As the holidays approach, the playoff races heat up with three AFC East games over the next four days, leading to a lot of action within the division.
The New York Jets kick things off Thursday hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars as they continue to fight for a playoff spot, currently sitting two spots out from the final playoff seed as of publication Wednesday. The Buffalo Bills head out to face the Chicago Bears in what expects to be a messy, cold game with the playoffs locked up, but the AFC East title is within reach.
The New England Patriots square off against the Cincinnati Bengals with a Patriots win throwing the AFC playoff picture into disarray. Finally, the Miami Dolphins wrap things up against an upstart Green Bay Packers on Christmas Day. Every game matters and the outcomes will cause several teams to sink or swim late in December.
Below are the detailed injury reports for each AFC East team heading into Week 16.
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
QB Mike White (Ribs)
After taking punishing hit after punishing hit from the Bills in Week 14, White suffered three broken ribs on both sides of his trunk. He sought out the medical opinions of 10 different doctors, trying to find one that would clear him.
This week, he continued to get tests and other treatment in order to find a way to play, but he will miss his second consecutive game. Had it not been a short week, he would have had an outside shot at playing, but if the Jets struggle under Zach Wilson, White may get another opportunity late in the season, potentially as soon as Week 17.
CB Brandin Echols (Quad)
Echols missed the Week 15 matchup against the Detroit Lions after suffering a quadriceps injury sometime in Week 14 against the Buffalo Bills.
He was unable to practice all last week and this week, ruling him out once again. He did have a similar injury last year that cost him three games last year. We may see a similar timeline again.
WR Denzel Mims (Concussion)
Mims exited the game with 4:24 left in the first quarter due to a knee to the back of the head while being tackled. This came after a 13-yard catch, his only on the day.
He was down for several moments as the training staff tended to him before he was able to walk off under his own power. He will be out for Week 16, but due to the mini-bye, he could potentially return in Week 17.
WR Jeff Smith (Knee)
Smith suffered a knee injury sometime in the second half of Sunday’s game after putting up a season-high in yardage before exiting. He was unable to practice all week and will miss Thursday’s game due to the short week.
S Lamarcus Joyner (Hip)
Joyner has been on and off the injury report this season due to a hip issue at different times during the season. He first appeared on the injury report with the hip designation prior to Week 9 and then later again in Week 14.
The veteran was a late addition to the injury report Saturday with a hip, later inactive for the game against the Lions. It’s not clear what the exact issue is, but it’s been enough of an issue that it has limited his ability to practice and more recently, play in games.
DT Quinnen Williams (Left calf)
Williams suffered a left calf strain against the Buffalo Bills in Week 14 midway through the second quarter, ending his day early. Prior to that, he was on a tear having already collected two sacks.
He was questionable heading into Week 15 against the Detroit Lions but ultimately did not play. That in itself was not a surprise, but if he had played, he could have been a true difference-maker. The calf injury appears to have healed well enough that he is in line to play Thursday, though there is a high chance of re-injury, especially at the defensive tackle position pushing forward against so much resistance from the offensive lineman.
The Jets still have a shot at the postseason and with Williams set to return, he could provide the spark needed to get over the finish line.
RB Zonovan Knight (Ankle)
Knight showed up on the injury report late with an ankle injury, appearing to suffer it in practice Wednesday, though still able to record a full practice. Considering he finished practice, this suggests that he would be able to play but may be limited to cutting toward the side of the affected ankle.
OT Duane Brown (Left shoulder)
Brown has been on the injury report all season with a rotator cuff tear in his left shoulder. He has been a huge anchor for them since returning in Week 5 from injured reserve, not missing a snap.
WR Corey Davis (Concussion)
Davis is set to return after missing one game due to a concussion suffered in the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills in Week 14. He appeared to clear the protocol on Tuesday, getting a full practice in and having no game-day designation.
OT George Fant (Knee)
Fant continues to work through a knee injury that saw him go on injured reserve earlier this season, ultimately costing him eight games. By this point, this is a management issue, trying to limit his workload during the week to be ready Sundays.
