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Injury Aftermath: Week 2

San Francisco 49ers ER Nick Bosa
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).

Giants Halfback Saquon Barkley -- Knee (Season)

Saquon Barkley was injured twice on consecutive plays against the Bears, but the second was the more devastating: he tore the ACL in his right knee, which will require surgery and end his season. Barkley is scheduled for MRI scans today, which will determine whether there is other damage to his knee. Dion Lewis took the majority of snaps in Barkley's absence, but reports today suggest that the team will also sign a replacement, widely reported to be former Falcons starter Devonta Freeman. Barkley should have fully rehabilitated his knee in time for the start of the 2021 preseason, but he will not play another snap in 2020.

Receiver Sterling Shepard left the game due to a "turf toe" injury, a soft-tissue sprain of the big toe joint that sounds more innocuous than it is. We do not have specific data for receivers, but more than 50% of NFL players miss at least three weeks on suffering this injury, and it tends to impair performance well beyond that initial return period. Shepard is a candidate for the injured reserve list under this season's rules, though we would expect him to return quickly following the mandatory three-week absence.

Broncos Receiver Courtland Sutton -- Knee (Season)
Broncos Quarterback Drew Lock -- Shoulder (IR?)

Initial reports that Courtland Sutton left the game with cramps and a knee ailment gave cause for optimism, but that optimism has been crushed by the news that Sutton tore his ACL and MCL, and he will miss the rest of the season. As with Barkley, Sutton will require surgery, but the good news is that even with the additional ligament damage, he should also be ready for the start of the 2021 preseason.

Quarterback Drew Lock strained his rotator cuff, which will keep him out for at least two weeks. The team will re-evaluate him at that time, but they may be better served placing him on injured reserve in the meantime. We have no data on recovery times for rotator cuff strains, because most recorded rotator cuff injuries to quarterbacks are more severe than Lock's. Jeff Driskel will start in Lock's absence.

Defensive end Dre'Mont Jones will reportedly miss around four to six weeks with a PCL sprain and a bone bruise in his knee. The team will probably place Jones on injured reserve and elevate DeShawn Williams to the active roster in his stead.

San Francisco 49ers -- Various

Two of the stars of San Francisco's outstanding front seven, Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas, both suffered ACL injuries against the Jets. As with Barkley, both injuries will require surgery, and both players will miss the rest of the season.

The 49ers also lost quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a high-ankle sprain that will probably keep him out for around a month -- though we do not have enough specific data to draw conclusions for high-ankle sprains specifically to quarterbacks, 50% of all players miss at least four weeks to such sprains, and 25% miss eight weeks or longer. Former spot starter Nick Mullens will replace Garoppolo during the latter's absence.

Halfback Raheem Mostert sprained his MCL and will have further scans today. The team believes that he suffered a mild MCL sprain, which will almost certainly mean an absence of two weeks or longer: 75% of halfbacks who suffer MCL injuries miss at least two weeks, though 50% return after three games. Fellow halfback Tevin Coleman also injured his knee, though no specifics are yet available. Both players will undergo MRI scans of the injuries today.

Ravens Cornerback Tavon Young -- Knee (Season)

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has confirmed that Tavon Young suffered a major knee injury and will miss the rest of the season. This is likely another ACL tear, carrying the same prognosis as the injuries to Saquon Barkley, et al.

Seahawks Linebacker Bruce Irvin -- Knee (Season)

Adam Schefter reports this afternoon that Seahawks outside linebacker Bruce Irvin also tore his ACL, and he will miss the rest of the season.

Colts Safety Malik Hooker -- Achilles (Season)
Colts Receiver Parris Campbell -- Knee (IR)

Former first-round safety Malik Hooker will miss the rest of the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon against the Vikings. The injury will require surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation process, but Hooker should be ready for opening day, 2021.

Receiver Parris Campbell avoided the dreaded ACL tear, but he did injure both his posterior cruciate ligament and his MCL. The additional injury likely places him on the higher end of the MCL recovery timetable, which probably means a four- to six-week absence. The Colts are likely to place him on injured reserve.

Backup linebacker and special teamer Matthew Adams injured his ankle and did not return.

