Injury Aftermath: Week 8
by Andrew Potter
Texans Receiver Will Fuller -- Knee (IR)
Will Fuller tore the ACL in his right knee on Thursday night, and will miss the rest of the season. The team's second-leading receiver behind only 2017 All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins, Fuller was on course to set career highs in receptions, yards, catch rate, and yards per reception. He ranked 12th with a career-high 138 DYAR entering Week 8, and he will be very difficult to replace in Houston's offense. Former 49ers draftee Bruce Ellington started in place of Fuller when the latter missed Week 1 with a hamstring injury, and Ellington is the most likely candidate to replace Fuller again from Week 9 onward.
The bad news did not stop with Fuller. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph suffered a combination of a knee sprain and a high ankle sprain that will probably keep him out for around a month. Over 50 percent of defensive backs who suffer a high ankle sprain miss at least two weeks, and the median recovery time is five weeks. The numbers are even less favorable for MCL sprains, with 50 percent of defensive backs missing at least four weeks and a median recovery time of six weeks. Given that Joseph was listed with both a knee injury and a high ankle sprain, and the MCL is often damaged by the same injury mechanism that causes high ankle sprains, it seems safe to conclude that the knee injury reported is an MCL sprain, and to therefore expect that Joseph will miss most of November.
Linebacker Zach Cunningham also suffered a knee sprain, but his injury is not expected to keep him out of any future games. Practice participation reports will tell us more about the injury's severity, but the team does expect to have Cunningham available against the Broncos.
Bengals Defensive End Carl Lawson -- Knee (IR)
Carl Lawson will also miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Lawson had 8.5 sacks in a standout rookie campaign, but he had struggled more in his second year and only added one more sack to his career total. Though Lawson was not a starter on a Bengals defense that ranked near the middle of the pack in adjusted sack rate, his loss is a significant hit to the pass-rush rotation of a clear AFC wild-card contender.
Guard Clint Boling injured his back and did not return, but no update is yet available for Boling.
Eagles Right Tackle Lane Johnson -- Knee
Lane Johnson suffered a mid-grade MCL sprain against the Jaguars and is expected to miss around a month. Fellow offensive tackle Jason Peters is playing through a severe biceps injury and also missed a large portion of the first half to be evaluated for a head injury this past Sunday. The pair of absences forced the Eagles to move starting left guard Isaac Seumalo to right tackle, insert guard Stefan Wisniewski at Seumalo's spot, and deploy swing tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai at left tackle. Fortunately, Peters returned after halftime, allowing Seumalo back into his usual spot and Vaitai to deputize for Johnson at right tackle; that configuration is the most likely for the next few weeks, assuming Johnson does indeed miss significant time.
Cornerback Jalen Mills was carted off the field with a foot injury, but no specifics are yet available.
The following players left their respective games with concussion symptoms and enter the league protocol:
- Jaguars safety Barry Church
- Jets tight end Neal Sterling
49ers linebacker Reuben Foster left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, and strong safety Jaquiski Tartt injured his shoulder. The 49ers play on Thursday night so, although no diagnosis is yet public for either player, they are more likely than most to miss the team's next game.
Bears guard Kyle Long injured his foot against the Jets and did not return. He was spotted on crutches after the game, but no specifics on the nature of the injury are yet available. Long has a worrying injury history, and this is reportedly a new injury rather than an aggravation of an existing complaint. Former Iowa rookie James Daniels, whom the Bears drafted in the second round this past April, started his first game in Week 8 in place of the injured Eric Kush; Kush should be healthy for Week 9, so he and Daniels are expected to start if, as anticipated, Long misses time.
Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall injured his knee against the Chiefs. Receiver Emmanuel Sanders injured his shoulder. Cornerback Bradley Roby injured his ankle. No update is yet available for any of the three players.
Buccaneers halfback Ronald Jones injured his hamstring and did not return to the game. Around 50 percent of hamstring injuries cause halfbacks to miss at least one game, but less than 25 percent cause extended absences of three or more weeks. Defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team's first-round draft pick, was the rare exception to the rule about ACL diagnosis: the team suspected that Vea tore his ACL against the Bengals, but an MRI showed that the ACL is intact and Vea avoided serious injury. He becomes only the second player in the five years we have run this column to have a positive Lachman test but a negative MRI -- the other was Chiefs receiver Jeremy Maclin, who had residual looseness in his knee as a result of previous ACL injury. Cornerback M.J. Stewart injured his foot and did not return to the game; no update is yet available for Stewart.
Cardinals halfback David Johnson was evaluated for concussion symptoms against the 49ers, but was cleared to return.
Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill injured his groin early in Sunday's victory over the Denver Broncos, but played through the injury before eventually leaving the game in the fourth quarter. That Hill was able to play through it for most of the day bodes well, and more than 50 percent of receivers with groin injuries do not miss a game. A road game in Cleveland beckons, so the Chiefs may elect to be cautious with their star player, but Hill is not expected to miss significant time. Linebacker Frank Zombo injured his hamstring and did not return. Fellow linebacker Anthony Hitchens is considered "week to week" after injuring his ribs, meaning he will probably miss out in Week 9.
Colts center Ryan Kelly hurt his hand against the Raiders but returned to the game and is not expected to miss further time.
Giants right tackle Chad Wheeler suffered a suspected high ankle sprain and did not return, but no update is yet available. The Giants have a bye in Week 9 followed by a Monday Night Football game against the 49ers in Week 10, giving Wheeler a much better than usual chance to avoid missing a game if the injury is mild.
In addition to Barry Church's concussion, Jaguars cornerback Quenton Meeks was hurt against the Eagles, causing further upheaval to a secondary that was already missing starters A.J. Bouye and nickelback D.J. Hayden and backup Tyler Patmon. The Jaguars have a bye this week, so they at least have time to recover before they face the Colts in Week 10.
Lions linebackers Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Christian Jones both left Sunday's defeat against the Seahawks, but neither is expected to miss extended time.
Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, but is not expected to miss further time.
Raiders backup offensive lineman T.J. Clemmings injured his knee on special teams against the Colts and did not return. He will have an MRI scan on the knee today, and is expected to miss time.
Ravens offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley missed a series after injuring his left leg, but did return to the game in Carolina. He is not expected to miss time with the injury.
Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams dislocated his right thumb against the Giants, and he was spotted with a cast over the injured hand after the game. Though Williams has a reputation for playing through injuries, he has expressed uncertainty about his availability for Week 9. We do not have sufficient data to provide a return-to-play estimate for Williams, but it would be a surprise to see him miss significant time unless surgery is required.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger injured the index finger on his left, non-throwing hand against the Browns, but the injury is not considered serious. Cornerback Coty Sensabaugh hurt his left foot, but no update is yet available. Head coach Mike Tomlin usually provides injury updates at his Wednesday media conference.