Injuries continue to alter season trajectories for each team in the AFC East as they pass each successive week. The New York Jets have the shortest injury report in the division after losing several key players in the preseason, though their offensive line continues to be in flux.
Both the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills exhibit the next-man-up mentality when it comes to injuries and still have been able to go 3-1. The Patriots, after years of questionable designations and Super Bowl wins, have begun to show cracks in their dominance, losing key players to injury weekly, hurting their depth and ability to compete within the division.
Below are the detailed injury reports for each AFC East team heading into Week 5.
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.
NEW YORK JETS
OT Max Mitchell (Left kneecap dislocation)
Mitchell went down with 1:56 left in the second quarter with a left knee injury that required the cart to assist him off the field. Reports later indicated that Mitchell avoided major injury but suffered a dislocated kneecap and will be out for several weeks. Going back to the play, Mitchell began shuffling to his right before he fell down onto his left knee. During the fall, his weight shifted to the right, and his left knee bent and hit the ground on the inside portion of the knee.
The valgus force through a partially bent knee is always concerning for an ACL tear, but there was too much knee bend for Mitchell to suffer that fate. Instead, the knee bent, and the blow from the ground pushed the kneecap sideways, dislocating the kneecap. These events occur in around 3 percent of all knee injuries.
Keep in mind, the patella (kneecap) provides leverage for the quadricep to function effectively during knee extension. Without a stable leverage point, the kneecap is more likely to dislocate again with rates anywhere from 15-60 percent.
One of the big concerns is whether he injured the medial patellofemoral ligament, a ligament that helps hold the kneecap in place on the inside portion of the knee. Based on reports, he won’t require surgery, but keep in mind, this is the same type of injury that Jets OT Mekhi Becton suffered last year that caused him to miss 16 games.
The Jets have not indicated that he is an IR candidate yet, but he could benefit from the time off to get fully right. I would expect he misses about three weeks and comes back with a patellar stabilizing brace to limit the lateral movement of the kneecap, though this won’t entirely stop the injury from occurring again. This will be one to watch moving forward if he can return to play without causing re-injury.
LB Quincy Williams (Left high-ankle)
Williams is set to miss his second game following a left high-ankle sprain with 4:58 left in the third quarter while tackling Bengals RB Joe Mixon. For Williams to miss another week is not surprising or concerning. Hopefully, he can begin practicing next week to prepare for Green Bay.
LB Marcell Harris (Neck)
Harris was limited on Wednesday followed by full practices Thursday and Friday while dealing with a neck injury. The specifics are not known, but Harris has seen an increase in defensive snaps after mostly being used on special teams stepping in due to Quincy Williams’s ankle injury.
RB Breece Hall (Knee)
Other than being a limited participant during the week, not much is known about Hall’s knee injury. It is reported as being minor and he does not appear that he will miss Sunday.
QB Zack Wilson (Left ankle)
After missing three games due to his right knee injury in the preseason, Wilson appears on the injury report with a left ankle injury on Wednesday. According to Rich Cimini of ESPN, this is apparently what happened below.
Looking back at the film, the broadcast view does not show what happened, and navigating All-22 on NFL+ is impossible, leaving eyewitness accounts as the only source of information.
Considering he practiced in full Thursday and Friday, this appears to be minor. He may require more effort to cut to his left and step into his throws later in the game, especially if the makeshift offensive line doesn’t keep him clean. This doesn’t appear to be a lingering injury based on wording and practice participation.
OT Duane Brown (Shoulder)
Brown has spent the first four weeks of the season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury sustained several days after signing with the team.
There was never any clarification as to what he was dealing with but surgery was on the table to correct the issue. Based on how Brown was talking after practice Friday, he expects to be activated and return to the active roster.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
DL Lawrence Guy (Shoulder)
Guy missed last week with a shoulder injury on a routine play with 11:44 left in the third quarter in Week 3 against Baltimore. Due to the camera cutting away to follow the ball, it’s unclear what Guy is working through. He is out again after not practicing all week.
DL DaMarcus Mitchell (Concussion)
Mitchell is currently in the concussion protocol and will need to pass through the five-stage concussion protocol before the training staff can allow him to resume activities. He was unable to practice all week
TE Jonnu Smith (Right ankle)
Smith left the game in the second quarter with a right ankle injury as the result of getting hit from behind and rolled up on his right ankle.
