Week 11 in the NFL featured a number of key injuries, highlighted by a trio of injuries to Broncos offensive starters. Here is SB Nation medical expert Dr. Ali Mohamadi's Monday morning injury update from the week so far:
Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos (ankle)
Denver's star tight end left early in yesterday's loss to St. Louis after suffering an ankle injury following a reception and did not return to action. Although initial X-rays were negative, Thomas is scheduled for an MRI on Monday to further evaluate the injury. If the results show a mild sprain, it is theoretically possible he could suit up next week against Miami; a high ankle sprain would almost certainly require multiple weeks of recovery. Outside of the MRI results, the amount of swelling and pain and the extent to which range of motion of the ankle joint is limited will determine how quickly Thomas is able to recover. In his absence, backup Jacob Tamme would see more time at TE.
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos (concussion)
Sanders, who has emerged as a favorite target of Peyton Manning this season, was removed in the third quarter against the Rams after suffering a concussion. The injury took place on a hit from St. Louis safety Rodney McLeod, and Sanders will have to pass neurological testing this week from the Denver medical staff in order to be cleared for practice and the team's Week 12 matchup with Miami.
Montee Ball, Denver Broncos (groin)
Ball, who had already missed five games due to a groin strain suffered in Denver's Week 5 win over Arizona, aggravated the injury during the loss to St. Louis yesterday and did not return to action. The Broncos RB will have an MRI today to assess the degree of the injury, which, if severe, could require several more weeks recuperating. With Ronnie Hillman already out with a foot injury, C.J. Anderson, who filled in yesterday after Ball left, is likely to get the start next week against the Dolphins.
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Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts (ankle)
The Colts RB left Lucas Oil Field last night on crutches and wearing a boot on his left ankle, and reports later confirmed it was fractured. Bradshaw injured the ankle on a goal-line run in the second half of the Colts' loss to New England last night, twisting the joint awkwardly while being tackled, and he was sent immediately to the locker room for further evaluation. In his absence, Trent Richardson's role will expand in the Indianapolis offense, which has struggled most of the season to muster a running game to complement Andrew Luck's aerial attack.
Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts (ankle)
Allen left in the second quarter of last night's game against the Patriots with an ankle injury of his own, which preliminarily has been diagnosed as a high ankle sprain. The term "high ankle sprain" is usually used to describe an injury to the syndesmotic ligaments of the ankle, which hold the lower ends of the tibia and fibula (lower leg bones) together. This injury occurs when the foot is rotated to an extreme degree at the ankle joint. Injuries to these ligaments are usually more serious than to other areas of the ankle, causing significant pain above the level of the joint, as well as difficulty bearing weight.
The severity of and prognosis for recovery for ankle sprains are often a source of confusion, primarily due to misunderstanding over what exactly the different "grades" of sprains actually mean. In brief:
- 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 (1-4 weeks recovery time).
- 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 (up to 8 weeks recovery).
- 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 (4-6 months recovery, with possible surgery required).
Allen will undergo an MRI today to determine the severity of the injury. In his absence, Coby Fleener, who surpassed 100 receiving yards last night against New England, will likely see more snaps at TE for the Colts.