Yesterday we broke down some of injuries to the AFC players in NFL Wild Card playoff games. But that was only the first half! Today we’re giving you the NFC player injury report so you’ll have the full breakdown heading into this weekend.
EAGLES V BUCANEERS
Miles Sanders (PHL) – RB – Fractured Hand – The starting running back from Philadelphia injured his hand Christmas week against our home team Giants. While we mostly hear about lower body injuries to skill position players, a hand injury can be just as devastating to a role dependent on ball handling and protection. Reports are that Sanders practiced this week in a limited capacity and it’s very possible he could return to the post-season in a protective brace or casting material. The Eagles will need all offensive weapons to take on the reigning Super Bowl champs.
Lavonte David (TB) – LB – Lisfranc Sprain – In a game most remembered for Tom Brady chucking a Surface tablet into the ground, let’s not forget that all-pro linebacker Lavonte David sustained a significant foot injury. It was reported that David had a Lisfranc sprain, a midfoot sprain that can be incredibly painful. Unlike an ankle sprain, a Lisfranc injury occurs when there is compromise to the ligaments connecting the small tarsal bones in the middle part of the foot. When these soft tissue structures are damaged it can affect the stability of the entire foot and ankle complex – stability that is essential attribute to a position requiring quick reflexes and cutting motions, like that of a linebacker such as David. While this injury does sometimes require surgery to fix, David reportedly practiced on Wednesday with intentions to play in Sunday’s afternoon matchup.
COWBOYS V 49ERS
Tony Pollard (DAL) – RB – Torn Plantar Fascia – Dallas’s number 2 back was injured on December 2 in the team’s win against the Saints. As those who have suffered from plantar fascia know, an injury to this soft tissue can be extremely painful. A plantar fascia rupture or tear is not very common, but usually occurs when there is an underlying issue and excessive load is applied to the tissue. In addition to being a painful injury, damage to the plantar fascia can also affect speed by hindering the ability to push off the forefoot and stability. While Pollard has been practicing for some time, we’ll see if he actually suits up this weekend. Dallas fans know a banged up Zeke could sure use the help.
Trent Williams (SF) – LT – Elbow Sprain – The starting left tackle was injured in Week 17 and did not end up playing in the 49ers season finale. It was reported that the 9-time Pro Bowler sustained an elbow sprain. Like we’ve discussed before, an elbow sprain is significant because of the stability the ligaments of the elbow provide. For a position like an offensive lineman, where there are extreme external forces placed on the joint, this type of injury could be very painful and the instability could affect overall function. Many times in this situation a lineman will wear a hinged elbow brace to help externally support the joint. Williams did not practice as of Wednesday, but the Niners are hopeful he’ll be suited up to protect Jimmy G and his sore thumb against a wicked Dallas D-line.
CARDINALS V RAMS
Jordan Fuller (LAR) – S – Ankle Injury – In the Prime-Time matchup of the NFC West champs against the NFC West runner-ups, the Rams will be missing starting safety and defensive captain, Jordan Fuller. Fuller injured his ankle in the finale game of the regular season that, according to head coach Sean McVay, may require surgery. While there was no further elaboration on what the ankle injury specifically is, we can assume that if it potentially requires surgery that it may be a fracture that requires plating or a full thickness tear of soft tissue requiring repair. It seems unlikely that anything less substantial would land a player on the IR.
JJ Watt (ARZ) – DE – Labrum/Rotator Cuff Tear – The 3-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has been missed since his Week 7 injury against former team, Houston. Rumor has it in that contest that he sustained a dislocated shoulder and reports later confirmed a torn labrum, rotator cuff and biceps tendon. Ouch. So, is it possible to return this quickly after an injury like that? It certainly will be challenging. Those structures all help to stabilize the shoulder joint, which is characteristically a very unstable joint. Damage to the soft tissue could lead to deficits in not only stability, but strength and function as well. The defensive lineman position is very dependent on the ability to swim and chop their arms past offensive players, so an injury like this is a major one. Promising for Cardinal fans, the 5-time Pro Bowler was at practice this week, albeit in a limited capacity. Even if he is only available for limited plays or personnel groups, Watt will be sure to bring a morale boost in the Prime-Time game.
Thanks for checking out our NFL Injury Report: Wild-Card Week edition! We hope you learned a little something and that we helped get you a little hyped up heading into this weekend.