NFL Week 12 Injuries: How Badly Is Cowboys Star Micah Parsons Hurt?

Written By Stephen Andress on November 24, 2022
micah parsons

A few more quarterbacks have suffered injuries, including a future NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate. As Thanksgiving arrives, these injuries have changed the trajectory of their teams in the betting market. The most significant injury on a Super Bowl-contending team though is on defense. Cowboys star pass rusher Micah Parsons is on the mend, ahead of a Thanksgiving showdown with the Giants.

Let’s look at what specifically Parsons and others are dealing with in hopes of better handicapping Week 12 odds. With the holiday-shortened week, information is thinner and tougher to get. That makes it even more key to know as much as possible about the context of injuries. My hope is this helps, but it’s important to monitor developments as well as kickoffs Thursday and Sunday near.

MICAH PARSONS, DE COWBOYS (sprained knee/ankle)

As big as the Cowboys win seemed to be to their fan base last week, losing Micah Parsons for any period of time would be problematic. Parsons has quickly become one of the most disruptive rushers in the league and this is despite several smaller injuries. You’ll likely remember the groin strain he was able to play through earlier this season. 

This isn’t directly related, but there’s always a little bit of wonder for a few weeks after an injury. With this, Parsons had a clear trauma. He got rolled up and because both his ankle and knee gave some, neither gave enough to have significant damage. It’s likely Grade I sprains/strains of various structures, a testament to his strength and flexibility, and a little luck. 

With a Thursday game, Micah Parsons isn’t going to have much time to respond to treatment or even rest. He’s a disruptor and is likely to be held back on play count slightly, but not so much that you’d notice. There’s a risk he exacerbates one or both of them, but a long week after will help. Expect the Cowboys defense to adjust as before and be on or around their standard model with their division rival Giants. Also of note is an illness for DeMarcus Lawrence, which might have a bigger impact if he’s out.

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Other Notable NFL Week 12 Injuries

  • Will Carroll has covered injuries in sports for more than 20 years. He’s written four books, including his latest entitled “The Science of Football”. He also consults with several pro teams. He is currently the Director of Bioanalytics for Northstarr, a sports science startup company.

JUSTIN FIELDS, QB BEARS (dislocated shoulder)

First, a reminder that running quarterbacks don’t get hurt more than classic pocket quarterbacks. Most modern mobile quarterbacks do so to avoid big hits and the slide rule keeps them from taking the biggest hits and its the hits, no matter where, that take a toll on a quarterback. Ask Andrew Luck, or Justin Fields, who is an odd combo of great mobile quarterback who doesn’t seem to avoid contact, almost Cam Newton style. That can work, but it’s risky and combined with a porous line, Fields is taking a lot of hits.

When Fields went down at the end of the game and came up clutching his non-throwing shoulder, there was a lot of fear from the Bears. Fields was fatigued and took an awkward hit. Reports are that Fields had a dislocation, but there’s few other details. Dislocations are where the shoulder joint comes out of place and has to be put back in. We didn’t see that, but it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. There are some who believe this is simply an AC sprain or subluxation, but these aren’t really the issue that is most problematic for us. The worry is the soft tissue thats stressed and stretched by being out of position and a Monday MRI got positive notes from the team. There’s a range of outcomes, from playing normally this week, to season ending. I wish I could offer more clarity, but that’s where we are on Tuesday morning.

Fields has been a difference maker this year and missing him for Trevor Siemian would be a big drop against a struggling Jets team who may have QB issues of their own. If Fields plays, he could wear a brace on his non-throwing shoulder without much issue, but the worry would be taking more hits and falling on the shoulder or arm. With early lines having the Bears as 3.5 dogs, it feels like that is baking in Fields’ absence or at least problems. I think early week positive reports could push this line back, so there’s opportunity to grab some early action on the Bears side, though the over seems high given QB problems on both sides.

MATTHEW STAFFORD, QB RAMS (CONCUSSION)

Once again, the Rams aren’t giving us all the information needed to fully understand what’s going on with Matthew Stafford. That’s ok. They’re within the rules and the Official Injury Report isn’t about injuries, but availability. What I don’t understand is how the new changes to the concussion policy allows a team to remove a player, keep him out, but not enter him in the protocol at the same time a simple ataxia with no positive concussion diagnosis puts a player into the protocol. I’ve tried to get explanations and even off the record there seems to be confusion. Yes, the NFLPA is interested as well.

As of Tuesday morning, Stafford is not in the concussion protocol, but was scheduled to have tests Monday to make a final determination. Again, it’s unclear why, but given Stafford’s recent concussion and clearance, there’s definitely concerns with two concurrent concussions. There’s still so much we don’t know about how the brain heals and there’s no way to test it beyond watching for symptoms, which relies on trust, as well as tests that can have issues and subjectivity. 

