Big Problem with Streater’s Big Toe

Analyzing Rod Streater’s Toe injury sustained during Preseason game 2.

As the preseason drags on, injuries continue to occur and further shape rosters ahead of cut down day on September 2nd. Some players are already assured roster spots, but others that need to still prove it or that are fringe players, every snap counts. One of these players that may still need to prove it is Rod Streater. Until last week’s game against the Eagles, Streater has had a solid camp, rebounding from a pair of foot injuries with Oakland that cost him sizable chunks of two seasons before regaining his footing with the 49ers last season. As Streater went undrafted coming out of Temple in 2012, he has had to fight every year for a roster spot. Seeing Streater go down with a toe injury in the 4th quarter certainly strikes a blow to his chances for a roster spot.

Today’s post will evaluate the possible injury Streater sustained in the Eagles game. I will also briefly assess any other injuries that occurred during the game, which was largely injury free Bills wise. Streater’s injury was by far the most notable injury to come out post game. Considering that later reports narrowed down the injury to a toe helped reduce the number of possible injuries significantly. Reports have indicated that he is not in a walking boot, not expected to miss any significant time, and is week-to-week.

Knowing the previously mentioned information, we can eliminate any fractures, dislocations, or any other possible areas of injury. While there are not any specific reports of the exact diagnosis, I can safely assume that Streater sustained a turf toe injury. A turf toe injury occurs when the big toe becomes injured, specifically hyperextended or bent back abruptly. This could occur during landing on the big toe, causing it to bend backwards and cause immediate pain. It was reported that he was dragged down to the turf following a catch in which the toe could have been caught, leading to the injury. As every other part of the body, each bone is connected to another bone via ligaments. An injury such as this could stretch out the ligaments supporting the big toe and create instability.

As a toe may seem insignificant when there are much greater injuries such as ACL tears, broken ribs, concussions; it is still vital to the overall function of the athlete. The big toe is vital to running due to this being the area that is pushing off the ground. If humans did not have a big toe, the running stance would be greatly altered. Try to walk without pushing off the big toe, very awkward in walking, nearly impossible in running. The toe also assists in balance stability during walking and standing, allowing us to stay upright compared to our four legged friends.

Having an unstable area that prevents pushing off limits the ability to run routes and sprint. Turf toe injuries can become a chronic problem if not managed correctly or if forced to return sooner than possible. Thankfully, Streater’s injury does force him to sit out, he will not miss any vital games. At this time, he would not be a candidate to be sent to IR, but would most likely be placed on the roster until he is fully ready to play. Considering he is week-to-week with a toe injury indicates that it may be a Grade II injury marked by moderate swelling, partial tearing of the structures around the toe, along with range of motion limitation and pain. To further differentiate between the severity of the injury, Grade I would be minimal swelling and bruising with some pain. Grade III would be significant swelling, total disruption of the surrounding structures of the toe, noted weakness during toe bending, and concurrent instability of the toe.

Surgery would only be indicated if there was an avulsion of the bone, any concurrent fractures, significant deformity, or failed conservative treatment, among other complications. As there are not reports that he is immediately having surgery, Streater will require rehab focusing on restoring range of motion to the toe, allowing pain and swelling to reduce. Once this has taken place, strengthening exercises will be performed, slowly loading the toe to build up strength and not cause further injury to the area. Once Streater is able to walk without any difficulty and report no exacerbation of symptoms, then he would be progressed to running, jumping, etc, eventually being cleared to return. Streater may also be fitted with a stiff soled shoe to limit extra stress on the toe during push off to reduce re-injury.

Expect Streater to miss the next 2 preseason games, at worst missing the first game in order to return to full health. As he is not considered to be more than a 3rd to 5th receiver, there are other players that can step up in the interim until Streater is ready to return. According to mock 53 man rosters, he is not on the bubble as some other players, but would benefit being healthy to ensure his spot and adequate playing time.

Other injuries to note coming out of the Eagles game, TE Jason Croom injured his ankle during the game and has since been placed on injured reserve. Also, S Trae Elston injured his hamstring, leaving towards the end of the game. There have not been any additional reports regarding Elston indicating that it is not serious. The Bills are halfway through the preseason with no major injuries. As a fan and professional, I do not recall a time when they did not suffer some type of major injury in the preseason. Looking at the past 2 preseasons under the Ryan/Whaley era, there had been 4 ACL tears in 2016, 1 in 2015 along with various other injuries including Sammy Watkins foot injury. This is a nice change of pace for the Bills and hopefully this trend continues. Most of the big name players will be out against the Ravens this Saturday, allowing those injured to continue resting and prevent new injuries from occurring. Continue to check back with new updates following the Ravens game.

