NFL Injuries

Week 3 NFL pre-season injury report-Dr. Morse

Photographer: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire

Week 3: Aug 10 – Aug 16

The purpose of this article is to help introduce and briefly discuss each of the injuries, both minor and major, to all of NFL athletes. These brief statements are not meant to be all-inclusive, but instead more of an FYI this guy is injured, this is how severe the injury is and this is how it will impact his season and his team. Each injury is typically further discussed on our website and sometimes videos are even created describing that exact nature of the injury. These articles should not be used as medical advice. If you have any questions, comments, or you want me to discuss a player’s injury, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter & Reddit @DrJesseMorse (for both) or you can reach me through my website at Unfortunately with so many injuries it is very difficulty to discuss every one, but I try to cover the injuries that will have the most impact on the game. Thanks for reading!

Note: Since the injuries are really starting to pile up, I will break this week’s article into 2 parts, this first part will focus on all of the offensive players (QB, WR, RB, & TEs) injured this week. The second part will target the remaining offensive players (guards, tackles etc.) as well as all of the defensive players.

1.) QB Ryan Tannehill

Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill decided to undergo season-ending ACL reconstruction surgery on last Friday and he will likely have the surgery later this week or next week sometime as the swelling calms down. You may be wondering where they will get the ligament source for Tannehill’s next ACL. Well, there are 2 common sources of graft to use for ACL reconstruction surgery, the patellar tendon and the hamstring (semitendinosus and sometimes the gracilis too) tendons. The patellar tendon is usually anchored by a small piece of bone on each side to stabilize it, but unfortunately this approach causes anterior/front kneecap pain that takes time to resolve (that is where the patellar tendon is located). The hamstring tendon harvesting method is growing popular because some studies have shown that they are as closest to the strength of the original ACL (whereas the patellar tendon grafts (called BTB) end up only being about 50-60% the strength of a normal ACL). Additionally, you can technically get an ACL from a dead body (cadaver), and those are called Allografts, but there are some issues with this. Allografts have low incidence in disease transmission, decreased operating time, but increased cost and younger and more active patients have been shown to have very high rates of failure. Tannehill will likely have either a BTB or hamstring-tendon harvested ACL reconstruction repair and will a good rehab effort he should be back to 100% strength, speed, quickness and versatility by preseason next year. The good news is that at least the injury was not to his shoulder, arm or neck, which could linger regardless of surgical intervention. The Dolphins signed veteran QB Jay Cutler to a 1-year deal, further signaling that

Fantasy-wise, Tannehill would have been drafted in the 15-20 range for QBs, whereas Cutler, or Matt Moore, who will likely compete for the starting job, should not be on your radar unless you are in a 2-QB league.

2.) RB Ezekiel Elliott

Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott has been a hot topic as of late, although it hasn’t been due to injury reasons, but instead for his poor off-the-field decisions. This week we learned that the NFL handed down a 6-game suspension to Elliott (so far, and there may be additional sanctions) that significantly impacted the league. Elliott was a top 5 RB coming into this season after (easily) leading the NFL in rushing yards last season with 1, 631 (Jordan Howard was closest to him with 1,313). Elliott is everything that Jerry Jones had hoped for and more! Unfortunately with Elliott’s suspension, pending the ruling of his appeal, dramatically affects not only the RB scene fantasy-wise but also how teams will be structured.

Before the suspension was handed out, Elliott was going as the 3rd RB off the board only behind David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell, often being drafted early in the 1st round. However, after the suspension, knowing that the team drafting him won’t have him for at least the first 6 games, has changed things a ton. Instead the Cowboys will likely go with a RBBC, featuring Alfred Morris & Darren McFadden. There aren’t many teams in the league that have a bell-cow, and prior to the suspension, the Cowboys were one of them. Regardless of how nice Elliott’s schedule would be if he returned for weeks 7 onward, drafting him is still going to cost you a great deal for a guy clogging up your bench spot for at least the first 6 weeks of the season. Elliott is still being drafted as the 7th RB off the board, but I can’t personally justify spending that high of a pick on him, regardless of his lighter schedule.  Unless you get Elliot in the 5th or 6th round, let someone else worry about when he’s going to take the field for the first time this season.

