Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

22 Jan 2018

Injury Aftermath: Conference Championships

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.

Philadelphia Eagles versus New England Patriots (Sunday, February 4, 6:30 p.m. EST)

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles had X-rays taken of a rib injury he suffered against the Vikings, but the X-rays were almost certainly precautionary and his availability for the Super Bowl is in no question whatsoever. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who joined the Eagles in midseason and recently became a base-package starter due to injury, missed the NFC Championship Game with a hamstring injury. Ellerbe has missed a lot of time to injury over the past three seasons, mostly during his time in New Orleans, but the extra week of recovery time gives him a good chance to be available in Minnesota. The same is true of cornerback Sidney Jones, who was also inactive against the Vikings due to a hamstring injury.

New England's post-game injury report is headlined by the concussion inflicted on Rob Gronkowski by an illegal hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church. Fortunately, Gronkowski's chance of playing in the team's next game are also better than usual due to the extra recovery week. Though head injury treatment has progressed to the point that most players will miss at least one game after a diagnosed concussion, the median time to return is still below the two-week threshold that would place Gronkowski's availability in major doubt. The testing for each phase of the concussion protocol is administered by local neurologists who have no affiliation to the team (the Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultants, as they are termed, diagnose concussions on game days but are not necessarily the same doctors who assess the player during the recovery phase), so Gronkowski will not be rushed back. Still, he is widely expected to be available for the Super Bowl.

In other Patriots injury news, quarterback Tom Brady showed no ill effects from the hand injury he sustained in practice before the AFC Championship Game. Though the hand was taped, Brady's throws were still powerful and accurate. Halfback Rex Burkhead returned from his knee injury and was effective, but backfield compatriot Mike Gillislee has still not returned from his own injury. Despite optimism early last week, right tackle LaAdrian Waddle missed Sunday's win due to the knee injury he suffered against Tennessee. Waddle should be able to return in two weeks' time. The same is true of defensive tackle Alan Branch, even though he was again inactive against the Jaguars and still has not returned to full practice participation after injuring his knee in Week 15.

Receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who had been designated to return from injured reserve at the start of the playoffs, was not activated to the 53-man roster before the end of his three-week window. He will therefore remain on injured reserve.

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 22 Jan 2018

6 comments, Last at 23 Jan 2018, 1:21pm by Aaron Brooks Good Twin


by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 01/22/2018 - 6:11pm

Halfback Rex Burkhead returned from his knee injury and was effective

If I recall correctly, Burkhead only played 3 snaps, and didn't see the field after a solid shot to the back. I won't be surprised if he is nursing something yet again.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 01/22/2018 - 9:07pm

NE beat writers reported that Branch has in fact been healthy for a few weeks now and has been inactive for “performance reasons”.

by RobotBoy :: Tue, 01/23/2018 - 4:56am

Yeah, mixed messages on Branch who keeps declaring himself good to go and then not doesn't get activated.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 01/23/2018 - 5:33am

From what I can see, he's still limited in practice too. It's the Patriots, however, and they aren't exactly famed for clear, concise injury updates.

by PatsFan :: Tue, 01/23/2018 - 12:16pm

You don't say!

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 01/23/2018 - 1:21pm

Has he been ruled "Doubtful, obesity"?