Inside Injuries was founded by an orthopedic radiologist, Dr. Anand Lalaji (aka Dr. A), who contributes to all of our injury write-ups. Dr. A put together a team of doctors and data scientists to create an algorithm to evaluate the impact that injuries have on a player. This algorithm powers all of our analysis and determines each player’s Injury Risk, Health Performance Factor and Optimal Recovery Time. This isn’t just made up numbers and data. It’s based on years of medical experience and historical injury research and has proven to be incredibly accurate in determining how injuries will impact a player’s performance and risk of future injuries.
Here’s a quick description of terms from our injury algorithm:
- IRC = Injury Risk Category (Low, Elevated, High) — the overall likelihood a player will get injured
- HPF = Health Performance Factor (Peak, Above Average, Below Average, Poor) — our metric to predict player performance
- ORT = Optimal Recovery Time — the amount of time a player needs to fully recover from an injury (not the same as how much time they will actually miss)
Any idea on any of the Chiefs? I heard they aren’t worried about Travis Kelce/Tyreek Hill, but what about CEH? — Dominic C.
Tyreek Hill suffered a right heel injury during warmups ahead of the Week 18 game and was used sparingly, playing just twelve snaps. It was visibly bothering him during the game, and he shouldn’t have even been out there. This is something that has reportedly bothered him in the past, too. I’m not optimistic that he will be fully recovered by the weekend, and our algorithm has a pretty negative outlook for the wild card round. Hill’s Injury Risk remains High while his HPF is Below Average. I could see him having a full workload, but he won’t be as effective due to the heel injury.
Travis Kelce suffered a mild hip injury, but I’m not too concerned. He was able to get in a full practice on Wednesday to start off the week and shouldn’t have any limitations.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been sidelined since suffering an AC sprain in Week 16. An AC sprain indicates damage to ligaments in the acromioclavicular joint where the scapula and collarbone meet. It’s a fairly common injury for running backs, and Edwards-Helaire’s is moderate in severity, according to our algorithm. CEH will reach his Optimal Recovery Time this weekend but will still come with a High Injury Risk. This is an injury that is easy to aggravate as it is often caused by a fall directly on the outside of the shoulder. There’s really no way to avoid this as a running back getting tackled many times throughout the game. Edwards-Helaire was able to start the week off with a limited practice but then wasn’t seen at the open portion of practice Thursday. This mid-week downgrade would make him very questionable for the weekend.
Adding to their offensive concerns is the big toe injury to Darrel Williams. This could be turf toe, and these don’t heal in a few weeks, even the mild ones. He was able to get in a limited practice on Wednesday and will try to play this weekend, but I don’t have much confidence in his ability to both play well and make it through the game without a setback. I would expect to see much more CEH than Williams on Sunday.
Do you expect Derrick Henry to be at or near 100% health for Titans’ playoff run? — Jonathan J.
I don’t see him being 100% at any point in the postseason, but he has reached that critical 10-week mark following surgery for a Jones fracture. The rate of refracture drops significantly once this mark is reached, but his Injury Risk remains High (35%).
Now for some good news: According to our algorithm, his HPF (Health Performance Factor — our metric to predict player performance based on health) has improved to Above Average (78%), bordering on the Peak category. An almost healthy Derrick Henry is better than just about any other running back, so he could be heavily involved and have a big impact on the game. This may not be the Derrick Henry of 2020 and early 2021, but he should be pretty darn good.
How serious do you think Jimmy Garoppolo’s thumb injury is and will he need more injections? — Anthony C.
Garoppolo really surprised me with his Week 18 performance. His thumb injury is significant and could ultimately require surgery, but for now he will play through it. Garoppolo is dealing with an avulsion fracture and a partial tear to the UCL. An avulsion fracture means a little piece of bone is pulled off, and this alone isn’t a huge deal, although it can be very painful. The torn UCL is a big deal. The UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) is crucial for stability and is important for gripping the football. It’s not surprising that Jimmy G threw two interceptions and had trouble holding onto the football a few different times last Sunday given his injury diagnosis.
An injection is generally helpful to minimize pain, but the numbness can also make it impossible to grip the football. It’s a delicate balance. We don’t know for certain if Garoppolo received one before the last week’s game, but I suspect he didn’t as there isn’t a good way to get an injection in the thumb without it significantly impacting functionality. I’m sure that whatever Garoppolo did ahead of Week 18 he will do again, as it clearly helped. Garoppolo isn’t going to be fully recovered during the playoffs, no matter how deep the 49ers go. This is a significant tear that is not likely to heal well on its own, even if Garoppolo has the entire offseason to rest and rehab.
Do you think Cam Akers can be 100% in the playoffs after an injury which normally ruins running backs’ careers? — Peter R.
Akers definitely won’t be 100% in the playoffs, and I don’t even think he will be 100% next season. We went into detail on his injury in last week’s mailbag. Achilles injuries are no longer as scary as they once were, but there aren’t many examples of players who were able to come back and perform at near pre-injury level.
In his first game back in Week 18, Akers had five carries for three yards. Not a great day, but he didn’t seem to suffer any setbacks, which is the most important thing. The Rams may give him more opportunities throughout the playoffs, but realistically he is going to be missing that burst that running backs need to be successful. A 9-12 month timeline is normal for a return to the field, and Akers is still months away from that. Even after a year, most athletes don’t have the same explosiveness.
Travis Etienne suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury back in training camp. I have heard it noted that Lisfranc injuries can be particularly harmful for the careers of running backs. Is there any word on Travis Etienne’s recovery, and is it clear what the long-term implications are yet? — John H.
Etienne suffered a Lisfranc injury that required surgery back in August. The Lisfranc joint is located in the arch of the foot where the mid-foot or arch (tarsal bones) and forefoot (metatarsal bones) meet. It is a complex joint consisting of both bones and ligaments. Etienne’s injury was a significant ligament tear in that joint. This leads to the bones widening and even dislocating, which isn’t good. This joint is impacted any time a player goes to transfer weight from the heel to the toe, so it is crucial for essentially every movement a football player makes — running, cutting, jumping, pushing off to burst through a hole or break a tackle.
The tear was large enough that it required surgery to repair. It’s the best decision for Etienne’s long-term health, but these serious Lisfranc injuries tend to have a very negative impact on the career of NFL players, especially skill players. Etienne should be approaching full recovery and may even have a normal offseason, but this will have a lasting impact into the 2022 season and beyond. Barring a setback, he should be ready to go by Week 1, but severe Lisfranc injuries historically have not been kind to football players. I’m expecting a dip in his performance next season. We also see chronic issues like osteoarthritis, stiffness and weakness in the foot following serious Lisfranc injuries that could impact Etienne’s career.
(Top photo: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Source : https://theathletic.com/3069427/2022/01/14/derrick-henry-tyreek-hill-clyde-edwards-helaire-and-the-nfls-biggest-injury-questions-heading-into-wild-card-weekend/1736