Injury Aftermath: Week 1
by Andrew Potter and Zach Binney
Thanks to staff writer Zach Binney's analysis of NFL injury data, we are able to provide detailed injury return (number of games missed) and recovery (number of weeks limited in practices or games) estimates based on historical data for select injuries. These estimates also consider the position of the injured player. Details of our methodology are available here.
Titans Tight End Delanie Walker -- Ankle (IR)
Delanie Walker suffered both an ankle dislocation and associated bone fracture against Miami. The injury will require surgery, and Walker will not return this season. 2017 third-round draft pick Jonnu Smith will take over Walker's starting duties. Walker has either led or tied for the team lead in receptions in each of the past four seasons, so Smith has some large boots to fill. Fourth-year journeyman tight end MyCole Pruitt was signed off the Texans practice squad to replace Walker on the Titans roster.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota injured his right elbow and was ultimately removed from the game, though not before throwing two third-quarter interceptions. Mariota said after the game that he could not feel his hand and could not grip the ball properly, which sounds like an ulnar nerve (funny bone) injury and probably contributed to those interceptions. About 50 percent of elbow injuries to quarterbacks result in at least one missed game, and 40 percent take four or more weeks to recover. Mariota will be evaluated by doctors today, but fortunately he is expected to be available for Week 2.
With right tackle Jack Conklin still sidelined following the knee injury he sustained in January's playoff defeat against the Patriots, left tackle Taylor Lewan also left Sunday's game due to concussion symptoms. This left the Titans with backup tackle Dennis Kelly and backup guard Kevin Pamphile playing right and left tackle, respectively, in the second half.
Panthers Tight End Greg Olsen -- Foot (IR)
The prevailing suspicion is that Greg Olsen suffered a recurrence of the Jones fracture that caused him to miss roughly half of last season. If true, that would again mean he is likely to miss approximately eight games, and possibly to be placed on injured reserve with the intention of using one of the return designations for him later in the year. Olsen has been a key component of the Panthers passing game since joining the team from Chicago, but will now have missed significant time in two consecutive seasons since turning 32. He is likely to be replaced in the lineup by fourth-round rookie Ian Thomas, an intriguing but raw prospect who can operate as both a blocker and a receiver.
Right tackle Daryl Williams injured his knee and left Sunday's game. Though Ron Rivera stated after the game that Williams' injury was not as severe as the patellar dislocation and MCL sprain he suffered during training camp, Williams is still expected to miss time. He will have the knee scanned by MRI today. It's difficult to make projections about unknown knee injuries, but about one-third cause offensive linemen to miss at least one game, and 20 percent cause them to miss four or more weeks. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks. If this injury is related to Williams' prior injury, however, these estimates may be optimistic.
Falcons Safety Keanu Neal -- Knee (IR)
Falcons Linebacker Deion Jones -- Foot (IR)
The Falcons officially placed starting safety Keanu Neal on injured reserve today, after he injured his ACL on opening night. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by FO Almanac 2018 Top 25 Prospect Damontae Kazee. Defensive end Steven Means, who was the team's final cut when reducing the roster to 53 players, was re-signed to the active roster in Neal's stead.
UPDATE: In a huge surprise development, the Falcons have placed linebacker Deion Jones on injured reserve due to a foot injury. Jones had soreness in his foot following last Thursday's game in Philadelphia, and scans have found an injury which will require surgery. He is expected to return later in the season, but the injured reserve status guarantees that Jones will miss at least the next eight weeks while he recovers.
Halfback Devonta Freeman injured his knee against the Eagles, but the injury is not considered serious. About 60 percent of knee injuries to backs do not result in any missed games, and Freeman does have a few extra days to recover. Typical recovery times range from one to four weeks.
Patriots Halfback Jeremy Hill -- Knee
Though official news is not yet available, early reports suggest that Jeremy Hill suffered a multiple-ligament knee injury in a collision with teammate James Develin against Houston, which will cause Hill to miss the rest of the season. At the very least, Hill suffered a high-grade MCL injury and will miss significant playing time -- at least a month -- but early indications are that his ACL was also injured on the play. The Patriots have a deep pool of running backs, so are not immediately expected to sign a direct replacement should the worse diagnosis be confirmed by MRI.
