Week 6 is in the books, which means it’s time to look back at the week and make sense of all the big injury news from the weekend’s slate of games. Since it’s only Tuesday, all information is speculative and based on available information, so things can change between now and the weekend. Keep an eye on news as it leaks out throughout the week and follow me on Twitter for breaking news as it happens (z_dahdul) or go the FFLockerRoom home page to view all of my injury tweets in real time!
Cecil Shorts (sprained sternoclavicular joint, status in question for Week 7): Initial reports about Shorts’ injury stated he had a separated shoulder, which is a sprain of the acromioclavicular joint (AC joint), which is where the clavicle and the shoulder blade make their only attachment. However, word came out today that the injury occurred at the sternoclavicular joint (SC joint), which is on the other side of the clavicle where it attaches to the sternum (chest bone). The thought is that Shorts has a chance to play this week, which may point to this being a pretty low grade sprain (grade 1 or very low grade 2), but that’s purely speculation as no official diagnosis has been given. Although there isn’t a lot of motion that occurs at this joint, there is a ligament that holds the clavicle and sternum together, as the attachment is very shallow in nature. Shorts will get treatment to manage pain and hopefully decrease any laxity (looseness) at this joint if there is any, but the odds of him playing this soon after is relatively slim in my mind. However, a lot can change through the course of the week, so make sure you keep an eye on it.
Randall Cobb (fractured fibula, expected to miss 6-8 weeks): Cobb suffered a fracture to his fibula (lower leg bone on the lateral, outer, side) after a hyperextension injury occurred while getting tackled. This type of fracture is not very common, as a fibular fracture normally occurs at the ankle side of the fibula. However, not only is the location of the fracture uncommon, but the mechanism of injury isn’t necessarily consistent with a fibular fracture. Normally, a hyperextension injury (when the knee bends in the wrong direction too much) results in ACL or PCL damage, as these ligaments stop the tibia (main lower leg bone) from sliding forward (ACL) or backward (PCL) on the femur. In addition, the force of the hit happened just when Cobb’s foot had made contact with the ground, causing a planted-foot injury, which is more serious than had his foot not been on the ground already. In Cobb’s case, no ligamentous damage was noted, which is definitely good news. Expect Cobb to miss a minimum of 6 weeks with this injury, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he misses closer to 8 weeks, especially when you consider the location of the fracture and the fact that it was considered a pretty major break.
James Jones (sprained PCL, status in question for Week 7): Jones dodged a bullet in comparison to his teammate as he was diagnosed with a sprained PCL, which is a ligament of the knee that stops the tibia from excessively gliding backward in relation to the femur. With the Packers optimistic that Jones could possibly play this week, it leads me to believe that this is more of a low grade sprain. Also, these types of ligament injuries almost never require surgical intervention and normally respond well to conservative intervention (modalities, soft tissue work, strengthening). According to Adam Schefter, the team will make a decision later in the week about Jones’ availability for Week 7, so stay tuned.
Jimmy Graham (undisclosed foot injury, timetable unknown for Week 8): How many Graham owners had the you-know-what scared out of them when he left the Saints-Patriots game on Sunday? Graham appeared to suffer a foot injury, which required him to leave the game for a while before ultimately returning. He had his foot taped during the game, allowing him to come back to the field before eventually leaving the game for good. Graham did have an MRI on Monday, but the results were not made public. Good news is that the Saints are off in Week 7 on their bye, so he’ll had adequate time to get treatment and rest whatever injury he currently has. Speculation about the nature of his injury is anything from a plantar fascia tear to a midfoot injury of some kind. However, the mechanism of injury is not consistent with a midfoot issue, but there really is no way of knowing at this time. You’ll need to replace him this week anyways, but more information about his availability in Week 8 will be known early next week. Ultimately, it doesn’t look like a multiple weeks type injury, but we’ll have to reserve judgement until we know more.
Danny Amendola (head injury, status in question for Week 7): Boy did Amendola take a shot on Sunday. He appeared to temporarily be knocked out at the time of the hit and was pretty wobbly as he walked off the field with help from trainers. Amendola will obviously have to be symptom-free in time to play this Sunday, but it’s hard for me to imagine him getting to that point after seeing the violence of the hit and how he looked when he got up. ImPACT testing (league-mandated concussion testing) will be done through the week, which means he has to clear stage 5 (vigorous practice w/o symptoms for 24 hours) before he returns to the field. If that doesn’t happen by Saturday, then he will likely miss Week 7. If he does miss time, a guy to take a flier on might be Austin Collie, who came it and performed very well on the game-winning drive for the Patriots. He’s a similar type player to Amendola, albeit less dynamic and shifty. He might be a solid DEEP sleeper moving forward.
