The Training Room: Week 9 Injury Updates
I'm not even sure where to begin as my Twitter feed was blowing up with all sorts of significant injury news to household names this past weekend. I always tell myself before games get underway that we'll have a quiet weekend with no injuries, but that couldn't be further from the truth in Week 8. The waiver wire is going to be extremely busy this week, so make sure you check out Pat Fitzmaurice's column to get an idea of who you should target when looking at your options for this week and on.
On The Mend
Marcus Mariota (MCL Sprain): Mariota has returned to practice on a limited basis, but he should return to being a full participant at some point this week. Projection: Mariota will start Week 9 against the Saints. Mariota might be limited from a mobility standpoint as he continues to recover from his knee injury, but he's a big upgrade over Zach Mettenberger.
Tyrod Taylor (MCL Sprain): Tyrod has practiced in full so far this week. Barring any setbacks, he should make his much-needed return to the Bills offense. Projection: Taylor will start Week 9 against the Dolphins. Tyrod shouldn't have too many limitations as the extra rest should've allowed him to get as close to 100 percent as possible.
Sammy Watkins (Lateral Ankle Sprain): Watkins will continue to be day-to-day until we see more from him on the practice field this week. Projection: Watkins will be active for Week 9. Watkins has been under fire in the media lately, so I believe he'll try to come back to prove to his doubters wrong. Even though Watkins has the most talent out of the Bills WR corps, he'll continue to be a boom-or-bust option.
Vincent Jackson (Sprained Knee): There haven't been many updates on VJax's knee injury since he hurt it last week. He'll continue to be week-to-week until we know more. Projection: Jackson misses 1-2 more weeks.
Ryan Mathews (Strained Groin): Mathews shouldn't be too limited in practice this week as the Eagles prepare for their showdown against the Cowboys. Projection: Mathews is active for Week 9. Mathews continues to thrive in Chip Kelly's offense, but is still only getting limited touches due to Demarco Murray's presence.
Carlos Hyde (Foot Stress Fracture): It would've been foolish for the 49ers to play Hyde through a stress fracture, as it would've worsened as he continued to run on it. There's a good chance he doesn't return until after the 49ers bye, which would put him at roughly four weeks since we found out about the stress fracture. Projection: Hyde returns Week 11 against the Seahawks. Hyde should hopefully be able to maintain his conditioning by doing pool work and other cardio to allow him to be all systems go after the bye week. There's a chance the foot injury could linger all season, but the rest will hopefully allow him to be fully healthy upon his return.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Sprained Shoulder): He practiced on a limited basis last week, but didn't seem like he was close to suiting up. He'll continue to be day-to-day, but the hope is he progresses to full practice at some point to allow him to return to game action. Projection: Seferian-Jenkins will start Week 9. The lack of playmakers in the Buccaneers receiving game should help Seferian-Jenkins contribute right away if he's able to play.
Leonard Hankerson (Hamstring Strain): Hankerson wasn't close to playing last week, and it remains to be seen if he'll progress enough to suit up this week against the 49ers. Projections: Hankerson misses Week 9 and returns for Week 11 after the bye. The Falcons will continue to rely on Julio Jones to carry the load, as Roddy White didn't show much with Hankerson sidelined last week.
DeSean Jackson (Hamstring Strain): Jackson declared himself ready to go after Monday's practice. Projection: Jackson will start Week 9. We've been down this road before as Jackson was set to return for Week 6, but then suffered an aggravation late in the week which forced him to be out until now. Hopefully D-Jax gets through this week unscathed to allow owner's who need help at WR to use him.
Karlos Williams (Concussion): Williams has returned to practice this week and should be on track to play against the Dolphins this week. Projection: Williams will be active for Week 9. Williams could be eased back into his backup role, as Shady McCoy seems to be the healthiest he's been all season. Williams remains a solid handcuff should McCoy go down.
The Training Room
Steve Smith Sr.
Bottom Line: Smith Sr. will be out the rest of the season and will have surgery this upcoming Monday.
Projection: Smith returns for one more season. I have a feeling this won't be the way Smith Sr. wants to end his career. Returning from an Achilles rupture is a difficult and long recovery, but if you hadn't noticed by now, Smith's mental toughness can't be questioned. Like we discussed last week with Arian Foster, the normal timetable for recovery after an Achilles rupture is 11 months. Based on that timetable, there's a good chance Smith Sr. could be put on PUP to start season, get the calf as strong as possible, and then return in the 2nd half of the 2016 season for a possible playoff push.
Bottom Line: Bush was put on IR as his MCL requires surgery to help with long-term recovery. It's been a tough year with Bush, who's battled calf injuries at multiple times this year as well.
Projection: Bush will return healthy for 2016. With Bush set to be a free agent this upcoming offseason, it's fair to question if there are teams willing to take a chance on him.
Kidney Laceration - blunt trauma to the lower back from either a fall or a tackle can lead to an injury to the kidney. Kidney injuries in football can be classified into contustions or lacerations, where both can cause abnormal function of the body and significant pain.
Bottom Line: Allen fell awkwardly after he caught a touchdown at the end of the first half against the Ravens. He tried to return after the half, but had to be taken to the locker room again as he couldn't shake the discomfort. It has been revealed Allen suffered a kidney laceration which required a procedure to stop the bleeding. He was put on IR and will be out for the rest of the year.
Projection: Allen will return healthy for 2016. Once the bleeding is controlled and normal function returns in the kidney, there shouldn't be any long-term issues to be concerned about with regards to Allen's health. He'll be ready to roll next year.
