As the weather cools, the pecking order takes shape in the AFC East, and every team remains in playoff contention. Injuries have continued to shape the outlook for each team, hitting Miami and Buffalo hard with different outcomes while a lack of injuries has kept New York a surprising 3-2 through five weeks.
New England remains in contention despite looking up at the rest of the division for the first time in over two decades. Parity continues within division rivals and around the conference making each game vitally important.
Below are the full injury reports and a breakdown of each and every injury within the AFC East heading into Week 6.
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.
QB Tua Tagovailoa (Concussion/Ankle)
Tagovailoa continues to work through the concussion protocol, getting limited practice this week. He was able to throw the football around, suggesting that he is in Stage 4 of the concussion protocol. The team will continue to exercise caution in advancing him through the protocol knowing that another concussion could knock him out for the season.
While he will miss the upcoming game against the Vikings, it’s possible he could come back against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7, though this is far from guaranteed. The Dolphins have a pretty soft slate of games coming up in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, and Cleveland which means they can bring him Tagovailoa without pressure to perform immediately.
Considering the attention his concussion received, the Dolphins will be making very cautious decisions in regard to how they manage the issue.
Update: Tua has cleared concussion protocol and play next week in Pittsburgh.
CB Kader Kohou (Oblique)
Kohou appears on the injury report with an oblique injury, limited all week. With no in-game reports, it’s difficult to identify the severity of the injury, but the oblique strain will hinder him with virtually every football movement.
With a doubtful designation, rarely do players with this designation suit up. If he is forced into action with the oblique injury, he could be beaten if the Vikings figure out which side is painful to bend and twist, forcing him to move in those directions, making him a step slower. The Dolphins would be wise to keep him out of the contest.
OT Terron Armstead (Toe)
Armstead continues to deal with the toe injury that has prevented him from practicing during the week but allows him to play Sundays. At the time of the injury, I suspected a turf toe injury due to the lingering nature, but he was forced to leave the game with 7:32 left in the first quarter.
This was the result of Armstead having to stay up on his toes as the defensive end worked around the edge, knocking him off balance and Armstead landed on the balls of his feet trying to regain his balance. While his body is trying to keep him upright, that sudden jarring motion of toe hyperextension with 300+ pounds striking through the area likely further injured the toe. He went down on his left knee suggesting that he injured the right toe, possibly the original injury site.
He did see a specialist while the team was in New York and continued to not practice this week as he rehabs. This is either a significant case of turf toe the team is trying to conservatively manage or this has progressed to a plantar plate injury. This would also fit the mechanism for how he lost his balance and struck the ground with his foot.
While this is pure speculation, how they have managed this injury and the continued difficulties suggest that the injury is far more significant than what a toe designation suggests. Despite his talent, he may be best suited to get a week off if they have the appropriate depth at the position.
QB Teddy Bridgewater (Concussion/Right pectoral)
Bridgewater is officially in the concussion protocol per the new protocol that states that any signs of ataxia mean that the player cannot return to the game. This was the result of a hit on the very first play of the game for the offense that resulted in a safety for the Jets with 12:38 left in the first quarter.
While he did pass all the concussion testing, the “ataxia” ruled him out, meaning he must pass through the protocol before being cleared. He has since cleared and will at least be the backup for Skylar Thompson, but if he struggles, I would expect Bridgewater to step in quickly.
One other interesting injury to note is that they designated Bridgewater with an elbow injury coming out of the game but now he has a right pectoral designation. I’m not sure what changed but the pectoral muscle is a powerful chest muscle that allows for adduction and internal rotation of the arm. These are crucial movements for throwing and he may show some decreased velocity on his throws if he is dealing with a pectoral strain.
TE Durham Smythe (Hamstring)
Smythe suffered a hamstring strain midway through the second half of the game, questionable to return. He was limited in practice all week and is officially questionable heading into the game. Considering all the demands of the tight end position in running and blocking, Smythe could be at risk of re-injury. Due to the opponent, he may be best to sit this one out, giving Mike Geseki an increased workload.
RB Raheem Mostert (Knee)
Mostert appears on the injury report for the first time this season with a knee designation. This is not surprising considering he had significant cartilage damage in his left knee last year, forcing him to undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season. The procedure was autologous chondrocyte implantation which is where a portion of articular cartilage is donated and surgically implanted into the damaged area to allow for the cartilage to heal fully.
While the procedure did allow him to come back and play, it’s very likely the knee is starting to give him some issues, necessitating the limited designation. This will be something he can continue to play through, but I would expect him to be on the injury report intermittently with the knee complaint.
