Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Oct 2017

Injury Aftermath: Week 8

by Andrew Potter and Zach Binney

Thanks to staff writer Zach Binney's analysis of NFL injury data, we are now able to provide more detailed injury return (number of games missed) and recovery (number of weeks limited in practices or games) estimates based on historical data for select injuries. These estimates also consider the position of the injured player. Details of our methodology are available here.

Bears Tight End Zach Miller -- Knee (IR)

In the week that Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater finally returned to practice, divisional rival Zach Miller's season was ended by a very similar, even more horrific knee dislocation. It is no exaggeration to describe this as the worst injury of the season so far. Like Bridgewater, Miller was immediately taken to a hospital in an ambulance -- standard procedure, as a knee dislocation is a medical emergency. Unlike Bridgewater, Miller required immediate surgery to repair a rupture in his popliteal artery. This procedure involved grafting tissue from his healthy leg into the injured joint to seal the rupture. It sounds today like the procedure was successful, though at the time of writing Miller was awaiting MRI scan results. The scan will hopefully indicate that the surgery has saved Miller's leg, at least.

Beyond that, the outlook remains grim. Though Bridgewater's return to practice does provide a modicum of hope for other players, it took the then-23-year-old more than a year to return to practice. Miller is a full decade older, and plays a very different position. There is no way to soften this blow: his playing career is probably over. Frankly, he will be fortunate if he can walk normally when the surgery and rehabilitation is complete.

Guard Kyle Long suffered a hand injury during the first half in New Orleans, and was sidelined after halftime with a club-like cast around the injury. Despite this, the team stated that he could have returned to the game if required. The same is true of Cody Whitehair, who suffered an elbow injury and was likewise sidelined as a precaution. The Bears have a bye in Week 9, so both should be available for the team's next game.

Texans Defensive End Christian Covington -- Bicep (IR)

The Texans lost another defender from their front seven this weekend, when Christian Covington suffered a torn bicep against the Seahawks. A starter since J.J. Watt was lost for the year in Week 5, now Covington will also require surgery and will miss the rest of the season. The third-year player has 4.0 sacks in 38 career games, but leaves the Texans scrambling for further depth in an injury-depleted front seven.

Guard Jeff Allen suffered a knee injury, for which no update is yet available.

49ers Safety Jimmie Ward, et al. -- Various

As if the second consecutive heavy defeat wasn't enough, the 49ers suffered a plethora of injuries in Philadelphia. The most severe of the injuries was probably Jimmie Ward's fractured forearm. We have records of 21 arm fractures to defensive backs since 2007. Half returned after three to eight weeks missed, while the other half did not return that year, so it seems likely Ward is in line to miss major time. Fellow defensive starter Solomon Thomas suffered a low-grade MCL sprain, per Ian Rapoport. 80 percent of defensive linemen with an injured MCL miss at least one game, with 25 percent missing more than four weeks. If it's a low-grade sprain, 49ers fans can hope to have him back after a week or two. Typical recovery times are two to four weeks. Rookie defensive lineman D.J. Jones suffered a knee injury, for which no update is yet public.

On offense, Joe Staley suffered a fracture to his orbital socket on an interception return. Staley looks set to miss at least one week, but may return quickly with some form of protective mask. Fellow offensive tackle Garry Gilliam suffered a knee injury and did not return, while receiver Pierre Garcon suffered a neck injury. No further news is yet available concerning either player.


The following players were removed from their respective games with concussion symptoms and enter the league protocol:

  • Browns halfback Duke Johnson
  • Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson
  • Lions halfback Dwayne Washington
  • Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco
  • Ravens tight end Vince Mayle
  • Redskins tight end Niles Paul
  • Vikings offensive lineman Mike Remmers

Other Injuries

Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick left the game with an injured shoulder. Shoulder injuries can be nagging for defensive backs, but only about a third cause them to miss any games. Typical recovery times range from one to seven weeks. If this is a re-aggravation of his right shoulder injury from week 4, Kirkpatrick could fall at the longer end of this range. Defensive end Michael Johnson hurt his back, with no update yet available on that injury.

Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury and did not return. About two-thirds of hamstring injuries to defensive backs keep them out at least one week, and about 20 percent cause them to miss four or more games. The bye week gives Boddy-Calhoun a decent chance to return for the Browns' next game if the injury isn't too severe. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks.

Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne left Sunday's defeat with an injured foot. Foot injuries are a real mixed bag, and Claiborne's return depends entirely on the severity of the injury. X-rays were reportedly negative, but that doesn't mean Claiborne is out of the woods. If it's any kind of injury to the Lisfranc complex in the mid-foot, he's going to be out awhile. If not, he could be back quickly -- only about a third of non-Lisfranc foot injuries cause defensive backs to miss time. Without further information, typical recovery times run from one to seven weeks. Defensive lineman Ed Stinson suffered a shoulder injury, with no further information yet available.

Lions offensive tackle Ricky Wagner hurt his ankle against Pittsburgh, but returned to the game. Guard Tim Lelito did not return after injuring his thigh, and no update is yet available on Lelito.

Panthers guard Trai Turner aggravated his existing knee injury against Tampa Bay, and will have an MRI scan on the injury today. No update is yet available.

Patriots receiver Chris Hogan suffered a shoulder or arm injury and was seen after the game with his arm in a sling. He is scheduled for an MRI scan today to assess the injury, which reportedlymay be a sprained AC joint. If it is just an AC sprain or something similar, Hogan may not miss any time. Historically only about a third of shoulder sprains to receivers have caused them to miss a game, and the bye should drive that risk down further for Hogan. Typical recovery times are one to three weeks. Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon left with an injured ankle and was replaced by LaAdrian Waddle. The Patriots are on a bye next weekend, so they are optimistic that both will be available in Week 10.

Raiders fullback Jamize Olawale suffered a hamstring injury and was questionable to return against Buffalo. As the Raiders do not play until Monday night in Week 9, Olawale has a slightly better than usual chance to play.

Redskins tight end Jordan Reed suffered a hamstring injury against Dallas. A little more than half of hamstring injuries to tight ends cause them to miss games, with around 25 percent causing four or more missed games. Typical recovery times are one to five weeks. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan suffered a groin injury. A little under half of groin injuries to linebackers cause them to miss at least one game, while just 15 percent cause players to miss more than three weeks. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks. Guard Shawn Lauvao left with a stinger, which can sometimes cause missed time and other times clear up quickly. Safety Stefan McClure hurt his hamstring, which does typically result in missed time for defensive backs.

Seahawks safety Earl Thomas suffered a minor hamstring pull, and expects to be available for Seattle's next game.

Steelers safety Mike Mitchell left with an ankle injury, but he expects to be fine for the team's next game in Week 10.

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 30 Oct 2017

3 comments, Last at 31 Oct 2017, 4:34pm by TomC


by ChrisS :: Mon, 10/30/2017 - 4:01pm

" Joe Staley suffered a fracture to his orbital socket" shouldn't wearing a football helmet prevent this injury?

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/30/2017 - 4:09pm

Yes. The play is being investigated by the league on suspicion of foul play.

by TomC :: Tue, 10/31/2017 - 4:34pm

Apparently "interception return" means "ok, d-lineman, find the nearest offensive player and do absolutely anything you want to him with no consequences." From Charles Martin on Jim McMahon to Warren Sapp on Chad Clifton to Jared Allen (who was practically sainted when he retired but anyone who watched closely back in the day knows was one of the all-time dirty SOBs) on Lance Louis, it's one of the aspects of the NFL which should have been cleaned up decades ago but has somehow fallen through the cracks.