Five Players Who Will Start the NFL Season With Lingering Injury Concerns
As Week 1 approaches, some injured players will be ready to go while others will start the year with lingering injury concerns. Here are five players (plus a few others) that come with quite a bit of risk and unanswered questions.
Sony Michel RB, Patriots
Sony Michel is a walking injury time-bomb. He’s dealt with an ACL tear, a shoulder injury, hand fracture, forearm fracture, other knee injuries and multiple ankle injuries. That’s a lot of problems for a guy who has never played a single snap in the NFL.
Michel’s knee was the biggest concern heading into his pro career, and just a week into the preseason he already underwent another “procedure.” It involved draining fluid and cleaning up loose bodies. While this typically is a minor surgery, it’s more concerning due to his history of knee problems. The Patriots initially reported he would miss “at least 10 days.”
Inside Injuries is showing a much longer six-week Optimal Recovery Time, which means he won’t be healthy until a few weeks into the regular season. He is expected to return to the practice field well before he hits that six-week mark, but he won’t be anywhere near 100%. His Injury Risk is currently High (25%), and with a Poor HPF (Health Performance Factor). He is not expected to play well any time in the near future. Michel relies on a deadly combination of strength and speed, and a knee injury will impact both of those things.
Alshon Jeffery WR, Eagles
Alshon Jeffery is in a race against the clock to be ready for Week 1, but our numbers show he won’t be anywhere near 100% if he does play in the season opener. The Eagles’ No. 1 wideout underwent shoulder surgery after their Super Bowl win. Recovery time from a rotator cuff tear is a minimum of 6 months, but it can take 9-12 months to get back to Peak Health. His Injury Risk, of course, remains very High.
There is certainly no guarantee that Jeffery will be ready Week 1, and playing in all 16 games seems like a long-shot. Jeffery played through the injury for much of last season and put up a solid season in his first campaign with the Eagles, catching nine touchdowns and finishing as a Top 20 fantasy receiver. The Eagles need to look out for his long-term health and not rush his recovery just to have him out there in September. He could even start the year on the PUP list, meaning he would miss the first six games.
D’Onta Foreman RB, Texans
Foreman landed on IR with a devastating Achilles tendon tear last season and continues to work his way back. This can be a tough injury to recover from, and some players never return to 100%. While Foreman has a shot to play in Week 1, it typically takes at least a year to get back to pre-injury form. He may deal with lingering symptoms that could force him to miss time, or at least hamper his speed and explosiveness on the field. His Injury Risk remains a concern at Elevated (23%), and his HPF is nowhere near Peak Performance.
DeVante Parker is week-to-week after suffering a middle finger fracture, but his injury concerns run deeper than that. He has dealt with various injuries over the past three years that have either hindered him on the field or held him out of games altogether.
While the Dolphins are expecting him to be out there Week 1, the Inside Injuries algorithm shows that he needs around 7 weeks for the fracture to fully heal. That means Parker won’t be anywhere near 100% for their season opener against the Titans.
Historically Parker hasn’t performed well when playing at less than 100%. Just look at last season, where he missed three games due to multiple ankle sprains. He ended the year with just 670 yards and one touchdown. It was incredibly disappointing for Dolphins fans and Fantasy owners alike. Now Parker will be starting the year off with an injury that isn’t going to be fully healed until late September.
Doug Baldwin WR, Seahawks
Reports out of Seattle are that Baldwin has been dealing with a “sore knee” since the start of training camp and could miss all of the preseason. At this point the Seahawks insist he will be ready for Week 1, but their tone very well could change the longer as this issue lingers for the star receiver. He has an Elevated Injury Risk, and we are concerned this knee issue could pop up again in the regular season. Last season Baldwin dealt with a groin strain that hampered him early on.
The Seahawks have also suggested this recent knee injury is a “maintenance issue,” which often times suggests surgery will eventually be necessary. If the symptoms linger, it’s possible he will need some sort of clean-up procedure.
Carson Wentz QB, Eagles
With each passing day, it’s looking more and more like Nick Foles will be under center for the Eagles in their Week 1 meeting with the Falcons. Carson Wentz is now eight months removed from an ACL and LCL tear, but we just don’t think he’ll be ready for a Week 1 return. It’s extremely unlikely that we see him at any point during the preseason, and he will need to see at least a week of full practice sessions before he’s game-ready. Because Wentz suffered additional ligament damage and not just as isolated ACL tear, we think it will be closer to the 9-10 month mark before he’s healthy enough to play. That means he’ll be ready early in the season, just maybe not Week 1. Even then he won’t be 100%.
Rashaad Penny RB, Seahawks: hand fracture
Penny is expected to miss 3-4 weeks following surgery on his hand to address a finger fracture. The Seahawks are planning to have him for Week 1, but our algorithm is showing that he needs seven weeks for the bone to heal. By returning before that mark, he will be at a high risk of suffering a setback. As a running back, ball security will be the biggest concern. Penny could play with a cast or brace on his hand. Chris Carson was already the frontrunner to be the Seahawks lead back. Now he will distance himself even more from the rookie because he won’t be available for any preseason games and will miss out on valuable practice reps.