Injury Aftermath: Week 4
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.
Bengals Tight End Tyler Eifert -- Ankle (IR)
A gruesome displaced fracture undoubtedly ended Tyler Eifert's season against the Falcons. A leg break of that nature requires surgical repair, and almost always includes damage to ligaments and other surrounding tissue. A top-tier receiving talent when healthy, Eifert ranks third on the Bengals in receptions and receiving yards; however, this marks the third time in his past five seasons that Eifert will play four or fewer games. As with most of those previous injuries, Eifert should be able to return for opening day of next season. C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Kroft have substantial playing experience as Eifert's replacements, and they are expected to share those duties for the rest of the season.
Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas -- Leg (IR)
Seahawks Tight End Will Dissly -- Knee (IR)
The higher profile of the two major Seahawks injuries, Earl Thomas suffered a clean break of his tibia with no additional damage to ligaments or surrounding tissue. If the Seahawks morph into a playoff contender, Thomas might have a chance to return during the playoff run. More likely, he has played his last game in Seattle and will instead be fully healthy in time for free agency.
Will Dissly may not be so fortunate. His torn patellar tendon definitely ends his season, and his recovery may well linger into the offseason. This is a relatively uncommon injury that has afflicted a number of high-profile players in recent seasons, most notably Victor Cruz and Jimmy Graham, but also Morris Claiborne, former Buccaneers halfback Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, and former Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo. It used to be one of the most devastating injuries possible, with an extremely low rate of recovery to full effectiveness, but Graham is perhaps the most notable example of a player defying that trend. Depending on the effectiveness of his treatment and rehabilitation, Dissly may -- even this early in the season -- be a candidate to begin next season on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Browns Cornerback Terrance Mitchell -- Arm (IR)
The bad news is that Terrance Mitchell broke his forearm against the Raiders, and he will be placed on injured reserve. The good news is that, by most accounts, the break was clean. That means Mitchell has a chance to return after the eight-week minimum absence, and therefore to contribute late in the year for what may be an unusually competitive Browns squad. Some players are able to return earlier with the aid of a splint, but that has not been mentioned as an option for Mitchell; he is fully expected to land on injured reserve this week.
Dolphins Center Daniel Kilgore -- Triceps (IR)
UPDATE: Jason La Canfora reports that Daniel Kilgore's MRI revealed a torn triceps, which will rule him out for the rest of the season. As Zach filed in our original article, "If [arm] is a stand-in for a biceps or triceps injury (most often either a torn muscle or tendon), that would also mean a long-term and perhaps season-ending absence." Kilgore is the second Dolphins lineman to be lost for the year, after fellow starter Josh Sitton suffered a torn rotator cuff. Kilgore's place in the lineup was taken by former Lions center Travis Swanson, who is expected to man the position in Kilgore's absence.
Cornerback Bobby McCain's knee injury was not specified, but he is expected to miss a few weeks.
Titans Safety Kenny Vaccaro -- Elbow
Kenny Vaccaro was photographed walking off the field cradling a gnarly-looking elbow dislocation injury after Sunday's game against Philadelphia. While just 15 percent of elbow injuries overall to defensive backs cause them to miss games, Vaccaro's injury is on the severe end of that scale. Fortunately, at least in terms of NFL players, this is the rare injury that looks worse than it is. Most players who miss time but return do so in two to four weeks, so the broadly estimated timeframe seems about right. Full recovery may take a couple of weeks longer, but Vaccaro should be back on the field by the start of November.
Linebacker Wesley Woodyard hurt his shoulder after colliding with Vaccaro early in the first quarter and did not return. No specifics are yet public on Woodyard's injury, but Mike Vrabel was optimistic at his Monday press conference. Only about a quarter of shoulder injuries to linebackers cause them to miss a game, but the fact that Woodyard did not return does provide cause for concern. 10 percent of such injuries cause long-term absences of four or more weeks. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks.
The following players left their respective games with concussion symptoms and enter the league protocol:
- Jets linebacker Josh Martin.
- Lions guard T.J. Lang.
- Packers receiver Geronimo Allison.
Martin's head injury was not specified, but most people have concluded that the injury was a concussion as Martin had already missed the first three games of the season with concussion symptoms.
Lang also has a lengthy concussion history from his time with both the Lions and Packers, and this is believed to be either his fifth or sixth diagnosed concussion since he entered the league in 2009.
49ers left tackle Joe Staley and receiver Dante Pettis left Sunday's game with knee injuries and will have scans taken today. Neither injury is expected to be long-term.
Bears linebacker Sam Acho injured his pectoral against the Buccaneers and did not return. Having an injury listed as a "pectoral" (muscle) injury rather than a "chest" (often rib bone or cartilage) injury has been a bad sign historically. Over 75 percent of such injuries to linebackers in our database result in long-term absences of four or more weeks. UPDATE: Acho is, indeed, out for the year with a torn pectoral.
