Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Jan 2018

Injury Aftermath: Divisional Round

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.

Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (Sunday, 3:05 p.m. EST)

Jaguars halfback Leonard Fournette has battled ankle injuries throughout his first professional season, and was sidelined for most of the second quarter after his injury flared up against the Steelers. He was able to return for the third quarter, and is expected to play against New England. Edge rusher Dante Fowler injured his shoulder, which is why rookie Dawuane Smoot was higher in the second-half rotation at that spot. It is difficult to speculate without further details, but only about a quarter of shoulder injuries to defensive linemen cause them to miss a game, so right now there seems to be a decent chance Fowler will be available next week. Typical recovery times are one to four weeks. Safety Tashaun Gipson injured his foot and did not return. As we've said before here, foot injuries are a real mixed bag, so Gipson's recovery depends on the precise nature of the injury. Among all foot injuries to defensive backs, about a third cause players to miss at least one game. Typical recovery times are one to five weeks. Linebacker Paul Posluszny was able to play, as expected, after being injured in last weekend's game against the Bills. His abdominal injury may require surgery after the season, but he should be able to play through it in the meantime.

Patriots right tackle LaAdrian Waddle sprained his knee against the Titans, but the injury is considered minor and the team hopes to have him available this weekend. New England also hopes to have halfback Rex Burkhead available, after Burkhead missed the Titans game -- and most of December -- with a knee injury. Fellow halfback Mike Gillislee, however, is not expected to be ready in time. Gillislee was a healthy inactive for much of the regular season, so even if he is healthy he may not be active for the game. Defensive tackle Alan Branch is the only other possible starter who was inactive against the Titans, but Branch was able to practice in a limited capacity last week and may be close to a return. As always with the Patriots, practice participation will tell us more than media reports for most of the build-up to the game.

Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday, 6:40 p.m. EST)

Early-season starting quarterback Sam Bradford was not only activated to the 53-man roster from injured reserve last week, he was the active backup quarterback for Sunday's game versus the New Orleans Saints. Though Bradford did not enter that game, he is more of a threat to Case Keenum's starting role than either Teddy Bridgewater or Kyle Sloter -- should Keenum struggle against the excellent Eagles defense, it would be relatively unsurprising to see Mike Zimmer make the switch to Bradford even after Keenum's heroics in the divisional round.

The biggest injury worry from that divisional round victory is safety Andrew Sendejo, who was knocked cold on a block by Saints receiver Michael Thomas and will have to clear the league concussion protocol. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes left the game for a short period in the third quarter, but was able to return. Backup defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, however, was lost for the game with a nasty high-ankle mechanism knee injury and his season may be over; rookie Jaleel Johnson is the next man up in the rotation. Cornerback Terence Newman, who was the only Vikings player on the final pre-game injury report, played the full game in his usual role with no apparent ill effects.

The Eagles appear to have emerged unscathed from their victory over the Falcons, with no new injuries reported afterward. Cornerback Sidney Jones, listed as questionable before the game due to a hamstring injury, was inactive -- but Jones has missed almost the entire season while rehabilitating an Achilles injury, so he may have been a healthy inactive anyway. Hamstring injuries are difficult to predict, so Jones' status against the Vikings will not become clearer until later in the week. Rotational defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao was also inactive after appearing on the injury report, but it is not clear whether his absence was primarily due to that injury.

Other Injuries

Titans right tackle Jack Conklin tore his ACL in the first half against the Patriots, and will require surgery. ACL recovery is typically at least a nine-month process, meaning Conklin will almost certainly miss the team's entire offseason program. He is very unlikely to be ready for the start of the 2018 season, and will probably begin the season on the Reserve (Physically Unable to Perform) list. This would keep him off the active roster until at least Week 6, by which time his knee rehabilitation should be almost complete.

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 15 Jan 2018

4 comments, Last at 16 Jan 2018, 12:03pm by DezBailey


by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 01/15/2018 - 4:24pm

NE also appears to have lost Jonathon Jones, who is a key special teamer and a very good 4th CB. Not exactly large potatoes, but still impacting.

by caminante0 :: Mon, 01/15/2018 - 9:35pm

The game times above are incorrect. The NE - Jax game is first at 3:05 and the other is at 6:40 PM

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 01/16/2018 - 10:36am

Dagnabbit. I forgot to switch the games before putting the times in.

by DezBailey :: Tue, 01/16/2018 - 12:03pm

Wow...bad news for the Titans and Conklin. At least the timing of the injury allows them to formulate a plan going into free agency and the draft.

Burkhead's return for the Patriots is huge