He was diagnosed with a low ankle sprain and due to the week-to-week designation, I would expect him to miss at least this game and potentially the next. He is likely dealing with a Grade 2 ankle sprain meaning there is instability within the area along with pain and swelling. He would struggle to have a strong first step off the line and cut to his right in addition to lateral movements.
He did not practice all week and is doubtful for Sunday. He will likely miss this game and potentially two games before he can return to play and be serviceable.
QB Mac Jones (Left high-ankle sprain)
Despite being limited in practice this week, Jones is not expected to play this week. He was observed throwing the football around with his helmet on but did not participate in team drills.
At this point, it does not appear that he will be heading for surgery or injured reserve, though I would not expect him back for at least another week or two.
He will need to be able to move around in the pocket and step into his throws to be an effective quarterback. Despite the doubtful tag, it would be best to not suit up.
S Kyle Dugger (Right Knee)
Dugger continues to work through his right knee injury sustained against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2. He missed Week3 before returning to play in Week 4, taking 58 percent of the snaps. At this point, he may still be working through a mild bone bruise as he increases his workload. I expect that he will suit up Sunday.
WR Jakobi Meyers (Knee)
Meyers was a surprise game-day inactive in Week 4 after missing the prior Week 3 contest with a knee injury. It’s not clear if this was the same injury suffered in the preseason against the Las Vegas Raiders. Despite being questionable, he appears ready to play Sunday.
CB Jalen Mills (Hamstring)
Mills continues to be on the injury report due to a hamstring prior to Week 3, but playing in 57 percent of snaps in that game followed by being inactive in Week 4.
He was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday before getting downgraded to DNP Friday. Depending on how the hamstring feels may dictate whether he plays in Week 5, but at this point, it looks as though he will sit this one out.
S Adrian Phillips (Ribs)
Phillips continues to work through a left-sided rib injury originally sustained in Week 1 when tackling Cedrick Wilson. Despite the questionable tag, I fully expect him to play.
LB Raekwon McMillan (Thumb)
He showed up on the injury report with a thumb injury late in practice prior to Week 2. McMillan only played in special teams last week, indicating that the team is alright with him limiting his snaps to special occasions and as a reserve defender.
OT Isaiah Wynn (Hip)
Wynn appears on the injury report with a hip designation this week for the first time this season. He was limited at times during the preseason with an undisclosed issue and dealt with a hip injury late last season and into the playoffs.
Marcus Cannon did step in for Wynn during the game Sunday but it appears that his play was more to blame than injury.
QB Brian Hoyer (Concussion)
Hoyer left Sunday’s contest against the Packers with a concussion after getting sacked by Rashan Gary during the Patriots’ second offensive possession. He was taken back to the locker room for further evaluation, not to return to the game.
Hoyer must pass through the five-stage concussion protocol before he can be cleared to return to play. On Thursday, Hoyer was moved to IR, missing at least the next four games and clearing a roster spot for someone else to come in and contribute. This is a big blow to a New England team that is already without Mac Jones with his high-ankle sprain and down to their rookie third-string QB Bailey Zappe.
QB Tua Tagovailoa (Concussion/back/ankle)
This is the story that everyone is talking about, the concussion with fencing response in Cincinnati following a questionable hit five days prior against the Buffalo Bills. The story is well known by now how Tua exhibited unsteadiness and grabbed his head but was allowed to return as it was caused by a back injury.
The scrutiny is so great that the NFL and NFLPA are looking at modifying their concussion protocol to place more emphasis on the ‘gross motor instability’ aspect, making it a ‘no-go’ part of the criteria to prevent the player from returning to the game.
While that is all being sorted out, it remains to be seen how long Tagovailoa will be out. The risk for sustaining a second concussion following an initial concussion is 5.3-8.3 percent, similar to the rates to suffer a concussion at all at 6.2-8.0 percent. The average time missed following a repeat concussion is 12 days, longer compared to the timeline for an initial concussion of 9.0 days. Based on that info, the research suggests that Tua could return as soon as next week if he was symptom-free.
However, those who miss >8 days for a concussion are thought to have a more severe concussion and are at risk to suffer another concussion in the future. But with the intense focus on how the team handled the initial injury, there is no way they put him back out there so quickly. I also read this research with heavy bias as some of the data they referenced goes back to 1996, a starkly different world in how they managed concussions in the NFL.
