The Training Room: Week 17 Injury Updates

The Training Room: Week 17 Injury Updates

By Russell Manalastas (Injury Expert), last update Dec 24, 2013

Russ Manalastas's picture

Russ is a Board Certified Sports Physical Therapist and Clinical Director at Lattimore Physical Therapy in Rochester, NY. He has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University at Buffalo as well as his Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science. His board certification credentials in sports is what is required for PT's that work at the NFL level. Russ provides a unique perspective on NFL injuries as they relate to fantasy football.

Follow Russell Manalastas on Twitter: @RussPT.

I am sure there are some mixed emotions reading this column as fantasy football is coming to an end. Some of you are riding the high of claiming bragging rights for the next year while others are still recovering from the lack of production you thought your team was going to give you in the Big Game. At the end of the day, through all the emotions that each fantasy football season brings, it is still just a game and we need to keep things in perspective.

For those whose playoffs extend into the final week of the NFL season, or for those who just want to grasp what’s left of the fantasy football season, there are still injuries that need to be discussed. Let’s take a look at this week's Training Room that has some names you’ll want to keep tabs on heading into Week 17.


Tony Romo

Herniated Lumbar Disc – The discs between your vertebrae act as shock absorbers to help distribute forces and reduce strain on the spine. The disc is made up of an outer fibrous layer, and a soft, gelatinous middle to allow the disc to deform based on spinal movement. Repetitive, quick movements can cause the outer fibrous layer to degenerate which can cause the inner gelatinous layer to “herniate” out. Depending on the severity of the herniation, some can have just localized pain, while others can have pain that can radiate down their leg due to the disc compressing the nerve root that exits the spinal column. (radiculopathy).

Romo seemed to have hurt his back or leg as he tried spinning away from a defender. He remained in the game, but clearly had issues with his mobility. Reports are that he will need season ending back surgery to repair the disc that is herniated.

Bottom Line – I’m surprised that news came so quick that Romo’s back injury required surgery and that he will be out for the season. When it comes to disc herniations, athletes can play through the injury, but the medical staff needs to determine where the pain is, and if they are having substantial weakness/tingling/numbness anywhere in the leg due to the disc causing significant compression on the nerve. Since Romo has dealt with back issues in the past, it’s fair to say this latest injury caused a flare up that made the past injury significantly worse. From my standpoint not knowing the full extent of the injury, the location, and what other structures are involved, I’m surprised they leaked that information out without first exploring every option possible to see if Romo can give it a go, especially with the Cowboys season on the line. Rehab is always an option for disc herniations as most symptoms will have a tendency to resolve within a few months, so definitely keep an eye on his status later this week to see what the Cowboys decide to do with him. Unfortunately once a player goes down the road of having back surgery, the likelihood of multiple back surgeries goes up significantly.


Calvin Johnson

Strained Knee – There are many structures in the knee such as ligaments, tendons, muscles, and cartilage, which can cause pain when they are repetitively overused.

Calvin Johnson was a game-time decision due to his right knee continuing to give him pain. He played on a limited basis throughout the game, seeing the field mostly on red zone opportunities and on 3rd down.

Bottom Line – With the Lions eliminated from playoff contention, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Megatron sit the final game of the season. With Johnson’s knee being a season long issue, there’s always a chance that an offseason procedure could be done to get him ready for the start of next year. It is fair to wonder whether or not we are seeing Johnson’s body starting to break down due to the Lions continued reliance on him and his physical style of play.


Eddie Lacy

Sprained Ankle - An inversion sprain is often referred to as "rolling" your ankle. The ligaments/tendons/muscles on the outside of the ankle get overstretched and cause pain/swelling

Lacy left the game in the 3rd quarter after apparently re-injuring his right ankle. He did not return.

Bottom Line – Lacy makes his return to the training room just after two weeks, when he originally hurt his ankle. Re-aggravations of ankle sprains can be difficult to manage because the ankle will continue to be painful which can leave it more vulnerable to further damage. With the Packers somehow still in the mix for the NFC North division title, Lacy will more than likely be very limited throughout this week in hopes he can get his ankle right for Sunday’s showdown with the Bears.


Shane Vereen

Strained Adductor (Groin) - The adductors are the muscles on the inside of your thigh known as your groin muscles. Sprinting, cutting, and twisting motions can cause the muscle/tendon junction to fail causing pain in that region. Higher grade strains of the adductor muscles can lead to partial tearing of the muscle off the bone, either where the muscle originates or inserts.

Vereen pulled up when trying to run a route downfield in the 1st quarter against the Ravens. He did not return.

Bottom Line – With Vereen dealing with a soft tissue injury, the Patriots carousel of a backfield, and Coach Bellicheck’s desire to play whoever he wants without any reason, it’s a tough situation to monitor. Keep an eye on Vereen's status later in the week and be ready to insert him back into lineups if he’s able to suit up this Sunday, as the Patriots are desperate for playmakers.


Steve Smith

Sprained PCL - The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is the other main ligament in the knee, along with the ACL, that helps stabilize the knee. The PCL prevents the lower leg from moving backwards on the femur and resists rotational or twisting motions. PCL injuries usually occur with direct trauma to the lower leg that causes the leg to hyperextend, or from falling on the knee when it is fully bent.

Smith went down with the injury in the 1st quarter of Sunday’s game against the Saints. He attempted to come back in the 2nd quarter but was in obvious pain and was shortly ruled out of the game after.

Bottom Line – Smith is pretty lucky to not have suffered a season ending injury, as non-contact injuries are usually an ACL death sentence. Smith will not play in Week 17, and depending on the severity, could be forced to miss the first round of the playoffs if the Panthers end up playing on Wild Card Weekend.


Ryan Tannehill

Strained Knee – See Calvin Johnson

Tannehill left the game in the 4th quarter against the Bills, but shortly returned.

Bottom Line – Tannehill has taken a ton of hits this year due to his porous offensive line and the Dolphins lack of a running game. He is scheduled for a precautionary MRI but the fact that he was able to continue playing and finish the game is a good sign. Look for Tannehill to be ready for a must win game against the Jets this Sunday.   

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