Vikings Linebacker Anthony Barr -- Pectoral (Season)

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer confirmed at his Monday press conference that linebacker Anthony Barr tore his pectoral muscle against the Colts and Barr will be placed on injured reserve. It is not completely impossible for Barr to return later in the season -- Ray Lewis famously did so in his final season for the Ravens -- but three times as many players have their season ended by pectoral injuries as return to play. That number includes players who suffer less severe tears; Barr's injury being identified as a tear makes him very unlikely to return by the end of 2020.

Panthers Halfback Christian McCaffrey -- Ankle (IR)

Ian Rapoport reports this afternoon that Christian McCaffrey is likely to miss four to six weeks with the high-ankle sprain he suffered against the Buccaneers. That meshes with our data -- around 50% of high-ankle sprains to running backs cause at least a four-week absence -- and probably means that the team will place him on injured reserve. Backup Mike Davis was productive in McCaffrey's absence against the Buccaneers and looks likely to assume starting duties for the next month or so.


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

  • Bills tight end Dawson Knox
  • Jets cornerback Quincy Wilson
  • Texans fullback Cullen Gillaspia
  • Vikings halfback Mike Boone

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

Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah tore his Achilles against the Browns on Thursday night and he will miss the rest of the season.

Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor is considered "week to week" with the chest injury he reportedly sustained during pre-game warmups. Safety Rayshawn Jenkins injured his groin, and defensive tackle Justin Jones injured his shoulder.

Chiefs edge rusher Frank Clark left Sunday's game with an illness, but he is expected to recover in time for Week 3. Halfback Darrel Williams injured his ankle and cornerback Antonio Hamilton injured his groin.

Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones injured his groin against the Bills. Most groin injuries to defensive backs do not cause missed games, and half of those who do miss games return within two weeks.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has confirmed that guard Isaac Seumalo will "miss some time" and is headed to injured reserve with the knee injury he suffered against the Rams, another hefty blow to an already-depleted offensive line.

Falcons right tackle Kaleb McGary suffered a minor (Grade I) sprain of his MCL and is expected to miss one week. Defensive end Takk McKinley injured his groin, but most groin injuries to defensive linemen do not lead to missed games. Linebacker Foye Oluokun and safety Ricardo Allen were also injured.

Jaguars center Brandon Linder injured his knee against the Titans, but the team received good news about his injury today. He will not be placed on injured reserve, but he is unlikely to play in Week 3 as the Jaguars play the Dolphins on Thursday night.

Jets receiver Breshad Perriman reportedly sprained his ankle and is considered week-to-week. Offensive lineman Connor McGovern injured his hamstring and is likewise considered week-to-week. Cornerback Arthur Maulet injured his groin.

Packers receiver Davante Adams left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, an injury type that usually causes at least a one-week layoff for wide receivers; 75% of receivers return within two weeks. Center Corey Linsley sprained the thumb on his snapping hand, but he is not expected to miss games.

Rams halfback Cam Akers injured his ribs, but he is not expected to miss games. Guard Joe Noteboom injured his calf. Around 60% of calf injuries to linemen do not cause missed games, and 75% of linemen return within two weeks.

Washington guard Brandon Scherff will miss a couple of weeks with an unspecified knee injury, probably a mild MCL sprain, that he suffered against the Cardinals.


37 comments, Last at 06 Oct 2020, 7:12am

1 not a good week to be a fan

I can't recall there ever being such an awful week of serious injuries in my 30+ years of watching the NFL.  I hate to be a pessimist but it seems my 49ers should be playing for draft position at this point given the NFC West.  Sigh...

9 Pray for better days...

...because your Niners are going struggle just for a WC in the dirty NFC West!

My Cards punched you guys right in the mouth and you still haven't gotten up off the deck.

You still haven't played the Hawks or Rams!

17 In the dark days before FO,…

In the dark days before FO, the best you could hope for was a site or message board where only ~25% of posters were emotionally stunted trolls like this one. I hope everyone realizes how special this place is.

2 What about Sammy Watkins?

He's almost certainly in the concussion protocol after the brutal hit he took from a Chargers defensive player (probably should have been flagged, but wasn't). 

6 Last I knew, they were…

Last I knew, they were awaiting MRI results. I did just see a quote now from Pete Carroll saying, "it looks like Ugo's [Amadi] going to have to take over there for a little bit," which based on the injury mechanism suggests a mid-to-high-grade MCL injury. That's assuming he wasn't being understated when he said "a little bit", because his knee buckled quite badly and there's risk to other components of the knee. We won't know for sure until we get further reports.

