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Injury Aftermath: Week 5

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott
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).

Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott -- Ankle (Season)

The gruesome headline injury of the 2020 season so far, Dak Prescott suffered a compound ankle fracture and dislocation in the team's victory over the Giants. He had successful surgery on Sunday night to reset the bone and repair the joint, but he will miss the rest of the season. Prescott had never missed a game during his professional career to this point, and he was on a record-setting pace while playing on the franchise tag. Some have suggested that this might affect the value of a possible long-term deal this offseason, but Prescott should be well into his recovery in time for offseason team activities and there should be no doubts about his health ahead of the 2021 season.

Defensive tackle Trysten Hill tore his ACL, and he will also miss the rest of the season.

Cardinals Edge Rusher Chandler Jones -- Biceps (Season)

Star edge rusher Chandler Jones had never missed a start since moving to Arizona from New England in 2016, but Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury indicated last night the team's belief that he will miss the rest of the season with a torn biceps he suffered against the Jets. Biceps injuries of any severity are usually season-ending: over 80% of biceps injuries to front seven defenders end the player's season, and the small number that do not usually result in no time missed. It is exceedingly rare for a player to return later in the year. Jones was already on pace for his lowest sack total as a professional: he had hit double digits in six of his last seven seasons but recorded only a single sack in five games in 2020.

Chiefs Guard Kelechi Osemele -- Knee (Season)

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has announced that Kelechi Osemele tore tendons in both knees against the Raiders, a season-ending injury that may put the veteran's career in jeopardy. There are two major tendons in the knee: the quadriceps tendon, which would usually be identified specifically as a quadriceps or quadriceps tendon injury, and the patellar tendon, which is a devastating injury with a very arduous recovery. The last player I recall suffering an injury of that magnitude was Texans offensive tackle Derek Newton, who tore both patellar tendons in 2016. Newton only played 50 more snaps in his career after returning to the field, all in a single game for the Saints in 2018. Osemele is two years older now than Newton was then, and he likely faces at least a year out if the injury is as bad as suspected.

Receiver Sammy Watkins left the game with a hamstring injury. Around half of those cause at least a one-game absence, but 75% of players who suffer them are back within two weeks.

Bengals Defensive Tackle D.J. Reader -- Quadriceps (Season)

Cincinnati's major offseason acquisition, defensive tackle D.J. Reader, tore his quad against the Ravens and will miss the rest of the season. Reader had immediately become one of the best players on the Bengals defense, and his absence has been a major part of the problem with Houston's front seven.

Defensive end Sam Hubbard injured his elbow. Receiver A.J. Green injured his hamstring. Around half of hamstring injuries to receivers cause at least a one-game absence, and the team is likely to be cautious with Green given his lengthy recent injury record.

Giants Linebacker Lorenzo Carter -- Achilles (Season)

Given how quickly he was ruled out of the game, Lorenzo Carter's Achilles injury is probably serious enough to require surgery and end his season.


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

  • Eagles cornerback Darius Slay
  • Panthers edge rusher Brian Burns

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

Browns cornerback Greedy Williams has a nerve issue in his shoulder and is out indefinitely, according to head coach Kevin Stefanski. Williams will be placed on injured reserve, but the Browns do expect him to return later in the season. Guard Wyatt Teller injured his calf and is considered week-to-week. Quarterback Baker Mayfield had X-rays on his ribs after the game, but they did not show a fracture and he is expected to play through the pain.

Eagles tackle Lane Johnson was carted off the field with a recurrence of his existing ankle injury, and the Eagles are seeking a second medical opinion this week. Though the team has not explicitly said so, Johnson appears likely to miss time, further depleting one of the most injured offenses in the league. Rookie fourth-round pick Jack Driscoll is next in line at right tackle.

Falcons defensive end Takkarist McKinley injured his groin against the Panthers. Barely half of groin injuries to defensive linemen cause missed games, and around 75% of players who suffer them return within two weeks.

Jaguars safety Andrew Wingard strained an abdominal muscle against the Texans. Such strains are usually minor, causing only around a third of players to miss a game, but it sounds as though Wingard may be among that group. Even so, half of the players who do miss time return within two weeks, and only the most serious 10% of abdominal injuries linger beyond four weeks.

Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson injured his toe against the Falcons. Other than turf toe, toe injuries are usually innocuous: only 25% cause any missed time. Defensive tackle Kawann Short injured his shoulder, but no further information is yet available.