While it’s unknown as of now if Stafford will play, the threat of it and the play of the Rams recently really affect the line. With Stafford in, it’s a completely different team that showed a willingness to go deep early in Week 11. Even without Cooper Kupp, Stafford can put up volume and points. Bryce Perkins didn’t appear ready, but he’s starting this week against the Chiefs.

HENDON HOOKER, QB COLLEGE (sprained knee)

Hendon Hooker was what the scouts called a “helium player.” He was flying up the charts with his play at Tennessee this year, making the Vols a playoff contender and putting himself in the discussion with a deep QB class for being a top draft pick. Unfortunately, an ACL sprain has ended his season and put his draft status in a bit more question. 

ACL reconstructions are predictable. Look at what happened with Jameson Williams, who barely dropped despite a late ACL sprain and is close to a return for the Lions who drafted him knowing he would miss at least the first half of the season. Hooker’s injury timing is a bit better, but he’s also a QB type that might not be expected to play immediately, ala Malik Willis. 

Hooker was seen by many as a Day-2 pick, but Mel Kiper Jr had him in the late first round before the injury. I don’t believe Hooker will drop much from that and has a chance for a team to fall in love with him. He’s unlikely to do much at the Combine, so he’ll have to make his case in interviews, but there’s enough tape to dream on. He could slide to a second round landing with a team like the Colts, if they don’t take one in the first, or to Denver, who might need a better backup sooner rather than later! 

JA’MARR CHASE, WR BENGALS (strained hip)

Ja’Marr Chase is off crutches and could be back at practice if reports are correct about how well his hip has healed. While the Bengals still haven’t detailed the specifics of Chase’s hip injury, variously described as a labrum issue, a fracture, and a dislocation, seeing him back at practice this week inside the IR line matches with what the Bengals said about his return. Keeping him off the IR looks like the right decision, even if he comes back slightly longer than the four weeks. The chance was there, it appears.

Because we still don’t know for sure what happened, it’s a little tougher, but from the timeline, there’s very little chance this was a fracture. Hip labrum surgery takes about eight weeks to recover from and could still be done in the future with little chance that Chase could make it worse, if it’s functional and the pain is manageable. If this was merely transitory, some kind of soft tissue injury, we might never know, aside from Chase coming back and playing well.

Because Chase is such a key player, there’s no way the Bengals medical staff will let him back out on the field without a high degree of certainty that he won’t re-injure himself. It’s always possible, but they’ll be as close to certain as possible. Getting Chase back is always a plus for Burrow and the Bengals, but the deep receiver room doesn’t actually lose much in points while he’s out. When he plays – even if it’s this week – assume that Chase will be back to his normal self and watch to see if the yardage props are low, over focused on his injury.

JOE MIXON, RB BENGALS (concussion)

The Bengals showed just how good they can be when healthy last year. Joe Burrow, coming off an ACL reconstruction, led the team all the way to the Super Bowl with a “triplet package” of Burrow, Joe Mixon, and Ja’Marr Chase that was compared to peak Cowboys. That might be taking it far, but to really test that on the field, all three (and more) have to be on the field. More on Chase below, but Joe Mixon left last week’s game with a concussion and the running depth chart isn’t ideal in Cincy.

Samaje Perine is pretty much it, taking almost all the snaps – Trayveon Williams got 8 late – and while he’s capable, Perine is more productive as a change of pace. For Mixon, he’s in the protocol and could clear before Sunday’s game, which would put him in line for a normal start. It’s impossible to tell at this stage how Mixon is doing or will do, but if he’s back at practice by Thursday, it’s a very positive sign.

Without Mixon, this is a very different looking game against the Titans. The -1.5 reflects the expectation that Mixon will play, but doesn’t take into account Ja’Marr Chase’s potential return. There’s two interrelated moves that could really alter things depending on how they play out. My guess is this is fair value with Mixon back and that giving points to Derrick Henry and the Titans might be a nice play.

MIKE WILLIAMS, WR CHARGERS (high ankle sprain)
KEENAN ALLEN, WR CHARGERS (strained hamstring)

The Chargers got Mike Williams and Keenan Allen back for their showdown with the Chiefs, sort of. Williams lasted only a handful of plays before aggravating his ankle, while Allen’s “pitch count” was tossed by the wayside early. Interrelated? Possibly, but it seemed more a plan with the early Allen targets. Allen came out of the game healthy, so the team will monitor and maintain his hamstring with hopes he can stay on the field the rest of the way.

Williams’ situation is more problematic, but might not be as bad. High ankle sprains often have aggravations in the early return phase. These can be extremely painful, but not have significant longer term consequences. No one is really sure why this is, but as we’ve seen more and more high ankle sprains in sports, the pattern has been noticed by practitioners. If that’s the case with Williams, watching to see if he gets back on the practice field before Friday will be a key sign. 