Preseason Injury Breakdown- Part I

In depth analysis of the injuries occurring around the league. This article highlights areas of concern and injuries through the 1st preseason games.

Since Sunday’s post, every NFL team has played one preseason game. Depending on which fan base you speak to, it has either been a fantastic or horrible preseason. I’m willing to wager that those that rate their team’s preseason as horrible may be due to injury. If you’ve been following Twitter, ESPN, or local news, there’s been numerous reports about the significant injuries that have possibly derailed the regular season before it has even begun.

I have previously mentioned that I am focusing this blog on Buffalo Bills injuries. However, as I am a Physical Therapist, this allows me to expand as I wish into other areas of interest. Since the beginning of the preseason, I have been tracking nearly every injury that has occurred in camps around the NFL. Injuries that I deem worth tracking are ones that force a player to miss extended time, season ending, or placed on injured reserve. For my analysis, these injuries must have occurred during the preseason. Those that had off season injuries/surgeries or injuries from last year that are still recovering are not included in this analysis. This allows for a more specific time frame to be assessed. As of publication, I fully expect these numbers will change. Players will continue to get injured, waived, and reach injury settlements. My goal with this article is to highlight areas of interest and concern.

Of what has been publicly reported so far, there has been 119 players that have been either placed on injury reserve or expected to miss significant time. Of those 119 players, 26 have been released with injury settlements, allowing them to heal on their own time, get compensated, and seek out opportunities with other teams once they are cleared. If you would like additional information about the waived/injured status and process of injury settlements, please check out this article. Most of these injuries consist of hamstring pulls, ankle sprains, and unknown/undisclosed injuries. The most unique injuries of this group are a bruised lung and a Jones fracture, the same type of foot injury that sent Sammy Watkins packing to the Rams.

Of the 93 remaining players, 16 of these players have not been placed on injured reserve. These injuries consist of rather significant injuries consisting of various fractures and surgeries. These are injuries that the teams has deemed not appropriate to use the designated to return tag on injury reserve. If they used this tag, this would prevent the player from being cleared to play until at least Week 8. Considering that all NFL teams do not have to cut down rosters to 53 until September 2nd, there is incentive to allow these players to rehab and have them ready by Week 1.

This leaves 77 players whose seasons have ended before they even began. Think about that for a second, you have nearly a full roster and a half of NFL caliber players sitting on the sidelines recovering from injuries. Remember, the NFL has only played one preseason game so far. There are 32 teams in the NFL of 53 players on each active roster equating to 1,696 players. With the already injured players, you could add a 33rd team without difficulty if these players were healthy. Most of these teams have been in camp for only 3 weeks. While that is sinking in, I will continue to break down the injuries.

One of the highlighted injuries we see too often is ACL tears. Highlights of the mechanism of injury have been previously highlighted in my Reggie Ragland post. Already, we have seen 18 ACL tears and this is not stopping. Of all of the tears, 16 have been reported as ACL only, 1 reported as ACL, MCL, and 1 reported as ACL, MCL, PCL. Looking back at the past two years of training camp, 2016 training camp totals saw 16 ACL tears and 2015 training camp totals saw 15 ACL tears. At this rate, it would realistic to see the final number for this preseason reach the mid 20’s, possibly even equal the past two years combined. Of the 18 tears, 11 are defensive players, 5 are offensive players, and 1 special teams player.

One area that has improved so far is Achilles’ tears. To date, there have been 3 Achilles’ tears, compared to 6 in 2016 and 7 in 2015. Of the Achilles’ tears, 2 are defensive players, 1 is offensive. Breaking down the rest of the injuries briefly, several injuries of concern consist of spinal injuries which include lumbar and cervical complaints. Other injuries include torn hamstrings, pectoral tears, sports hernias, wrist dislocation/fractures, concussion, or undisclosed.

This is just a small sample size of what we as fans are seeing. There may be even more that have not been publicly disclosed yet or details still emerging. The NFL still has just over 3 weeks until Week 1 kickoff. I can tell you with the utmost certainty that these types of injuries will continue to occur. I expect some types of these injuries to decline as players continue to improve their conditioning and skills required for their position. I also expect these injuries to occur occasionally at practice and but with a higher frequency in preseason games. We have already seen stars such as Ryan Tannehill go down for the season during practice. I expect to see several other bigger name players go down for some time. Assume that players on the roster bubble to be the bulk of the serious injuries that remain. Several veterans have been injured, but of the 119 players injured so far, 98 of these players have 3 years or less NFL experience, which is the typical length of an NFL career.

