Turning the page to Week 8, injuries continue to define the path forward for each AFC East team as the halfway point of the season comes.
The Buffalo Bills are sitting at 5-1 coming off a well-timed bye that saw a majority of their roster get healthier as they prepare to host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. The New York Jets are a surprising 5-2 partially due to the health of the roster that has since taken several notable hits last week.
The Miami Dolphins have over one-third of their roster dealing with some type of injury designation nearly all season, continuing to lose key contributors on the defense. Finally, the New England Patriots appear to avoid many of the season-ending injuries at this time. But chinks in the one flawless armor of two decades of elite football have exposed some of the struggles that have overtaken teams over the years.
Below are the detailed injury reports for each AFC East team heading into Week 8.
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.
P Thomas Morstead (Illness)
Morstead missed Thursday’s practice with an illness and was limited Friday. This may come down to how he feels, but considering that there is not a punter on the practice squad and there were no reports that they worked anyone out, it seems likely he plays.
S Clayton Fejedelem (Groin)
Fejedelem appears on the injury report this week with a groin designation after spending the first four weeks of the season on IR for undisclosed injuries. Once he returned, he found himself dealing with ankle and knee designations. The specifics of this injury are not available. If he plays, he should see some increase in playing time with the loss of Brandon Jones.
CB Xavien Howard (Groin)
Howard has been working through a groin strain dating back prior to Week 3. At one point, both sides were listed as an issue as the word groin was pluralized. He played in 100 percent of snaps last week despite the injury. This suggests that either the team continues to manage the issue throughout the week, limiting his reps or there is a more significant injury such as a core muscle issue.
TE Durham Smythe (Hamstring)
Smythe missed the Week 6 contest due to a hamstring injury suffered in the second half of the game against the Jets the week prior. He was questionable heading into the Week 7 game against Pittsburgh, playing in a season-low 42 percent of snaps. What’s notable is that he also did not play special teams after appearing in half of the snaps most of the games prior.
This suggests that his injury is not fully healthy yet which is of no surprise, but that they value Smythe’s contribution to the offense. Avoiding special teams also prevents him from overworking the hamstring and causing a setback.
TE Tanner Conner (Knee)
Nothing new changes with Conner as his knee injury dates back to the preseason. It would not shock me if he required off-season surgery. He continues to see the bulk of his playing time on special teams.
DE Emmanuel Ogbah (Back)
Ogbah missed last week’s game due to a back injury originally suffered in Week 6, though the exact details of the injury are not available on film. He was limited all week with the exception of a full practice Friday, making him questionable heading into Week 8 against the Detroit Lions.
OT Terron Armstead (Right toe)
Armstead continues his streak of being on the injury report since a toe injury in Week 1, followed by a re-injury in Week 5, missing the following game. Based on the way Armstead moved following the re-injury, it appears as though he’s dealing with a right-toe injury. I have thought that he has a significant case of turf toe or even now, a plantar plate injury.
He continues to play through the issue and is one of the best offensive linemen still despite the injury. At this point, this is something to monitor. It’s worth noting that he does not have an injury designation heading into the game for the first time since Week 1.
LB Jerome Baker (Hip)
Baker remains on the injury report due to a hip injury that first appeared after the Week 6 game against the Vikings. He did have a questionable designation last week but ultimately played. He played in 92 percent of snaps, indicating that this may be a maintenance issue.
OL Robert Hunt (Hip)
Hunt appeared on the injury report Thursday with a hip designation possibly suffered in practice. He practiced in full on Friday and has no designation.
DL Christian Wilkins (Hand)
Wilkins was questionable last week dealing with a hand injury, ultimately playing. He was on the injury report again this week, limited in practice but has no designation for Sunday.
CB Kader Kahou (Oblique)
Kohou has missed the last two games due to an oblique injury suffered in Week 5. He was doubtful heading into Week 6 followed by a questionable designation in Week 7, implying that he is slowly getting better. He was limited all week with the exception of Friday, indicating that he will play.
