Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season has been completed and injuries are already beginning to take their toll on postseason hopes. There have already been several injuries that have necessitated a move to injured reserve for both the Patriots and Dolphins while the Jets are slowly playing the return of their franchise quarterback.
The Bills could be without two key defensive tackles against Derrick Henry and the Titans, putting the AFC East lead up for grabs. Below is the detailed analysis of each AFC East team’s injury report heading into Week 2.
Note: With the AFC East injury reports, not every injury on the report will have a detailed analysis. While I do want to highlight every injury, some don’t have any context. For those that do have context, there will be as much medical analysis as I can provide.
DB Adrian Phillips (Left ribs)
Phillips suffered his rib injury while tackling Dolphins WR Cedrick Wilson on 3 & 19 with 31 seconds left in the second quarter. He hit Wilson from behind and was able to complete the tackle. However, Phillips’ speed continued to bring him forward and shoot him over Wilson, causing him to twist and hit the ground on his left side. He was motioning to the lower portion of the back, suggesting that he injured his false or floating ribs.
Limited all week, this may come down to whether he injured the rib cartilage or the actual bones. If it is the cartilage, he is best to rest this week, but if it is the bone, they can numb up the area and provide padding, allowing him to play. His availability may depend on how available Bledsoe and Wade are Sunday.
What isn’t clear is whether these are fractures or injuries to the intercostal cartilage that help connect the ribs together where the white space is in the above picture. If it is a broken rib, they can provide padding to the area and inject a numbing agent into the area. If it is the intercostal cartilage, then this may be something he misses time to help heal before he takes hits again.
OT Trent Brown (Ankle)
Brown appeared on the injury report Thursday with an ankle designation. He was limited Thursday and Friday with a questionable designation. Without more information, it is difficult to state whether he will play, but considering his position as a starter and that he has played through injury before, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him suit up.
S Joshuah Bledsoe (Groin)
Bledsoe suffered a groin injury last Thursday in practice, limiting him the following two days. The recency of the groin strain and the positional demands didn’t lend hope to the idea that he would play Sunday.
CB Shaun Wade (Ankle)
Wade missed last week’s game with an ankle injury and suffered late in practice. The severity of the ankle injury remains murky at best, though his practice participation indicates that he may be progressing towards playing this week.
RB Pierre Strong (Shoulder)
After being deemed inactive last week, Strong appears on the injury report with a shoulder injury. This is his first appearance suggesting that he injured the shoulder in practice on Wednesday.
LB Raekwon McMillian (Thumb)
McMillian showed up Friday on the injury report with a thumb and is questionable for Sunday. Considering his position and area injured, this is possibly a sprain. Wearing a brace to protect the joint may limit his ability to catch the ball, but not with tackling.
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (Toe)
Minimal details are noted on Bentley other than the designation. He did not leave the game or have any reports in-game that he was working through an injury.
He was able to practice in a limited fashion Thursday but practiced in full on Friday signifying that this will not be an issue.
QB Mac Jones (Back spasms)
Jones took a hard hit on 3rd & 6 with 13:05 left in the 4th quarter when he had his legs taken out while at the same time, hit from above, forcing him to the ground. Due to the inability to brace for the fall, his back was hit with the full force of his body weight and from the hit. He reportedly suffered back spasms and went to get x-rays for further evaluation.
The back spasms were the direct result of the acute trauma to the back. Spasms can be considered a protective response against further injury, preventing the individual from trying to ignore the situation. X-rays were negative and Jones was able to return to practice Wednesday and Friday, missing Thursday to a stomach bug.
This doesn’t appear to be an issue moving forward unless he has spasms in the area again, suggesting underlying issues such as damage to a vertebral disc. The mechanism of injury does not support a disc issue and it appears Jones avoided serious injury.
RB Ty Montgomery (Right knee)
This injury is confusing. Giving the timeline again, he suffered a right ankle injury against the Las Vegas Raiders on August 26, requiring the use of the cart to get off the field. He did not practice for several days before returning to practice. Montgomery was then designated as a knee injury on the first week of the injury report, questionable to play.
He then led all running backs in snap counts, including scoring a touchdown in Week 1. By video, he was moving quite well and did not report having any injury in-game.