Finally, I will take a brief look at teams who have been hit hard by the injury bug versus those that have mostly escaped major injury. Of the 32 teams, several have been hit quite hard. Leading the count with 8 players significantly injured or on IR are the 49ers, Dolphins, and Ravens. Following behind with 7 players are the Colts, Jets and Jaguars. Next with 5 players are the Chargers, Chiefs, Lions, and Redskins. The rest of the teams have 4 or less on IR. Two teams that I want to specifically highlight are the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots. The Buffalo Bills have only had 1 player be placed on injury reserve so far; Keith Towbridge with a foot injury. As much as I hate to state this, the New England Patriots are the only team that I have found to not have anyone seriously injured during this year’s training camp.

While I am a Physical Therapist and could continue to go down the rabbit hole with these injuries, I will save my commentary for future blog posts. Take these numbers for what they’re worth. Football is a rough sport, these statistics prove it. I would like to give credit to NFL Trade Rumors, Spotrac, and ESPN for providing the raw data and updates necessary for this post. As a fan and professional, I hope that the injuries for the Bills continue to occur at a minimum, allowing them to go into the season with the depth required to be successful. Continue to check back for future posts updating these stats along with further analysis of specific injuries.

Football Is Back!

Breaking down the Bills performance and noted injuries after the first preseason game.

Football is back! The Buffalo Bills played the Minnesota Vikings last night in a 7 pm tilt at New Era Field to a 17-10 loss where we were able to finally see the McDermott era begin. While this is preseason and there isn’t much to take away from this first game, we do get to see who is ready for game time action and how some of the new acquired pieces are fitting together. While I did not watch the entire game, I was impressed with what the first team units were able to produce. Eddie Yarbrough was solid in his debut in a Bills uniform, constantly pressuring the QB and recording a solid sack filling in for the injured Shaq Lawson, out with a groin injury. Nathan Peterman moved the offense along and got the team back into contention with his first passing TD to Dez Lewis towards the end, though came up short. The running game continues to remain a strong focus of the offense, looking especially effective with Jonathan Williams and Mike Tolbert barreling through the line picking up solid yardage. Tyrod Taylor looked excellent getting the ball to Sammy Watkins, who showed no hitch in his step hauling in several catches before his day was done.

But Dr. Trimble, you stated this would be a blog about Buffalo Bills football injuries? Indeed it is reader! I would like to note that the Bills got through this game without any significant injuries. Prior to the game, it was reported that Shaq Lawson, Cordy Glenn, Kevon Seymour, Jeremy Butler, and Ryan Davis would be held out due to a variety of ailments, none that I expect are long term issues. Lawson, Glenn, and Seymour held out as a precaution; Butler and Davis still currently in the concussion protocol.

Thankfully, no serious injuries or concerns were noted for the Bills during the post game. Injuries to note were Tyrod Taylor exiting the game early to be evaluated by the training staff and quickly returning to the game. Also reported was Jonathan Williams exiting the game with a hamstring injury which was described as “very minor”. Expect Williams to either sit out a practice or two at most, but not to miss any extended time or even the next game based on current analysis.

The final player to leave the game for the Bills was LB Tanner Vallejo, the team’s 2017 6th round draft pick, with a shoulder injury. It is currently unknown which play injured Vallejo. As he was deemed questionable and then downgraded to out signifies that it is not a serious injury. Quite possibly, Vallejo landed hard on his shoulder during a play, leading to a slight AC sprain, which if not addressed right away, can worsen with continued play. With it being a preseason game, there wasn’t any incentive to put him back in and cause further injury. I expect Vallejo to possibly sit out several practices and restrict direct contact for the time being. At worst, he will miss a game as a precaution, but I do not expect this injury to keep him sidelined for long.

Unlike the Dolphins and Jets, who have sustained significant and long term injuries to key players, the Bills have not been bitten by the injury bug so far this training camp. As a Bills fan, I find that I am an eternal optimist with the team expectations at the beginning of each season. However, I do expect some guys to get banged up or miss some time. The NFL is a rough sport, players will get hurt. If this first game was any indication, things are looking good. Performances like this will allow the Bills to minimize injuries going into the season opener with the starters healthy and finally having the depth they’ve lacked on the roster for several years.