The AFC East continues to be the toughest division in the NFL, hands down. With each team over a .600 winning percentage prior to Week 12, this puts every team within the division in a playoff spot except for the Jets who are sitting at the eighth seed.
I don’t believe that anyone would have thought this to be the case heading into the season, but a rising tide lifts all boats. The Buffalo Bills have been the top dog in the division since the arrival of Josh Allen while the Miami Dolphins are right behind with Tua Tagovailoa and crew, knocking on the division lead door.
The New England Patriots refuse to go down and relegate themselves to the basement even after losing most of their pieces from the glory years. Finally, the New York Jets have been able to not only compete but defeat several talented teams behind a young quarterback in Zach Wilson and a surging defense.
Below are the detailed injury reports for each AFC East team heading into Week 12.
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.
LB Tremaine Edmunds (Groin/heel)
Edmunds was ruled out Wednesday morning due to the groin aggravation sustained in the Week 10 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.
The team noted that he would be a long shot to play and if he wasn’t even close to being ready on Sunday, it wasn’t going to look good that he would suddenly be able to play Thursday. With the week off, I’d expect he has an excellent chance to play next Thursday.
DE Greg Rousseau (Left ankle)
Rousseau is still working back from his left high-ankle sprain suffered in Week 9 against the New York Jets. He has been unable to practice and is already ruled out for Thursday.
It’s possible that he could begin practicing next week and be ready to play against the Patriots in Week 13. If he still isn’t ready, then Week 14 against the Jets is more likely.
DE AJ Epenesa (Left ankle)
Epenesa has been given the rare “doubtful” designation by the team heading into Thursday. This comes courtesy of a left ankle injury that happened at some point during the first defensive series against the Browns on Sunday.
By video, it isn’t clear how he injured the ankle. He certainly was stressing the left ankle trying to cut off it at times trying to create sacks and tackles for loss early in the game. However, he limped off to be assessed by the training staff, given a questionable tag.
He sat on the bench, unable to even attempt to stay ready or test the ankle out before being downgraded to Out in the second half. He was unable to practice all week and the team even said that it would be a stretch for him to play Thursday. We may get more information on the severity of the ankle injury next week or how the injury actually occurred. It’s possible this injury could have been lingering since Week 9 when he briefly left against the Jets, holding the same ankle. Either way, doubtful players rarely play and this shouldn’t be any different.
C Mitch Morse (Right elbow/right ankle)
Morse is officially questionable despite not practicing all week due to what appeared to be a right ankle sprain suffered on the first offensive snap of the game. Morse began working backward to block when there were several bodies that cut underneath and behind him, taking out his feet. He was able to regain his footing before falling over, but he landed on the outside portion of his foot, causing his ankle to invert and sprain the low lateral ligaments of the ankle.
Rarely do players who don’t practice during the week play later in games. The only instance that I have found of that has been in the playoffs and those are entirely different circumstances, and rightly so. While Morse could very likely play on the ankle if he needed to, it would still make anchoring effectively pushing off the right side and cutting to the right more challenging. Due to the short week, even the toughest of veterans would struggle to be effective.
If Morse is unable to go and that appears to be the case, Ryan Bates would step up, leading someone else to take the guard position. This could be Greg Van Roten or David Quessenberry coming inside to keep the line intact.
QB Josh Allen (Right elbow)
Allen officially does not have a designation due to his elbow sprain back in Week 10. While he did not wear a brace during Tuesday’s practice, he did note that there was not going to be any contact with the area which allowed him to go without it. This doesn’t mean that he won’t be playing without it anytime soon.
He is still in that area where he can re-injure that elbow with a bad hit, but if the offensive line can keep him clean once more, then the risks begin to go down. I expect a lot of the same game plan again this week, short to intermediate throws along with the run game again until the team knows he can uncork it as he needs.
CB Kaiir Elam (Left ankle)
Elam is set to make his return from his left ankle injury back in Week 9 against the Jets. He was doubtful in Week 10 and missed before being questionable and still missing Week 11. Based on the video from Week 9, it appeared as though he was suffering from a low ankle sprain or mild bone bruise based on how he was forced to slow down suddenly, appearing to tweak the ankle.
