NFL Week 15 – As teams are eliminated, they become more likely to place players on injured reserve with relatively minor injuries. Therefore, any injuries to eliminated teams will be listed under other injuries unless they are injuries to major players that are likely to affect the 2022 season.
Also, the NFL retained last season’s relaxed injured reserve rules for 2021, meaning that any player who is placed on injured reserve after the final roster cutdown day is eligible to return to practice after missing three weeks. As a result, we will continue to distinguish between players who will be placed on injured reserve (IR) and players who will likely miss the entire remainder of the season (Season).
Buccaneers Receiver Chris Godwin—ACL (Season)
Despite initial suggestions that Chris Godwin escaped with a sprained MCL, reports today confirm that the Buccaneers’ leading receiver tore his ACL against the Saints and will miss the rest of the season. This late in the year, he is also likely to miss at least the majority of the offseason program, and quite possibly the beginning of next season too. This is bad news for any player, but particularly rough for Godwin given that he is playing on the franchise tag this season. Fortunately for Tampa Bay, Antonio Brown is eligible to return from his suspension this week, but that will only mitigate rather than replace the loss of Godwin.
In addition, Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette both suffered hamstring injuries. Backs and receivers tend to have similar recovery timetables for hamstring injuries: a small majority of players miss at least one game, but only around 25% miss more than two. The Buccaneers need only one win in their last three games to clinch the NFC South, but they face a struggle to oust Green Bay and Dallas for the No. 1 seed. That means they may be best served by ensuring that their backs and receivers are as healthy as possible for the wild-card round by giving Evans and Fournette three weeks of rehab and recovery.
Giants Receiver Sterling Shepard—Achilles (Season)
The Giants have announced that wide receiver Sterling Shepard tore his Achilles against Dallas, which will end his season. This late in the year, the injury will almost certainly cause him to miss most of the team’s offseason program and very likely the beginning of the 2022 regular season too. Injuries had already limited Shepard to seven games heading into Week 15, though he led the team in yards per game during those seven appearances. He has now missed at least four games in four of the past five seasons, and he is quite likely to miss the opening six games of 2022.
Halfback Gary Brightwell injured his neck, but no further update is yet available.
The following players left their respective games with concussion symptoms and enter the league protocol:
- Bengals defensive lineman Khalid Abdullah
- Ravens cornerback Tavon Young
- Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth
Based on our current data, a growing majority of players now miss at least one game following a diagnosed concussion, but around 80% return within two weeks.
49ers rookie safety Talanoa Hufanga injured his knee against the Falcons and did not return, and fellow safety Jaquiski Tartt injured his ankle. Kyle Shanahan stated that neither injury is long-term, but both players have a chance to miss Week 16 because the 49ers play on Thursday night.
Bengals halfback Joe Mixon hurt his ankle against the Broncos, but he did return to play the final kneeldown snap. That suggests that the injury is not major, but practice participation will tell us more about his status for Week 16. Linebacker Joe Bachie, playing in place of the injured Logan Wilson, injured his knee and did not return, with unconfirmed reports suggesting that he may have suffered a significant knee injury. Guard Hakeem Adeniji injured his ankle but was able to return to the game.
Bills cornerback Dane Jackson left Sunday’s game with a stinger, which would not usually result in missed games.
Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was carted off and hospitalized overnight after suffering a head injury against the Bengals, but he had movement in all of his limbs and the admission was precautionary. Bridgewater already missed time earlier this season after being concussed in Week 4. Drew Lock is next in line to start if Bridgewater misses time again.
Cardinals defensive lineman Jordan Phillips left the game with a knee injury and receiver Rondale Moore injured his ankle. No update is yet public for either player.
Falcons receiver Tajae Sharpe left Sunday’s defeat to the 49ers with a foot injury.
Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins will miss the rest of the season after breaking his ankle on special teams duty against the Texans. Tackle Cam Robinson injured his neck and did not return.
Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams left with a shoulder injury for the second straight week. Head coach Robert Saleh confirmed that the injury was to the same shoulder but did not have more details after the game. Safety Elijah Riley was carted off with a neck injury, but Riley has been cleared to return home. There is no word on how much time, if any, either player will miss.
Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone was again forced out of a game by a shoulder injury against the Cardinals. Anzalone has had multiple shoulder surgeries during his career, and finished both 2017 and 2019 on injured reserve due to shoulder injuries, so this is more likely to be bad news for him than for other players. This is especially significant for the Lions, because fellow linebacker Josh Woods also left Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury. There is limited middle ground for his prospects: assuming this is not a major injury such as a dislocation or a torn labrum, Woods should be fine for Week 16. If it is either of those, his season will be over.
Panthers kicker Zane Gonzalez missed Sunday’s game after injuring his quad in warmups. Most thigh and quadriceps injuries to specialists cause at least a one-game absence, with around 40% of the injuries in our data causing long-term absences of up to nine weeks. However, this data is likely heavily impacted both by the previous injured reserve rules, which required at least an eight-week absence, and the ease of finding alternative kickers and punters. It is likely that Gonzalez will be able to return sooner than that, but it is also likely that he will miss at least one further game.
Ravens offensive lineman Tyre Phillips injured his knee against the Packers, but no update is yet available.
Titans receiver Julio Jones left Sunday’s defeat against the Steelers with a hamstring injury. Hamstring injuries to receivers usually cause at least one missed game, but only 25% of players who suffer them miss more than two. However, Jones has already missed several games this season with a hamstring injury, and only just returned from injured reserve. He is therefore more likely than most to miss time with what may be an aggravation of that existing injury.