OT Greg Little (Achilles)
Little has been battling injuries all season including a hip issue and a broken finger on his left hand. He was questionable last week with the Achilles designation suggesting that this is either a strain to the area or if this lingers for a while, possible tendinitis. Considering he played in only four special teams snaps last week, this appears to be a notable injury.
DL Zach Sieler (Hand/ankle)
Sieler has been on the injury report due to a hand designation since Week 4 and added an ankle injury this week.
QB Skylar Thompson (Right thumb)
Thompson continues to be limited due to a right thumb injury that appears to be a sprain originally suffered in Week 6 against the Vikings. He hit his thumb on his follow-through on the helmet of Vikings defender Patrick Jones. As he is the third-string quarterback, he is not taking hardly any reps under center, but he still needs to practice and be ready in the event that he is called upon.
WR Jaylen Waddle (Left shoulder)
Waddle originally injured his left shoulder late in the fourth quarter in the loss to the Vikings in Week 6. By video, it appears as though he suffered an AC joint sprain, though further damage such as labrum cannot be ruled out. He played fairly well in Week 7, getting four receptions for 88 yards, and did not appear to be wearing some type of shoulder harness.
Even if he did have either injury, an injection and padding to the area would be a preferred method to get through the game versus a harness that could limit his catch radius.
OL Liam Eichenburg (Knee)
Eichenberg worked through what appeared to be a minor knee issue that allowed him to practice in full this week. He has no injury designation heading into the game.
RB Raheem Mostert (Knee)
Mostert continues to be on the injury report with a knee designation after appearing on the report with a knee designation prior to Week 6. This may be a maintenance thing due to the procedure he had called autologous chondrocyte implantation. He was questionable last week but was able to play despite the designation.
QB Tua Tagovailoa (Left hand)
Tagovailoa appeared briefly on the injury report this week with a left-hand designation, practicing in full on Wednesday before having no status for the rest of the week. The report has to differentiate between right or left hand based on quarterbacks due to throwing and having some type of transparency for accurate reporting.
This is also observed with Teddy Bridgwater with his right pectoral recently and seen commonly with shoulder, wrist, and elbow injuries. You see the same thing with Skylar Thompson currently with his thumb injury.
This may be as simple as he had to have it assessed briefly during practice but did not miss any reps, requiring the designation.
S Brandon Jones (Left ACL tear)
Jones suffered a left ACL tear with 3:17 left in the third quarter in the win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7 as seen below.
He is looking at a 9-12 month recovery, though this could change based on additional damage in the area. The nine-month mark will be right around when training camp starts. Very hard to say whether he starts on PUP based on the information we know at the moment, but I expect him to be limited throughout training camp and brought back slowly.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
C David Andrews (Concussion)
Andrews exited the Week 7 contest against the Bears on Monday with 7:50 in the fourth quarter following an illegal blindside block from the Bears’ Mike Pennel Jr. He later underwent evaluation for a head injury before being ruled out. He was later officially placed in the concussion protocol. You can see the hit that led to the concussion linked here.
He has not been able to practice Wednesday or Thursday, not been able to progress through the stages of the protocol in time to play Sunday. This places James Ferentz in line to start at center according to the depth chart.
DT Christian Barmore (Knee)
Barmore originally injured his knee in practice prior to Week 6 before further aggravating the injury, missing Week 7 against the Bears. It’s not clear the specific injury he is working through, but he has been unable to practice all this week because of the issue. He will likely not play based on the lack of practice participation.
WR Nelson Agholor (Hamstring)
Agholor originally suffered a hamstring injury in the win over the Detroit Lions in Week 5, missing the following game. He was able to return to play in Week 7 against the Bears, but was ineffective, seeing three snaps total and one target for no catches.
S Kyle Dugger (Ankle)
Dugger left the game Sunday due to an ankle injury with 14:48 left in the third quarter. He was not immediately involved in the play as Khalil Herbert was pushed out of bounds, but Dugger was near the sidelines, getting his ankles taken out from under him as he fell forward to his left. Based on how the hit came, it’s very possible that he injured the left ankle, causing him to fall.
He was unable to practice all week with the exception of a limited practice Friday, putting Jabrill Peppers back in line to take the bulk of snaps in the secondary.