C Mitch Morse (Concussion)
To no surprise, Morse has been ruled out with a concussion following Saturday’s game. To recall, he suffered the concussion with 14:38 left in the 3rd quarter on a block around the end. He collided face mask to face mask with his block and then was in for one more play before coming out on fourth down.
He was evaluated for a head injury and later diagnosed with a concussion, the sixth of his career. It appears as though the Bills are treating this concussion as any other one prior. There is an obvious concern for his health, but we have to assume the Bills have some level of comfort in his health having inked him to an extension back in March.
He will need to pass through the five-stage protocol before returning which could be as soon as Week 17 or it could be several weeks. This is simply a wait-and-see approach.
DE Boogie Basham (Calf)
Basham has been ruled out after suffering a calf injury at some point in the Dolphins game Saturday. It’s not clear when he suffered the injury, but he did not play at all in the fourth quarter and there weren’t any plays where he came up limping.
Hopefully this week off plus the few extra days prior to Monday night in Week 17 will allow him to heal. It takes 17.4 days on average for a player to return to play following a calf injury when looking at NFL players.
DT Ed Oliver (Calf)
Oliver popped up on the injury report with a calf designation Wednesday after having no designation the day prior. This suggests that he suffered the injury in practice, causing him to miss at least one rep.
The hope is that it was more precautionary due to the cold this week and making sure he was fresh for Saturday. With the playoffs looming and poor footing expected on Saturday due to the snow, I don’t see how Oliver could play effectively or at least not run the risk of missing bigger matchups such as Cincinnati next week.
DT Jordan Phillips (Right shoulder)
Phillips returned to practice this week as a limited participant after suffering a right shoulder injury back in Week 13 against the New England Patriots. By video, he appeared to suffer either a subluxation or dislocation when he fell with his arm outstretched trying to chase down QB Mac Jones.
He was not able to practice the last two weeks as he rehabbed out of view of the team. It’s not clear if Phillips was wearing a harness as he wore long sleeves on Tuesday and a winter coat Wednesday. If Ed Oliver cannot go, then the chances for Phillips to play increase. Of the two, I would expect Phillips more likely to play, but I can see a scenario where they hold Phillips out one more week to be fully ready the next.
QB Josh Allen (Right elbow)
Allen was limited on Wednesday with a sore right elbow that he continues to require treatment on from his sprain in Week 9.
He went further into stating that the training staff limited him which allowed his elbow to feel really good the following day.
By now, it’s known that his elbow injury is more in the management stage. He was able to practice in full on Wednesday and Thursday but is starting to look like his normal self again which might come at the cost of some maintenance days to get rest when he can.
G Ryan Bates (Right ankle)
Bates appears on the mend after suffering a right medial ankle sprain against the New York Jets in Week 14. This was the result of getting rolled up at the goal line on the Josh Allen touchdown run.
He missed last week’s game against the Miami Dolphins and is still not likely 100 percent. He will be pressed into service due to Mitch Morse being ruled out due to his concussion last week. Having the whole week to get in sync with Josh Allen should only help the efficiency of the offense.
DE AJ Epenesa (Left elbow)
Epenesa has been able to practice in full all week with a left elbow injury that happened sometime in the third quarter on Saturday. He required some medical attention on the sidelines and later returned with a black elbow wrap to finish the game.
He was spotted wearing it again at practice this week and likely for the game. I don’t see any bracing in the area that may suggest needing stability for a sprain nor was there a noticeable mechanism for that. He could be dealing with a muscle strain in the elbow or forearm.
With the absence of Basham, Epenes will likely see an uptick in snaps Saturday.
CB Cam Lewis (Right forearm)
Lewis’s status has not changed all year, practicing in full with a bone infection in his forearm from a fracture in college. The team either must be frequently monitoring the area or getting some type of treatment to keep things stable.
LB Matt Milano (Left knee)
Milano continues to work through the left knee injury originally sustained early against the New England Patriots in Week 13. While thought to be a bad contusion at first, this injury has lingered longer than I would have thought by this point. There is a multitude of possibilities that he could be dealing with, making a more precise injury hard to pinpoint.
