Week 11 Injury Watch: Elite blockers on the mend


Kyle Trimble is a licensed physical therapist here to provide NFL injury analysis. Read his Week 11 Injury Watch.

Week 11 Injury Watch

Before we move into this week’s featured names, read about New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ rib and lung injuries.

Andrew Whitworth, LT, Los Angeles Rams: Left MCL, PCL knee injury

The veteran left tackle suffered a significant left knee injury in the 2nd quarter of LA’s Week 10 win over the Seattle Seahawks that required the cart to leave the game Sunday.

It was revealed that he suffered a Grade 3 MCL/PCL tear.

These are two out of four ligaments in the knee that provide stability to the joint. The MCL is on the inside portion of the knee and limits excessive valgus movement and the PCL limits the posterior movement of the tibia. Basically, this prevents the knee from buckling inward and backward.

Front and rear views of the knee joint (MedBullets)

Head coach Sean McVay stated that Whitworth will go on Injured Reserve in the interim and could be back in 6-to-8 weeks. The team has said he will not require surgery, which research has shown these injuries can heal with conservative interventions despite the damage.

The literature states that the PCL can heal in 2-to-4 weeks, but the MCL will take much longer, likely more than 6 weeks, which could put Whitworth’s return in jeopardy.

The best-case scenario is that he returns within the 6-week timeframe and returns for the regular-season finale against the NFC West-rival Arizona Cardinals. This is possible only because he has all the resources and time available to maximize recovery.

He could also return in time for the playoffs, but that is not a guarantee at the present time. Even when he comes back, I would expect his mobility to be limited especially with lateral and backward movements blocking defenders come off the edge.

Jared Goff better hope that Joe Noteboom can protect his blind side in the event that Whitworth can’t return or is delayed in his comeback.

PointsBet lists the Rams (+2000) as the ninth-strongest odds to win the Super Bowl, but this injury could crush them if they can’t hang with the Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks down the stretch without arguably one of the NFL’s best offensive linemen.

Nick Boyle, TE, Baltimore Ravens: Left knee multiligament damage

Boyle suffered a severe knee injury Sunday against the Patriots. This was the result of catching a pass before turning upfield before Patriots linebacker Terez Hall drilled his shoulder directly into his knee. The knee grotesquely bent, requiring immediate attention.

He has since been sent to IR with his season over though the team did not disclose which knee ligaments were torn. By video, it appears that he tore his MCL, ACL, possible meniscus along with the potential for other damage.

The rates for return to play vary, but overall, 64% of players who suffer multiligament damage return to play. Those with MCL and ACL tears have better outcomes with 70.8% returning to play within 305 days. Those with further damage such as PCL/LCL in addition to the ACL/MCL take on average 459 days and 609 days for frank dislocations. Recovery could take longer if there is nerve or vascular damage.

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Boyle can return from this injury, but considering the likely damage, he may not return until the end of next season or take all of 2021 to rest and rehab for 2022.

This was a gruesome injury that took out of the NFL’s best blocking tight ends; the Ravens’ already struggling offense and committee backfield that’s frustrating fantasy football managers could have more tough times ahead.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Carolina Panthers: Right MCL sprain

The Panthers signal-caller suffered a right knee injury Sunday that had fans holding their breath considering the amount of work that Bridgewater had to go through following his left knee injury while with the Vikings in 2016.

Fortunately, Bridgewater has no structural damage to the left knee with only a mild MCL sprain. These injuries can often be played through and he may wear a brace for stability. There is always a chance for further injury, but these injuries heal rather well without long term complications.

He appears to have escaped serious injury and can return to fight to get the Panthers to the playoffs. He is not a fantasy darling, but if he is someone that if you have to roll with in a deeper league, you can knowing he will be able to play.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: Right thumb sprain

Stafford suffered a right thumb injury during the win over the Washington Football Team Sunday which required treatment during the game to complete the comeback. It was revealed Tuesday that Stafford has a partially torn ligament in his thumb, otherwise known as a sprain. The expectations are that Stafford can battle through this injury and continue to start in order to keep the Lions in the playoff hunt.

This injury appears very similar to the one Drew Brees suffered last year.

The difference was that Brees’ injury was a complete tearing of the UCL ligament requiring surgery where the injury that Stafford has is a partial tear (sprain) and can heal on its own, likely the UCL as well.

The chief concern I have is that Stafford may have some difficulty gripping the ball, which in turn would affect his accuracy and ability to take snaps under center. He will have tape around the area for stability but I could see a possibility of the Lions leaning on the run game to limit Stafford’s throwing in order to reduce further injury.

If Stafford is struggling in practice Wednesday and Thursday with throwing passes, grab a waiver wire pickup as a backup plan. Stafford can and should play through this injury but there is concern that he may not be effective with his passes which makes him a risky start Sunday.

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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