Kelvin Benjamin WR, Panthers: knee injury
Seeing Kevin Benjamin leave with a left knee injury when his leg hyperflexed as he was tackled was a scary scene. The injury was to the same leg that he suffered a torn ACL in back in 2015. Initial tests were encouraging, and an MRI confirmed that there is no significant damage. Even though Benjamin avoided a season-ending injury, he could miss multiple weeks. A minor grade 1 ligament sprain comes with a 2-4 week Optimal Recovery Time.
Jordan Howard RB, Bears: AC sprain
Howard has been battling an AC sprain in his right shoulder, an injury he suffered in Week 1 while diving for the end zone. He played in Week 2 but re-aggravated the injury. A mild AC sprain can take 2-4 weeks to recover from, but by playing through it Howard will lengthen the recovery time. He was in and out of the game in Week 3 but had a great day, rushing for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Howard will likely continue to miss some practice time over the next few weeks but can play through the injury. It’s painful to do, and he is at an increased risk of getting injured again when he takes the field. This is an injury that often forces players to miss multiple weeks, but Howard will continue to tough it out.
Samaje Perine RB, Redskins: hand injury
Not only did Chris Thompson outplay Perine in his first ever start (replacing the injured Rob Kelley), but Perine also lost a fumble and injured his hand on the same play, ending his day. He was later seen wearing a wrap on the sideline. Perine will continue to be evaluated over the next few days and could be sent for an X-ray or an MRI if there is concern that he is dealing with a more serious injury, but for now it seems like a bruise. He should be back out on the field next Sunday, but he may take a back seat to Thompson and Rob Kelley (if he’s back).
Darren Sproles RB, Eagles: torn ACL and broken arm
The worst injury of the week goes to Darren Sproles, who suffered both a broken arm and a torn ACL on the same play. He will start with surgery on his arm on Monday then will later undergo surgery to repair the ACL tear. His season is over. Sproles had considered retirement after this year, but if he decides to return he could be ready to go by 2018 Week 1 as long as there is no additional ligament damage in his knee. His arm will take 8-12 weeks to heal following surgery.
Doug Baldwin WR, Seahawks: groin strain
Baldwin left with a groin injury on Sunday. While the team does not believe it is serious, they will send him for an MRI to confirm that there is no significant damage. It is unlikely that he is healthy enough to play and be effective in Week 4. A grade 1 (minor) groin strain comes with a 2-3 week Optimal Recovery Time, and he will be at a High Injury Risk if he does play next Sunday.
Matt Forte RB, Jets: toe injury
Forte was forced to leave the game in Week 3 with a toe injury and did not return. He was at an Elevated Injury Risk entering the game and has since moved to a High Injury Risk. If it ends up being just a soft tissue injury he could move back to Elevated Risk before next Sunday’s game, but keep in mind that toe injuries can be tricky for running backs.
Jesse James TE, Steelers: shoulder injury
James entered the Steelers’ game Sunday with an ankle injury that limited him at practice throughout the week and ended up leaving with a shoulder injury. He was able to re-enter the game but didn’t do much. James is an Elevated Injury Risk and will continue to fall into that category for the next few weeks. Neither injury is too concerning, but he needs a few weeks to get healthy.
Sammy Watkins WR, Rams: concussion
In the Thursday night game, Watkins left after taking a hit to the head. He is currently in concussion protocol. We will need to monitor his practice status this week, but with 10 days to recover it is possible he is cleared in time to play on Sunday against the Falcons. Recovery time following a concussion can never be predicted, so we can’t be confident in his return until he clears protocol. For now he is a High Risk player.
Tavon Austin WR, Rams: concussion
Like Watkins, Austin also left late in the Rams’ Thursday night game and was placed in concussion protocol. If he can return to practice in the next few days he has a chance to suit up against the Falcons.
Carlos Hyde RB, 49ers: hip injury
A hip injury forced Hyde out of the game in the first quarter, but he was able to return in the second. He finished with 84 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. As long as he can practice this week, he will remain a Low Injury Risk. For now this isn’t an injury to worry about.
Melvin Gordon RB, Chargers: knee injury
Gordon re-aggravated a previous knee injury in Sunday’s game, limiting him to just two carries after the half. He was limited Thursday and Friday at practice last week because of the knee injury and has a lengthy history of knee problems dating back to his college days. Last season he missed the final three games with a PCL sprain, and in 2015 his season ended early when he was forced to undergo microfracture surgery. This may not be more than a minor sprain, but considering his past problems it is best for Gordon to sit next week and allow time for his knee to heal.
Julio Jones WR, Falcons: back injury
Jones left the Falcons’ thrilling win over the Lions with a back injury and did not return to the game. He was hurt when he tried to stretch for extra yards after completing a catch late in the game. Coach Dan Quinn does not believe it is a serious injury, but backs are difficult to manage. Jones also said he would have come back into the game if needed, but that seems like a stretch considering he was grimacing in pain on the sideline. He proved his toughness playing through multiple ankle and foot injuries last season, so maybe he would have. But it wouldn’t have been a wise decision. Expect him to be limited at practice this week even if it is a minor injury.
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