3.) RB DeMarco Murray

In one of the less-discussed injuries, Tennessee Titans RB DeMarco Murray returned to practice Monday after missing just under 2 weeks of practice with a hamstring injury. This injury allowed the Titans to give Derrick Henry the first-team reps. Murray was likely dealing with a grade one-hamstring strain and the Titans will likely take it easy with him to make sure it fully heals and doesn’t continue to nag him throughout the season. Murray had an impressive 2016 with the Titans, rushing for 1,287 yards with 5 TDs and catching 53 receptions for another 377 yards and 3 TDs. Murray is currently being taken as the 6th RB off the board, which is exactly where he should belongs. I don’t think this hamstring injury affects him at all, and I look forward to another strong season in the Titans backfield for Murray.

4.) RB Devonta Freeman

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman, fresh off of a signing a monster contract, suffered a concussion in Sunday’s practice. He entered the concussion protocol and has already been ruled out for the Falcon’s second preseason game. Each concussion is different, so it is very difficult to determine the severity of Freeman’s concussion without personally evaluating him myself. Hopefully Freeman’s symptoms resolve quickly, as most of them do, and he can progress through the protocol in a timely fashion. I am personally very high on Freeman this year, and have him as the 4th RB off the board in PPR leagues only behind Johnson, Bell and McCoy. While this concussion increases Freeman’s risk for having future concussions more easily, I would not shy away from drafting Freeman as my RB1 because of this head injury.  

5.) RB Jay Ajayi

Miami Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi has missed 2 weeks of camp after suffering a concussion. The good news is that he completed the concussion protocol, which means that he can return to the practice and hopefully he will not have a return of symptoms. Each concussion presents with different symptoms. Some people have dizziness, headaches, sensitivity to light, and others can struggle with concentration and difficulty staying awake due to fatigue. In between 80-90% of concussion symptoms resolve within a week, but we know that Ajayi’s took almost 2 weeks, which technically means that his concussion was at least moderate, but that is difficult to evaluate without reviewing his symptoms score seeing his computer-based testing results (ImPACT) and see which symptoms caused him the most issues. Hopefully this is the one-and-only concussion for Ajayi, but with him already having at least one, this puts him at increased risk of having another. I don’t think this concussion should impact your evaluation of him as a RB, because now-a-days, as long as he’s cleared to play, he is presumably symptom-free. Fantasy-wise, I think Ajayi is a top-10 RB, and personally have him in the same tier as Jordan Howard, just after McCoy, Freeman, Gordon and Murray.

6.) RB Leonard Fournette

Jacksonville Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette has missed 2 practices in the past week with a foot injury. Coach Doug Marrone has already ruled him out of the second preseason game. This is mildly concerning because Fournette struggled with foot and ankle issues at LSU last season, so this looks to be a lingering issue. At this point it looks like the Jaguars are just taking extra precautions with their prized first-round pick, and after all this is just preseason. After a monster final season at LSU, the Jags know what they have in Fournette and want to make sure his feet and ankles are in the best shape possible for his rookie season. While I love his potential, I am mildly concerned that he’s already dealing with injuries to arguably two of his most important assets (besides his knees). Fantasy-wise, I’m not quite on the hype-train as much as others are, as I think Fournette is more of a 15-20 guy, in the same area as Ty Montgomery, Joe Mixon and Ameer Abdullah, and don’t think he will quite crack the top 10 this year.

Here’s a video discussing the injury:

7.) RB Bishop Sankey

Minnesota Vikings RB Bishop Sankey suffered a season-ending torn ACL last week and was placed on injured reserve. The typical rehab and return-to-play for ACL reconstruction surgery is about 9-11 months, although some people, while not recommended, can return in as soon as 6 months. The Vikings signed RB Bronson Hill to fill Sankey’s spot.

