Week 10 of the NFL season kicks off and the AFC East remains the only division with every team owning a winning record. With the New York Jets and New England Patriots on bye this week, even with losses for the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins, they would still all retain winning records heading into Week 11.
The Dolphins appear to be getting healthier with fewer players questionable and overall on the injury report as they begin their playoff push. Unfortunately, the Bills’ social media has been ablaze with the news surrounding Josh Allen’s right elbow injury, specifically a UCL sprain.
These types of injuries can alter the expectations for a team and alter what could be championship-caliber seasons.
Below are the detailed injury reports for each AFC East team heading into Week 10.
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.
TE Hunter Long (Concussion/Illness)
Long has been in the concussion protocol all week, unable to practice after sustaining the injury against the Bears in Week 9. He played in 12 total snaps, though it isn’t clear when he suffered the injury as there was not anything in the play-by-play box score. It’s very possible he could have had delayed symptoms, leading to the diagnosis.
OT Terron Armstead (Toe/Calf)
Armstead has been on the injury report with his right toe injury originally sustained in Week 1 before aggravating the issue in Week 6, missing the following game. He picked up an Achilles designation last week and played in 100 percent of snaps despite the issue.
That Achilles designation has switched to a calf issue suggesting that the injury may have worsened. At this point, if Armstead can play, I expect him to as he has been a steady presence on the offensive line.
TE Tanner Conner (Knee)
Conner has been dealing with the knee injury since preseason and his status has not overall changed other than his practice participation. At this point, this is a chronic issue that the team is managing.
OL Austin Jackson (Ankle/Calf)
Jackson continues to work back from his Week 1 ankle injury that necessitated an IR stay. After being doubtful last week and not playing, he was been upgraded to questionable with the same designation. Considering he hasn’t been able to get in a full practice since Week 1 strongly suggests that he will not play this week as he ramps his workload back up.
QB Teddy Bridgewater (Knee)
I can’t find anything on Bridgewater’s knee injury for this week. He has not played since Week 6, suggesting that he suffered the injury in practice. If he is unable to play, expect Skylar Thompson to get the backup QB role.
WR River Cracraft (Illness)
Carcraft has been working through an illness that has cost him the past two games after being a late addition to the injury report in Week 8. We haven’t heard of any positive COVID cases this season, at least from memory, but there are a variety of other illnesses that could have kept him down for the better part of two weeks. His limited status was more likely trying to slowly ramp him back up to a regular workload.
TE Durham Smythe (Hamstring)
After originally suffering a hamstring strain in Week 5, Smythe missed Week 6 before returning to play but has still at times been limited. He has no designation heading into Sunday and hopefully will see more offensive and special teams snaps.
DT Raekwon Davis (Knee)
Davis has been working through knee injuries all season with a right knee sprain early in the year followed by a left knee injury in Week 8. He was limited Wednesday and Friday but practiced in full on Thursday, later having no gameday designation.
DT Zach Sieler (Knee)
Sieler has been on the injury report with a hand designation since Week 4, but finds himself with a knee designation this week. He played in what appeared to be his normal number of snaps and did not have any in-game designations with an injury.
WR Jaylen Waddle (Shoulder)
Waddle continues to work through a left shoulder injury in Week 6 but this injury has not slowed him by any means. By video at the time of injury, it appeared that he suffered a left AC joint sprain that appears to get better every week.
DT Christian Wilkins (Hand)
Wilkins has been on the injury report for the last three weeks, not missing any games and playing in his full complement of snaps.
CB Byron Jones (Left ankle)
Jones has missed the entire season to this point following surgery to his left ankle/Achilles area back in March. At this point, I am at a loss as to what is going on with Jones with a recovery timeline that is stretching into its eighth month.
DE Greg Rousseau (Left high-ankle sprain)
Rousseau will miss this week’s game as he continues to work through his left high-ankle sprain sustained late in the second quarter of Sunday’s loss. Below is a better angle of the injury.
He has been declared week-to-week and was ruled out on Sunday. I would not expect him to play against the Browns and Lions and looking at how the schedule is, he has a shot to return against the New England Patriots if rehab goes well. I expect the team to rely on their depth and potentially call up Mike Love from the practice squad for an extra body at some point.
