Adam Schefter reported last night that Darren McFadden suffered a high ankle sprain on his first carry of the game but continued to play until he aggravated it later. I think that’s an accurate report. As McFadden tiptoed down the sideline on his second touch of the day, his right foot seemed to catch in the turf and turn outward. He didn’t really seem bothered on his next few carries but clearly had that right foot twisted again in the second quarter. He was not comfortable on his next three touches and looked to be favoring that side as he went to the ground on his final carry. Schefter also reported that McFadden will have an MRI today. That’s standard operating procedure to determine the extent of any soft tissue injury. You’ll see the word “dreaded” used as an adjective for high ankle sprains (and Lisfranc injuries) as often as you hear “ensuing” before the word kickoff. But it’ll be the grade of high ankle sprain and McFadden’s ability to heal quickly and play through pain that determines whether he’ll return to play in 1-2 weeks or 3-4 weeks. Mike Goodson also suffered an ankle injury yesterday. Replays didn’t show the mechanism of injury clearly and there’s been no report on whether he’ll need additional imaging today after negative x-rays last night.
The immediate concern from many after seeing Jamaal Charles take a helmet-to-helmet hit last Thursday was for a head injury. Replays were more consistent with a stretching injury to the neck than a head injury. That’s not to dismiss the likelihood of a head injury after a glancing blow to the side. That’s a very common mechanism for concussion, especially when there’s rotation about the jaw. In this case, though, I think the Chiefs weren’t pulling their punch when announcing Charles’ injury as a neck issue. The early reports from Kansas City are vague, but more consistent with a relatively mild stinger injury rather than a more significant bony or nerve injury around his cervical spine. If that’s accurate, we should see Charles back practicing before the end of the week. If not, nerve contusions and injuries are very much a week-to-week situation and a 1-2 week recovery expectation can sometimes quickly become a 3-4 week absence.
DeMarco Murray could return to practice this week. Murray was cleared to begin weight-bearing last week, but didn’t practice. Thus far, the Cowboys have given us a good indication of Murray’s status early in the week. I think we’ll likely hear more positivity from the team today and tomorrow than we have in prior weeks. Ordinarily, I’d argue that there’s no guarantee that Murray plays this week even if he returns to practice. However, the Cowboys have a critical divisional matchup in Philadelphia this week and I expect Murray to suit up if he’s able to practice this week. The Cowboys may try to limit his workload in his first game back from the injury. Check back for more as Murray’s status is updated over the next 24 hours.
I was convinced that the Packers would rest Jordy Nelson through their Week 10 bye after not practicing him all week. It was a curious decision, given the high risk of re-aggravating his hamstring strain in the first 7-14 days after return to football activity. However, the fitness of Nelson’s hamstring had nothing to do with his early game ankle injury. Nelson was running well and seemed to have no difficulty running routes. The ankle injury – which looked to be a classic low ankle sprain on replay – occurred when his foot caught under him and wasn’t related to any compensation for his hamstring strain. Nelson will have two weeks to recover from his ankle sprain and it’s unlikely the hamstring strain will be a concern if he can keep his conditioning up through the bye week.
Percy Harvin violently turned his left ankle on a run after tweaking an already sore hamstring earlier in the game. Harvin returned to the game shortly after but wasn’t effective. The mechanism was not consistent with a high ankle sprain, but that doesn’t mean that Harvin is a sure bet to return for Week 10. Harvin has a reputation for playing through injury, but the combination of ankle and hamstring issues could prompt the Vikings to hold him out through their Week 11 bye.
Robert Griffin III again took a number of hard hits yesterday, including one to the rib cage that left him very sore after the game. X-rays were reportedly negative and he’ll have two weeks to rest and recover through the Redskins’ Week 10 bye. Expect him to be back at near full strength in Week 11. Griffin has stayed on the right side of the injury report through nine games, but it’s easy to wonder when his good luck will run out.
Calvin Johnson again said after yesterday’s game that his knee problem is likely to linger through the rest of the season. He also noted that the team has modified his route tree such that he would not have to plant and push off his injured leg. That raises the concern that there may be a cartilage or meniscus injury that he’s trying to nurse through the coming weeks without surgery. Yesterday, painkillers and route modification allowed Johnson to be very effective. There’s no guarantee those interventions will continue to be successful, though, and the Lions will face better secondaries than the Jaguars in coming weeks. Expect Johnson’s practice reps to continue to be limited in the coming weeks. Hopefully, he’ll avoid aggravating the injury on game days and can continue to be as effective as he was yesterday.
The recovery estimates for Darren Sproles varied widely this weekend. One local report suggested that Sproles might be out as long as 6-8 weeks. That report was very speculative and not based on any team sources. Chris Mortenson and others then reported that Sproles could be back within 1-2 weeks. I think the first report was likely based on the length of time it takes most fractures in the hand to heal – 4-6 weeks. But a fracture in the hand is a non-weight bearing injury. Unlike a broken leg or foot or ankle, a player can continue to play through the immobilization stage of recovery in a padded cast. Assuming Sproles doesn’t have an injury to an area that’s more prone to complication and re-injury or delayed recovery (a scaphoid fracture, fracture near a joint, injury requiring multiple pins, etc.), it’s unlikely he’ll be held out until the injury fully heals. If his fracture and surgery are more straightforward, his timetable will be based on how quickly he can return to effectiveness as a pass-catching running back. That will depend on pain and the extent of casting/splinting necessary to immobilize the injury and protect the surgical repair. I originally tweeted that 3-4 weeks was a likely conservative estimate, but 1-2 weeks is not out of the question. Willis McGahee returned to play after missing just one game with a hand fracture in 2011. We won’t know how similar McGahee’s injury may have been, but there’s precedent for a quick return to play.
Expect Danny Amendola back this week. His injured sternoclavicular joint may not be fully healed, but the extra two weeks of healing time has nearly doubled Amendola’s recovery time. The padding and harness Amendola may wear this week should not hinder his range of motion much and his conditioning should also be a non-issue.
Antonio Brown says his injury is a high ankle sprain. ProFootballTalk is quoting a source that says it isn’t. Replays showed a mechanism that’s consistent with a high ankle injury, but – similar to the Jimmy Graham situation – it’s impossible to say with certainty without an exam and imaging studies. For now, consider Brown very questionable for Week 10. Like McFadden, multiple factors will determine whether Brown can return to play in 1-2 weeks or whether he’ll miss an extended period.
Donald Brown was active after looking doubtful to play through complications with his recent knee injury, but reportedly now has a hip injury after playing only sparingly in the first quarter. Steve Johnson suffered a thigh contusion and wasn’t able to play through it effectively. Andre Brown left with a shoulder injury and didn’t return, but said he was okay after the game. Kendall Wright hyperextended his right elbow while blocking and will have an MRI today. Donnie Avery left with a hip injury after a mid-air collision and didn’t return.
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