So why he was suddenly placed on IR, and forced to miss the next four games is puzzling. We may get more information in the coming days and weeks.
TE Cethan Carter (Concussion)
Carter collided with Ty Montgomery on the kickoff with 7:34 left in the second quarter, requiring the cart to exit the game. He attempted to square up to tackle and got pushed forward at the last second. As he was falling down, Montgomery hit him in the head, giving him a concussion.
He must pass through the five-stage concussion protocol and practice in full with contact before he can return to the field. As he has already been ruled out, he is not there yet.
TE Hunter Long (Ankle)
Long appeared on the injury report Friday with an ankle injury, suggesting that he injured it in practice and was unable to finish. On Saturday, he was downgraded to out.
OT Terron Armstead (Toe)
Armstead’s injury occurred on 1 &10 with 8:15 left in the 4th quarter, per the box score. Looking at the video, Armstead engages his block, and the defensive end slips under him and stepped forward several steps trying to catch his balance.
He didn’t require medical attention on the video replay, but a toe designation on the injury report suggests that he possibly had his foot/toe stepped on during the play. Typically, when I see a toe designation on the injury report, the thought immediately goes to turf toe, but this doesn’t appear to be the case.
Hopefully, this is more of a pain issue that can be managed with some taping and a potential injection to manage the pain. He has been known to play through several significant injuries throughout his career and this should be no different.
While he is questionable, I don’t see how he doesn’t play considering the recent IR designation on Jackson.
RB Salvon Ahmed (Heel)
Ahmed continues to work through a heel injury that kept him out of last week’s game despite practicing in a limited role all last week. He was able to practice Thursday and Friday after missing practice Wednesday. This may be more of a pain tolerance issue, though the details of the injury remain elusive.
WR Cedrick Wilson (Toe)
Wilson missed Wednesday’s practice followed by two limited practices Thursday and Friday. The details of the injury are not known.
DT Christian Wilkins (Back)
Wilkins appeared on the injury report Thursday with a back injury, limiting his participation into Friday. With a questionable designation, it remains to be seen if he plays without additional information.
OT Greg Little (Right ankle)
Based on the video, Little appeared to injure his right ankle as he got taken down from behind while running to his left with 14:15 left in the 3rd quarter on 2nd & 3. He limped around with training staff and had difficulty putting weight through the right side, but was able to walk off without assistance.
He was able to return to the game and practice in full this week suggesting that this is not an issue. Considering that Little is the swing tackle, this is not great for depth if further injury occurs. Injuries to Jackson and Terron Armstead are also something to consider which could make protecting Tua Tagovailoa that much tougher.
S Brandon Jones (Hip)
Jones showed up on the injury report with a hip injury Thursday, giving him a limited designation. He returned to practice in full Friday and will play Sunday.
TE Tanner Conner (Knee)
Conner missed the season opener against the New England Patriots as he continues to work back from a preseason knee injury. He had been limited in practice leading up to cut-down day and was initially seen as an IR candidate to start the season. Limited last week with a questionable designation, he ultimately did not play.
With Cethan Carter out this week, Conner was able to have limited practices Wednesday and Thursday before practicing in full, avoiding a gameday designation.
S Eric Rowe (Pectoral)
Initially ruled questionable with a pectoral injury last week, Rowe did not suit up against the Patriots Sunday. He would have had difficulty wrapping up tackles and blocking, potentially further exacerbating the injury. Sitting out appeared to be the right decision and limited practice participation again this week before a full practice Friday allows him to suit up this week.
OT Austin Jackson (Right ankle)
This one doesn’t make any sense. He engaged with his blocker and drove him forward and to his left on a routine running play with 12:08 left in the second quarter. Jackson never left his feet nor does it look like he was kicked or stepped on. He went down onto his right knee, motioning to the right ankle briefly while waiting for training staff. He was also able to walk off with the assistance of training staff.
Looking for other angles, trying to find the play on All-22 is impossible due to how NFL+ is currently set up. The team has made the decision to place him on injured reserve, missing the next four games so the ankle injury does not linger for the season. This suggests that he somehow suffered a high-ankle sprain considering the timeline on IR, but the mechanism of injury simply doesn’t fit.