Tua was also reported to be in a neck immobilizer following his second hit suggesting some type of whiplash type of injury. The Dolphins will have to err on the side of caution and public relations when re-introducing Tua to play. There is far more information that has to be factored into his return-to-play than the research, leading to a murky timeline.
As for his back and ankle injuries, those aren’t clear the specifics of the injuries, but those hopes will resolve with the time off.
TE Cethan Carter (Concussion)
Since suffering a concussion in Week 1 against the New England Patriots, Carter has not been able to practice, missing the past three games and is set to miss a fourth. Each concussion is unique and the benefit of hindsight would have had him go on IR to create a roster spot.
CB Xavien Howard (Right groin/groins)
Howard left the Thursday game against the Cincinnati Bengals with right groin and glute injuries, not to return. He has been dealing with a groin injury for two weeks now, appearing on the injury report prior to Week 3 with the groin issue. The glute issue appeared following the Week 3 contest and he was questionable heading into the short week.
With the groin designation being plural, it suggests that he has injured both sides. With a longer time to rest, he could play through the issue, but runs the risk of continuing to aggravate the injury. According to the reports below, he is day-to-day and expected to play through the injury.
Head coach Mike McDaniel stated below that Howard is a player who does not need to practice to play. While that is a ringing endorsement of his talent, he may further aggravate the injury, causing future missed time.
OT Terron Armstead (Toe)
Armstead continues to appear on the injury report with a toe designation since appearing prior to Week 2. I believe he is working through a turf toe issue but his level of play has not diminished and he continues to play in 100 percent of snaps. Absolutely zero concern for Armstead moving forward despite not practicing.
DB Keion Crossen (Glute/Shoulder)
There isn’t any information regarding the shoulder issue that Crossen is dealing with, but the glute issue was the result of getting injured in Monday’s practice.
According to head coach Mike McDaniel, Crossen is dealing with an upper leg/lower glute issue. This sounds like a proximal hamstring issue as this is generally where the hamstring connects near the buttocks at the ischial tuberosity. The team is downplaying the injury but Crossen may struggle to get that first few steps of acceleration and slowing down.
Without more information, it is difficult to determine if he will suit up Sunday.
RB Salvon Ahmed (Back)
Ahmed appeared on the injury report Thursday with a back designation with limited participation Thursday and Friday.
WR Tyreek Hill (Quad)
Hill appears on the injury report for the first time this season with a quad injury. Showing up on Thursday suggests that he suffered the injury in practice, though not confirmed. If this injury lingers into the weekend or has some level of significance, then Hill may be affected with his route running and cutting, needing the quadriceps muscle to stop suddenly to switch directions to then accelerate.
If he does suit up, he may not be very effective or used sparingly. It may be best to sit this out considering how his calling card is speed, limiting his effectiveness if he is a step slower.
WR Jaylen Waddle (Groin)
Waddle appeared on the injury report with a groin strain following the Week 3 matchup against the Bills. In Week 3, he played in 74 percent of snaps and played in a season-high 86 percent of snaps. In light of the injury designation, this injury does not appear to be affecting him greatly.
This may be an injury to monitor but one that won’t keep him out.
OL Robert Jones (Back)
Other than the designation and practice participation, little is known regarding Jones’ back injury.
DT Raekwon Davis (Knee)
Davis had his leg rolled up on in practice prior to Week 1, playing through the injury before missing Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills. He played last week, appearing in 59 percent of snaps. The exact details of the injury are not known, but it’s possible he is working through an MCL sprain.
S Brandon Jones (Chest)
Jones continues to be limited with his chest injury after appearing on the injury report prior to Week 4. Despite the injury designation, he appears to be on track to play.
WR Cedrick Wilson (Ribs/toe)
Wilson missed last week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals and has been on the injury report since the beginning of the season. He suffered a rib injury in Week 1 followed by the toe designation in Week 2.
TE Hunter Long (Ankle)
Long will potentially see his first snaps since Week 1 following a late-week ankle injury prior to Week 2 that saw him miss the past three games.
DL Zach Sieler (Hand)
Sieler was on the injury report last week with the same designation and ended up playing in 55 percent of defensive snaps along with 43 percent of special teams snaps.
OT Greg Little (Left finger)
Little continues to practice in full after suffering a finger injury against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3.
