Week 15 Injury Watch: Mike Gesicki, Ronald Jones, James Conner
Kyle Trimble is a licensed physical therapist here to provide NFL injury analysis. Read his Week 15 Injury Watch, which includes a Mike Gesicki injury update.
Week 15 Injury Watch
Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins: Right shoulder injury
Gesicki injured his right shoulder as the result of attempting to brace his fall while hauling in a pass during the 4th quarter on Sunday. He immediately grabbed his shoulder in pain and was tended to by trainers. He left the game with his arm supported by training staff, tucked close to his body, not to return for the rest of the day.
The fear is that he suffered a shoulder subluxation or dislocation based on the video. While there is no confirmation yet, this could impact his availability for the remainder of the regular season. Shoulder subluxations are the result of the partial dislocation of the shoulder joint where dislocation is full separation to the joint typically requiring assistance to relocate the joint.
He could miss at least the next week to rehab the shoulder enough to play in Week 16 & 17 with a shoulder harness. According to research, with a subluxation, Gesicki could miss roughly 10 days with most athletes returning in 2-3 weeks. Once he returns, he may have some trouble going up to high point catches and block with that side without potentially causing further issues such as a recurrent subluxation/dislocation. This could be a big loss for a vital cog in Miami’s offense.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami Dolphins: Hamstring strain
Parker exited Sunday’s game with a leg injury later reported as a hamstring strain. He only played in 27 snaps as a result, and his status for Sunday is up in the air for Week 15 against the Patriots.
Parker played through a hamstring strain back in Week 2 against the Bills and did not appear to affect him, going for 5 receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown. It’s unknown whether this is the same hamstring from earlier in the season.
Parker may be forced into service as the Dolphins may also be without Jakeem Grant who is week-to-week with a hamstring strain. They are also still dealing with the loss of Preston Williams on IR, Myles Gaskin on the COVID/Reserve list, and potentially without Gesecki. This offense will have to get creative as the Dolphins attempt to keep their playoff hopes alive down the final stretch of the season.
Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Left 5th digit fracture
Jones suffered a 5th digit or pinkie fracture Sunday, specifically the left hand, and it has now been reported it will require surgery to stabilize the area. While Jones still has 3 functioning fingers and a thumb, the pinky fracture comes with a loss of strength on that affected side. According to research, a human derives 40 percent of their hand strength from the hypothenar eminence which is the pinky side of the hand.
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What this means is that Jones certainly cannot carry a football in his left hand due to a loss of 40 percent of his hand strength and recent surgery to the area. This also means he will not be able to catch a football effectively in the short term and may have trouble blocking.
I’d expect Jones to miss at least the next game to allow the bone and surgical site to heal up before attempting to return to play. For comparison, teammate Chris Godwin had a similar procedure earlier this season missing one game. Grab Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy and Ke’Shawn Vaughn, in that order, if you’re desperate.
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Quadriceps injury
Conner popped up on the injury report Tuesday with a quadriceps injury from Sunday’s loss to the Bills. Recently coming off the COVID/Reserve list missing two games could have contributed to this injury. Conner is a tough player, having played through an AC joint sprain and defeating cancer in his past, but a quadriceps injury may sideline him for a game or two.
With a game against the lowly Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, this would be an opportune time to rest Conner as the Steelers are locked into the playoffs. Conner requires the use of his quadriceps to drive forward in order to hit his gaps between the tackles effectively.
With a loss of explosiveness on the first step, this would render him difficult to trust in the interim. He may miss a game or at least be limited over the next two weeks if it is a Grade 1 strain according to research. Add in the Steelers already banged-up offensive line, this would be a good time to grab Anthony McFarland, Benny Snell Jr., or Jaylen Samuels if you need a quick replacement in fantasy.
Alex Smith, QB, Washington Football Team: Right calf strain
Normally a calf strain would not be concerning for a quarterback but in this case, this is noteworthy for Alex Smith. This is the same side that he suffered his horrific leg injury two years ago resulting in multiple surgeries and the loss of musculature in the area.
Simply put, Smith doesn’t have as much muscle to strain as a regular person anymore. Add in the fact that he has to wear an AFO brace to help lift his foot during walking/running, a calf strain could be problematic for Smith as the calf is required to push off during walking and running. The bottom portion of the brace also helps keep the foot in neutral which means it takes more effort to push off the leg to run, further working the already strained area. I would be concerned about his mobility in the pocket without the ability to scramble effectively.
Considering all that Smith has been through, it may be wise to sit this one out to get healthy if Washington maintains its hold atop the NFC East and enters the playoffs. Adjust your bets accordingly if Dwayne Haskins gets the start.
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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