QB Zack Wilson (Right knee bone bruise/meniscus tear)
While positive to see Wilson back on the field participating in practice after three DNPs last week, this simply progresses to see him ramp back up towards playing. He will need a full week of practice before he is physically ready to play.
However, this doesn’t include the mental aspects of running the offense and re-establishing the timing he needs with his receivers. The Jets have stated that they are not rushing him back and his participation appears to support their statements.
TE CJ Uzomah (Hamstring)
Uzomah appeared on the injury report Thursday with a hamstring injury, suggesting that he injured the area in practice. He doesn’t have any reported issues with his hamstrings over the past two years.
However, he is doubtful to play Sunday which means that he likely won’t. According to research that I completed last year, only 1.77 percent of players suited up despite a doubtful tag from 2017-2020. Considering the team has TE Jeremy Ruckert healthy and available, expect Uzomah to miss this week.
P Braden Mann (Back)
Mann has been working through back stiffness during the Week 1 game, leading to his designation this week. The team signed veteran P Ty Long to the practice squad as an insurance policy in case Mann is unable to effectively punt. Considering that Mann has to plant hard on his non-kicking leg when punting, any back discomfort could be exacerbated by the sudden jarring of the punting motion.
This could throw off his punting mechanics, reducing kicking power or accuracy if he lands awkwardly, causing a shank. He may be a true game-time decision on how he feels on Sunday when warming up.
DE John Franklin-Myers (Toe)
Franklin-Myers did not have an injury designation coming out of the game Sunday which makes identifying the specifics more difficult. Ideally, he is dealing with someone stepping on his toe with pain being the main issue.
Coming off the edge as a defensive end may be difficult in getting that first step. Depending on the side of the injury, this may dictate which side he lines up on to avoid exploding off the painful toe. Factoring in the depth at the defensive end room, he may be afforded the ability to sit this one out.
S Jordan Whitehead (Ankle)
There is little information on the actual specifics of Whitehead’s injury other than he has been termed “week-to-week” and is questionable heading into Week 2. He was able to have a limited practice Thursday and full practice Friday, but without the exact details of the injury, it is difficult to say whether he plays.
Reports stated that he will try to give it a go Sunday, though that may be out of necessity rather than whether he is truly able to be a difference maker.
WR Braxton Berrios (Heel)
Berrios is working through a heel injury from Sunday, though no in-game reporting identifies when this occurred. The hope is that this is more of a contusion and pain issue considering the nature of his position playing PR/KR/WR. He was able to practice in full Thursday and Friday, signifying that this is a minor issue and that he could play.
T George Fant (Knee)
Nothing is new with Fant as he continues to work through a knee injury, possibly related to the offseason knee procedure this season. Switching positions back and forth due to the injuries to Becton and Duane Brown certainly hasn’t helped his situation. As the options at tackle are limited, Fant will be forced to continue to work through the injury.
DT Ed Oliver (Right ankle)
Oliver appeared to sprain his medial ankle against the Rams back on September 8 when he attempted to tackle WR Cooper Kupp. He had to double back and pivot on the ankle, stressing the inner structures known as the deltoid ligaments. To add insult to injury, he had multiple bodies fall on him during the tackle as it took several additional players to bring Kupp down.
It seemed initially optimistic that Oliver would play as mild medial ankle sprains miss on average of eight days according to this study. However, as Oliver had not practiced all week, it could be difficult to get up and be ready for Monday.
He either had a more moderately graded medial ankle sprain requiring additional time off or the team did not feel that they could go without him in an early season game.
The team did not want to risk anything, ruling him out after Saturday’s practice.
DT Tim Settle (Right calf)
Settle missed practice this past week after appearing to aggravate the calf injury he originally sustained in the preseason. To recap, he injured it back against the Indianapolis Colts in preseason Week 1 and did not practice the rest of camp. He was able to return to practice fully in Week 1 and played in 42 percent of snaps.
He required the attention of training staff in the first half of the game but did not receive an injury designation. In the second half, he wore a compression sleeve on the right calf but finished the game.
