(Photo credit to Mike Giardi )
New England Patriots
Danny Amendola (WR) was limited in practice yesterday with a high ankle sprain after being a full participant last week. He played a limited number of snaps last weekend in the Divisional round. I don’t think this is a major setback for a high ankle injury that happened over a month ago. It does not surprise me that he might be slightly more sore after Saturday’s game or that they are somewhat resting him early in the week as a precaution. Best guess is that he’ll be as available as they need him to be on Sunday. He’s a high-pressure 3rd or 4th down kind of receiver and if his number is called against the Steelers I don’t expect that his ankle will hold him back.
Martellus Bennett (TE) I held my breath when I saw Marty come down awkwardly on his left knee on Saturday.
On the video view from the side, his knee appears to simply hyperextend (straighten too much). This injury pattern can cause bruising of the knee bones but typically does NOT cause dreaded injury to the ACL. On the somewhat obstructed camera view from the front there is the slightest suggestion of the knee twisting and buckling which initially concerned me about his ACL. My most educated guess on him is that his injury looked awful but is most likely a bone contusion. If he had an ACL injury he would not be practicing so I think he got lucky/trained his body and nerves to not buckle. (This may be another case of kudos to the Patriots strength and conditioning team – proprioceptive training can help the body to reflexively avoid certain positions and prevent injuries). Bottom line – I think Marty/Luke Cage plays this weekend.
Brandon Bolden (RB) – Bolden appeared on the injury report yesterday as limited with a knee injury. It is unclear when his knee issue started. Earlier in the season, in October, Brandon sustained what looked like a left MCL sprain.
Bolden missed one game with that injury. It’s unclear if his most recent knee issues are related.
Dont’a Hightower (LB) showed up on the injury report with a new injury yesterday. He was limited in practice with a shoulder injury. I have no news to report on this one so pay attention to the Boston reporters this week – they may have some inside scoop to share. He’s limited, though – not out of practice – and it’s a win or go home kind of week. Hopeful he’ll be fine because his services will DEFINITELY be needed with shifty, patient Le’Veon Bell on the field.
Chris Hogan (WR) appeared to strain his thigh during the division game on Saturday. Brady was running the hell out of his receivers, chucking long balls left and right. Since it’s not his typical style of play it doesn’t surprise me that one of his receivers ended up with a thigh strain. Hogan was seen being stretched on the sideline and eventually left the game. Afterwards, Hogan remarked that his thigh injury was minor and that he could have returned to the game if he was needed. He was listed as limited in practice yesterday with a thigh injury. Sounds like the receiver is not worried about the injury and neither am I.
Malcolm Mitchell (WR) The Pats need this guy back at 100%. With Bennett somewhat limited and Amendola potentially limited too much of the workload can fall on the shoulders of Edelman. Malcolm is such a dynamic receiver and having him back could really open up the offense for the Pats. 4 weeks ago, Mitchell seemed to bang his right knee reeling in a pass. He has had two surgeries on his right knee. In college he tore his ACL in celebrating a touchdown and required an ACL reconstruction with a second surgery for a meniscus injury. I suspect that the Patriots have been keeping him out as a precaution because of these injuries, but it has been 4wks – longer than I would have expected. We’ll have to keep an eye on this injury in the post-season because it may require another scope. For now, though, he’s back at practice and Jeff Howe of the Boston Globe reports that there is some optimism that he’ll play this weekend.
Jabaal Sheard (DL) was injured in Saturday’s game when he almost took out Devin McCourty on this play. (The guy’s voice on the video is my friend Brett who was trying to play Sports Doc…his analysis of “see that dude whacks his knee on that dude…ooooh….” is one not to be missed)
Sheard strikes his right knee/thigh on McCourty (who thankfully was unharmed). This injury looks similar to Brady’s thigh contusion. I don’t think it’s a major structural knee injury. Haven’t heard how he’s walking but I can’t imagine Sheard will be limited by this injury come game time.
FOUR of the Steelers – Chris Boswell (K), B.J. Finney (C), Darrius Heyward-Bay (WR), and Zach Mettenberger (QB) – were out of practice yesterday with was is being reported as the “stomach bug.” That generally implies vomiting and diarrhea and it seems like schools everywhere are experiencing outbreaks right now. Common “stomach bugs” include rotavirus and norovirus, viruses which notoriously spread easily and rapidly. Since they are viruses they cannot be treated with antibiotics. Treatment involves hydration, rest, and isolation from other teammates. Rotavirus and norovirus are transmitted by fecal-oral route. This means if you touch something that has the poop or saliva of someone who is infected and then touch your mouth or food or mouthguard then you can get infected. THIS IS WHY YOUR MOTHERS TELL YOU TO WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER YOU POOP, PEOPLE!!!! The Patriots have done an excellent job this season keeping ill athletes away from the facility. Hopefully they’re masters at handwashing as well.
Le’Veon Bell (RB) and Ben Roethlisberger (QB) were out of practice for non-injury-related reasons. During AFC Championship week. No big deal.
Ladarius Green (TE) returned to practice on a limited basis yesterday after clearing concussion protocol. He sustained a concussion in Week 16 against the Bengals and suffered setbacks recently which kept him off of the field. Green’s return to practice is far from a guarantee that he will play, however. With such a significant head injury they need to return him cautiously. Being active, however, does give the tight end a (however slim) chance to play against the Patriots in the Championship Game.
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