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Injury Aftermath: Week 16

Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff
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.

Saints Linebacker Kwon Alexander -- Achilles (Season)

Saints linebacker Kwon Alexander, who was acquired in a trade from San Francisco in October, suffered his third major injury in three seasons against the Vikings. A former fourth-round pick and standout for the Buccaneers, Alexander missed most of 2018 with a torn ACL, then half of 2019 with a torn pectoral. His most recent injury, a torn Achilles, will require surgical repair, and he will not only miss the entire postseason, but also probably the first portion of the 2021 season. Alexander started seven games for the Saints, playing the majority of snaps in six of the seven.

Rams Quarterback Jared Goff -- Thumb
Rams Halfback Darrell Henderson -- Ankle (IR)

Jared Goff dislocated and fractured the thumb of his throwing hand against the Seahawks, a painful injury that will ultimately require surgical repair. Goff has stated that he intends to try to play through the injury and postpone surgery until the offseason, but it is not clear how effectively he will be able to do so. We have insufficient data on thumb fractures to quarterbacks to project his likely return timetable, but if Goff does require surgery, that is likely to end his season. Goff's backup is former Wake Forest and Arizona Hotshots quarterback John Wolford, who led the AAF with 14 passing touchdowns when the league folded in spring of 2019. He was signed by the Jets as an undrafted rookie in 2018, but he was released during final cuts and has never appeared in the NFL. Halfback Darrell Henderson suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Seahawks. This is very bad news for his chances of playing in the postseason, should the Rams finally secure their playoff spot in Week 17. Most high-ankle sprains keep halfbacks out for at least four weeks, and barely half of players return within a calendar month of the injury. At the very least, Henderson is likely to miss Week 17 and the first two playoff games: more than 80% of halfbacks with high-ankle sprains miss three or more games. Henderson has a chance to return for the Super Bowl, should the Rams make it that far, but even that is only an outside chance. His most likely destination this week is injured reserve. Fellow running back Cam Akers missed the Seahawks game with a high-ankle sprain of his own; if he can't go, it could be the Malcolm Brown show in L.A.


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

  • Bengals cornerback William Jackson
  • Broncos receiver KJ Hamler
  • Texans offensive lineman Brent Qvale

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

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray suffered an unspecified lower leg injury near the end of the defeat against the 49ers. The team is optimistic that he will be able to play against the Rams, who obviously have their own quarterback injury concerns, in Week 17.

Chargers safety Rayshawn Jenkins injured his ankle against the Broncos and is likely to miss the season finale. Casey Heyward's hamstring injury gives him only around a one-in-three chance of being available against the Chiefs.

Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins aggravated his existing calf injury against the Falcons. Most calf injuries to receivers do not cause missed games, but as an aggravation this is more likely than most to cause an absence. Watkins should be fine for the postseason, but he may miss Week 17. Linebacker Ben Niemann injured his hamstring. Around 60% of hamstring injuries to linebackers cause at least a one-week absence, but 75% of players who suffer them return within three weeks. Niemann has a strong chance to be available for the team's first postseason game, assuming they secure the AFC bye.

Dolphins receivers Jakeem Grant suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Raiders and will not play against the Bills in Week 17.

Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox left Sunday's game with a stinger. His availability for Week 17 depends on how well it responds to treatment during the week. Linebacker Shaun Bradley also suffered a stinger. Tight end Dallas Goedert left the game with a calf injury, which gives him roughly a 50/50 chance to be available for the finale against Washington.

Jets halfback Frank Gore suffered a lung contusion against the Browns and will not play in the season finale against the Patriots. Guard Josh Andrews injured his groin. Groin injuries to linemen give them roughly a 50/50 chance to play the following week.

Packers right tackle Rick Wagner injured his knee against the Titans and did not return. Injury news from Sunday Night Football is usually slow to come through; we will update if Wagner's injury is major.

Ravens center Patrick Mekari left Sunday's game with a back injury, but the team described the injury as tightness and they hope that he will not miss significant time. Matt Skura replaced Mekari against the Giants.

Texans offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil will miss Week 17 with the high-ankle sprain he suffered against the Bengals. Quarterback Deshaun Watson may also miss the game, depending on the result of scans on his right arm, but Watson has stated that he expects to be available.


11 comments, Last at 02 Jan 2021, 6:49pm

4 Two sentences: Saints…

Two sentences:

Saints linebacker Kwon Alexander, who was acquired in a trade from San Francisco in October, tore his Achilles against the Vikings. This is his third major injury in three seasons.

You could also get really fancy and use a semi-colon; in theory, there would be no repercussions.

6 See, for me, if I meant that…

See, for me, if I meant that the injuries all occurred against the Vikings, then the way to phrase that would be:

"...his third major injury against the Vikings in three seasons."

English is annoying. Its pliability is both its strength and its weakness.

7 Colts shut down LT Anthony Castonzo

And so their season ends.  Ankle injury suffered in practice last week, to go along with a balky MCL he's had all season.

All of their losses (excluding the week 1 turkey vs Jax) included him missing all or most of the games.  CLE, BAL, PIT.  With a fairly immobile QB with turf toe, there is very little room for protection error. Not sure if he is a top-5 LT, but probably top-10 and critical for Indy.  Without him, they are doomed.  Damn.

8 My guess is there’s a solid…

My guess is there’s a solid chance he hangs his cleats up for good. He was seriously considering retirement after his contact ended last season. The Colts talked him into two more years, but a season ending injury and dealing with any kind of rehab may be more then he bargained for. 

If so, the Colts have a clear new #1 need. 

11 I agree on both comments: he…

I agree on both comments: he is vital to any Colts success, and I would bet this signals the end for him. I don't remember the details of his contract (or was it an extension last year), but we was really close to retiring then. Definitely a new #1 draft pick, as there won't likely be any top young QB's where they will pick. 

9 Losing David Bakhtiari

for the rest of the season kind of stinks


Best of luck to the guy in his rehab.

10 Yeah that one sucks a lot…

Yeah that one sucks a lot. At least Wagner is cleared to play. I was worried about being down two tackles. 

The line has enough depth and Stenavich appears to be a hell of a coach based on how all the other injuries have been handled this year. 

Bakhtiari is a stud, definitely the best non "skill" position player on the team, and the line is worse and easier to attack without him. 

And it's an ACL so this could impact next season too.