SB Nation's medical expert, Dr. Ali Mohamadi, takes a look at the injuries suffered in Week 9.
There were only a few major injuries from Sunday's NFL action, with several players, most notably Oakland running back Darren McFadden, leaving their games due to ankle sprains. While Raiders fans hold their breath pending further tests scheduled for Monday, here is information on McFadden and other key injuries suffered in Sunday’s games:
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders (ankle)
McFadden twisted his left ankle while attempting to escape a tackle in the first half of the Raiders’ loss to Tampa Bay and did not return to action. While initial signs were reassuring – he was able to make it off the field under his own power and jog to the locker room, and initial X-rays were negative – further testing on Monday, including an MRI, will help determine McFadden’s prognosis for recovery from what sources out of Oakland are speculating may be a high ankle sprain.
The recovery time for ankle injuries is notoriously slow due to the complex nature of the joint itself. A high ankle sprain involves injury to the syndesmotic ligaments of the ankle, which are responsible for holding the lower ends of the tibia and fibula (lower leg bones) together. Injuries to these ligaments are usually more serious than to other areas of the ankle, causing significant pain and difficulty bearing weight. The severity of and prognosis for recovery from ankle sprains are often a source of confusion, primarily due to misunderstanding over what exactly the different "grades" of sprains actually mean.
• A Grade 1 sprain is a mild sprain that occurs when there is slight stretching and some damage to the fibers of the ligament. Individuals can usually place pressure on the foot and walk afterward.
• A Grade 2 sprain is a moderate sprain where a partial tearing of the ligament occurs. If the ankle joint is examined and moved in certain ways, abnormal looseness (laxity) of the ankle joint occurs.
• A Grade 3 sprain is a severe sprain in which a complete tear of the ligament occurs. If the examiner pulls or pushes on the ankle joint in certain movements, gross instability occurs.
If in fact McFadden suffered a high ankle sprain, it is likely to be a Grade 1 sprain, which could require anywhere from one to four weeks of recovery time; a Grade 2 or 3 sprain, in which there is some degree of looseness of the ankle joint, could take longer and even require surgery if the tear is complete. While early signs were positive for McFadden, Monday's MRI will help determine whether he will miss next week's game at Baltimore, or more.
The second in this week’s triumvirate of ankle injuries occurred to the Steelers’ speedy receiver, who left Sunday's win over the New York Giants late in the first quarter after tangling feet with defenders on a long pass from Ben Roethlisberger. Brown was able to make it to the sideline under his own power, but was in a significant amount of pain when being evaluated by the team’s medical staff, and he did not return to action. If he is unable to suit up next Monday night against Kansas City, Emmanuel Sanders is likely to see additional reps at wide receiver.
Nelson, who suited up for the Packers on Sunday against Arizona despite a lingering hamstring injury, caught his right foot in the turf while attempting to catch a pass from Aaron Rodgers in the first quarter, twisting his ankle. The Green Bay wide receiver received treatment with ice on the sidelines before being taken back to the team’s locker room, and he did not return to the game. The Packers have a wealth of talent at wide receiver even without Nelson, as Randall Cobb and James Jones combined for three touchdowns through the air Sunday. Nelson will be able to rest this upcoming week, as Green Bay has a bye before taking the field against the Detroit Lions in Week 11.
Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers (hamstring)
The Green Bay linebacker injured his hamstring while attempting to sack Arizona quarterback John Skelton early in the third quarter of the Packers’ 31-17 win Sunday, and he did not return to action. While it is unclear how severe the injury is, hamstring injuries are notoriously slow to heal and prone to aggravation if the athlete returns to full competition before complete recovery. Matthews will have an extra week to recuperate, with the Packers benefiting from a bye in Week 10.