Interestingly, a new report from Alaina Getzenberg of ESPN stated that Elam originally injured the same area back in Week 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers on the second defensive play.
Looking at that video, there does not appear to be any indication that he suffered an injury at that time. Without this report and context, those dots would have never been connected. Complicating matters was the fact that he was listed as having a foot after Week 5 and an ankle after Week 9. Either way, Elam is set to make his return in Week 12.
S Damar Hamlin (Neck)
Hamlin is set to play again despite a neck designation following Sunday’s win over the Browns. He played in 100 snaps which makes determining how and when he injured the area difficult. He does not appear to have any known history with his neck, but if this lingers or comes up again, there may be breadcrumbs of information to trace back what really is going on.
CB Cam Lewis (Right forearm)
Lewis continues to show up on the injury report with a right forearm designation due to a chronic bone infection from college. I still have been unable to find out how the bone infection affects his ability to perform each and every week.
OT David Quessenberry (Left ankle)
Quessenberry was a surprise addition to the injury report following the game Sunday, seen in a walking boot by reporters. He only appeared in special teams snaps, appearing to tweak his ankle on a field goal kick with two minutes left in the game.
He was limited on Monday before practicing in full on Tuesday and Wednesday, suggesting this is a minor issue. Quessenberry may see increased playing time Thursday due to the likely absence of Mitch Morse as well, further stressing the already injured ankle.
S Jordan Poyer (Left elbow)
Poyer practiced in full all week following his return to the field after missing two games with his left elbow injury sustained against the Green Bay Packers in Week 8. He was significantly limited in engaging with his assignment on the left side, having to lead with his right shoulder and wrap up tackles with the right side. The only time he could use his left side was to finish wrapping up a tackle and even then, it still wasn’t effective.
I expect Poyer to continue to be a defensive game-changer due to his presence and ability to prevent the offense from going deep. I do expect teams to challenge him in using his left side or forcing him out of position to create extra separation for any type of advantage. Poyer is still the best option at safety despite playing with essentially one arm, but he looks as though he will be gutting this out for the remainder of the season.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
OT Isaiah Wynn (Foot)
Wynn suffered a foot injury in the first half of the game over the Jets Sunday and was unable to return. Details of the injury are not available, but getting ruled immediately may impact his availability for next week against Buffalo.
C David Andrews (Thigh)
Andrews is dealing with a thigh injury that has the potential to be season-ending, but according to sources, he will attempt to play through the injury.
My initial thought is a deep thigh contusion that would prevent effective leg straightening, much less any running, but this one requires more information.
CB Marcus Jones (Ankle)
Jones suffered an ankle injury sometime in the second quarter of Sunday’s game and is officially questionable for Thursday against the Vikings.
OT Yodney Cajuste (Calf)
Cajuste is questionable after suffering a calf injury late in practice Wednesday, making him officially questionable for the game. While I would not normally expect him to play due to the late injury, he may be active due to Isaiah Wynn already being ruled out.
WR DeVante Parker (MCL sprain)
Parker has been working through a right MCL sprain suffered against the Jets in Week 8, missing the following game and then having the bye to recover. He was limited in practice all week and is officially questionable for the game. He was able to play in 40 percent of snaps last week.
LB Anfernee Jennings (Back)
Jennings appears on the injury report with a back designation again after the bye, limited Monday and Tuesday. He played in mostly special teams last week and has no designation heading into Thursday.
LB Josh Uche (Hamstring)
Uche has been working through a hamstring injury suffered prior to Week 6 in practice. He missed Weeks 7 and 8 before returning in Week 9. This was the first week that he does not have an injury designation heading into the game.
RB Raheem Mostert (Knee)
Mostert is officially doubtful for Sunday due to his lingering knee injury over the past few weeks. He did have an off-season procedure on his knee called autologous chondrocyte implantation. Unfortunately, he may still be having complications due to the continued degeneration of the knee. Being doubtful, I do not expect him to play, especially with the unknown weather conditions.
