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Injury Aftermath: Week 1

Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Before we get to the Week 1 injuries, it's probably worth updating ourselves on the changes to injured reserve that are in force for the 2020 NFL season:

  • Players may be placed on injured reserve following any injury, regardless of whether it occurred during football activity.
  • Players placed on injured reserve may return to practice after three game weeks instead of the usual six game weeks, and they may return to the active roster immediately instead of having to miss eight game weeks.
  • After a player is designated to return from injured reserve, he may return to practice immediately and the team has 21 days to activate him to the active roster.
  • Teams may return an unlimited number of players from the injured reserve list, provided each misses a minimum of three weeks.
  • A separate COVID-19 exemption list is in effect, on which teams may place a player who has either returned a positive test or been exposed to the virus, regardless of their symptoms or lack thereof. Players on this list may return immediately if they clear the league's COVID-19 testing protocols.

For this reason, we will endeavor to differentiate between players who are out for the remainder of the season (Season) and players who are likely to be placed on injured reserve but return later in the year (IR). Please let me know if this is confusing rather than helpful.

Colts Halfback Marlon Mack -- Achilles (Season)

Colts head coach Frank Reich confirmed after the game that Marlon Mack injured his Achilles against the Jaguars, and MRI scans confirmed the injury today. An Achilles tendon tear will require surgical repair and end Mack's season. Rookie Jonathan Taylor made an impressive debut in Mack's absence, while fellow veteran Nyheim Hines scored both Colts touchdowns in the defeat, so those two will likely continue to share duties in Mack's absence.

Cowboys Tight End Blake Jarwin -- Knee (Season)
Cowboys Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch -- Collarbone (IR)

Though it has not yet been officially confirmed, based on initial reports it is likely that Blake Jarwin tore his ACL in the team's road defeat against the Rams. The initial on-field examination is highly accurate, and further scans are usually just for confirmation and to check for additional damage. In Jarwin's case, no additional damage has been found. Nevertheless, he will require surgery, and he will miss the rest of the season.

According to reports, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch suffered a clean fracture of his collarbone during the game, and he will also require surgery. Assuming that scans confirm the absence of additional damage, the clean break means that Vander Esch may be able to return in the usual short-term IR timetable of six to eight weeks.

Backup offensive lineman Cam Erving suffered a knee injury, believed to be a sprained MCL, which would usually keep an offensive lineman out for two to four weeks.

Chargers Linebacker Drue Tranquill -- Ankle (Season)

Though the diagnosis has not been officially confirmed, Drue Tranquill appears to have broken his ankle against the Bengals on Sunday afternoon. Any timetable for that injury depends on its severity, but Tranquill is likely to miss the rest of the season.

Halfback Justin Jackson injured his quad. Only around 40% of quad injuries cause players to miss a game, and over 75% of players return within one week.

Packers Guard Lane Taylor -- Knee (Season)

Rob Demovsky of ESPN reports that the Packers fear Lane Taylor suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Vikings.

The most likely culprit for this type of report is the dreaded ACL tear, which would require surgery and certainly end Taylor's season. If confirmed, this would be the second straight season in which Taylor has suffered a major injury.

Fellow guard Lucas Patrick injured his shoulder against the Vikings, but his tests showed no major injury and he is expected to play in Week 2.

Defensive lineman Kenny Clark injured his groin. A narrow majority of groin injuries to defensive linemen do not cause missed games, but it usually takes at least a couple of weeks for the player to return to full participation and effectiveness. Over 80% of defensive linemen return from groin injuries within three weeks, and a similar number return to full effectiveness within four.

Browns Tight End David Njoku -- Knee (IR)

The Browns placed tight end David Njoku on injured reserve with the MCL sprain he suffered against the Ravens, however the team statement made a point of clarifying that he would be eligible to return after three weeks. It sounds as though they do not expect him to miss much time if any beyond that three-week period, which fits within our usual expectations for a Grade II MCL sprain.

