Sunday was one of the worst injury days we have seen in awhile, with AJ Green, Greg Olsen and James Conner all suffering injuries that will force them to miss time. In this week’s injury roundup, we break down their injuries along with some other players with projections on how much time they should miss and how the injuries will continue to affect them when they return.
A.J. Green WR, Bengals: toe surgery
The Bengals have placed A.J. Green on I.R. as he is set to undergo season-ending surgery on his big toe. Green went down in incredible pain on Sunday as he tried to push off to run a route. He aggravated his toe, the one that just forced him to miss five weeks of the season. Heading into the week 13 games Inside Injuries warned that his Injury Risk was still very High (27%) as this is an injury that is easily re-injured. He also missed over a month with turf toe in 2014, so this is a recurring problem.
Now Green will undergo surgery to repair ligament damage. While his projected recovery time is around 3-4 months, the Inside Injuries algorithm has calculated a 30 week Optimal Recovery Time. He could return and participate in some drills at OTAs, but his foot won’t be fully healed yet. Green should be ready to go by week 1 next season, but there could still be some lingering concerns as this is a very difficult injury, especially for a wide receiver.
Greg Olsen TE, Panthers: ruptured plantar fascia
2018 has turned into another lost season for Olsen. His injury troubles started last September when he suffered a Jones fracture. Olsen made a brief return in November but quickly aggravated his foot. He then suffered yet another fracture in September this season and return in just over a month. We warned that his Injury Risk would continue to be incredibly high, and unfortunately he is going to finish yet another season on I.R.
This time it isn’t a fracture, but it is a related injury. Olsen ruptured the plantar fascia in the same foot that he suffered all of his foot fractures. While it’s a different injury, it likely occurred because he altered his mechanics trying to compensate for his past injuries. Now he could need to undergo surgery if it was a complete tear. If surgery is necessary, he is looking at a 3-5 month recovery time. Even if he doesn’t need surgery, the recovery will take around 8 weeks. At this point in his career, Olsen has had so many foot injuries that it’s hard to see him bouncing back and returning as the player he was before the 2017 season. He should still be back next year, but plenty of concerns will remain.
James Conner RB, Steelers: high ankle sprain
There have been some conflicting reports coming out of Pittsburgh regarding James Conner as he appeared to suffer a classic high ankle sprain on Sunday night. So far we have heard that it’s a lower leg contusion (which tells me the bone isn’t fractured, but doesn’t directly address the possibility of ligament damage), it isn’t serious, and the injury isn’t to his ankle. A high ankle sprain is technically just above the ankle, so this could in a sense be true, but it should still be considered an ankle injury if he did indeed suffer a high ankle sprain.
High ankle sprains are generally more serious injuries than a standard ankle sprain. The Optimal Recovery Time can range from 4-7 weeks depending on the severity. If this is Conner’s injury, I suspect he will return before the season is over meaning he will be playing at less than 100%. His Risk of Re-Injury would also be very high.
Matt Breida RB, 49ers: aggravated ankle injury
While going through pregame warmups on Sunday, Breida aggravated the ankle that has plagued him all season. He decided to try to go (as he has done all year despite being far from 100%), but he struggled and wasn’t able to finish out the game. He left his fantasy owners wondering why he had just eight carries on the day. The news of his latest injury wasn’t released until after the game. He also appeared to aggravate his ankle once again on a long reception and didn’t play another snap the rest of the day.
Breida’s Overall Injury Risk will continue to be very high, as it has been all season. It currently sits at 26%, which is very concerning. Breida’s owners need to continue to have other RB options as he just can’t be trusted at this point, and the 49ers have already ruled him out for week 14. Had he taken 2-3 weeks off early in the season this wouldn’t have become a lingering issue. Because he keeps trying to play through these ankle sprains, he is continuing to make it worse. The ligaments in the ankle are stretched out, leaving him more susceptible to additional sprains.
Saquon Barkley RB, Giants: shoulder injury
Barkley left briefly in the fourth quarter, clearly in a lot of pain, when he landed awkwardly on his shoulder. When asked about his shoulder on Monday, Barkley said “Shoulder feels really good. Feel nothing.” Barkley has had a great rookie season, and this injury shouldn’t slow him down. He may miss some practice time this week, but come Sunday he won’t be affected. His Overall Injury Risk will just be slightly higher than it was heading into week 13.
Christian Kirk WR, Cardinals: foot fracture
Kirk is heading to injured reserve after suffering a foot fracture on Sunday. Kirk has been one of the few bright spots for the struggling Cardinals this season, but his rookie year will end with 43 receptions for 590 yards and three touchdowns. Foot fractures take a minimum of eight weeks to recover from and often come with lingering problems, so it’s actually good news for his long-term health that this injury occurred with just a month left in the season. There will be no reason for him to rush back as he will have the entire offseason to recover and slowly work his way back. Expect Kirk to make a full recovery ahead of the 2019 season.