However, he has not missed any time and has continued to perform exceptionally well despite the injury. Considering how long the season is, these players need treatment and rest more than anything. If they need any additional time in the training room, then so be it.
S Jordan Poyer (Knee)
Poyer put a scare into the fan base when he did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday due to banging his knee last Saturday.
It’s not clear when he banged the knee, but he was able to play in 100 percent of defensive snaps and several special teams. Poyer has been a warrior this season, playing through numerous injuries. I don’t expect this one to keep him out.
G Rodger Saffold (Knee)
Saffold appeared on the injury report with a vet rest day and knee designation Tuesday. He returned to full practice the rest of the week. The veteran offensive lineman has a lot of miles on him so to see him need a rest day along with a minor injury that required some treatment is of no surprise.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
LS Joe Cardona (Ankle)
Cardona, the Patriots’ long snapper since 2015 has been ruled out with a season-ending ankle injury. According to the tweet below, he suffered a partial tear to a tendon in his foot before playing through the injury.
This snaps a 140-game playing streak and forces the Patriots to bring up Tucker Addington to take his place.
As the musculature within the foot and ankle is vast, it’s difficult to state what tendon he tore. Considering the tweet says foot while the injury report says ankle suggests one of the tendons on the medial or lateral aspect of the ankle.
CB Jalen Mills (Groin)
Mills will miss his fourth consecutive game after suffering a groin injury in Week 12. It’s not clear how severe the injury is, but I am beginning to suspect that this injury is far greater than the team is letting on.
He may be possibly trying to rehab enough to return to play, but I do not think it will be functional by that point. It would not shock me if he required surgery at some point in the off-season for a procedure such as a core muscle repair.
WR DeVante Parker (Concussion)
Parker is still working through a concussion sustained in Week 15 against the Arizona Cardinals. He was unable to practice at all last week and this week, suggesting that he has not yet returned to baseline or gets symptoms with exercise.
Everyone responds differently to concussions and it remains to be seen how long Parker will be out.
RB Damien Harris (Left thigh)
Harris has missed the last three games following a left thigh injury in Week 12. He appeared on the mend last week and was potentially ready to play. But he was held out once more. Either he is still having pain with activity or not all the details are exposed as to the exact nature of the injury. This has been a confusing injury to monitor throughout the duration of this timeline.
CB Jack Jones (Knee)
Jones stated that he was working through a bruised knee last week ultimately missing the Week 15 contest against the Las Vegas Raiders. He was limited all week and appears to be a true questionable regarding whether he can play.
CB Jonathan Jones (Chest)
Jones was added to the injury report Wednesday with a chest injury, suggesting the injury occurred in practice. This could be anywhere from bruised ribs or a pectoral strain or more if he expects to play. There are other possibilities such as broken ribs or costal cartilage, but without details, it is hard to determine the exact injury he has at this point.
WR Jakobi Meyers (Shoulder)
Meyers still appears to be working through a right AC joint sprain suffered against the Minnesota Vikings several weeks ago. Over the last two weeks, he was working through a concussion, taking precedence. He played last week after passing through the concussion protocol which further suggests that he will play Sunday.
RB Rhamondre Stevenson (Left ankle)
Stevenson somehow managed to play and play well last week despite suffering a left high-ankle sprain against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15. I initially believed that he would miss last week and at least this game as he recovered, but either he is tougher than what he is given credit for or he managed to suffer a medial ankle sprain at the time. Either way, since he played last week, I don’t see how he wouldn’t be able to suit up this week.
WR Tyquan Thornton (Knee)
Thornton appeared to suffer a knee injury in practice, showing up on the injury report Wednesday. Without additional details, it is difficult to identify what he is working through.
OT Yodny Cajuste (Calf/back)
Cajuste continues to practice in full with a calf injury originally sustained in practice prior to Week 12. He has been able to play through the injury despite picking up a back injury as well.
WR River Cracraft (Calf)
Cracraft has missed the last two games due to a calf injury suffered late in practice prior to Week 14. He was unable to practice all week yet again, likely missing his third consecutive game.