DB Elijah Campbell (Foot)
Campbell was unable to practice Thursday and Friday after appearing on the injury report with a limited designation Wednesday. There were not any game designations but he is an exclusive special teams contributor, narrowing down the possible time when he suffered the injury.
He played in a season-low 31 percent of snaps Sunday suggesting that he was unable to finish.
CB Xavien Howard (Groins)
Howard missed the Week 5 contest against the Jets dealing with bilateral groin strains that have been dating back to Week 3. Factoring in the positional demands, Howard would have struggled mightily trying to swivel his hips and maintain proximity with his assignment throughout the game. The team was smart to sit him out and despite limited practices this week will play Sunday.
WR Erik Ezukanma (Eye)
Ezukanma was designated with an eye injury on Thursday which suggests he was struck in the eye, causing him to miss several reps.
WR Tyreek Hill (Left foot/quad)
Hill was coming into the game with a quad injury that did appear to limit him somewhat, getting 7 receptions for 47 yards. However, this may have been the result of quarterback play over the injury. A week removed from the quad designation can only help with regaining the explosive speed necessary to be a deep-field threat.
He is also dealing with a left foot injury that was the result of getting stepped on late in the fourth quarter. Hill left the stadium in a walking boot to control for swelling but this suggests that this may be more pain/swelling than structural damage.
S Clayton Fejedelem (Ankle/Knee)
After returning from injured reserve and missing four games, Fejedelem shows up on the injury report with ankle and knee designations. It’s not clear whether these were the injuries that led to him being placed on there in the first place, but they limited him early in the week.
OL Robert Jones (Back)
Jones continues to work through a back injury that had him originally appear on the injury report prior to Week 5.
DL Zach Seiler (Hand)
On the injury report since Week 4, Seiler continues to be a heavy contributor to both the defense and special teams. The specifics of the injury are not known, but it has not affected his production.
TE Tanner Connor (Knee)
Conner continues to work through a knee injury dating back to the preseason. After missing the first game, he has played in the last four games, logging most of his action on special teams.
S Brandon Jones (Chest)
Dealing with this injury since prior to Week 4, Jones has been able to practice in full this week with no gameday designations.
T Greg Little (Hip)
After dealing with a finger injury the last two weeks, Little shows up on the injury report with a hip designation. He was able to practice in full this week with no gameday designation.
WR Jaylen Waddle (Groin)
Waddle continues to work through a groin issue originally suffered in Week 3 against the Bills. He appears to be minimally affected by the issue and is practicing in full. While the risk for injury is increased due to the presence of the injury, he has shown to produce effectively despite the issue.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
LB Josh Uche (Hamstring)
Uche appeared on the injury report Thursday and Friday with a hamstring designation suggesting that he suffered the injury in practice, limited in his reps. He was unable to practice Friday, ruling him out for Sunday.
RB Damien Harris (Hamstring)
Harris exited the game at the end of the first quarter with a hamstring designation, questionable to return. Looking back at the film, he last took carries with 38 seconds left for a nine-yard gain followed by a final play with four seconds left for no gain.
On the carry with 38 seconds left, Harris cuts up to his left side and gets knocked off balance, landing on his left leg with his torso bent over at the waist. This forward momentum of his body along with his leg planting in the ground trying to drive himself forward may have been the play that injured the hamstring. He appeared to be walking with some effort after the play.
This injury has been described as multi-week according to reports. I expect him to miss Weeks 6 and 7 before potentially returning in Week 8, though his return then is far from a guarantee at this time.
WR Nelson Agholor (Hamstring)
Agholor only appeared in seven snaps in Week 5 with his final snap being a bobbled catch that led to an interception midway through the second quarter with 7:36 left. He was tackled from behind which dislodged the ball, but it’s not clear whether this was the play that caused his hamstring injury.
While questionable, it’s unclear whether he is healthy enough to perform effectively on Sunday.
DL Christian Barmore (Knee)
Barmore was a late addition to the injury report Friday with a knee designation. Without additional details, it’s difficult to determine whether he will be healthy enough to suit up. He did have some knee issues late in the season and into the playoffs last year, but it’s unclear whether these injuries are related.
CB Jonathan Jones (Ankle)
Jones left sometime in the second half of the win over the Lions Sunday with an ankle injury.
According to reports, he was trying to test it out, potentially able to return if called upon. He downplayed the injury and stated that he was ready to play in Week 6. The hope is that this is a garden variety low ankle sprain. Painful enough to limit him but able to rehab throughout the week and tape it up to play.
QB Mac Jones (Left Ankle)
Jones was observed at practice with increased participation following his severe left-ankle sprain late in Week 3 against the Ravens. At one point, there was a discussion on whether he would have surgery and need to go to injured reserve. Jones appeared to have avoided the worst at this time and is slowly working through the injury.