TE Tanner Conner (Knee)
Conner re-appears on the injury report with a knee injury. He had been on the injury report all training camp and at one point, was considered to be placed on IR to begin the season. It’s very possible that this was an aggravation that he has to work through in order to be ready in Week 5.
LB Trey Flowers (Knee)
Flowers appeared on the injury report this week with a knee designation, though he did not have any reports of a knee issue during the game from what I saw. He did have a nagging knee injury when he was with the Detroit Lions last year that saw him end the season on injured reserve.
According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, Flowers first appeared on the injury report in Week 5 with the knee designation and battled the issue all year. He ultimately missed six games, getting placed on injured reserve prior to Week 15. It’s entirely possible this is the same knee that is giving him issues, but something worth monitoring if he stays on the injury report.
S Clayton Fejedelem (Undisclosed)
Fejedelem went to IR after roster cutdowns, missing the first four games. He returned to practice this week, starting his 21-day window to practice and return to the roster.
WR Jamison Crowder (Left ankle fracture)
Crowder exited the game with a left ankle fracture with 14:00 left in the third quarter on a punt return. He was hit from the outside, suggesting initially a high-ankle sprain. Unfortunately, he suffered an ankle fracture that requires surgery to stabilize the area. The Bills reported that he would be placed on IR but they were waiting to complete a corresponding roster move.
CB Christian Benford (Right-hand fracture)
Benford is set to miss a second consecutive game following surgery for a right-hand fracture suffered in the second quarter of the Week 3 game against the Miami Dolphins. Based on the designation, it appears as though he suffered a metacarpal fracture. He was out at practice last week with a brace and bandaging on but has since been without anything on, assisting kids in the field house for an event.
While he could return to play with a club as soon as Week 6, I suspect that he will return in Week 8 against Green Bay without a club.
WR Jake Kumerow (Left high-ankle sprain)
Kumerow will miss his second consecutive game following a left high-ankle sprain against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. Based on the timelines we see for a high-ankle regarding how the team is handling the Ed Oliver injury and Kumerow’s positional demands, I suspect he will return after the bye.
S Jordan Poyer (Ribs)
Poyer was limited during the week due to sore ribs following his interception in the endzone that led to the Bills eventually kicking the game-winning field goal on Sunday. He was assessed by training staff after the play and underwent x-rays immediately after the game.
At the time, he stated that he got the wind knocked out of him but this appears to be more significant than that. Hopefully, this is more soreness than anything else rather than a broken rib or cartilage. Considering where and how he hit, I suspect a contusion, supporting the rib soreness unless we get additional information.
Unfortunately, Poyer will be out for this game as he recovers to be fully healthy for Week 6 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
TE Dawson Knox (Right foot/hamstring)
Knox had yet another injury designation added to his list of injuries this week with a hamstring issue. He left early in the first quarter during the Bills’ first offensive series that led to a field goal, entering the blue medical tent.
Unfortunately, Knox has been dealing with a midfoot sprain since Week 2 and added a back and hip issue after the Week 3 game. It isn’t clear whether he went to the tent for one of his prior injuries or the hamstring issue, though he continued to play the remainder of the game.
With a hamstring designation, the hope is that this is truly a hamstring injury and not a progression of the back/hip issue we saw last week. The sciatic nerve starts in the low back at the spinal cord with several nerve roots combining together to innervate the muscles of the leg.
Back pain frequently starts in the low back and spreads down that nerve into the buttocks, hip, thigh, and beyond. The team knows whether the back/hip and hamstring issues are separate, but looking for patterns in injury reporting designation and understanding how pain/injuries are present is key in medicine. The progression of the back/hip issue is pure speculation, but patterns do exist in injuries and the presentation of pain which leads me to this thought.
If this is truly a hamstring and I hope it is, Knox dealt with a hamstring strain in his rookie year in 2019, missing a significant chunk of the preseason. He suffered a hamstring strain in Week 10 of the 2020 season but did not miss any games.
Considering the injuries he has dealt with already through the first month of the season, it is best that he sits out this game.
WR Isaiah McKenzie (Concussion)
McKenzie suffered a concussion going over the middle with 4:54 left in the third quarter, getting hit on the left side of his helmet before going down. He was able to get up after several moments and jog off to the locker room for further assessment.