Matt Schaub (ankle/foot injury, status in question for Week 7): Schaub left Sunday’s loss to the Rams amidst boos and dealing with a nasty looking ankle injury. He was taped on the sideline and apparently treated for a high ankle sprain, which is very consistent with the mechanism of injury (mainly the way his foot got caught underneath him and the direction it bent). It will be interesting to see if the Texans buy Schaub time and make a change at QB as coach Gary Kubiak is essentially fighting for his job at this point. If it truly is a high ankle sprain, something of the mild to moderate variety, Schaub could theoretically be out at least 2-3 weeks. However, the injury appears to involve multiple structures, which could cloud his response to treatment as the more sites involved, the more difficult the rehab. Check out his involvement in practice this week. If he’s pretty limited and doing mostly rehab work, then expect him to sit. If he takes more snaps as the week progresses, then he may give it a go. My gut feeling? He sits and we see the Case Keenum era begin. Stay tuned.
Thaddeus Lewis (sprained foot, probable for Week 7): Lewis had to leave Sunday’s game with a sprained foot. But reports early this week state that this isn’t too severe of an issue and he has a good chance of playing this week. He’s considered day-t0-day at this point, so monitor his participation levels this week.
DeMarco Murray (MCL sprain grade 1, status in question for Week 7): Murray caught the injury bug again, suffering a sprain to the MCL of his L knee. The medial collateral ligament stabilizes the inside of the knee against forces/blows coming in from the outside of the knee. The good news is that Murray only suffered a grade 1, which means it’s a mild sprain with no actual structural damage to the ligament, just associated swelling and inflammation. Murray will give it his all to play Week 7, but his status will ultimately come down to his ability to perform planting and cutting motions to the left, when there is a valgus force applied to the knee.
Steven Jackson (quad strain, did not practice Tuesday): After Jackson strained his quadriceps muscle, everyone pointed to Week 7 as a likely return date following Atlanta’s bye week. However, the week has not gotten off to a good start, as he did not practice today in any capacity. Jackson continues to be bothered my this quad strain, which is going on 4+ weeks now. The quadriceps are a very important muscle group for any football player, as they are the power muscle group of the lower extremities. The quads play a role in pushing off, driving the legs through would-be tacklers, and sprinting, all of which are crucial characteristics of a successful back. If Jackson cannot return to the practice field by Thursday or Friday at the latest, we’re most likely looking at another week of Jacquizz Rodgers as the starting RB for the Falcons.
Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm, ???): I don’t really know what to make about this situation anymore. Patriots doctors cleared Gronk to return to the lineup. Gronk got a second opinion from famed physician James Andrews, who would not clear Gronk for a return to the field. Then we had reports of teammates questioning Gronk’s decision to sit out for this long. Who knows what’s going on at this point? One thing I do know is that physiologically and based on estimated normal time frames for a return to health, Gronk is doing more than fine. He realistically could have been back on the field at least 2 weeks ago, but there appears to be some sort of disconnect between what the team wants/thinks and what Gronk himself feels. I’m a huge proponent of a player not returning until he/she feels 100% confident and comfortable with doing everything he or she must do to succeed. This situation is starting to resemble the Derrick Rose situation with the Chicago Bulls, as he sat out the entire season despite being cleared to return with 3+ months left in the season. I’m not going to criticize any athlete who sits longer than accepted time frames because, as physical therapist, I see first-hand how little those time frames actually mean. If an athlete plays when they’re not mentally right, they’re asking for some sort of cascade injury to occur (a compensatory type injury at a different location that occurs when an athlete alters movement patterns or has deficits he is trying to overcome via other joints/muscles) or, worse, a re-injury to the already repaired area. At the end of the day, Gronk has to do what’s right for him and his health. From a fantasy standpoint, it makes it impossible to predict, so I’ll tell you what I’ve been saying for a couple weeks now: wait until information leaks over the weekend and proceed from there. But when the time comes and he’s actually active, you should get this guy back in your lineup because he will be worth the wait.
Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring)/Calvin Johnson (knee soreness): Both of these guys will play. Both of these guys will be less than 100%. It’s really impossible to dictate how effective each guy will be, as Fitz was able to put up a monster game against a tough defense after a setback. Does that make sense? Absolutely not, but nothing about fantasy football makes sense. Fitz and Megatron should be in the lineup this week (barring setbacks) and it really comes down to a gut call on your part about whether to play them or not. If you have viable replacements and would rather go with them, I can’t fault you. But chances are, you’re not easily replacing either of these guys based on where they were drafted, so you may just have to roll them out there. But here’s the key takeaway with both of these injuries: they’ll still be able to play, the level of performance could be on either end of the spectrum, but they’re still your #1 or #2 guy at the end of the day.