Injuries are always part of the NFL shell game, especially this season. There has been no injury reporting requirement until this week. With no preseason games and less media at practices because of COVID, there is even less information available than in a typical year. As a result, “Coach speak” has been the norm.
That makes the detective work all the more fun/interesting for us. Yesterday without video, we were able to correctly decipher a peroneal tendon subluxation injury and go against national media to say Von Miller’s season might not be over. Danielle Hunter’s injury was said to be a minor “tweak” per the Vikings head coach but that turns into a stint on injured reserve with the first required injury reports.
Throughout this season at Outkick (and at www.profootballdoc.com), we will be your guide to analyze and project the impact of injuries. This will not be a regurgitation of injury reports but insider knowledge about NFL injuries. If you are getting audited by the IRS, do you want a good accountant helping you or a good accountant that used to be an IRS agent? As a former NFL head team physician, I am that “former IRS agent.” I know how to read between the lines of what is being said and not said. I spent 17 years seeing NFL injuries on the field, sidelines, locker room and after a MRI the next day and then studied that injury video. Now I plan to use that knowledge to give Outkick readers first crack at the best and most insightful injury analysis, information could prove useful in making fantasy, daily fantasy and wagering decisions.
For example, in Thursday night’s season-opening game the Kansas City Chiefs have no one listed on the final game status report, yet that does not mean all of their players are healthy (see field view below).
With COVID opt-outs and lingering health issues, KC is hardly unaffected. Juan Thornhill is not on the injury report but there is no way he is 100% from his ACL tear last year. Travis Kelce is slated to play but has been limited in practice. Their offensive line is dealing with medical issues and the Chiefs’ run game health grades significantly lower than the Texans run defense health (see injury index below).
For the Texans, they list Brandon Cooks as questionable with a quad injury but our analysis has DeAndre Hopkins “replacement” as unlikely to play or be productive if he suits up. He has been limited practice, did not practice and then limited practice again. Given the importance of the quadriceps muscle for a speed receiver, this strain is likely to inhibit Cooks from being to accelerate (and decelerate). Even if he does play, I don’t see him being effective as much more than a decoy.
Of course the savvy bettor might combine the lack or preseason games, potential sloppiness and the offensive injuries on both squads detailed here into thoughts of a lower scoring game. Certainly some feel that offensive lines take longer to gel against pass rushers, especially when exotic blitz packages are easier to design/implement than pass protection schemes.
In any case, our goal will be to cut through the purposeful misdirection from teams and give you, the Outkick reader, the information you need to make your best decisions, both here and at www.profootballdoc.com.