Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Oct 2017

Injury Aftermath: Week 5

by Andrew Potter and Zach Binney

Thanks to new staff writer Zach Binney's analysis of NFL injury data, we are now able to provide more 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.

Giants Receiver Odell Beckham -- Ankle (IR)

A brutal day in the NFL was headlined by Odell Beckham's ankle injury, suffered when the receiver's left leg was caught under Chargers defensive back Casey Hayward as the pair landed together following a fourth-quarter reception. At the very least, Beckham suffered a fractured tibia, ruling him out for the rest of the year, with further tests scheduled to determine potential associated ligament damage. This would most likely take the form of a severe sprain or rupture of the syndesmotic (high ankle) ligament requiring surgical repair. One of the league's top receivers since his first professional snap, Beckham amassed more than 4,100 receiving yards and 35 touchdowns (good for 861 DYAR) in just his first three campaigns. He should be able to return for the start of the team's offseason program, but will be sorely missed by both the Giants and neutral observers in the meantime.

The task of replacing Beckham's production would normally fall to fellow receivers Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard, but both of those players also left Sunday's game with the more common "low ankle" sprains. Per Zach's analysis, low ankle sprains can be tricky for wide receivers. About 65 percent of injuries cause players to miss games, and 30 percent keep players out more than two weeks. Marshall could be in that latter 30 percent since he was carted to the locker room, but Shepard's injury seems more minor. Common recovery times range from two to five weeks.

UPDATE: Marshall's injury was much worse than initially reported, and he had season-ending surgery on the injury this week.

Return specialist Dwayne Harris, who is also listed as a wide receiver, suffered a foot fracture that will end his season. With Odell Beckham the team's backup punt returner, and Sterling Shepard the backup kick returner, the annihilation of the Giants receiving corps will have knock-on effects far beyond the performance of the team's passing game. Receiver Travis Rudolph will be promoted from the team's practice squad to help fill the void at both positions.

Texans Defensive Lineman J.J. Watt -- Leg (IR)

Texans Edge Rusher Whitney Mercilus -- Pectoral (IR)

For the second straight year, star Texans defensive end J.J. Watt will lose most of the season to injury. This time, Watt suffered a tibial plateau fracture -- a fracture to the area of the shin bone (tibia) where it meets the knee joint. Though it is possible to return from a milder version of this injury, as Dez Bryant did just last year, Watt's is not so mild and will require surgical repair. Invariably, that means his season is over. The good news is that the injury should not impair him beyond this season.

Shorn once again of its best player, the Texans defense also lost another key contributor from the past two years. Edge rusher Whitney Mercilus, who has registered 20.5 sacks in 36 games for the Texans since the start of the 2015 campaign, suffered a torn pectoral muscle and will also miss the rest of the season. Like Watt, Mercilus should be able to return in time for the start of the team's offseason program.

Chiefs Receiver Chris Conley -- Achilles (IR)

Chris Conley suffered a torn Achilles tendon against Houston and will miss the rest of the season. Ostensibly Kansas City's third receiver, in practice Conley was the fifth option in the Chiefs passing game behind tight end Travis Kelce and running back Kareem Hunt in addition to Tyreek Hill and Albert Wilson. With only 16 targets in five games, it would be a stretch to call Conley a major loss to the Chiefs offense, but his absence further thins out an already emaciated receiving corps. The Chiefs' only other rostered options behind Hill and Wilson are a pair of fourth-round draft picks in rookie Jehu Chesson and second-year professional Demarcus Robinson, who have three career catches between them.

Both Hill and Wilson left the game briefly with injuries but returned, as did the cramping Justin Houston.

Bills Tight End Charles Clay -- Knee

Pro Football Talk reports that Charles Clay had surgery today to repair a damaged meniscus and a sprained MCL. 85 percent of MCL sprains cause guys to miss at least one game, and 50 percent miss more than three. With this surgery and associated meniscus damage it seems likely that Clay falls in the worse 50 percent. Typical recovery times are a whopping three to nine weeks, and Clay is likely to be at the upper end of this timeframe. Clay is going to be dealing with this injury most of the rest of the season. He is a candidate for injured reserve, with the intention of designating him for return in eight weeks' time.

Cornerback Leonard Johnson was one of the many defensive backs who suffered a hamstring injury; more on those below.

Bengals Receiver Tyler Boyd -- Knee

Though many initially feared that Tyler Boyd had suffered a major injury, Ian Rapoport reports that the injury is a MCL sprain. As noted above, 85 percent of MCL sprains cause guys to miss at least one game, and 50 percent miss more than three games. Rapoport's report suggests that the Bengals expect Boyd to be in the latter 50 percent.

On defense, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick left Sunday's game with a shoulder injury. Due to their skill sets and duties, shoulder injuries tend to be especially difficult for defensive backs. Only about 35 percent result in games missed, but if a guy does miss time it's a bad sign since almost 20 percent miss four or more games. Recovery is difficult to estimate without more knowledge of the type and severity of the injury, but typical recovery times range from one to seven weeks.

Fellow cornerback Adam Jones left Sunday's game with a back injury. Only 25 percent of back injuries historically cause players to miss games, and typical recovery times for defensive backs are one to two weeks. Unless Jones' injury is more severe than advertised, he will probably play in Cincinnati's next game.

Linebacker Vontaze Burfict suffered a thumb injury in the first quarter, but returned to the game.

Ravens Halfback Terrance West -- Calf

Terrance West aggravated an existing calf injury, and will probably miss some time. A Grade II calf strain, as is typical for an aggravation, would keep the tailback out for one to three weeks. Calf injuries for running backs are a mixed bag; about half cause missed games and half don't. 20 percent cause major missed time (4-plus games). If it's not a major tear, typical recovery time is between one and three weeks.

