Injuries to New England’s offense on the mend. Miami’s defense takes a major injury hit while their starting QB attempts to battle his way back in time for the playoffs.
New England Patriots
1. Danny Amendola (WR) – Amendola suffered what looked like a high ankle sprain 3 1/2 weeks ago fielding a punt against the Rams. He left the stadium that day on crutches in a walking boot. Today he made an appearance in the locker room during media availability and was not wearing a boot or brace and was walking without a limp. Looks like things are coming along. Given Malcolm Mitchell’s recent knee issues, it will be even more important to have Amendola back for the playoffs. Expect a gradual return to practice for Danny.
2. Malcolm Mitchell (WR) – As reported by Mike Reiss, ESPN, earlier today, Mitchell appeared to bang his right knee as he reeled in a pass from Brady. The film didn’t look concerning for a significant injury. However, Mitchell had his right ACL reconstructed in college in 2013. (He tore it celebrating a Todd Gurley 75 yard TD run – the two played together at Georgia) Less than a year later, Mitchell required a second surgery on his knee to deal with a meniscus tear. Reiss reported that Mitchell seemed to be in good spirits this week, so the hope is that the Patriots are just being cautious with what looked like a relatively minor injury to a joint with a major injury history.
3. Dont’a Hightower (LB) – Hightower has been dealing with a meniscus tear all season. Remember, a meniscus tear does not heal itself. He’s limited at practice this week after missing the Jets’ game last week. I think Hightower has been managing this injury all season and hope he continues to be able to play through it.
4. Tom Brady (QB) – After Belichick and Brady both made it clear that there was no plan to rest starters this week, Tom Brady took a rest from practice on Wednesday. He was listed with the thigh injury that has been plaguing him since he was hit by Kam Chancellor 6 1/2 weeks ago. I suspect Brady had a thigh contusion and it is common for this type of injury to linger in an athlete who continues to compete. Brady looked mobile in the Jets game – he had that crazy scramble that ended with a 28-yard completion to Edelman. I’m not worried about Brady’s thigh, it seems like he is managing it well.
3. Matthew Slater (WR/Special teams) – Slater’s recovery from a foot/ankle injury seems to be progressing every week. Hopefully he’ll be close to 100% for the post-season.
4. Martellus Bennett (TE) – Bennett is looking more mobile the last couple of weeks. He had appeared a bit beaten up by his series of high ankle injuries and shoulder injury. I hope this trend continues because having the big man in the end zone is a huge asset for the Patriots.
1. Ryan Tannehill (QB) – Tannehill was having a great season when he took a hit to his left knee almost 3 weeks ago. Initially it was feared that he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a very important stabilizing rubber band-like structure in the knee. MRI and physical examination during the next few days confirmed that the ACL was partially torn and the MCL had what sounds like a significant tear/avulsion (pulling away from the bone). He was initially treated with a long leg cast and was seen on the Dolphins practice field today walking around in a knee brace. An athlete can recover from a partial ACL and high grade MCL injury without surgery. Long-term stability of the ACL is something that will need to be monitored because many partial ACL tears go on to become full-thickness tears which require surgery. In the short-term, I think it is a stretch to assume that Tannehill will be back under center for the play-offs. If he is healthy enough to suit up and mobile enough to run, the Dolphins will have to ask themselves if they would rather play Matt Moore at (hopefully) 100% or Tannehill significantly limited.
2. Isa Abdul-Quddus (S) – Miami placed Abdul-Quddus on IR earlier this week for a neck injury that he sustained in last weekend’s game against Buffalo. He was a leader on Miami’s defense – second on the team in tackles with 77 and credited with 1 sack this season.
3. Jay Ajayi (RB) – The “angry” running back injured his left shoulder Christmas eve in their game against the Bills. It was reported as a mild AC joint injury. The team has been downplaying the injury all week although he has been limited in practice all week. We’ll have to see how much it affects his game this weekend but it sounds like he’s planning to play.
4. Byron Maxwell (CB) – The Dolphins’ #1 CB did not practice all week with an ankle injury and Miami defensive coordinator Vance Joseph confirmed Thursday that he will not play against the Patriots this weekend. He will likely be replaced in the lineup by rookie CB Xavien Howard.
5. Jelani Jenkins (LB) – The weakside linebacker will reportedly not play this weekend against the Patriots due to a knee injury.
(lead image credit to Matthew Healey/ UPI)
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