NFC Injury Roundup- Wildcard Style

Dr. Beth Sullivan | January 5th, 2020 

The NFL season is over. All 32 teams have battled for the last 17 weeks and 12 teams are still standing eight of which will meet this weekend for the annual winner take all wild card festivities. By Sunday night only four of the eight will be standing and ready to move into the divisional round. Injuries occur for all teams during the long NFL season, but how they manage the injuries can play a big role in how they fare in the playoffs. This week I will take a look at injuries that could play an impact for each team as they prepare for the upcoming wild weekend.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings ended the season in even better shape than the Bills since they had only four players on injured reserve. The only difference is the Bills had all their players on IR by the end of the second week of the season and the Vikings had players placed on IR throughout the season.

The Vikings had five players on their final injury report who were listed as full participants all week. These players included Jayron Kearse, Alexander Mattison, Xavier Rhodes, Dalvin Cook, and Shamar Stephen who given their ability to participate fully all week should be good to go come game time Sunday.

Mackensie Alexander Cornerback

Alexander was able to play through his knee ailment in week 17, however, he has been ruled out of the wild card game with the same knee issue. He was unable to practice all week and when questioned about the injury, Head Coach Mike Zimmer was not willing to discuss it and referred questions to the training staff, who conveniently weren’t made available for questions. Since he wasn’t placed on IR like Mike Hughes, there is obviously the hope that if the Vikings make it through to the divisional round, Alexander may be able to play later in the playoffs.

Eric Kendricks  Linebacker

Kendricks suffered a quad injury when the Vikings played the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football in week 16. He sat out week 17 and started the pre-wildcard week on the did not participate list and worked thru limited to finish the week on the full participation list. He is expected to play come Sunday.

Stephen Weatherly  Defensive End and Andrew Sendejo Safety

Weatherly and Sendejo missed the first two days of practice because of illness but were full participants by the end of the week. They should be good to go come Sunday as well.

Ifeadi Odenigbo  Defensive End

Odenigbo suffered a hamstring strain and was a limited participant all week in practice. Since muscle strains and sprains are interesting things, and this injury happened less than a week ago, I suspect his questionable status will become out if he still has discomfort or swelling. The risk of further injury is too great and Odenigbo has dealt with other injuries in his career and I’m sure the Vikings don’t want to make things worse. 

New Orleans Saints

The Saints finished the season with a whopping 14 players on injured reserve. That would derail lesser teams, but they persevered and are ready for their wildcard matchup with the Vikings. Four players started the week limited but finished with full participation and I expect all of them to play Sunday. These players include Vonn Bell, Marcus Williams, Michael Thomas, and Dwayne Washington. The other two players both have already been ruled out.

Eli Apple  Cornerback

Apple was carted off in their week 16 game with an ankle injury. Based on the available film, I suspect a high ankle sprain. Even a mild one means two to three weeks of recovery. He will be worth monitoring if the Saints manage to win in their game this week.

Zach Line  Fullback

Line missed 3 weeks earlier in the season with a knee injury, then returned to the field. Before the week 17 game, which he missed, he returned to the injury report with knee issues once again. He was unable to play in the season finale and was unable to practice all week. The exact nature of the injury isn’t clear, but he has been battling it all season. I suspect once the season is over it will be addressed. 

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles finished the regular season with 13 players on injured reserve. At times it seemed like their entire wide receiver room was injured. The Eagles had six players who were either did not participate or were limited in practice early in the week who finished the week as full participants. I expect all of them to play. These players include Miles Sanders, Derek Barnett, Fletcher Cox, Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox, and Jalen Mills

Nelson Agholor Wide Receiver

Agholor was initially injured in the Eagles week six game against the Vikings. The major issue has been swelling since that time. I suspect he suffered a cartilage injury that was made worse when he fell on the knee when he last played in the Eagles week 13 loss to the Dolphins. I expect he will need offseason surgery to try to fix this issue. The big concern is if there is significant cartilage injury, the swelling could be related to significant arthritis in that knee. 

Zach Ertz  Tight End

Ertz was listed as questionable on the final injury report. He suffered a rib and possible lacerated kidney in week 16. He was limited all week in practice and on Saturday word came that he had been cleared to play in the wild card game. What this means is he most likely suffered a kidney contusion rather than a kidney laceration, which has now resolved. Kidney injuries are something doctors are very careful with and since he has been cleared, I am sure there is no further risk to the contact associated with a football game.

Lane Johnson  Tackle

Johnson suffered a grade 2 high ankle sprain week 14. If you want to know what a grade 2 sprain is, I covered that in my article about ankle sprains here. A grade 2 sprain is normally a four to six week injury and returning before fully healed could lead to more serious injury. He has only been sidelined four weeks, and I suspect that if the Eagles move forward in the playoffs he might be available in a later round of the playoffs.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks ended the season with a staggering 18 players on injured reserve. This number includes four defensive backs, three tight ends, and three offensive linemen. Before the week 17 game, they even got a former player to rejoin the team by signing Marshawn Lynch to play running back.

Three players have been ruled out. Left tackle Duane Brown underwent minor surgery on his knee to remove excess fluid and is still not ready to return, wide receiver Malik Turner is still in the concussion protocol and linebacker Mychal Kendricks is out until sometime next season with a torn ACL and will undergo surgery to repair.

Jadeveon Clowney Defensive End

Clowney was able to play in the final game of the season and despite being a limited participant in practice this week he will play in the game this week. Clowney sustained a core muscle injury about halfway thru the season and recovery is a matter of allowing the body time to heal. He may need offseason surgery if he is still dealing with this once the season is over to fully correct the problem.

Quandre Diggs  Strong Safety

Diggs suffered a high ankle sprain in the Seahawks week 15 game and has been out of action since then. He was able to practice fully Thursday and Friday and is expected to be on the field for the wildcard game. This is right in the time frame for recovering from a grade one high ankle sprain.

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