During the 2020 season, injured reserve only requires that a player miss a minimum of three weeks, so teams will use that list more freely than in previous seasons. We will therefore distinguish between players placed on injured reserve (IR) and players who we expect to miss the rest of the season (Season).
Bengals Quarterback Joe Burrow -- Knee (Season)
Joe Burrow has already confirmed that he will miss the rest of the season with what has been reported as a torn ACL. ACL tears are almost always reported correctly, as the on-field manual diagnostic for ACL injury is highly accurate. Most reports went on to state that Burrow would have MRI scans on his knee to confirm any additional damage. This is standard procedure -- evidence suggests that clinical diagnostics are superior to MRIs for diagnosing ACL injuries, but MRI examinations are far more accurate and wide-ranging for assessing further ligament, tendon, or cartilage injury. However, this additional reasoning for the MRI also usually goes unsaid, so a pessimistic reporter might have inferred that the journalists' sources believed Burrow had further damage to the structure of his knee. That pessimism has now been confirmed by both Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport, as Burrow's MCL is reportedly also compromised.
As with Saquon Barkley earlier in the year, that further damage can potentially delay the ACL repair surgery, and thus set back the entire recovery timeline. That becomes particularly significant this late in the year, as even a relatively straightforward ACL recovery timetable of nine months would likely have kept Burrow out of at least some of the team's offseason program. A month delay, as was the case for Barkley due to the MCL tear, would significantly increase the chance that Burrow is not ready for opening day 2021. In that case, Burrow may begin next season on the Reserve (PUP) list, but even in that unfortunate scenario he should be able to return during the season.
Ryan Finley is the most likely player to replace Burrow as the starter for the rest of the season.
Patriots Halfback Rex Burkhead -- Knee (Season)
As with Burrow, reports indicate that Rex Burkhead tore his ACL against the Texans, and he will miss the rest of the season. Though not a regular starter, Burkhead was the only Patriots running back to have played in every game this season, and he ranked third on the team in scrimmage yards behind Damien Harris and receiver Damiere Byrd. However, he also has a significant injury history, and this will be the third time in four seasons in New England that the 30-year-old will miss at least six games to injury.
Titans Linebacker Jayon Brown -- Elbow (Season)
Ian Rapoport reports that Titans leading tackler Jayon Brown fractured and dislocated his elbow against the Ravens, and he will miss the rest of the season. Though the injury was gruesome, Brown should be healthy in time for the team's offseason program, but he has no chance to return this season even if the team secures a playoff berth. Head coach Mike Vrabel implied that Will Compton will have the first shot at Brown's starting role alongside Rashaan Evans.
Texans Defensive Lineman P.J. Hall -- Pectoral (Season)
Texans Receiver Randall Cobb -- Toe (IR)
Texans defensive lineman P.J. Hall tore his pectoral against the Patriots and will miss the rest of the season. Hall started nine of the team's 10 games on the defensive line, contributing 34 tackles and one sack. He will be replaced on the active roster by tight end Kahale Warring.
Houston Chronicle Texans beat reporter Aaron Wilson reports that Randall Cobb's toe injury is serious enough that the team may place him on injured reserve. That would mean at least a three-game absence for Cobb, who ranks third on the Texans in receptions and receiving yards. Very few toe injuries to receivers result in missed time, but those that do tend to cause lengthy absences -- more than half of the receivers in our database to miss a game with a toe injury ended up missing at least six games. At this point in the season, it seems redundant to state that the most likely scenario for Cobb is a return in three to six weeks, but our records suggest that would be the case even if Houston's season was not likely to end in seven weeks' time.
Fellow receiver Kenny Stills injured his quadriceps. Barely one in four quad injuries to receivers cause missed time, but Stills' case is not helped by the shortened week -- the Texans play in Detroit on Thanksgiving. Even if he misses that game, Stills is unlikely to be absent for long: only 15% of quad injuries cause absences of more than two games.
The following players left their respective games with concussion symptoms and enter the league protocol:
- Lions cornerback Mike Ford
- Panthers offensive tackle Dennis Daley
- Saints guard Andrus Peat
Based on our current data, a growing majority of players now miss at least one game following a diagnosed concussion, but around 80% return within two weeks.
Browns safety Ronnie Harrison suffered a bone bruise in his knee against the Eagles. Harrison is considered day-to-day, but head coach Kevin Stefanski is optimistic that he will be able to play in Week 12. Star edge rusher Myles Garrett will miss a second game on the Reserve/COVID list.
Chargers linebacker Uchenna Nwosu will miss around three weeks with a grade II sprain of his AC joint. He is a candidate for injured reserve, but he should be able to return in mid-December.
Eagles cornerback Cre'Von LeBlanc has a grade II high-ankle sprain and the team will place him on injured reserve. Most defensive backs return from a high-ankle sprain in three to five weeks, so LeBlanc should return in time for the playoffs if the Eagles can win the NFC East.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone confirmed that edge rusher Josh Allen did not suffer ligament damage to his knee against the Steelers, but the injury is still likely to sideline the pass rusher for "quite a while." The team will make a decision on injured reserve later in the week. Safety Daniel Thomas will be placed on injured reserve with the arm injury suffered in the same game. Cornerback D.J. Hayden, who injured his knee against the Steelers, will also miss significant time. Hayden has recently come off the injured reserve list, so if he is placed back on injured reserve that would end his season. Guard Andrew Norwell is out for at least Week 12's game against the Browns with his arm injury, and he is considered week-to-week.
Jets tackle George Fant suffered what has been termed a knee/ankle injury against the Chargers, and he will have MRI scans on the injured area. That knee/ankle designation usually means either a high-ankle sprain, a sprained MCL, or both, with the MRI confirming which exact ligaments are compromised. As the Jets are now officially out of the playoff race, and either diagnosis means a possible month-long absence, the most likely outcome for Fant is injured reserve. Fellow offensive tackle Chuma Edoga and halfback La'Mical Perine also injured their ankles, but no further information is yet available for either player. Linebacker Patrick Onwuasor injured his hamstring, which usually means an absence of one to three weeks for linebackers.
Packers center Corey Linsley left Sunday's game with a back injury, but the team does not expect him to miss further time.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed that tight end Zach Gentry has a "significant" knee injury, and that Gentry will not play on Thanksgiving night against the Ravens. Tomlin did not provide any further specifics, limiting our ability to predict his recovery time, but it sounds like the team expects him to be out for a while.