CB Jonathan Jones (Ankle)
Jones continues to work through an ankle that has been bothering him since suffering the injury in Week 5. He missed the Week 6 contest against the Browns before returning to play in Week 7 despite a questionable designation.
S Adrian Phillips (Right shoulder)
Phillips reappeared on the injury report this week with a right shoulder injury that occurred with 4:52 left in the third quarter of Monday’s game. He was hit on the right shoulder by a Bears offensive player and then grabbed for his shoulder, requiring medical attention.
Based on that analysis, it looks as though he suffered a stinger due to how little impact it took. It’s possible that another injury occurred somewhere earlier in the game or he had a non-reported shoulder injury, but the stinger seems more likely.
These injuries are transient and are the result of sudden compression or traction to the cervical nerves either at the neck or shoulder. He was limited this week which is not surprising, but there should be no restrictions on playing as long as he doesn’t have any underlying cervical issues such as a disc issue or some type of stenosis which is narrowing around where the nerve exits. We won’t know that unless something is reported.
LB Josh Uche (Hamstring)
Uche has missed the last two games after suffering a hamstring strain in practice prior to Week 6. He is once again questionable, but after missing two games, it seems very reasonable that he could return to play Sunday.
T Isaiah Wynn (Shoulder)
Wynn appears on the injury report for the second consecutive week with a shoulder designation. He missed last week’s contest with the injury and without additional details, it is difficult to identify a timeline or if he will miss more time.
WR Kendrick Bourne (Toe)
Bourne missed last week with a toe injury after being limited to four offensive snaps against the Browns in Week 6. The reports indicate that he is dealing with turf toe. I had thought that he could try to play through the injury, but he missed last week and has been limited all this week as well. Fortunately, he is suiting up this week but may continue to see a limited snap count.
G Mike Onwenu (Ankle)
Onwenu is working through an ankle injury that first appeared on the injury report last week. He was able to play in 100 percent of snaps last week and does not have an injury designation for Sunday.
QB Mac Jones (Left foot numbness)
This was an interesting report that came out Friday afternoon. Nerve damage can occur often after trauma such as a high-ankle sprain but this isn’t reported often Frankly, I am not considering it immediately unless I see something clinically to warrant the thought or if the media is reporting the issue.
Factoring in how he injured the ankle, the eversion, and dorsiflexion of the foot, this likely stressed one of the branches of the tibia nerve that runs on the inside portion of the ankle. Below is a rudimentary picture showing how the nerve runs on the inside portion of the ankle.
Looking at the nerve distribution within the foot, the medial and lateral plantar nerve innervates most of the bottom of the foot as seen in the colored picture below. These nerves are responsible for both the sensory and motor functions in those areas.
The purple or orange sections are the most likely affected based on the reporting. There is very likely no long-term damage, but sometimes when a nerve gets stretched suddenly or forcefully, there can be some minor damage that can occur, leading to numbness. Without getting into too much detail regarding the science, this is a short-term injury but it’s surprising that this type of information came out. I would liken the feeling as though his foot fell asleep. He can do everything he needs to, but it can feel off.
While a minor annoyance for most people, dealing with this during high-level athletics can certainly negatively affect performance, something the Chicago Bears noted during the game.
NEW YORK JETS
WR Corey Davis (Knee)
During the same series that Alijah Vera Tucker injured his triceps, Davis went down with a knee injury. By video, it’s not clear what he’s dealing with, but according to Ian Rapoport, he is dealing with an MCL sprain as seen below.
He had been designated as day-to-day which means that it’s usually a game missed, but he will miss this game and still not be fully healthy even next week, putting his status right now in doubt.
OT Duane Brown (Left shoulder)
Brown continues to work through his rotator cuff tear in his left shoulder, playing in 100 percent of snaps for the third straight week. Being on the injury report is more maintenance than anything, but this is the reason behind this.
DE Jermaine Johnson (Ankle)
Johnson has missed the last two games with a suspected high-ankle sprain based on the timeline of time missed. He appears to be on track to play this week but the ankle still isn’t likely fully healthy, potentially limiting him to rush one side of the line.