Bottom Line: It's another tough blow to the Steelers as they just got Big Ben back from the same injury. Bell will have surgery on the MCL, and possibly other procedures depending on if he suffered any additional injuries.
Projection: Bell will return healthy for 2016. Bell has had an injury in three consecutive seasons that has forced him to miss significant time. He still possesses enormous upside, but there is going to be some risk with his previous injury history now.
Bottom Line: Coach Fox stated Forte's knee won't require surgery, which is about all the information we got. Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports Forte is not going to be ready for this week (and potentially next week), so it sounds like he could be dealing with a more severe sprain. He'll be week-to-week for now, and with the Bears coaching staff being so vague, it's going to be hard to gauge when he could be ready to return.
Projection: Forte misses 2-4 weeks. The Bears coaching staff will do everything in their power to muddle this situation and provide no useful information. We'll have to wait until Forte is able to practice in some manner to get a better idea to project when he'll return.
Bottom Line: Coach Bowles stated Fitzpatrick will require surgery at some point to address the ligaments that were injured against the Raiders in Week 8. Consider Fitzpatrick day-to-day for now, but have a backup plan readily available.
Projection: Fitzpatrick misses Week 9 and potentially longer. The biggest concern with Fitzpatrick's thumb is his ability to grip the ball and take snaps under center. If he's unable to do so, the Jets may opt to do the surgery on his thumb sooner than later in hopes they get him back for a playoff run. The other option is to splint the thumb to help reduce the pain, but that could also hamper his abilty to do any type of gripping activities.
Bottom Line: Davis will undergo surgery on the hand he broke this past weekend against the Rams. He'll be week-to-week until we get a better idea of how his hand feels after the surgery.
Projection: Davis misses 1-2 games. Hand surgeries usually require a pin in the fractured area to help stabilize and accelerate the healing process. The fact the 49ers signed Pierre Thomas shows how thin they have become at the RB position. There's a chance Davis only misses a few games, as the training staff should be able to pad around the area to help reduce the irritation to the hand after his surgery.
Projection: McCown misses one week. McCown has been dinged up after every game he's started it seems, so hopefully the extended time will allow his body to heal up and miss only a short amount of time.
Bottom Line: Marshall will be day-to-day for now, but dealing with multiple lower leg injuries can be difficult to return from quickly. He could be shaping up to be a game-time decision if he's only able to get limited practices in this week.
Projection: Marshall will be active for Week 9. Marshall will clearly not be 100 percent if he suits up this week, but he could still play a role that allows him to be effective against the Jaguars. Then again, who is going to be at QB for the Jets also plays a big role as to how effective Marshall could be.
Bottom Line: Megatron will be day-to-day after aggravating his ankle injury late in the game. The Lions were already down big at that point in the game, so whether or not he could've returned to the game if it was closer remains to be seen.
Projection: Johnson starts Week 10. I wouldn't put too much into the fact that Megatron won't practice much during the bye week. He'll be ready for Week 10 against the Packers.
Bottom Line: Fitzgerald will have two full weeks to recover as the Cardinals go on bye this upcoming week. He'll get daily treatment and shouldn't have too much of an issue returning to form when the Cardinals come out of their bye week.
Projection: Fitzgerald starts Week 10. High ankle sprains can be tricky, but severity is important in determining whether a player will miss significant amount of time. As Justin Forsett showed us, a player with a minor high ankle sprain can still be effective if they aren't dealing with significant amount of pain.
Bottom Line: It is never a good sign when the medical staff has to bring out the air cast to stabilize the lower leg. Robinson was diagnosed with a distal tibial fracture and will require surgery to help stabilize the fracture and accelerate the healing process.
Projection: Robinson will return healthy for 2016. Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller will continue to see the majority of the snaps in the backfield for the Saints. Robinson will be a restricted free agent next year, but his injury shouldn't affect him.
Bottom Line: Green was on the sideline for the majority of the first half when he injured his ankle early in the half against the Ravens. He was seen testing out his ankle on the sidelines, and then after the half, he was in street clothes with a boot on his foot. It's not a good sign that he was ruled out so quickly, but the Chargers may have been trying to be cautious to reduce the irritation to the ankle.
Projection: Green will be active for Week 9 against Chicago. Even with Antonio Gates returning, the Chargers will need as many playmakers as possible to make up for the loss of Keenan Allen. It was hard to see the mechanism of exactly how Green hurt his ankle, but it didn't look like anything to be too concerned about over the long haul.
Bottom Line: Donnell will be day-to-day for now, but it seems like some time off from practice and treatment should help him progress enough to consider playing this weekend.
Projection: Donnell starts Week 9. There haven't been any indications Donnell's neck injury is anything more than just a strain.
Bottom Line: Wright will be day-to-day, but there's a good chance he misses Week 9 against the Saints. He even admitted on Monday that his knee did not feel good at all, so there is reason to doubt his availability this week.
Projection: Wright misses two weeks. The MCL bug hit hard in Week 8, with Wright being another player to suffer from it. It's very difficult to return from a ligament sprain in just one week, even if it's just a low-grade sprain.
Bottom Line: Royal left the game in the second quarter and was then ruled out the rest of the game. Based on Coach Fox's update on Royal's knee, it sounds like Royal will be more week-to-week with his knee injury.
Projection: Royal misses 3-4 games. Unfortunately, when dealing with the Bears this year, it's a dart throw as to when players could potentially be back. The fact Coach Fox was discussing Royal's injury in that it doesn't require season-ending surgery could either be a smoke screen or it could mean Royal's knee injury is going to take time to heal. Royal has been hampered with injuries this season, so even when he does return, he'll be an afterthought with Alshon Jeffery back to his old self.