S Jordan Poyer (Left elbow)
The video below says it all. Jordan Poyer’s elbow injury is certainly more than “day-to-day”. He originally suffered the elbow injury in early August due to a hyperextension of the elbow, missing a majority of the preseason. He then suffered another injury to the area when his forearm hit Packers TE Robert Tonyan’s thigh last week.
He is now set to miss his second straight game and while it’s not clear what he’s dealing with, it’s certainly more significant than the team is letting on. In the video, you can see that the elbow likely cannot fully extend due to swelling. He also does not move it during running sprints up and down the sideline. That lack of movement would make tackling very difficult if he were to play.
He could have damaged the UCL despite stating that this injury is different from the training camp injury. There’s a possibility that he injured the attachment point where the flexor tendons meet at the medial epicondyle. This is the same area where the UCL attaches at. There could even be a nerve issue where the ulnar nerve passes through that could have been injured when he hit Tonyan.
Whatever the injury, he could miss further time through next week as the team allows him to rest and rehab the elbow. Despite losing Micah Hyde early in the season, Dean Marlowe’s signing may have also been insurance for Jordan Poyer looking at the situation with hindsight.
CB Kaiir Elam (Left ankle)
Elam is listed as doubtful, an overall rare designation on the injury report. This is due to a left ankle injury seen below.
By video, he appeared to roll his ankle, causing a lateral low ankle sprain. Considering how he had to slow down, trying to stop suddenly, there may be underlying damage if he jammed the ankle trying to stop. This could have caused a mild bone bruise, though speculative. According to the picture below, he did practice in a limited fashion, seen jumping in the air.
Whether this is a low ankle sprain or more, it appears that Wednesday’s practice aggravated the issue. He was unable to practice Thursday and Friday before being listed as doubtful. According to research I’ve done in the past, less than two percent of players who are listed as doubtful suit up; add Elam to the other 98 percent.
I suspect he is doubtful in the event that they can make him active if for some reason Tre’Davious White does not play. However, I believe White will make his season debut and take a portion of the snaps that Elam was seeing, splitting time with the other cornerbacks.
This is a near-perfect one-for-one exchange. Get the veteran that’s returning some snaps and give the rookie some rest without having to purposely eat into his snaps.
LB Tremaine Edmunds (Groin/Heel)
Edmunds’s injury is tricky. He appeared on the injury report last week with a heel designation and played in 100 percent of snaps the past two weeks. He then gets a groin designation, not practicing Wednesday or Thursday before a limited practice Friday.
The heel doesn’t worry me, it’s the groin issue. With the need to laterally move, start/stop suddenly, backpedal and swivel the hips to stay with his assignment, I don’t see how he can play effectively Sunday. The Bills have used Tyrel Dodson in the past as his backup who has performed adequately and they also have Matt Milano returning, softening the blow.
Hopefully, Edmunds can return next week against the Browns and help stop their powerful rushing attack and assist the defense in securing a win.
QB Josh Allen (Right elbow)
Officially questionable. That’s the designation that Josh Allen receives after getting a limited practice in on Friday. This comes after not practicing Wednesday or Thursday. I believe that there is gamesmanship afoot here and why not? If a team can gain any type of competitive advantage by making a team game plan for Allen, this takes away game planning for other players.
Social media has been ablaze on the status of QB1 throughout the week with a ton of speculative thoughts and updates throughout the week. On Tuesday, I published my article with my thoughts on the injury, suggesting a Grade 1 or 2 sprain and that he would miss three games. You can read about the anatomy, timeline, concerns, and more here.
Throughout the week, there have been little nuggets of information dropped here and there further supporting the Grade 2 designation.
Ian Rapoport came out on Monday, essentially stating that Allen’s injury was not season-ending based on the wording below.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen went further to state that the team is looking at the UCL and possible nerve issues. Those possible nerve issues would be the ulnar nerve in the area.
Ian Rapoport went further as to state that there was a “tiny tear” in the ligament on his Insiders podcast on Tuesday afternoon.
While a ligament sprain is technically a tear, there are grades of tears. Grade 1 is microscopic with local tenderness and no joint instability. Grade 2 is a partial tear and localized swelling and tenderness along with possible instability. This severity of the tear would be visible on imaging such as an MRI or ultrasound. Grade 3 is a severe sprain with significant tearing and instability within the joint.
Rapoport’s reports essentially ruled out Grade 3, leaving Grade 1 and 2 as a possibility. As he said there was a tiny tear, which suggested that it was visible on imaging, leading to the Grade 2 designation by process of elimination.