The Chargers lost to Travis Kelce – I mean, the Chiefs on Sunday, but were competitive. Facing a Cardinals team that should have Kyler Murray back, having both key receivers would certainly be a help. The current line will move once there’s more certainty about all three of those players, so there’s some opportunity if you like the way it’s likely to break. I think Williams is the wild card and the least likely to play of the bunch. 

KYLE PITTS, TE FALCONS (sprained knee)

Kyle Pitts’ season is done after a severe, Grade III MCL sprain that could have further issues inside the knee. MCLs are often not repaired since the knee has other secondary stabilizers, but when the knee itself is unstable and risks further damage, it can be repaired or reconstructed. It’s not a good sign that Pitts had to quickly explore the surgical option, but while this isn’t as routine as an ACL reconstruction, it’s also one that shouldn’t have as much functional issue, meaning Pitts should be back for next year just fine.

That doesn’t help Marcus Mariota and the Falcons now, who are down another key player and their best receiving threat despite his disappointing stat line. While a final decision hasn’t been made on surgery – Pitts is talking with at least two surgeons ahead of that decision – he’s on the IR and is likely to miss the rest of the season with the injury regardless. While Parker Hesse is the TE2, he’s not going to be a key target. That role could go to MyCole Pruitt, though if former QB Feleipe Franks is healthy (calf strain), he could be an intriguing pseudo-Taysom Hill type who could have a package.

The loss of Pitts is bad on the field, but it shouldn’t move the lines much. The Falcons were already having issues and while Pitts is supposed to be a mismatch machine, the Next Gen stats don’t show that playing out. They remain a low-total dog against the Commanders and Pitts out, that doesn’t expect to change much.

RONNIE STANLEY, OT RAVENS (sprained ankle)

Rollups happen and are a risk for anyone in and around the pocket. It was an unusual play, and certainly not Lamar Jackson’s fault, when he rolled up on his tackle, Ronnie Stanley. Stanley’s history with ankle issues complicated this, but it certainly looked problematic as he had to be helped off the field, putting no weight on the leg as he went to the tent and then the locker room. Given he didn’t make his debut until a few weeks into the season after extensive ankle surgery last year, this is one the Ravens don’t want.

While there’s some unknowns – the Ravens or Stanley never released exactly what was done with the surgery, but we can assume some ligament reconstruction or tendon repair – an exacerbation of this that rules him out for Week 12 almost immediately is likely similar and a worry for the repair. It’s unlikely to be something as rare as an anchor issue and not as extreme as a re-tear, but they do have to be careful with the ankle.

The easy adjustment for the Ravens is to roll Lamar Jackson away from the rush. Jackson’s been a bit more cautious with the run in a ‘contract’ year, so looking back to the early season, he’ll likely go more to Mark Andrews, so yardage props on Andrews look nice and the run props might be something to stay away from with Jackson. The health of the running backs could also be key, as that’s been problematic in terms of blitz pickups.

Quick Hits

Kyler Murray was close to playing on Monday, but the medical staff decided to hold him out. That puts him in a good place for next week. We should see in practice how well he’s moving … Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been in and out of favor in the KC backfield, but a high ankle sprain will make that decision for Andy Reid for a couple weeks … The Chiefs brought in Kadarius Toney despite the risk of another hamstring strain. They won’t be surprised it happened, but prepared. He’s out this week, but don’t be surprised at a quick return … Chalk up another one for the turf. The team knew quickly that Wan’Dale Robinson had an ACL rupture, ending his season and putting the start of next in some jeopardy. That’s 36 ACLs in the NFL and I’d love to know how many of those happened on turf … Another one? Yes, Adoree Jackson has an MCL sprain and will miss a month. Yes, his foot was planted when it happened  … It’s not just Stafford (allegedly). The Vikings young OT Christian Darrisaw had his second concussion in two weeks. He’s out for Thursday and the team says they’ll be extra cautious with him …  Chase Young was activated, but the Commanders aren’t sure he’ll play in Week 12. If he does, expect a low play count and situational play.

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Stephen Andress

Stephen Andress joined Catena Media as Managing Editor of TheLines.com in March 2021. He began his career as a sports anchor and reporter in Eugene, OR before moving to Louisville, KY. There he covered the Kentucky Derby, Sugar Bowl and three consecutive Final Fours. Stephen later won an Emmy award while working for the Indianapolis Colts. More recently, he produced content for the PGA TOUR and multiple fantasy football and sports betting websites. Nothing has excited him more in his career than seeing legalized sports betting in the United States and the opportunity to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for it. His hobbies include kicking his high school friends' butts in fantasy football, Japanese whisky and Kentucky bourbon, golf outrights and supporting RIP Medical Debt, a charity which works to wipe out medical bills for those who have been unable to cover the cost of getting sick.

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