Monday Injury Rounds: Week 3

Discussing concerning injuries to Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. Early analysis on James Conner and Devin Singletary. Follow up on Hunter Henry and Sam Darnold. Availability expectations for Week 3 for all injured players.

Inseason injury coverage

Footballguys will again provide comprehensive injury coverage during the regular season.

My writing and podcast schedule will include:

Monday Injury Rounds > Published as soon as complete Sunday night and updated through Tuesday morning, this feature will review all the major injuries from the weekend's games, provide follow up analysis on injured players who have yet to return to play, and project when every injured player will return.

Waiver Wire Podcast > Tuesday morning release reviewing all injuries at the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end positions with Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom heading into your weekly waiver run.

Midweek Injury Expectations > Published late Wednesday night after the first weekly practice participation report and updated through Thursday's practice report, this feature will detail the current practice participation of every listed player and project the likelihood each player will play in the coming week.

Thursday Live Audible podcast > Joining Cecil Lammey, Sigmund Bloom, and Matt Waldman at 900 ET every Thursday night for a comprehensive Q&A updating all player injuries.

Gameday Injury Expectations > Published Saturday, this feature will review the practice status of every injured player, provide analysis on player/coach/beat writer comments throughout the week, and discuss how likely and how effective each injured player will be on Sunday.

Injury Rounds

Drew Brees | Right thumb injury | Week 2 | 6-8 Weeks | Out Week 3

Brees hit his right hand on Aaron Donald's outstretched hand and did not return. Television angles did not show the injury clearly but did show the Saints' team physician examining the ligaments of Brees' thumb closely. My interpretation of the exam on replay is that there was more movement in the joint where the thumb meets the hand than there should be. That strongly suggests an ulnar collateral ligament injury, a theory that is supported by the method in which Brees' thumb was later taped and his inability to grip a football on the sideline.

Brees will undoubtedly have an MRI to further define his injury. If my interpretation is accurate, the severity of Brees' injury is important. It's possible the injury is minor and rest and rehab will be indicated, with Brees' return dependent on the stability of the ligament and ability to return to full grip strength. If the injury is higher-grade, surgical options become more likely. Either way, Brees is at risk of a multiple-week absence.

Expect the national media to follow Brees closely over the next 24 hours. Brees told reporters he was planning to see a hand specialist Sunday evening. Still, it's unlikely Brees will have imaging studies completed tonight and I don't expect to hear a specific update on his condition until Monday afternoon.

I'll update with any additional news as it's reported.

Sunday Update: Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen are reporting Drew Brees will remain in Los Angeles to see noted orthopedic hand expert Steven Shin on Monday. Surgical options are likely to be discussed.

Monday Update: Ian Rapoport tweeted the Saints suspect a ligament injury. Brees will be evaluated by Dr. Steven Shin today, who developed a surgical procedure that allows quicker rehab and a shorter recovery timeline in athletes with the ligament injury Brees is presumed to have. Shin has returned baseball and basketball players in 5-6 weeks. That timeline may not prove accurate for a quarterback but provides a reasonable initial goal should Brees choose surgery.

A six-week recovery would put Brees up against the team’s Week 9 bye. New Orleans gets a divisional matchup against Atlanta in Week 10. If Brees has surgery, Week 10 may prove more realistic than Week 8. More to come on Brees throughout the day.

Monday Update: Earlier today, multiple reports suggested Brees was likely to have surgery and miss 6-8 weeks. However, Brees is continuing to evaluate his options. He has told local writer Mike Triplett he will meet with another hand specialist in Houston on Tuesday before making a decision on surgery. It's still likely Brees will have no recourse other than surgery but a final decision has not been made.

Ben Roethlisberger | Right elbow injury | Week 2 | Injured reserve | 2020 return

Roethlisberger reached for his right forearm and elbow after a second-quarter pass. He continued to look uncomfortable on subsequent pass attempts and did not return in the second half. Following the game, there were reports Roethlisberger was dealing with elbow pain and inflammation during practice.

The most concerning injury to a quarterback's elbow would be an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) sprain. That's the ligament on the inside of the elbow commonly injured by baseball pitchers and repaired by the well-known Tommy John surgery. While it's impossible to rule out that injury in Roethlisberger's case, there are multiple clues arguing against it. First, it's unlikely Roethlisberger would have been allowed to continue to practice and play with a known UCL concern. Second, Roethlisberger reached to a different area of the forearm more consistent with a tennis elbow like injury or forearm muscle strain. Finally, the continued hand-shaking after his pass attempts might suggest tingling or burning related to a nerve injury.

Unfortunately, all of the above is speculation. Roethlisberger will have an MRI to further define the injury on Monday.

As with Brees, I'll update here with any additional news as it's reported.

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