10 Lack of Conditioning...

I'm going to guess that the COVID-19 protocol and lack of a pre-season has taken its ugly toll.

Not all of these injuries are due to being out of football shape, but you'd have to gather that some of them are.

Most human bodies aren't meant to ramp up from off-season to full-season without any conditioning phase.

It's like trying to run 6 miles at a 6 minute mile pace when you haven't done either in months.  Even if you could, you'd feel like you wish you hadn't by the end of it.

11 I had heard before the…

I had heard before the season started that there was 'a lot of concern about soft-tissue injuries' this year, precisely because of that lack of buildup and conditioning.

13 Yeah. With Sutton gone, and…

Yeah. With Sutton gone, and Miller likely gone for the whole season there is a case to be made that the best players on either side of the ball are out. Lock being hurt as well really reduces what can be learned from this season too. At least there is a chance to see what some young DBs etc might look like. Wasn't that optimistic for the season, but hoped it might be a chance to build towards something next year. If Lock misses considerable time even that might be hard to judge. Sigh.

25 Exactly right

Agree on all points.

(with apologies to those who don't give a rip about the Broncos.  Just keep scrolling.)

Lost their best defensive player, and by all accounts, a better version.

Lost their best non-quarterback offensive player.

Lost their quarterback for several weeks, who needs the game experience to grow (or not) and be evaluated.

Lost a tandem running back for a few weeks.

Lost a d-lineman for a few weeks.

Lost a starting right tackle for the season due to covid.

Going to be uphill.  Already scouting tackles and corners.






20 So apparently Tyrod Taylor…

So apparently Tyrod Taylor is out with a punctured lung caused by team doctors(!).

I think part of the reason for the $5B pricetag on SoFi was the Chargers insisted on moving their Cursed Indian Burial Ground with them. I would have thought just moving the headstones would have been sufficient.

22 Chargers Team Doctors

Not to mention Dr. Arnold Mandell, Chargers team psychiatrist in 1972-73, who prescribed players a season's worth of amphetamines in a single prescription under the supposed reasoning that it would make the players responsible for their own use, and then refilled those prescriptions after players claimed that they had lost their drugs.

24 That's medicine?

In fairness, the pain drug had the FDA approved disclaimer: "Injection of this drug may cause pneumothorax, potentially resulting in hospitalization, death, or dry mouth.  Consult a non-team doctor before taking."

If I were a Charger, I wouldn't trust that doctor to take my blood pressure.  Perhaps he can move on to the Anaheim Ducks, where, presumably, the word "quack" would be less pejorative.

27 Details are are sparse, but…

In reply to by BroncosGuyAgain

Details are are sparse, but I would guess he was trying to inject lidocaine in order to perform a subcostal nerve block (basically the affected ribs would be totally numb for 3-4 hours).  I frequently use large needles and scalpels around the ribcage area in my line of work, and pneumothorax is one of the known and feared complications.  I always use a portable ultrasound machine so I can see where I’m going.  

I can’t imagine this team doctor had an ultrasound machine on the sideline, and I can’t Imagine doing a procedure like this on a football field instead of a hospital/clinic setting, but I’m not in sports medicine, so what do I know?  Also, the needles used for nerve blocks are pretty small, so I can’t imagine how the hell he reached all the way to the lung, much less reach an air pocket to rupture and cause a pneumothorax large enough for Taylor to become immediately symptomatic.  That’s like a 1 in a million shot.  It’s difficult to do even if you were trying to do it on purpose.   I guess the Chargers really are cursed.

29 Even college stadiums often…

Even college stadiums often have a clinical room (housing an x-ray machine, typically) inside, but accessible from one of the sidelines. And if not, the main club house -- usually a short walk to the stadium -- would have a fairly large clinical facility.

But I'd be shocked if the $5B SoFi complex didn't have some form of clinical facility inside the stadium proper. 

30 That makes slightly more…

That makes slightly more sense.  The story said the incident happened right before pregame warmups, so I assumed it was near the sideline.  However, I suppose they could have gone back to the trainers room right before kickoff to do the procedure.