Considering he has to step into his throws using the left foot, he may suffer from accuracy issues, either going too high or low if he isn’t able to follow through. There will also be difficulty in scrambling, he won’t have the fluidity needed to keep clean in the pocket. While he is questionable heading into the game, if he sits this one out, this may be best for his long-term outlook on the season.
As you can see in the tweet below, he struggles to perform his dropback and step into his throw. If he rests one more week, then he may be serviceable to effective in the pocket.
LB Raekwon McMillian (Thumb)
McMillian continues to be limited with a thumb injury originally sustained late in practice prior to Week 2. He missed Week 3, since returning to play almost exclusively special teams the past two weeks, though saw 21 plays on defense in the win over the Lions Sunday.
It’s still not clear the specifics of the injury whether this was a broken bone or ligament damage. Limiting his snaps to special teams allows him to hit and tackle without overexposing the thumb area to further injury will allow him to produce while healing.
WR Jakobi Meyers (Knee)
Meyers has been working through a knee injury since the preseason that originally was on the left side. He missed Week 3 and 4 before returning in Week 5 with a season-high 7 receptions for 111 yards and 1 TD.
TE Jonnu Smith (Right ankle)
Smith missed last week’s game following a right low ankle sprain in Week 4 against the Packers that was deemed week-to-week. It was no surprise that he did not play in Week 5, but returning to practice on a limited basis is promising for his chances to play in Week 6.
C David Andrews (Back)
Andrews appears on the injury report with a back designation that limited him this week. He has played in every snap this season and I do not expect that to change. He did play through a partially torn rotator cuff tear last year, not missing any snaps and whatever the issue is with his back, I do not expect that to change.
DE DeMarcus Mitchell (Concussion)
Mitchell was still working through his concussion from Week 4 which forced him to miss practice all of last week. He slowly ramped up his workload this week as he navigated through the concussion protocol, and finally cleared.
CB Jalen Mills (Hamstring)
Appearing on the injury report since Week 3 with the designation, Mills missed Week 4 with the injury before returning to play in Week 5 in 70 percent of the snaps.
While eligible, Montgomery is not expected to return quite yet from his knee injury that dates back to the preseason. If you recall, he injured his right ankle in the preseason against the Raiders. In Week 1, he led the running backs in snap counts, even scoring a touchdown before being placed on IR. We still have not gotten any additional information on the specifics of the injury.
NEW YORK JETS
DE Jermaine Johnson (Ankle)
Johnson suffered an ankle injury in the second half of the win over the Dolphins in Week 5. He is considered day-to-day which in coach speak usually means they may miss one game. It’s not clear when he suffered the injury but any ankle injury will make bending the edge difficult.
Depending on the side, he would either have difficulty in planting or pushing off the outside leg to get around the edge. If it’s the inside leg, he will have trouble cutting towards the injured side, limiting his ability to quickly change direction as the running back comes through the line. Factoring in that he did not practice all week, missing the game will allow him to heal the ankle, giving extra snaps to Michael Clemons and Jacob Martin.
OT Duane Brown (Left shoulder)
After missing the first four games of the season due to a shoulder injury sustained in practice, Brown made his return in Week 5 sporting a shoulder harness on his left arm.
This brace is necessary as it has been reported that he is dealing with a rotator cuff tear. Although painful, this can be managed and played through as many offensive linemen and other position players have over the years. The way for a defensive end to beat him will be to get to control his left arm.
The rotator cuff assists with arm elevation and even though the action can be completed, the muscle strength is much weaker than normal, meaning leverage will be key. Either the defensive end has to cut inside with a spin move and force Brown to reach across his body with his left arm or get outside and use a swim move to chop the left arm. Brown will need to keep his base and feet in front of him, but he may be more vulnerable in the second half as fatigue sets in.
LB Quincy Williams (Left ankle)
Williams was finally able to practice Wednesday following missing the last two games due to a left high-ankle sprain against the Bengals in Week 3. He is certainly not 100 percent despite the time off, but the injury may have been mild enough to allow him to get out there and at least test out the ankle to see whether he could play.
Despite the questionable designation, I do not believe he would be fully effective this week and could be a target for the Packers’ offense to exploit.
DE Carl Lawson (Ankle)
Lawson played in a season-high 73 percent of snaps as he suffered an ankle injury sometime in the game. After missing all of last season with an Achilles tear, the Jets must ensure that he is healthy enough to perform so as to not cause further injury. The ankle injury likely won’t cause issues with his Achilles but could lead to other compensation issues.
LB CJ Mosley (Hip)
After battling injuries the past two seasons, Mosley appears back on the injury report with a hip designation. The specifics of the injury are not clear as there were not any injury designations within the game. However, Mosley did dislocate his hip while in college back in 2012.
