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Injury Aftermath: Week 15

Kansas City Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

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).

As teams are eliminated from postseason contention, it becomes more likely that they will place their players on injured reserve with even relatively short-term injuries. Injuries to those teams will therefore be filed at the bottom of the article, unless they are likely to have ramifications beyond this season.

Chiefs Halfback Clyde Edwards-Helaire -- Ankle/Hip

Early reports indicate that rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is likely to miss the remainder of the regular season with the high-ankle sprain and hip strain he suffered against the Saints, but the team is optimistic that he can return for the postseason. While "for" the postseason is unlikely, "during" the postseason is more plausible: around 60% of halfbacks with high-ankle sprains return within a month, which would make a return for the AFC Championship Game a realistic target if the Chiefs make it that far. However, only 20% of players return within three game weeks, which would be the target for Edwards-Helaire to be available following the Chiefs' prospective bye. The most likely scenario, assuming the Chiefs advance, is that Edwards-Helaire is out through the divisional round and is questionable for the AFC Championship Game.

Linebacker Emmanuel Smith injured his hamstring. Over 60% of hamstring injuries to linebackers cause at least a one-game absence, but 75% of players who suffer them return within three weeks.

Browns Offensive Lineman Chris Hubbard -- Knee (Season)

Despite some initial optimism from the player, Chris Hubbard dislocated his kneecap against the Giants, and he will require surgery to repair the damaged ligaments. This surgery will end his season. Hubbard was not a regular starter for the Browns, but Sunday was his fifth start of the season as an injury replacement and a valuable depth contributor.

Defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson injured his neck, but X-rays showed no fracture so the hope is that the injury is mild.

Cowboys Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch -- Ankle (IR?)

Leighton Vander Esch confirmed after the team's victory over the 49ers that he suffered a high-ankle injury, likely a sprain, during the game. That is dire news for a linebacker: around 85% of players miss at least three weeks with a high-ankle injury, and more than half miss at least a month. In the highly unlikely event that the Cowboys make the NFC Championship Game, Vander Esch would have a chance to return, but the most likely outcome is that his season is over.

Safety Xavier Woods suffered a rib injury, receiver Michael Gallup a hip strain, and defensive lineman Antwaun Woods an ankle injury, but none of those is thought to be as severe as Vander Esch's.


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

  • 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward
  • Eagles punter Cameron Johnston
  • Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams
  • Lions offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai
  • Ravens guard Tyre Phillips
  • Texans offensive lineman Tytus Howard

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.

Other Injuries

49ers quarterback Nick Mullens left the game with an elbow injury. Around half of elbow injuries to quarterbacks cause missed time, but those tend to be major injuries that cause absences of five or more weeks. Nothing so far indicates that Mullens' injury is that severe, so hopefully he will be among the 60% of players who are back to full strength within a week or so. Halfback Raheem Mostert left again with an ankle injury -- Mostert has been plagued by injuries this season, so even if he can play in Week 16, he is likely to be somewhat impaired and to have his snap count limited. Defensive end Dion Jordan injured his knee, but no specifics are yet available.

Bears return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson left Sunday's game with a knee injury, but the injury does not appear to be serious and the team hopes to have him available against the Jaguars in Week 16. Tight end Demetrius Harris injured his ankle.

Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis left Sunday's game with a groin injury; head coach Bruce Arians had no update on the injury at his Monday press conference. Around half of groin injuries to defensive backs cause missed games, but 75% of players who suffer them return within three weeks. Even if Davis misses time, he should be back in time for the playoffs, assuming the Buccaneers clinch their postseason spot.

Dolphins guard Solomon Kindley left Sunday's victory over the Patriots with a knee injury, but no update is yet available.

Falcons cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson left Sunday's game with an illness. Guard James Carpenter aggravated his existing groin injury and is likely to miss time. Cornerback Isaiah Oliver left the game with cramps, but those should clear up in time for him to play in Week 16.

Jaguars receiver Collin Johnson injured his hamstring against the Ravens and did not return. Around half of hamstring injuries to receivers cause missed time. Halfback James Robinson injured his ankle, but the team believes that Robinson will try to push through the injury and play if possible. His status may be unclear until close to kickoff of Week 16.

(UPDATED) Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore suffered a partially torn quad and will have season-ending surgery, but he should be fully recovered by the beginning of the new league year. Defensive end John Simon injured his hamstring -- around half of hamstring injuries to defensive linemen cause missed games, but 75% of players who suffer them are back within three weeks. Center David Andrews injured his calf, which carries a slightly lower chance of missed games (around 40% of players miss at least one game) but a similar recovery timetable beyond that. It would be no surprise to see either or both also land on injured reserve this week. Linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley injured his arm, but without further specifics, his recovery is difficult to project.

Saints safety Marcus Williams sprained his ankle against the Chiefs. He will have scans of the injury taken today, but the team does not believe it to be anything major. Receiver Tre'Quan Smith injured his ankle and did not return.

Seahawks backup halfback DeeJay Dallas has a Grade III low-ankle sprain, an unusually severe low-ankle injury that will probably keep him out until the postseason. However, a sizeable majority of players with even significant low-ankle sprains return within a month. Guard Mike Iupati left with a recurrence of his stinger. Receiver DK Metcalf should be fine after an awkward landing in the end zone.

Vikings edge rusher Ifeadi Odenigbo injured his ankle against the Bears, but no further specifics are yet available. Odenigbo is second on the team with 3.5 sacks … behind Yannick Nagakoue, whom the Vikings traded after Week 6.

Washington linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton injured his elbow against the Seahawks, but elbow injures are not usually significant for linebackers: barely a quarter cause missed time, and only the most major cause more than a couple of missed games. Offensive lineman Morgan Moses injured his leg but returned to the game, though he was clearly impaired by the injury. The injury is unlikely to be major, given his return, but his status bears monitoring for Week 16.


2 comments, Last at 21 Dec 2020, 6:58pm

2 Ravens Guard

Was that injury to Tyre Phillips the result of his 20 yard fumble recovery and run?  Because that was sweet but had a pretty high on the body impact near the end when demolished some guy who tried to tackle him up top.