As the preseason drags on, injuries continue to occur and further shape rosters ahead of cut down day on September 2nd. Some players are already assured roster spots, but others that need to still prove it or that are fringe players, every snap counts. One of these players that may still need to prove it is Rod Streater. Until last week’s game against the Eagles, Streater has had a solid camp, rebounding from a pair of foot injuries with Oakland that cost him sizable chunks of two seasons before regaining his footing with the 49ers last season. As Streater went undrafted coming out of Temple in 2012, he has had to fight every year for a roster spot. Seeing Streater go down with a toe injury in the 4th quarter certainly strikes a blow to his chances for a roster spot.
Today’s post will evaluate the possible injury Streater sustained in the Eagles game. I will also briefly assess any other injuries that occurred during the game, which was largely injury free Bills wise. Streater’s injury was by far the most notable injury to come out post game. Considering that later reports narrowed down the injury to a toe helped reduce the number of possible injuries significantly. Reports have indicated that he is not in a walking boot, not expected to miss any significant time, and is week-to-week.
Knowing the previously mentioned information, we can eliminate any fractures, dislocations, or any other possible areas of injury. While there are not any specific reports of the exact diagnosis, I can safely assume that Streater sustained a turf toe injury. A turf toe injury occurs when the big toe becomes injured, specifically hyperextended or bent back abruptly. This could occur during landing on the big toe, causing it to bend backwards and cause immediate pain. It was reported that he was dragged down to the turf following a catch in which the toe could have been caught, leading to the injury. As every other part of the body, each bone is connected to another bone via ligaments. An injury such as this could stretch out the ligaments supporting the big toe and create instability.
As a toe may seem insignificant when there are much greater injuries such as ACL tears, broken ribs, concussions; it is still vital to the overall function of the athlete. The big toe is vital to running due to this being the area that is pushing off the ground. If humans did not have a big toe, the running stance would be greatly altered. Try to walk without pushing off the big toe, very awkward in walking, nearly impossible in running. The toe also assists in balance stability during walking and standing, allowing us to stay upright compared to our four legged friends.
Having an unstable area that prevents pushing off limits the ability to run routes and sprint. Turf toe injuries can become a chronic problem if not managed correctly or if forced to return sooner than possible. Thankfully, Streater’s injury does force him to sit out, he will not miss any vital games. At this time, he would not be a candidate to be sent to IR, but would most likely be placed on the roster until he is fully ready to play. Considering he is week-to-week with a toe injury indicates that it may be a Grade II injury marked by moderate swelling, partial tearing of the structures around the toe, along with range of motion limitation and pain. To further differentiate between the severity of the injury, Grade I would be minimal swelling and bruising with some pain. Grade III would be significant swelling, total disruption of the surrounding structures of the toe, noted weakness during toe bending, and concurrent instability of the toe.
Surgery would only be indicated if there was an avulsion of the bone, any concurrent fractures, significant deformity, or failed conservative treatment, among other complications. As there are not reports that he is immediately having surgery, Streater will require rehab focusing on restoring range of motion to the toe, allowing pain and swelling to reduce. Once this has taken place, strengthening exercises will be performed, slowly loading the toe to build up strength and not cause further injury to the area. Once Streater is able to walk without any difficulty and report no exacerbation of symptoms, then he would be progressed to running, jumping, etc, eventually being cleared to return. Streater may also be fitted with a stiff soled shoe to limit extra stress on the toe during push off to reduce re-injury.
Expect Streater to miss the next 2 preseason games, at worst missing the first game in order to return to full health. As he is not considered to be more than a 3rd to 5th receiver, there are other players that can step up in the interim until Streater is ready to return. According to mock 53 man rosters, he is not on the bubble as some other players, but would benefit being healthy to ensure his spot and adequate playing time.
Other injuries to note coming out of the Eagles game, TE Jason Croom injured his ankle during the game and has since been placed on injured reserve. Also, S Trae Elston injured his hamstring, leaving towards the end of the game. There have not been any additional reports regarding Elston indicating that it is not serious. The Bills are halfway through the preseason with no major injuries. As a fan and professional, I do not recall a time when they did not suffer some type of major injury in the preseason. Looking at the past 2 preseasons under the Ryan/Whaley era, there had been 4 ACL tears in 2016, 1 in 2015 along with various other injuries including Sammy Watkins foot injury. This is a nice change of pace for the Bills and hopefully this trend continues. Most of the big name players will be out against the Ravens this Saturday, allowing those injured to continue resting and prevent new injuries from occurring. Continue to check back with new updates following the Ravens game.