jones Atl Foot injury June 2019 Limited in OTAs Probable for training camp
Mike Evans TB Hamstring strain Early June 2019 Limited in OTAs Probable for training camp
A.J. Green Cin Right plantar plate repair Early December 2018 Did not participate in OTAs Probable for training camp
John Ross Cin Tightness (unspecified) Mid-May 2019 Did not participate in OTAs Probable for training camp
Cooper Kupp LAR Left ACL reconstruction Mid-November 2018 Did not participate in OTAs Probable for training camp
Doug Baldwin FA Core abdominal muscle repair / Arthroscopic knee surgery April 2019 / February 2019 Released by Seattle Expected to retire
T.Y. Hilton Ind High ankle sprain Recurrent 2018 Participated in OTAs Ready for training camp
Deon Cain Ind ACL reconstruction Early August 2018 Did not participate in OTAs Questionable for training camp
Jarvis Landry Cle Undisclosed May 2019 Did not participate in OTAs Probable for training camp
Marvin Jones Jr Det Right knee bone contusion Mid-November 2018 Did not participate in OTAs Probable for training camp
Kenny Golladay Det Chest injury Late December 2018 Did not participate in OTAs Probable for training camp
Anthony Miller Chi Left shoulder labrum repair Mid-January 2019 Limited in OTAs Probable for training camp
Emmanuel Sanders Den Left Achilles tendon repair Early December 2018 Did not participate in OTAs Questionable for training camp
Christian Kirk Ari Left fifth metatarsal fixation Early December 2018 Partial participation in OTAs Probable for training camp
Marquise Brown Bal Left Lisfranc joint reconstruction Early January 2019 Did not participate in OTAs Questionable for training camp Ravens expect in camp
Miles Boykin Bal Hamstring strain May 2019 Limited in OTAs Probable for training camp
Paul Richardson Jr Was Right AC joint reconstruction Early November 2018 Individual drills in OTAs Probable for training camp
Demaryius Thomas NE Left Achilles repair Late December 2018 Cleared to run Likely PUP to start camp
Marqise Lee Jac Left ACL reconstruction / PCL repair Late August 2018 Did not participate in OTAs Likely PUP to start camp May return late in camp
Albert Wilson Mia Right hip injury Late October 2018 Did not participate in OTAs Probable for training camp
Jakeem Grant Mia Achilles surgery Late November 2018 Probable for training camp Probable for training camp
Cole Beasley Buf Core abdominal muscle repair April 2019 Did not participate in OTAs Probable for training camp
Breshad Perriman TB Shoulder injury May 2019 Did not participate in OTAs Probable for training camp
Allen Hurns Dal Left ankle dislocation / fibula fracture Early January 2019 Did not participate in OTAs Likely PUP to start camp
Mack Hollins Phi Core abdominal muscle repair Early September 2018 Did not participate in OTAs Questionable for training camp
Cameron Meredith NO Arthroscopic knee surgery Early November 2018 Did not participate in OTAs Questionable for training camp

Tight Ends
Player Team Injury Date Player/Team Says FBGs Expects Notes
Travis Kelce KC Ankle surgery Late February 2019 Not participating in OTAs Probable for training camp
Jack Doyle Ind Hip surgery Late February 2019 Not participating in OTAs Questionable for training camp Labral repair?
Eric Ebron Ind Core abdominal muscle repair April 2019 Not participating in OTAs Probable for training camp
Evan Engram NYG Undisclosed Early June 2019 Not participating in OTAs Probable for training camp
Greg Olsen Car Right fifth metatarsal fracture fixation revision Late December 2018 Limited in OTAs Probable for training camp Cleared to return
Hunter Henry LAC Right ACL reconstruction Late May 2018 Participating in OTAs Ready for training camp
Austin Hooper Atl Ankle injury June 2019 Not participating in OTAs Probable for training camp
Delanie Walker Ten Right ankle dislocation/fibula fracture Early September 2018 Limited in OTAs Probable for training camp
Jonnu Smith Ten Left MCL sprain Early December 2018 Not participating in OTAs Probable for training camp
Trey Burton Chi Core abdominal muscle repair Early January 2019 Not participating in OTAs Probable for training camp
Hayden Hurst Bal Foot stress fracture / Hamstring strain August 2018 / Early June 2019 Limited in OTAs Ready for training camp
Tyler Kroft Buf Right foot fracture fixation revision Late May 2019 Not participating in OTAs Likely PUP to start camp
Cameron Brate TB Hip labrum repair Mid-January 2019 Not participating in OTAs Questionable for training camp
Tyler Eifert Cin Right ankle dislocation/fibula fracture Late September 2018 Limited in OTAs Probable for training camp
Jordan Reed Was Right toe sprain Mid-December 2018 Skipped voluntary workouts Probable for training camp
Garrett Celek SF Concussion Late December 2018 Not participating in OTAs Questionable for training camp Yet to be cleared
Will Dissly Sea Right patellar tendon repair Early October 2018 Not participating in OTAs Likely PUP to start camp
Geoff Swaim Jac Left wrist fracture fixation Mid-November 2018 Participating in OTAs Ready for training camp
Jake Butt Den Left ACL reconstruction Late September 2018 Not participating in OTAs Questionable for training camp
Austin Seferian-Jenkins FA Core abdominal muscle repair Early October 2018 Limited in OTAs Probable for training camp

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

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