Dr. Beth Sullivan | December 21st, 2019
Only two more weeks remain in the 2019 NFL season. It seems like only yesterday preseason was winding up and everyone was waiting for kickoff Sunday. Now we are waiting for the final teams to punch their ticket to the postseason. There are two slots left in both the NFC and AFC and even a couple divisions still in play. It has definitely been a wild year so far and the final two weeks look to continue that trend. Injuries play a big role in a team’s success or failure, but unfortunately, injuries sometimes come at the worst possible times. Let’s take a look at what injuries might play a role in finalizing the playoff picture and possibly the playoffs as well.
Mike Evans WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans was officially placed on IR earlier this week bringing his 2019 season to a close. He suffered a hamstring injury in week 14 and had already missed week 15. While a hamstring injury is painful, it isn’t a longterm injury and given proper treatment through the offseason he should be ready to go come OTAs in the spring. Since their opponent is trying to get a playoff birth, the remaining Buccaneer wide receivers including newly signed practice squad player Spencer Schnell will have to step up big.
JuJu Smith-Schuster WR Pittsburgh Steelers
Smith-Schuster was a full participant in Thursday’s practice which bodes well for him to be able to play an impact in the Steelers week 16 matchup against the New York Jets. He was originally injured in the week 11 game against the Cleveland Browns when he sustained a concussion and a strained knee on the same play. He had cleared the concussion protocol and was still rehabbing the knee when he tweaked it last week causing him to miss Sunday nights game against the Bills. The Steelers are certainly hoping he can return to the lineup and play a large role in the Week 16 game.
Vance McDonald TE Pittsburgh Steelers
McDonald hasn’t cleared the concussion protocol officially yet, but he was a full participant in Thursday’s practice which indicates he is in the final stages of the league’s concussion protocol. If you want to read more about it you can do that here. He was originally injured in their week 14 game and missed their week 15 game. McDonald had one other reported concussion in December 2015 which caused him to miss one game. With each concussion the recovery time and the risk for longterm issues increases. If he is fully cleared, then I would expect him to be available for their week 16 game.
Hunter Renfrow WR Oakland Raiders
Renfrow has missed three games already since suffering a rib fracture and punctured lung on November 24th. When the injury occurred, there was some concern his season could be over because of the seriousness of the injury, however, it is looking like he will be back on the field on Sunday. I am sure he will wear a compression shirt to help protect the ribs and may even be on a snap count, but the fact he has reached this point in his recovery is good news for the Raiders.
Julian Edelman WR New England Patriots
Edelman has been dealing with a shoulder and knee injury for a good part of the season. When asked about it on Thursday he shut the reporter who asked down. He is still listed as questionable on the injury report, but since he has played every week since first appearing on the injury report, I expect him to play this week in the big matchup between the Patriots and the Buffalo Bills on Saturday afternoon. A Patriot win and they once again clinch the AFC East crown, but a loss and the Bills still have a chance to dethrone the reigning champs as unexpected as that might have seemed at the beginning of the year.
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