OT Eric Fisher (Calf)
Shortly after signing with the Dolphins prior to last week, Fisher appears to have suffered an acclimation injury after not playing at all since last year with the Colts. Officially doubtful, he is unlikely to play.
RB Myles Gaskin (Illness)
Gaskin did not practice Friday due to illness, leaving him questionable.
LB Jaelan Phillips (Toe)
Phillips shows up on the injury report with a toe injury following the game against the Bills. He did not have any in-game designations or show up in the play-by-play to identify the type of injury he suffered.
He was limited all week, leaving him questionable for the game. Without additional details, it’s difficult to determine whether he plays. My bet is that he tries to gut through this one.
DE Bradley Chubb (Knee)
Chubb made an appearance on the injury report with a knee designation on Thursday after not being on there the day prior. According to multiple sources, he appeared fine suggesting he may have simply missed reps, leaving him limited.
He is officially questionable after limited practices Thursday and Friday.
OT Terron Armstead (Right toe/Left pectoral/knee)
Armstead has been working through a right toe injury all year, a left pectoral injury sustained against the Houston Texans, and more recently a knee injury. Despite all of this, he was still voted to the Pro Bowl, impressive considering the injuries.
He has frequently missed multiple practices during the season but played in all but two games. I do not expect that to change especially with every win vitally important towards securing a playoff spot. I expect that Armstead will be getting surgery at some point this off-season, but until then, he has shown he’s worth the free-agent contract he signed in the off-season.
RB Jeff Wilson Jr. (Right hip)
Wilson missed last week’s game against the Bills with a right hip injury sustained against the Chargers. This was the result of getting tackled awkwardly going down to the turf, appearing to jam the hip. He likely suffered a hip sprain but would have struggled in the snow with poor footing had he played.
He was limited all week until Friday, officially questionable. He is likely still not 100 percent but could pair with Raheem Mostert to get the running game going against the Green Bay Packers.
S Eric Rowe (Hamstring)
Rowe missed last week’s contest against the Buffalo Bills due to a hamstring strain suffered in the second half of the Los Angeles Chargers game. He was limited this week and it may come down to how he feels warming up on game day.
S Jevon Holland (Neck)
Holland suffered a neck injury late in the second quarter, initially questionable to return. He was able to return later with a neck roll as a preventative measure but he did state that it did limit his ability to turn his neck.
According to him, he suffered a stinger or as he called it, a zinger. These are usually minor and brief in nature, but can also show an underlying issue if they occur frequently. Hopefully, this is a one-off issue but Holland will play despite not practicing Wednesday and being a limited participant on Thursday.
CB Keion Crossen (Left Knee)
Crossen suffered a left knee injury on a punt return with 13:06 left in the first quarter when Bills FB Reggie Gilliam was pushed after the play was over. He was unable to stop his forward momentum and his legs hit the outside portion of Crossen’s left leg, causing his feet to come out from under him. He was initially questionable to return but eventually did.
LB Duke Riley (Ribs)
Virtually nothing is available regarding Riley’s injuries other than the designation. He was limited Wednesday and Thursday before a full practice suggesting that he may have bruised ribs. He could play through them with an injection on gameday if that is the case.
TE Durham Smythe (Quad)
Smythe has been working through a quad injury originally suffered in Week 14 and had been dealing with a knee injury prior to that. He continues to see most of his normal playing time as a blocking tight end. It’s not clear if this is a strain or contusion as this was not observed on film, but he appears to have still been effective.
QB Teddy Bridgewater (Knee)
Bridgewater has been working through a chronic knee issue possibly related to his traumatic ACL tear when he was with the Minnesota Vikings. He has not been active since Week 6 and has been on the game-day inactive list, giving backup duties to Skylar Thompson.
CB Elijah Campbell (Concussion)
After missing last week’s game due to a concussion sustained in the second half against the Chargers. He was able to practice in full all week indicating that he has cleared protocol and will play Sunday.
CB Kader Kohou (Right thumb)
Kohou has been on the injury report with a right thumb injury since Week 11, playing every game. He continues to see nearly 100 percent of snaps despite the injury.
Top Photo Credit: Phinsider.com