Texans Right Tackle Seantrel Henderson -- Ankle (IR)
Bill O'Brien confirmed Monday that right tackle Seantrel Henderson suffered a broken ankle against the Patriots. Henderson's injury will require surgery, which has been scheduled for Tuesday, and the right tackle will be placed on injured reserve. In his absence, the Texans moved left tackle Julie'n Davenport to right tackle and inserted rookie Martinas Rankin at left tackle -- an unusual move, probably done to keep Rankin where he is the most comfortable (or perhaps, less charitably, least uncomfortable).
Defensive end Christian Covington suffered a thigh injury but is not expected to miss further time.
Seahawks Receiver Doug Baldwin -- Knee
Doug Baldwin suffered what sounds like a low-grade MCL sprain in his right knee, according to head coach Pete Carroll. Baldwin has already been playing through an injury to his left knee, which he said would keep him at "85 percent" or so. In that light, it would be no surprise to see even a minor injury to his right knee sideline him for a week or two. Seventy-five percent of MCL injuries to wide receivers cause them to miss at least one game, and typical recovery times are two to five weeks. Pete Carroll usually provides injury updates around lunchtime on Monday, Pacific Time, so more news on Baldwin is likely later today.
The following players left their respective games with concussion symptoms, and enter the league protocol:
- 49ers linebacker Brock Coyle
- Buccaneers receiver DeSean Jackson
- Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory
- Texans cornerback Kevin Johnson
Johnson's concussion is particularly noteworthy as he had only been cleared from the concussion protocol on Friday of last week. He is expected to miss at least six weeks now, and may be placed on injured reserve.
49ers guards Mike Person and Joshua Garnett both suffered foot injuries against the Vikings, but neither injury is believed to be severe. Foot injuries are a little bit of a grab bag, but only about one-third cause offensive linemen to miss any games. Typical recovery times are anywhere from one to eight weeks.
Receiver Marquise Goodwin hurt his quadriceps, but that is likewise not believed to be a major injury. Only about one-third of quadriceps injuries to wide receivers cause them to miss a game, with typical recovery times of one to two weeks.
Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves injured his shoulder against the Saints and did not return, but the Buccaneers are reportedly cautiously optimistic about the injury pending the results of an MRI scan. Shoulder injuries can be tricky for defensive backs, but only about one-third cause them to miss a game. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks.
Chargers right tackle Joe Barksdale suffered a knee injury against the Chiefs and did not return. No update is yet available.
Jaguars halfback Leonard Fournette injured his hamstring against the Giants and did not return to the game, but coach Doug Marrone was optimistic afterwards. Fournette has battled injuries throughout his past two seasons in both college and the NFL, but is not expected to miss significant time. Approximately 60 percent of hamstring injuries cause running backs to miss at least one game, with around 20 percent causing extended absences of four or more weeks. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks. Fortunately, it sounds as though Fournette should be at the lower end of both return-to-play and recovery figures.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed a significant chunk of Sunday Night Football after injuring his knee on a first-half sack, but did eventually return to lead the Packers to a comeback victory over the Bears. Rodgers is not expected to miss further game time, but early reports do suggest that it may take a week or two for him to regain his full mobility. Without further details it is difficult make predictions, but typical recovery times (again, this means return to full effectiveness) for knee injuries to quarterbacks are one to three weeks; Rogers may be on the upper end of that, however.
Redskins receivers Trey Quinn and Cam Sims both suffered apparent high ankle sprains against the Cardinals, and will both have MRI scans taken today. Approximately 40 percent of ankle injuries to wide receivers cause them to miss at least one game, with typical recovery times of one to four weeks. High ankle sprains are very likely to result in missed time.
Steelers cornerback Joe Haden is scheduled to have an MRI scan today on the hamstring injury he suffered against his former employers in Cleveland. Haden did not return to the game. Almost two-thirds of hamstring injuries to defensive backs cause them to miss at least one game, with around 20 percent sidelining them more than four weeks. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks.
Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes suffered a knee injury against the 49ers and did not return. No update is yet available on Waynes.