He is currently in the concussion protocol and will need to pass through the five stages in order to be cleared to return. He was out on the practice field Thursday catching balls in a red non-contact jersey, signifying that he is in Stage 4 and in a regular jersey Friday.
I expect him to be cleared from the concussion protocol by Saturday. If there is no announcement, then he will not play Sunday and remain in the concussion protocol.
In a behind-the-scenes look, McKenzie details how he felt after the hit, including noting that he could not move after the hit. To hear more about his experience, check out the latest episode of the Isaiah McKenzie show over at GoLongTD.
LB Tremaine Edmunds (Hamstring)
Edmunds popped up on the injury report with a hamstring designation, side not specified. He played in 100 percent of snaps and at no point did he require medical attention on the field. This makes it difficult to identify the side and severity. The last Bills defensive series lasted most of the fourth quarter, starting at 13:38 and ending at 4:15 with the Jordan Poyer interception.
There wasn’t any instance where he came up grabbing his leg or limping, but the extended defensive series may have led to him tweaking something. Edmunds has had two instances where he suffered hamstring injuries, one in the Wild Card round in 2020 where he missed zero games. The other instance was in Week 9, forcing him to miss the next two games.
Considering he did not practice at all this week, I don’t see how he plays in Week 5, especially against a lowly Steelers team. Give him the rest to get right for Week 6 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
DT Ed Oliver (Right high-ankle sprain)
Oliver is set to return to the starting lineup after missing three games due to a right high-ankle sprain in the Week 1 win over the Los Angeles Rams. This was the result of pivoting hard on the right foot to change directions in tackling Rams WR Cooper Kupp. It initially appeared as though it was a medial ankle sprain, but I’ve learned that if it looks like a medial ankle, it’s more likely a high ankle.
The injury still is not 100 percent, but having a month off will have allowed Oliver to regain stability to push off the ankle when driving forward and running without compensation. I expect he plays and if he does not, then there is information that we do not have that goes into the decision.
DT Jordan Phillips (Left hamstring)
Phillips has missed the past two games since suffering what appeared to be a left hamstring strain during Matt Milano’s pick-six to ice the game 41-7 in Week 2. For him to miss the past two weeks isn’t uncommon for a hamstring injury when it comes to the Bills’ management of soft tissue injuries.
He was able to return to practice this week in a limited role but I don’t anticipate that he suits up, set to miss his third game. He looks to be on track to play in Week 6 against the Kansas City Chiefs and be close to full health.
OL Justin Murray (Foot)
Murray continues to be limited with a foot injury that appeared immediately after signing with the team last week. It’s unclear whether this is related to his ankle injury from the preseason with the Cardinals, but the recent foot injury led to him being inactive last week.
WR Gabe Davis (Right ankle)
Davis has been working through a right ankle injury suffered in practice on the Friday prior to Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans. This is his third injury to the ankle in three years, though only missed one game total because of it.
He has struggled at times in practice with slowing down and cutting to the right side which has limited his play, getting 4 receptions for 50 yards over the past two games. This is in comparison to 4 receptions for 88 yards and 1 TD in Week 1. Davis has also been forced to play the majority of snaps due to injuries at the wide receiver position, especially in Week 3 when Jake Kumerow went down with a high-ankle sprain.
Davis had a similar trend last year regarding his ankle injury. He suffered an ankle sprain in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and struggled through the injury for several weeks. He went 4 receptions for 64 yards and 0 TD’s over the next five games heading into the bye. Following the week off, he started to see the ball more consistently and appeared to be healthier, getting 27 receptions for 456 yards and 5 TD beginning in Week 8.
So while each injury is different, I do expect Davis to get healthier after the bye and increase his production as he did last year. He’s getting the targets, just needs to get the receptions. Practicing in full this week leaves no room for interpretation regarding his status for Sunday.
CB Cam Lewis (Right forearm/knee)
Lewis remains on the injury report with a right forearm issue and a knee designation. The forearm brace continues to be needed to a chronic bone infection from college and there are no specifics on the knee injury at this point.
C Mitch Morse (Right elbow)
Morse is working through a right elbow contusion suffered in Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans. Considering he is still on the injury report, there may be underlying damage due to the beating his elbows have taken over the years snapping and blocking.
He has moved well in practice and played last week against Baltimore, but hopefully, the elbow continues to improve and he falls off the injury report shortly.
Top Photo Credit: The Phinsider