8.) RB Kenyan Drake

Miami Dolphins RB Kenyan Drake took a helmet-to-helmet hit during Monday’s practice and suffered a concussion. Just as Ajayi was activated off the concussion protocol, Drake was placed on it. Hopefully Drake’s stay in the protocol is a short one, but that’s anybody’s guess. He is currently competing with Damien Williams for the number two RB job. Drake would be Ajayi’s handcuff if he were to go down with injury, as Drake played in all 16 games in 2016, rushing for an impressive 179 yards on 33 carries, a 5.4 YPC, with 2 TDs and then chipping in 9 receptions for 46 yards. The Dolphins also got Drake involved with kick-off returns, as he ran back almost 400 yards and 1 TD. Look for Drake to have a much larger role in the offense this year assuming he is healthy, especially since Tannehill is out for the year and the Dolphins are going to have to rely on a combination of Jay Cutler and Matt Moore. Currently Drake is not being drafted unless it’s either a dynasty league or as Ajayi’s handcuff, but things could change quickly if he starts to get the ball more.

9.) WR Amari Cooper

Oakland Raiders WR Amari Cooper retuned to practice on Tuesday after missing 6 straight practices and 7 of the past 8. The exact nature of his injury was never revealed, but my suspicion is that he was dealing with a mild quadriceps strain (he was seen receiving treatment on it on Instagram) but he could have also possibly been dealing with a hamstring strain, calf strain, or ankle sprain as well. The good news is that Cooper, a top-10 WR, is back on the practice field & getting his ‘legs underneath him.’ I don’t think this minor leg injury will affect him this year. Cooper will definitely be on at least one of my teams!

10.) WR Doug Baldwin

Seattle Seahawks stud WR Doug Baldwin returned to practice on Wednesday after missing a couple practices last week as well as the Seahawks’ first preseason game. Baldwin reportedly tweaked something in his foot, which is likely a mild foot sprain, ankle sprain or toe issue. Baldwin is a top 15 WR this upcoming year in his 7th season with Seattle. Baldwin has been very reliable, playing in all 16 games in 5 of his 6 NFL seasons. Last year he caught 94 receptions for 1,125 yards along with 7 TDs. This minor foot injury shouldn’t discourage you from drafting Baldwin as your WR1 (or WR2 if you’re lucky). Chances are, the Seahawks were just being extra careful with him early on in the preseason.

11.) WR Breshad Perriman

Baltimore Ravens WR Breshad Perriman was diagnosed with a grade 2-hamstring strain. The typical timeline for RTP for this type of injury is 4-6 weeks. The good news is that Perriman has already been out for about 2 weeks so far, which means that there is a chance he may be ready for Week 1 of the NFL season. Perriman should be considered the Ravens’ third best WR behind Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace. Fantasy-wise, Perriman should be considered in the same tier as Chris Hogan, Kenny Stills, and Kevin White. The issue with hamstring injuries is that if they are not allowed to fully heal, the risk of re-injury is high. With the Ravens suffering as many injuries as they already have so far this camp, they will likely take things carefully with Perriman.

12.) WR John Brown

Arizona Cardinals WR John Brown is currently day-to-day with a quad injury. Coach Bruce Arians initially thought Brown would be a full go in Tuesday’s practice but Brown had other plans. He stated that he didn’t want to rush his injury. Some athletes heal faster than others, and unfortunately Brown sounds like the type that takes a little longer to fully recover.  The quad injury shouldn’t be a big concern, but his overall risk of injury is elevated, which makes him a challenging guy to own on your fantasy team. Consider Brown more of a WR4, and should be considered in the same area as Corey Davis, Corey Coleman, Marvin Jones and Sterling Shepard, draft-wise.

13.) WR Marqise Lee

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Marqise Lee suffered a high-ankle sprain on Sunday, which will cause him to miss 4-6 weeks. High-ankle sprains are quite painful and make running, cutting and stopping very challenging until they are fully healed; all of these movements are very important to WRs, so expect Lee to require at least a full month to recover. It is typically a combination of pain, swelling and mobility that will limit the player’s return to play. There is a good chance that Lee misses the first couple weeks of the season. Many people have pegged Lee as a sleeper this year after finishing 2016 with 63 catches for 851 yards and 3 TDs, rushing for another 35 yards and chipping in 545 yards and 1 TD on kick off. Lee is currently the Jaguars’ 2nd best WR after Allen Robinson, with Allen Hurns as the WR3. Fantasy-wise, is being viewed in the same range as Josh Doctson, Travis Benjamin and John Ross. This injury will likely cause others to shy away from him, but if you have a deep enough bench, I like Lee’s potential this year, with his greatest risk factor being the guy throwing him the ball.