While he is doubtful to play, there has not been a player who has been designated as doubtful to suit up for the Bills since Sean McDermott shows up here. Considering this is a re-injury, he very likely will not play. Settle did go on to state that he has done everything the Bills have asked of him ahead of the game. He also confirmed this was the same calf from training camp.
It may be too soon to tell if he misses the Dolphins game in Miami, but not unreasonable to consider. Settle will have 16 days in between when he suffered the injury and when he could return, more in line with what the timeframe requires for a safe return.
He will need at least one full practice later in the week for me to say whether he plays in Week 3. Factoring in that this is a lingering injury, the Bills may err on the side of caution and he could miss an additional week.
CB Dane Jackson (Left knee)
Not much is known regarding Jackson other than he’s dealing with a left knee injury from pictures taken at practice and the injury report designation.
Sean McDermott noted that Jackson came down on the knee and tweaked it while performing a 1-on-1 drill earlier in the week. By video, he looks to be moving well as I mentioned in the tweet below.
He was able to get a full practice on Saturday after two DNP’s. Jackson appeared to be optimistic that he would play and considering the circumstances, I would expect he does even with the rainy weather.
WR Gabe Davis (Ankle)
Davis was a late addition to the injury report with an ankle injury Saturday. The specifics of the injury are not known at the time of publication, making it difficult to determine if he will play Monday.
Outlined below are the practice injuries along with designations since 2017 regarding whether they played or not. It’s about 50/50, but it appears more joint sprains play rather than strains.
Looking back at his prior ankle injuries, he dealt with a right ankle injury heading into the AFC Championship game in 2020 which affected his production. In 2021, he suffered another right ankle sprain in Week 1 that slowed him to begin the season.
If he re-injured his right ankle again, there may be enough laxity in the joint to have him bounce back faster as the ligaments are already loose, causing less damage.
However, if he suffered an injury to the left side, then that could change things.
More information needs to be known as to whether he really can suit up on Monday and things could change rapidly. If there are any concerns, especially early in the season, then he may be best to sit out.
TE Quintin Morris (Right hamstring)
After suffering a right hamstring strain in practice on August 29, Morris returned to practice in full this past week and will play. He missed two weeks of practice before returning to participate in full which is in line with what we see regarding hamstring management from the team. Having the additional time off only helps reduce the chance of re-injury later in the season.
It’s worth noting the Bills have been excellent in avoiding chronic hamstring strains since Sean McDermott installed his new training staff.
OT Tommy Doyle (Right foot)
Doyle returned to practice this week following a foot sprain suffered against the Indianapolis Colts in preseason Week 1. He missed the following month of practice as he rehabbed. According to research, this appeared to be a Grade 2 foot sprain, taking on average 36 days of time lost; Doyle seems to have bested that.
The mechanism of injury according to the research suggested that direct impact is more likely than torsion through the foot. At the time, Doyle did appear to get stepped on at the end of the first half, briefly limping around which further supports the original suspicions. With the time off, I am optimistic that he will avoid re-injury.
The Dolphins are going to have trouble if Armstead cannot play while Jackson is out and if Little goes down with an injury. One of the shortcomings for the Dolphins last year was protecting Tua Tagovailoa which is why they paid Armstead a big contract in the offseason. As long as Tua stays upright, Miami has an excellent shot at winning against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Jets are taking the right approach in continuing to sit Zack Wilson and not trying to force their other injured players out there sooner than need be. The injuries may prevent a more successful season, but they need continuity on both sides of the ball and to have healthy players available to even have a chance in most games. They appear to be taking a more conservative approach this season.
The Patriots continue to list every injured player as a questionable designation, on par for the past 20 years or so. Most players ultimately do end up playing to some extent despite the questionable tag, leading to their designation as more gamesmanship than actual limitations.
The Bills could be without both Ed Oliver and Tim Settle, reducing the effectiveness of their defensive line as they take on Derrick Henry and the Titans. Potentially losing Gabe Davis to an ankle injury won’t help things either.
While Buffalo does have excellent depth, the team will be tested by a hungry Tennessee team looking to get into the win column after a disappointing loss to the Giants last week.
Top Photo Credit: The Phinsider