Offensive tackle Jedrick Willis injured his leg and did not return, but no update is yet public on the injury. Linebacker Jacob Phillips also injured his knee, but again no update is yet available.

Eagles Defensive Lineman Vinny Curry -- Hamstring (IR)

Doug Pederson confirmed at his Monday press conference that both Vinny Curry and cornerback Craig James suffered "significant" injuries and he doesn't expect either back anytime soon. Hamstring injuries seldom keep defensive linemen out for more than two weeks, but it sounds as though Curry's will be in that more severe 25%. James' injury was not specified. Both would appear to be candidates for injured reserve under the revised rules.

Defensive lineman Brandon Graham was evaluated for concussion symptoms, but he was cleared to return.


Other Injuries

49ers tight end George Kittle injured his leg against the Cardinals and, though he did return, he was not a factor as a receiver following the injury. He is not currently expected to miss time. Receiver Richie James injured his hamstring. Around half of hamstring injuries cause receivers to miss at least one game, but 75% of players return within two weeks.

Bengals kicker Randy Bullock injured his calf while missing what would have been a game-tying field goal against the Chargers, but Bullock's injury is reportedly nothing serious. He is expected to play in Week 2, but the team may sign an alternative this week as a precaution. Guard Xavier Su'a-Filo injured his left ankle and did not return. D.J. Reader missed some time with muscle cramps, but he is not expected to miss further time.

Bills linebackers Tremaine Edmunds, Del'Shawn Phillips, and Matt Milano all left Sunday's game with injuries. Edmunds injured his shoulder, but his arm was not in a sling after the game and there appears little expectation of a serious injury. Phillips injured his quad; more than two-thirds of quad injuries to linebackers do not result in any absence. The inverse is true of Milano's hamstring strain: two-thirds of linebackers with hamstring injuries miss at least one game, but 75% return within two weeks.

Dolphins receiver Devante Parker injured his hamstring against the Patriots. Around half of hamstring injuries to wide receivers cause at least a one-week absence, but 75% of players return within two weeks.

Jaguars cornerback CJ Henderson left Sunday's game to be evaluated for concussion symptoms, but he cleared the protocol and returned to make the game-clinching play. Safety Josh Jones suffered a contusion, but the injury is not believed to be serious.

Jets halfback Le'Veon Bell injured his hamstring against the Bills and did not return. Just over half of hamstring injuries cause halfbacks to miss at least one game, but 80% of backs return within three weeks. Linebacker Blake Cashman injured his groin. Just under half of such injuries cause linebackers to miss time, and 75% of those players return within two game weeks.

Lions cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman both injured a hamstring against the Bears. Around two-thirds of hamstring injuries keep defensive backs out for at least one game, but around 80% return within three weeks.

Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson injured his ankle against the Raiders, but head coach Matt Rhule had no update at his Monday press conference. Practice participation will be the most likely indicator of his status for Week 2.

Raiders linebacker Kick Kwatkoski suffered a reported pectoral injury, but he is expected to attempt to play through it unless scans confirm the worst. Kwiatkoski has played through a major pectoral injury in the past. Offensive tackle Trent Brown injured his calf in the season opener. Most calf injuries to offensive linemen do not cause missed time, and 75% of those players return within two weeks. Receiver Henry Ruggs was hurt during the game, but he returned and is not expected to miss time.

Ravens offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley injured his ankle against the Browns, but head coach John Harbaugh expects him to practice on Wednesday. The team believes that the injury is minor.

Saints receiver Michael Thomas suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Buccaneers, but both he and the team believe he can play through it. That may be correct, as Saquon Barkley among others have been able to do so, however Barkley's effectiveness was significantly reduced during the injury recovery period and a similar outcome is likely for Thomas.

Texans halfback Duke Johnson sprained his ankle on Thursday night and is not expected to play in Week 2, however the injury is not considered major and he is expected to return in Week 3.

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