The initial trauma from that injury has certainly not slowed him down over his career, but it’s very possible the hip has become arthritic from all the years of football throughout the years. He may need more maintenance and allow things to calm down in the joint during the week in order to play Sundays.
WR Jake Kumerow (Left ankle)
Kumerow will miss his third consecutive game following a left high-ankle sprain in Week 3. We saw how conservative the team was with Ed Oliver with what appeared to be a less severe injury. It’s no surprise that Kumerow, who relies on his speed and agility, will be out one more week plus the bye before he can face his former teammates in Week 8.
DT Jordan Phillips (Left hamstring)
Phillips aggravated his left hamstring injury late in the second quarter, questionable to return with the original injury sustained in Week 2. He was questionable heading into Week 5, playing a total of 21 snaps, 19 before suffering the injury.
He attempted to re-enter the game in the second half, appearing in two plays before motioning off and being wholly ineffective. While he could and probably wants to play Sunday, he would be best to do so on a limited snap count.
CB Christian Benford (Right-hand fracture)
Benford returned to practice after missing the last two games due to a broken metacarpal bone in his right hand.
He was at practice with the club around the hand portion but his fingers were free to move as though they were testing to see whether he would be effective with the club. He does not have a designation meaning he will play, but his playing time may be limited to special teams in order to minimize the Chiefs from exploiting his injury. I do expect to see him with some padding on the area to protect the healing bone.
LB Tremaine Edmunds (Hamstring)
After being questionable last week despite not practicing Edmunds missed the Week 5 matchup against the Steelers. He was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday with a full designation Friday indicating that he would play.
Missing about a week due to a hamstring strain continues to be on par with how the team has managed these injuries in the past. If he does re-injure, he has the bye week to get the much-deserved rest he already needs.
CB Kaiir Elam (Foot)
Elam showed up on the injury report with a foot designation after playing in 100 percent of snaps. He was limited in practice Wednesday before practicing in full on Thursday and Friday. While this is not readily apparent on film, this appears to be more of a minor injury based on the information we have at this time.
DT DaQuan Jones (Hip)
Jones was limited on Wednesday before practicing in full Thursday and Friday with a hip designation. He did play in a season-low 49 percent of snaps but did not come out of the game due to injury.
While not knowing what the injury is on film, a strong guess maybe a hip pointer injury which is a bruising of the iliac crest of the hip. This is where the bony portion on the side of your hips that you can palpate. This is more pain-limiting than anything, but this should not affect his production especially since the defensive line rotates so frequently.
RB Taiwan Jones (Left knee)
Jones appears on the injury report for the first time this season with a knee designation. It’s not known when he suffered the injury, but he has had numerous injuries throughout his career that he had played through.
While he did miss practice Wednesday and Thursday, he did get limited practice on Friday. Considering his role on special teams with rather infrequent play, he was expected to play. He has done this before, not needing much practice to play. Jones is also the exception to the rule with practice participation designations, something I have noticed over the years. He is a veteran, he knows his body, and his role.
Looking at the tweet below provides additional insight into the injury including confirmation of the side.
TE Dawson Knox (Right foot/hamstring)
Battling early season injuries to his right foot suffered in Week 2, back and hip injuries suffered in Week 3, and followed by a hamstring injury in Week 4, Knox got the week off last week. He will very likely not be 100 percent heading into this contest limited more by the foot and hamstring issues.
He may see work in certain packages or limit his snap count, but he appears to be ready when called upon.
CB Cam Lewis (Right forearm)
Lewis continues to be on the injury report practicing in full with a forearm issue dating back to college from a chronic bone infection. He currently wears a pad on the area to protect the prior fracture site.
WR Isaiah McKenzie (Concussion)
McKenzie officially passed the concussion protocol prior to Wednesday’s practice after missing last week due to a hit over the middle in Week 4.
C Mitch Morse (Right Elbow)
Morse continues on the injury report with his elbow injury originally suffered against the Titans in Week 2. This may appear to be a chronic issue at this point but has not affected his play from the looks of it.
DT Ed Oliver (Right ankle)
Oliver continues to work back from a right high-ankle sprain suffered in Week 1 against the Rams. He missed the last three games and while he played in only 33 percent of snaps, he is still not fully healthy. I do expect him to see an increase in snap count this week though as his health improves.
S Jordan Poyer (Ribs)
Poyer missed last week with a rib injury sustained on the game-changing interception in Week 4 against the Ravens. He was limited all week in a red non-contact jersey to avoid aggravation to the area. Fortunately, he had a full practice on Friday without a gameday designation.
Top Photo Credit: The Phinsider