31 The dangers of parody

In my fake FDA warning I used the term "pneumothorax" so that it sounded more authentic - part of the bit.  I haven't seen any reporting that Taylor actually suffered a pneumothorax, and I wasn't trying to say that he had.  Like most of my posts, I probably should have just pressed cancel and moved on.  Still, the reports are of a "punctured lung" and J. Harrington "can’t imagine how the hell he reached all the way to the lung".  So, J. Harrington, if i misled you into thinking the incident was worse than it was, I apologize.  But it was still severe enough that Taylor was taken to hospital and reportedly affected his breathing. 

Not sure what you do J. Harrington, or in what setting, nor have I had the privilege of touring the entirety of an NFL stadium.  Still, even in that ignorance, I would wager pocket change that the stadium has more imaging technology than your clinical setting. Or Saskatchewan. 



32 I didn’t take any…

I didn’t take any information from what I knew was your fake FDA warning, but it is being widely reported that Taylor suffered a “collapsed lung”.  This is a layman’s term most commonly used to describe a pneumothorax (which is what he almost certainly had), although it can sometimes be used to describe complete atelectasis of a lung (basically an airway obstruction causes the lung to collapse in on itself....I doubt this is what Taylor had).  

Even if “punctured lung” was the only thing reported, the most common condition requiring hospitalization that this can lead to is a pneumothorax, which is why I was pretty confident this is what he had.  Needles can go into lungs without causing injury (radiologist do this all the time when they biopsy lung a lung mass).  You need to hit either a pocket of air or a large blood vessel to cause problems.  Since Taylor didn’t have to undergo surgery, I doubt it was a blood vessel.

Even a small pneumothorax can slowly grow into a large one, which can be life-threatening, which is why even small ones require at minimum hospital observation.  When they do start increasing in size, they require placement of a drainage tube (aka chest tube) to drain the air out and let the lung re-expand.  The small ones mostly resolve on their own.

“Not sure what you do J. Harrington, or in what setting”

I’m a pulmonary (lung specialist) and critical care (ICU) doc.

“I would wager pocket change that the stadium has more imaging technology than your clinical setting.”

I highly doubt that, unless NFL stadiums have multiple ultrasound machines, CT scanners, MRI machines, and a full radiology staff, like the 450 bed hospital with a 29 bed ICU that I work in.  Otherwise, there would have been no need for Taylor to go to the hospital.

33 Thank you, J. Harrington,…

Thank you, J. Harrington, for your thoughtful response.  I, of course, apologize.  There is a reason I was only willing to wager pocket change.  I hadn't seen any reports of a "collapsed lung", so I feared I had implicitly, without intent, suggested it myself.  And I am clearly not qualified to do so.  My quote of you, I think, suggests some respect for your clinical perspective.  The last bit about the setting:  my understanding is that NFL stadiums possess substantial imaging resources, better than many rural or semi-rural hospitals in the USA.  You have made clear, your clinical resources are, in fact, superior.  So, it appears I owe you my pocket-change, which today is exactly one dollar.  Should we meet, I would, of course, re-pay in manifold.  Thank you, again.

34 I hope my response didn’t…

I hope my response didn’t come off too harsh.  During the pandemic, I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress and working a lot of extra shifts (although things are better lately), only to come home and see randos on Twitter, Facebook, etc, either A)Telling me how I should do my job, or B)Accusing me and my colleagues of embellishing the pandemic so we can make extra money off of sick people.  I know you don’t fall into that category, so if my tone seemed a little snippy, I apologize.  

35 Your tone was, frankly, spot…

Your tone was, frankly, spot on.  Factual.  Matter of fact.  That those facts unveiled my rather stupid assumption is not the fault of the facts, nor the moderate tone in which they were presented. 

Sorry to hear your experience with people ranting against an infectious disease.  Because I am whom I am, I mentally ran through approximately 729 possible jokes/smart-ass observations/condescending hot-takes regarding your experience, the public's response to the novel corona virus 2019, the importance of football vs public health, etc.  Unfortunately, none of them were remotely funny. 

That you are an ICU pulmonary specialist in the age of a global respiratory virus pandemic  --  well, even if you had behaved badly -- and you didn't -- you would have latitude.  I'm sorry for the backlash you have faced.  None of it matters, really.  The outside barkers, even if audible, just aren't that important.

37 For what it's worth, this…

For what it's worth, this late in the day, as the guy who compiles and writes this article, I am always happy to read and defer to actual experts on every topic, and I welcome every bit of insight you can provide.