14.) WR Jordan Matthews

What a crazy week for former Eagles and now Buffalo Bills WR Jordan Matthews. First on Friday Matthews was traded along with a 2018 3rd round pick from the Eagles to the Bills for CB Ronald Darby. Then within 15 minutes of his first practice with the Bills he suffered a rare injury, a chip fracture of his sternum. In itself this injury is actually quite difficult to get, and I’m not exactly sure how he sustained it, maybe he took a helmet directly off the middle of his chest. Either way, this injury should not really limit Matthews all that much. Assuming that Matthews didn’t suffer any other injuries (like a lung contusion?) along with the chip fracture. Watch the video (link below) for more information about the injury. To further Matthews’ cause in Buffalo, the Bills shipped out their number one WR Sammy Watkins to the Rams, essentially gifting Matthews the number one WR role. Rookie Zay Jones will help to form a tandem with Matthews for targets for Tyrod Taylor. I think this sternum injury may limit Matthews initially, but once he gets past it he will be a nice WR3/flex for your team. Currently I have him slotted in the same range as Brandon Marshall, Kenny Britt, and Cameron Meredith, as the 37th WR.

Here’s a video discussing the injury:

15.) WR Markus Wheaton

I briefly discussed Chicago Bears WR Markus Wheaton in my first installment of this series 2 weeks ago after he had just underwent an appendectomy on July 30. Missing about 2 weeks of practice for recovery, as Wheaton was ramping up his activities he managed to break his pinky finger on his left hand. This is unfortunate news for Wheaton as it seems like he just can’t seem to catch a break. Broken fingers, depending on the position the player plays, can either be a huge deal (like a QB’s throwing hand) or not a big deal at all. The important thing for Wheaton will be whether or not his fractured bone has shifted. If it is shifted, and unstable, then these occasionally require surgery, which would put him out 2-4 weeks. If not shifted, then the Bears training staff can ‘buddy tape’ it to his 4th finger, and Wheaton will just have to deal with the pain until it fully heals. He would be evaluated daily and likely be back to full strength in 1-2 weeks. Wheaton is currently competing with Victor Cruz & Kendall Wright for the WR3 position, with Cameron Meredith and Kevin White serving as the top-2 WRs.

16.) WR Brice Butler

Dallas Cowboys WR Brice Butler suffered a sprained foot last week and is expected to miss about 2-4 weeks, depending on the severity. Foot sprains often require an MRI to confirm that no hard-to-see bones were not broken. Butler is expected to serve as the Cowboys’ WR4 behind Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley. Last year Butler played in all 16 games, with 16 catches for 219 yards and 3 TDs. This injury could cause someone like Ryan Switzer or Andy Jones to leap-frog Butler on the depth chart. Fantasy-wise, Butler’s contributions make him currently undraftable.

17.) WR Lucky Whitehead

Former FAU and Dallas Cowboy WR Lucky Whitehead has had a rough month. First he suffers from reported mistaken identity for shop lifting, gets cut by the Cowboys, gets picked up by the Jets and then breaks his left foot. After receiving a second opinion, which confirmed the diagnosis, Whitehead will have surgery on his 5th metatarsal. Whether or not this fracture was in the concerning ‘Jones Fracture’ area known as Zone 2 is unknown. Assuming it is not, Whitehead has the potential to return within 9 weeks, which makes him a candidate for an IR recall candidate. With missing that much time, despite how thin the Jets are at WR, Whitehead is not a draft candidate fantasy-wise.

18.) TE Erik Swoope

Indianapolis Colts TE Erik Swoope sounds like he might have had a small meniscal tear or had been dealing with some swelling in his knee, because he under arthroscopic knee surgery. The Colts are giving him a timeline of week-to-week, which means that he basically underwent a ‘clean out,’ and likely he has meniscus trimmed and smoothed the edges a bit. If the procedure were any larger then the timeline would be much longer, potentially season-ending.  Swoope is basically Jack Doyle’s back-up, and should not be drafted unless Doyle suffers an injury.

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