For further confirmation, noted injury analyst Will Carroll went further to state that the UCL has a 10 percent tear in his article below. He went further to say that the team does not have a timeline for the injury and will try to heal it without surgery. The quantifiable designation of the injury further supports the Grade 2 designation.
Allen missed four games last time with a very similar injury and I expected a similar timeline, especially with all the clues above. Grade 2 sprains need four-to-six weeks to get fully right, but Allen can return to play sooner as long as he gets some initial rest. Getting a Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injection as Will Carroll’s article stated will assist with ensuring a more complete ability to heal the ligament, but won’t necessarily speed up the ligament healing.
Finally, the images and video of Josh Allen sporting a brace and not throwing this week were to control for any aggravation to the joint. This also controlled for any swelling and pain which could slow down healing.
The team appears to be and should slow play this injury. The team can afford to allow him to rest against two NFC teams and the Browns. There are plenty of playmakers on the team and Case Keenum was brought in for the purpose of keeping the ship afloat if Allen were to miss time.
Championship teams have overcome injuries before, the tweet below supports that. While Allen is the engine that drives this team, he’s not the only reason for their success.
OT Spencer Brown (Right ankle)
Brown returns to the starting lineup after missing the last two games and three weeks overall since a right ankle sprain against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6.
Looking at the video above, he finally looked to be moving well and pushing off the right side effectively. In weeks prior, he was either not practicing or struggling to pivot off the right ankle during ladder drills and individual drills. He is still likely not 100 percent, but effective enough that he can play without being a liability.
CB Dane Jackson (Neck)
Jackson will play Sunday after suffering yet another neck injury observed in the video below.
By video, he suffered another stinger and this appears to be the third one for him this season, possibly fourth overall. These stingers this season are highly likely the result of that hit he took in Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans. Whatever issue he has in there is likely being managed conservatively but the reinjuries to the area are concerning to a degree.
I am hoping that he doesn’t have any further stingers this season and that he can heal and rest in the offseason.
CB Cam Lewis (Forearm)
Lewis continues to practice in full due to a chronic bone infection in his right forearm from a fracture in college.
LB Matt Milano (Oblique)
Milano does not have a gameday designation this week after suffering an oblique injury against the Packers in Week 8. He missed last week’s game against the Jets, once again showing how vital he is to the success of the defense.
While there is always a chance to reinjure the area, the Bills have been pretty good in not rushing guys back out there. They also don’t have guys lingering on the injury report with soft tissue injuries, trying to play through the issue and aggravating the injury.
C Mitch Morse (Vet Rest/Right elbow)
Morse continues to work through his right elbow injury sustained in Week 2, having no designation heading into the game.
OT David Quessenberry (Left groin)
Quessenberry was a surprise addition to the injury report this week with what appeared to be a left groin injury. Looking at the play below, it appeared to occur on the same play as the Josh Allen elbow injury.
He was limited on Wednesday before practicing in full on Thursday and Friday, suggesting that the injury is minor. I expect him to be in a reserve role now that Spencer Brown has returned, but hopefully the minimal playing time this week will allow him to continue healing.
G Rodger Saffold (Vet Rest/Back)
Saffold continues to use the veteran rest days as he should, being one of the more senior members of the roster. He does have a back designation but at no noted points in time during the game did he appear to injure himself. He was not limited during the week, suggesting that this may be more of a soreness issue, the result of a long season.
G Ike Boettger (Left Achilles)
Boettger finally made his return to the practice field after suffering a left Achilles tear in Week 16 last year. In the video below, he discusses his setback in his rehab but doesn’t get into exactly what happened. I had thought this setback happened sometime in May/June based on several social media pictures, but there is no way to confirm that.
Hopefully, he can continue to ramp up and be an available body in the future if further injuries occur.
WR Marquez Stevenson (Right ankle)
Stevenson continues his ramp-up from his right foot surgery in August seen below.
We don’t have the specifics of the injury, but at this point, a Jones fracture has to be a reasonable expectation considering the timeline. Stevenson looks good in running straight lines but very likely is not quite back to game shape. He would also require a wide receiver injury that would allow him to return to the active roster.
NEW YORK JETS
The New York Jets are on bye for Week 10.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The New England Patriots are on bye for Week 10.
Top Photo Credit: The Phinsider