Also, right guard Matt Skura suffered a knee injury, while defensive tackle Carl Davis left with an injured hamstring.


The following players left their respective games with concussion symptoms and enter the league protocol:

  • 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon
  • Buccaneers cornerback Josh Robinson
  • Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce
  • Chiefs safety Steven Terrell
  • Eagles tackle Lane Johnson
  • Packers cornerback Kevin King

Other Injuries

49ers cornerback Asa Jackson suffered a hamstring injury in Indianapolis, and will have an MRI scan on the injury today. Hamstring injuries can be rough for the running- and sprinting-reliant defensive backs. 70 percent cause players to miss at least one game, and almost one in four miss more than three weeks. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks. Fellow cornerback Rashard Robinson left the game with cramps, but is not expected to miss any time.

Buccaneers backup defensive end Ryan Russell suffered a dislocated shoulder against New England. Like teammate Noah Spence, Russell is expected to play with a brace when he is able to return. He is, however, likely to miss around two to four weeks with the injury. More will be known when MRI scan results are available.

Cardinals long snapper Aaron Brewer broke his hand in Philadelphia, and was replaced by linebacker Josh Mauro. Given the limited number of roster spots allocated to specialists, and the potential for a lengthy recovery, Brewer appears to be a prime candidate for injured reserve. Defensive tackle Corey Peters suffered a knee injury, but was able to return to the game.

Chargers tackle Joe Barksdale left Sunday's game with cramps, but is expected to be available as normal this week.

Colts linebacker Anthony Walker suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury against San Francisco. Though typical hamstring recovery times are similar for linebackers and defensive backs (one-to-four weeks), the persistence of Walker's hamstring troubles make his specific case more difficult to project.

Cowboys cornerback Chidobe Awuzie suffered a hamstring injury. As with Asa Jackson, Awuzie is more likely than not to miss at least one game, but will probably return before the end of October.

Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker suffered a minor ankle sprain, per Ian Rapoport. He is not expected to miss any games.

Jets halfback Bilal Powell suffered a calf injury, and will have an MRI scan taken today to determine the injury's severity. As noted above, around half of calf injuries do not result in any missed games, and 80 percent of players are back on the field within three weeks.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford suffered an ankle injury and had his ankle taped both during and after the game, but was coy on the injury's severity. Not much will probably be known until the midweek practice reports are published. Defensive lineman Haloti Ngata suffered an elbow injury; coach Jim Caldwell was uncertain of the injury's severity after the game. About 35 percent of elbow injuries to defensive linemen result in at least one missed game, and about 15 percent result in major missed time (four-plus games). If it's not too severe, though, typical recovery time is one to three weeks.

Packers safety Morgan Burnett was another of the many defensive backs who suffered hamstring injuries, and again will probably be affected to some degree for between one and four weeks.

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett suffered a foot injury against the Rams, but was able to return to the game. Offensive lineman Luke Joeckel has been playing through a knee injury, and will have surgery during the bye. The team hopes that this way, he will not miss any game time.

Titans tackle Taylor Lewan suffered a knee injury against Miami and was in and out of the lineup. Lewan will have an MRI scan conducted today to determine the injury's severity.

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 09 Oct 2017

9 comments, Last at 12 Oct 2017, 11:37pm by LionInAZ


by Drunken5yearold :: Tue, 10/10/2017 - 1:34am

On one hand, all of these ugly injuries to great players sucks. On the other hand, I couldn't help laughing when I got to the Chargers injury, normally a long and gruesome list of all of their decent players, and saw:

Chargers tackle Joe Barksdale left Sunday's game with cramps, but is expected to be available as normal this week

Ooooh, cramps!

by LionInAZ :: Thu, 10/12/2017 - 11:37pm

I wouldn't expect a drunken 5 year old to understand what cramps are like in an athletic situation,
so I suggest growing up before getting drunk again.

by jtr :: Tue, 10/10/2017 - 10:33am

Aw man, the Beckham injury is really the cherry on top of the Giants' miserable season. Love him or hate him, he was about the only interesting guy on the Giants so far this year.

The receiver group for the Giants was supposed to be the strength of the offense, balancing out a lousy offensive line, an average QB, and an anonymous group of running backs. But between the Beckham injuries and Marshall's ineffectiveness and now injury, it's been a major weakness.

by Zach Binney :: Tue, 10/10/2017 - 10:55am

And an update after we posted this, Marshall is now also gone for the year. What a bummer for the Giants :( Both them and the Texans had one of the most miserable injury weeks in recent memory.

by SFC B :: Tue, 10/10/2017 - 12:55pm

I know baseball fans lament how "awful" it is when their favorite team gets saddled by a terrible contract (Hi Albert Pujols, I see you over there!) but at some level, as a fan, I'm glad those guys are getting all the money they signed for. It's bad enough that the players get their earnings suppressed at the beginning of their careers, but with how quickly and completely an injury can ruin a NFL player's career it's almost negligent how little protection they have financially.

by mansteel :: Tue, 10/10/2017 - 1:35pm

Does anyone remember anything comparable to the Giants' WR injuries ever happening? Four of five guys injured in the same game, with three out for the year? Crazy.

On the plus side, it doesn't damage their playoff hopes.

by PatsFan :: Tue, 10/10/2017 - 2:36pm

[never mind]

by jtr :: Wed, 10/11/2017 - 8:12am

It was over time rather than just in one game, but I'm kind of reminded of the Chargers in 2014, when five different centers got injured over the course of the year.

by PatsFan :: Wed, 10/11/2017 - 1:37am

Brady reportedly has a sprained AC joint on his non-throwing side. He was also MRI'd for a possible separated non-throwing shoulder but that reportedly came up negative.