QB Teddy Bridgewater (Knee)
Bridgewater is still working through his knee injury that he suffered in practice prior to Week 10, forcing him to sit out against the Cleveland Browns. If he still can’t go, expect Skylar Thompson to see the backup role again.
OT Terron Armstead (Right toe)
Armstead continues to work through his right toe injury which is at least a turf toe with the potential for more including a plantar plate tear. He has played through the injury all season and this week’s appearance on the report does not change things. One update is that he is no longer dealing with a calf injury that was present on the report recently.
P Thomas Morstead (Illness)
Morstead is working through an illness, unable to practice Wednesday or Thursday. He was able to practice in full on Friday, signifying that he is recovered.
LB Jerome Baker (Hip)
Baker has been dealing with his hip injury that dates back to Week 7, but he is on and off the report suggesting that this is a lingering issue.
TE Tanner Conner (Knee/Back)
Conner has been on the injury report since the preseason with his knee injury and that has not changed. He picked up a back injury following the bye which makes determining the long-term prognosis difficult.
CB Keion Crossen (Shoulder)
Crossen suffered a shoulder injury in Week 10 and was questionable to return. Details of the injury are not available, but having the bye to recover likely allowed him to avoid missing any game time.
DT Raekwon Davis (Knee)
Davis continues to work through his knee issues dating back to the beginning of the season. He has had two separate injuries to both sides that have forced him to miss time at different periods this season. He most recently suffered a left knee injury in Week 8 but has been playing through the issue.
CB Kader Kohou (Thumb)
Minimal details are known about Kohou’s thumb injury, but he was able to practice in full this week suggesting that this was a minor issue.
TE Hunter Long (Concussion)
Long was still working through the concussion he sustained in Week 9, missing the following game. Having the bye week to fully recover from his concussion only benefited his health, practicing in full this week.
TE Durham Smythe (Hamstring)
Smythe has been working through a hamstring injury originally suffered in Week 5 causing him to miss the following game.
He has seen his workload slowly ramp up on special teams and back to offense recently, signifying his health has been improving.
WR Jaylen Waddle (Shoulder)
Waddle continues to work through a left shoulder injury sustained in Week 6 against the Minnesota Vikings. He is still likely working through an AC joint sprain, but with how he has performed of late, it has not affected him greatly.
NEW YORK JETS
DT Sheldon Rankins (Left elbow)
Rankins will miss his second consecutive game due to his left elbow dislocation suffered against the Buffalo Bills in Week 9. He is expected to miss at least another week or two and once he returns, he will play in a hinged elbow brace.
TE Kenny Yeboah (Calf)
Yeboah was a late addition to the injury report last week due to a calf designation, ultimately missing the game. He was unable to practice this week and is officially doubtful for the game, all but ruling him out for this week.
OT Duane Brown (Left shoulder)
Brown is officially questionable dealing with a left rotator cuff tear that forced him to injured reserve for the first four games of the season. He has not missed a snap since returning and I don’t expect that to change unless he aggravated the injury.
CB Ahmad Gardner (Calf)
Gardner showed up on the injury report with a calf designation which is usually a cause for concern for a defensive back. However, the rookie stated someone fell into him on Sunday suggesting more of a contusion versus strain. He does not have a gameday designation and will play Sunday.
G Nate Herbig (Shin)
Herbig had a shin injury that was expected to allow him to play last week but had a setback in warmups, causing him to miss the game. He was limited in practice this week for Wednesday and Thursday, practicing in full on Friday. He does not have a game-day designation indicating that he will play.
LB Quincy Williams (Ankle)
It’s not clear why Williams is back on the injury report, but this could be related to his left high-ankle sprain suffered back in late September. He was able to practice in full Friday after being limited Wednesday and Thursday.
WR Corey Davis (Knee)
Davis is set to return after missing the last three games with an MCL sprain. Overall, he missed four weeks as he recovered using the bye to his advantage.
He should be close to full health and be productive in the offense. However, head coach Robert Saleh stated that Denzel Mims would still see work in Davis’s place due to his earning more snaps recently.
Top Photo Credit: The Phinsider