Week 17 Injury Watch: Jared Goff, Terry McLaurin, Darrell Henderson

Kyle Trimble is a licensed physical therapist here to provide NFL injury analysis. Read his Week 17 Injury Watch, which includes looks at Jared Goff’s impending Week 17 absence, Terry McLaurin’s high-ankle sprain, and more major concerns.

Week 17 Injury Watch

Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams: Right thumb dislocation/fracture

With the Rams fighting for a playoff spot in Week 17, the thumb injury to Jared Goff could prove to be fatal. Goff reportedly dislocated and fractured his right thumb, on his throwing hand, popping it back in to finish the game. He later had surgery to repair the area Monday night and has already been ruled out for Week 17 with back up John Wolford to start.

Week 17 Injury Watch: Jared Goff's right thumb dislocation/fracture will keep him out for the final regular-season NFL weekend

Should the Rams win and clinch a playoff spot, Goff could feasibly return for the Wild Card round. The concern would be his ability to grip the football effectively due to residual pain and swelling. Several quarterbacks who have played through thumb fractures include Jameis Winston, Gardner Minshew, and Brett Favre. Looking at the immediate games after their fracture, their completion percentages dropped over the next 2 games though their overall effectiveness statistically did vary.

I would expect Goff to struggle with passing accuracy if the team makes the Wild Card round and to rely on the run game until his thumb can heal to better grip the ball.

If the Rams fail to beat the Cardinals Sunday, then this could be all for nothing.

Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team: High-ankle sprain

McLaurin originally suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 15 against Seattle, forcing him to miss Week 16’s loss to Seattle. While it isn’t clear which side he injured, playing through this injury is difficult.

Despite the injury, he is expected to suit up in Week 17 as the NFC East division title and a playoff spot are on the line.

Week 17 Injury Watch: Terry McLaurin's high-ankle sprain is one of the biggest concerns for the final NFL regular-season weekend.
Week 17 Injury Watch: Terry McLaurin’s high-ankle sprain is one of the biggest concerns for the final NFL regular-season weekend. (USA TODAY Sports)

McLaurin will likely lack explosive push-off and jumping with at times have difficulty pivoting off the affected ankle. He can still be effective but I do worry about his ability to create yards after the catch which may allow him to be more opportunistic in his targets. He could be a boom-or-bust player, but with the playoffs on the line, he risks his team’s season if he doesn’t attempt to play.

Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams: Left high-ankle sprain

After the Rams lost Cam Akers to a high-ankle sprain in Week 15, Darrell Henderson suffered the same injury in Week 16. He has since been placed on injured reserve and is forced to miss Week 17 and two playoff games. There are reports that Akers may suit up for Week 17, but coming off two weeks rest for a high ankle is no easy feat.

Look for Malcolm Brown and Xavier Jones to get the lion’s share of touches with Akers filling in as able if active. Henderson would be eligible to return to the roster for the NFC Championship game should the Rams advance that far.

Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts: Concussion

Pittman suffered a concussion in the loss to the Steelers that was confirmed Monday by head coach Frank Reich. As Pittman works through the league’s concussion protocol, there are questions about whether he will play in Week 17. Each concussion is different and this appears to be Pittman’s first documented concussion with no record going back to his time at USC.

Concussion timelines are impossible to predict with some players clearing protocol within a week to play. However, more often than not, most players miss the next game as they work through the protocol. Any clues to identify whether Pittman will play will be to watch if he is a limited or full participant during the week. This will indicate his progress through the protocol and may predict whether he gets cleared in time. If he is not cleared, look for Zach Pascal to get an increase in targets.

Kwon Alexander, LB, New Orleans Saints: Right Achilles’ tear

The strongside linebacker continues a string of major injuries that have impacted his availability over the past 3 seasons. After suffering an ACL tear in 2018, a torn pectoral muscle in 2019, and now a right Achilles’ tear in 2020 on Christmas Day.

New Orleans will certainly feel the loss of his playoff experience and contributions to the defense come January. He is under contract for 2021 with New Orleans, but expect his power rating and overall play to decrease when he returns for next season.

Kyle Trimble is a licensed physical therapist who also works as an injury spotter for Dr. David Chao. Kyle has extensive experience in outpatient orthopedics, skilled nursing, acute care hospital, and home care. He’s also a member of Bills Mafia and runs the website Banged Up Bills.

Disclaimer from Kyle: My opinions are my own. Any thoughts I have on the injuries are based on media reports, my knowledge of the injury, and speculation based on the information currently available including video and print media. This information is subject to change based on the information released by the team.

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