Raiders defensive back Lamarcus Joyner injured his hamstring against the Chiefs, which usually means at least a one-game absence for defensive backs. 75% of defensive backs return to the field from hamstring injuries within three weeks.

Seahawks defensive tackle Anthony Rush had swelling in his knee following last night's game, but his outlook for this week and beyond is unclear.

Steelers guard David DeCastro injured his abdomen against the Eagles. Around 40% of abdominal injuries to offensive linemen cause missed games, but over 80% of players who suffer them return within three weeks. Receiver Diontae Johnson injured his back. Usually, those injuries are either so serious we would know their specifics already, such as a fracture, or fairly innocuous: only 20% of unspecified back injuries cause missed games, and most of those absences last only a week or two.

Vikings halfback Dalvin Cook injured his groin against the Seahawks on Sunday evening. He returned to the game but did not have another carry. Around half of groin injuries to running backs cause them to miss at least one game, but over 75% return within two weeks.

Washington quarterback Kyle Allen injured his arm against the Rams and left the game, allowing Alex Smith to finally return from his own gruesome leg injury. Though Allen was cleared to return in the second half, Smith stayed in to finish the game. Allen is not expected to miss further time, and he is expected to start in Week 6.


11 comments, Last at 13 Oct 2020, 2:22pm

2 Chandler Jones.

Thankfully we have depth along our D-line and the rookie who replaced Jones got two sacks against the NY Football Jets on Sunday.  We'll be fine.

Feel bad for Jones, though.  I can't imagine the pain of tearing a biceps muscle.  


3 Dak.

I'm mesmerized by the fact that people were honestly moved to tear by Dak's injury and all everyone wanted to talk about was what Dak meant to them.

The guy didn't die.  He had a compound fracture of the ankle.  Immediately when it happened, I knew he was gone for the year.  If everyone goes well with surgery and rehab, he'll be ready for next season but any complications could cost him another year easily.  It all depends on his healing and whether the joint gets infected.

Tony Dungy was right, that it could be a blessing in disguise for the Cowboys.  They'll be forced to change their offense with more of a focus on the running game and less throwing.  Unfortunately, their QB is Andy Dalton so they're probably going 7-9 at best, which could theoretically win the NFC Least.

5 I mean, they were probably…

In reply to by DIVISION

I mean, they were probably going 7-9 even with Dak. A home game against the Giants is the easiest game on their schedule, and they still were struggling mightily to beat them before Dak got injured.

4 Dak Prescott

Did anything definitive ever leak about the size of the long-term contract he turned down this spring? I see articles reporting up to 5 years/$175M, with $110M guaranteed, but then I see other articles disputing that. Obviously it's in the interest of the team to leak the biggest numbers to try to sway public opinion against the player.

I saw a million comments on Twitter last night to the effect of "this is why players hold out," and I think Prescott's injury argues for the opposite - take a reasonably market-value deal when it's offered to you. Unless Dallas was actually offering way less than $35M/year, I think he was foolish to play under the tag instead. Hopefully he'll make a full recovery from his brutal injury and not end up costing himself too much in career earnings.

6 It's a shame about Dak and a…

In reply to by Steve in WI

It's a shame about Dak and a terrible injury. About his contractual decisions, the obvious counter example to what you're proposing is Kirk Cousins, who's gotten rich by betting on himself. And Dak's a clearly better QB, IMO. It's just a really bad break for him.

7 None of this is particularly relevant for QBs

In reply to by Steve in WI

An excellent QB is important enough that even missing full season(s) to recovery/rehab doesn't sink their value. Think of Peyton Manning's neck, Tom Brady's knee, Deshaun Watson's knee. The counterexample is Teddy Bridgewater, but Dak is a lot better QB than Bridgewater. Maybe the Cowboys franchise Dak for a second season, but that'll still mean paying him $20 mil+. He's going to get a monster 2nd contract, even if he's still injured when he signs it. 

8 I think the best play for…

I think the best play for Dallas(provided the optics don't hurt them too bad) would be to franchise Dak and see how he plays coming off his injury. If he struggles but there's clear improvement, you get him at a discount going forward. If he lights the world on fire, great sign him long term. However, he may also turn into Cousins and say FU and leave. 

11 Hill

Chris Carson and Seahawks fans are smiling at Trysten Hill's injury even though no one should be happy about any player getting injured.