LB Quincy Williams (Left high-ankle sprain)
Williams continues to work back from his left high-ankle sprain in Week 3 that forced him to miss two games earlier this season. His snap count has been fluctuating as he gets further from the injury, but he looks to appear to be on the mend.
S Ashtyn Davis (Hamstring)
Davis was questionable heading into last week after appearing to suffer the original injury in Week 6. He ultimately missed the game which was the right call considering how hamstrings can be. Fortunately, he will play in Week 8.
DE John Franklin-Myers (Illness)
Franklin-Myers missed Wednesday’s practice with an illness.
RB Breece Hall (Left ACL tear)
Hall’s excellent rookie season came to an abrupt halt with 3:37 left in the second quarter when he went down with a knee injury seen below.
The video isn’t clear how he tears the now-confirmed ACL, but it looks as though he gets his foot caught in the turf and gets tackled. Regardless of the mechanism of injury, his season is over. The official reports are that he tore his ACL along with a minor meniscus tear. The meniscus tear does not have any additional complications of the ACL rehab.
Looking at the timeline, it’s very reasonable to expect that Hall will be able to return to training camp in 2023. However, do not expect his return to form to be smooth. There are a variety of research articles out there showing the impact on performance declines post-injury in year one. They do regain some level of normalcy in years two and three, but by then, the team may want to move on from him.
Below is an interesting article regarding the production metrics following ACL tears in running backs. While it is fantasy focused, there is cross-over appeal in looking at the numbers in production following the injury.
OT Alijah Vera Tucker (Right elbow triceps tear)
Vera-Tucker’s season ended quietly with 9:58 left in the second quarter when he suffered what appeared to be a right tricep injury. On the video, the injury isn’t clear, but he attempts to block Baron Browning who makes a spin move inward before the camera moves away from the play as it follows the ball.
Looking at the replay, Vera-Tucker completes his block and then begins to reach for his right side in discomfort. He was initially questionable with an elbow injury before later being ruled out and later diagnosed with a torn tricep. A triceps tear occurs when the elbow is forcefully bent into flexion while trying to maintain elbow extension, overstressing the tendon and tearing.
Research indicates that he can return to play following surgery and rehab without issue. There isn’t any data to suggest that the quality of play suffers, but that may be hard to quantify performance in offensive and defensive linemen. Either way, the carousel of offensive tackles continues with each and every new injury.
RT Spencer Brown (Right ankle sprain)
Brown did not practice Wednesday or Thursday after suffering a right ankle sprain against the Chiefs in Week 6. By his own words, he had a bad sprain and was in a walking boot after the game.
While this appears to be a low ankle sprain, they still take some time to get fully recovered. Considering the position he plays at right tackle, he will need a quick step on the right side to keep his assignment outside. If his assignment moves inside, he will need to push off the right side to keep in front of his block.
Brown has already been struggling at times this season and having an injured ankle may allow for pressure to creep into the pocket. The Bills have plenty of depth available to them, give Brown another week to recover. Look for David Quessenbery to get the start this Sunday.
RB Taiwan Jones (Right knee)
Jones is once again back on the injury report with a knee designation prior to Week 6 against the Chiefs. At the time, he had kinesiotape on his left knee performing karaoke.
However, while biking on the Peloton, he had his right knee taped up with some black object on the outside portion of his knee as seen below.
Jones has had his share of knee injuries over the years and with him being a veteran, he is likely feeling the miles on his body. This appears to be a maintenance issue and he looks to be ready to play Sunday.
WR Jake Kumerow (Left high-ankle sprain)
Kumerow returned to practice this week after missing the last month of football due to a left high-ankle sprain against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3.
The ankle should be mostly healed and he should be able to produce on special teams. He may also get involved in the offense as needed against his former team, but I would expect that the Bills limit his snaps to avoid re-injury or ramp him back up too quickly.
CB Cam Lewis (Right forearm)
Lewis continues to show up on the injury report with a right forearm issue due to a chronic bone infection from an injury in college. He wears a protective brace over the area and is available to play as needed.
Top Photo Credit: The Phinsider