Bills safety Micah Hyde injured his groin against his old team, the Packers, and did not return to the game. About half of groin injuries to defensive backs cause them to miss at least one game, with a quarter causing absences of three weeks or more. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks. Nickelback Taron Johnson injured his shoulder and did not return. Around one-third of shoulder injuries to defensive backs cause them to miss at least one game, with around 15 percent causing long-term absences of four weeks or more. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks.
Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard injured his knee against the Bears and will have an MRI scan today, but the team does not believe that his injury is major. Cornerback Carlton Davis aggravated his groin injury and did not return. As noted above, about half of groin injuries to defensive backs cause them to miss at least one game, with a quarter causing absences of three weeks or more. Given this was an aggravation, however, Davis could shade towards the top end of the spectrum. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks.
Chargers receiver Travis Benjamin aggravated his foot injury against the 49ers, and he is now expected to miss further time to allow the injury to heal. Foot injuries are a mixed bag, but about 40 percent of such injuries to wide receivers cause them to miss at least one game. Given it's a re-aggravation, Benjamin likely falls in this camp. Approximately a quarter of these injuries cause absences of three or more weeks, with typical recovery times ranging from one to six weeks.
Offensive tackle Russell Okung injured his groin, but does not consider the injury serious. He expects to be available when the team hosts Oakland in Week 5. About half of groin injuries to offensive linemen cause them to miss at least one game, with a quarter causing multi-week absences. Typical recovery times are one to three weeks.
Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton hurt his ribs, returned to the game, then left for good with an injured hamstring. About half of hamstring injuries to wide receivers cause them to miss at least one game, but given that the Colts play in New England on a short week this Thursday, Hilton is less likely to play. About a quarter of these injuries result in wide receivers missing three or more weeks. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks.
Cowboys defensive tackle Antwaun Woods injured his calf against Detroit. About 60 percent of calf injuries to defensive linemen keep them out at least one game, while almost a third cause absences of three or more weeks. Typical recovery times are one to six weeks. Furthermore, Woods was already playing through a groin injury, so is likely to miss time to get his lower body back in game condition. Receiver Tavon Austin hurt his shoulder, but did return to the game. Less than a quarter of shoulder injuries cause wide receivers to miss games, with typical recovery times of one to three weeks.
Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett injured his left ankle against the Bengals. The severity of the injury is not yet known. Typical "low" ankle sprains keep defensive linemen out for at least one game about 40 percent of the time, while about 15 percent result in long-term absences of four or more weeks. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks.
Jaguars halfback Leonard Fournette left Sunday's game with another hamstring injury. Though it was termed "tightness" by the team, it is likely some level of recurrence of the problem that caused Fournette to miss the team's previous two games. About 30 percent of hamstring injuries to running backs cause absences of three or more weeks, and this would have been the third week since Fournette's initial injury. The Jaguars would be wise not to push his return if he needs another week or two. Center Brandon Linder left the game with a back injury and did not return. About one third of back injuries to offensive linemen cause them to miss at least one game, but long-term absences of four weeks or more are fairly rare at about 15 percent. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks. However, Linder also missed several practices leading into this game due to a knee injury, which may complicate his recovery.
Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne left Sunday's game with a stomach injury and did not return.
Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander left Sunday's game with a groin injury. As noted above, about half of groin injuries to defensive backs cause them to miss at least one game, with a quarter causing absences of three weeks or more. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski left Sunday's game with an ankle ailment. No news is yet available on Gronkowski, though the prevailing belief is that he was held out as a precaution in a game the Patriots controlled from start to finish.
Raiders right tackle Donald Penn suffered a leg injury in the third quarter and did not return. He was replaced in the lineup by third-round rookie Brandon Parker.
Steelers receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey injured his ankle against the Ravens and did not return. He had a protective boot on the injured ankle after the game. Safety Nat Berhe injured his pectoral. As noted above, "pectoral" can be a scary designation. Historically 85 percent of such injuries to defensive backs cause them to miss at least one game, with 60 percent causing four or more missed games. Typical recovery times are more than four weeks.
Texans receiver Will Fuller injured his hamstring -- again, possibly a recurrence of the injury that affected him throughout the preseason and Week 1. Bill O'Brien has stated that Fuller could have returned to Sunday's game if necessary, but the injury would have limited him significantly. As noted above about half of hamstring injuries to wide receivers cause them to miss at least one game, while a quarter of these injuries result in wide receivers missing three or more weeks. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks. Guard Senio Kelemete left the game with a knee injury, but was able to return. Linebacker Brian Peters injured his ankle and did not return. Assuming it isn't something severe like a high ankle sprain, about 40 percent of such injuries to linebackers cause them to miss at least one game. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks.
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