Quarterback injuries continue to be the biggest NFL injury report angles affecting NFL Week 7 odds. The Dak Prescott thumb injury appears healed enough for him to return for the Cowboys. However, a new hamstring issue is the latest Russell Wilson injury, leaving the Broncos quarterback highly questionable to play against the Jets.
Each week, TheLines provides the latest expert NFL injury report analysis and reporting from inside sources to help you make smarter bets.
Week 7 NFL Injury Report Analysis: Quarterbacks
Will Carroll has covered injuries in sports for more than 20 years and has written four books, including the newly published “The Science of Football”. He also consults with several pro teams. Will is currently the Director of Bioanalytics for Northstarr, a sports science startup company.Editor’s Note
RUSSELL WILSON, QB BRONCOS (strained hamstring/strained lat)
I’ll be honest – I don’t see anywhere on video where there was a Russell Wilson hamstring strain. There’s no moment where he seems to have a limp or reach back to grab the leg. I’m not saying this isn’t real, just that I can’t see what the mechanism is or how it seemingly affected him on the field. I admittedly don’t have all the angles and I can’t see what Wilson and the medical staff may have done on the sidelines, but I’m stumped for mechanism.
If we accept this as a simple strain, likely a Grade II strain that can cost weeks, then Wilson has two issues. First, he’s always been a mobile quarterback and still has something of a feet-first tendency when he’s rushed hard. Second, his height has always been an issue and he’s had to adjust by standing more upright than most in the pocket to overcome that, as well as rely on blocker spacing to open lanes when he’s in the pocket.
The MRI was said to show a minor but visible strain in the belly of the hamstring. The question is going to be function and recurrence risk, alongside whether his running and throwing mechanics will be impacted. With his lat strain unresolved, Wilson can’t simply throw with more arm. My expectation is he’ll be very limited in practice this week, with just enough work to get a sense of healing, improvement, and function, with a decision going right up to gametime.
If the Russell Wilson hamstring injury costs him a game, it is Brett Rypien and Josh Johnson up next, a practice-squad lifer who has things like XFL records on his bio. Losing Wilson may seem like it couldn’t get any worse for the Broncos, but it could. Losing Wilson would likely leave the entire offense worse off, so the points would have to go down on one side, while increasing injuries are threatening to make the team unbettable and staring down the kind of draft pick next year that would normally be used on a quarterback.
TUA TAGOVAILOA, QB DOLPHINS (concussion)
TEDDY BRIDGEWATER, QB DOLPHINS (strained pectoral)
The expectation is that Tua Tagovailoa will be back under center in Week 7, a couple games off after the concussion/not-concussion drama that involved the whole league, and his own backup. He’s cleared the protocol, but that was before Week 6. Another week of normal practice shouldn’t change anything, but Tagovailoa will have the most watched head in the NFL until he makes it through the next game, or doesn’t. By clearing the protocol, the symptoms are supposed to be completely resolved, so we have to treat Tagovailoa as completely normal. He was effective prior to the injury, so there’s no reason to think he won’t be here. The line is going to move a lot on the story rather than the facts, so there’s a chance at some advantage if you go back to early season Tagovailoa models. 7 seems like a lot to give for the Fins, but the over looks nice to me.
Behind Tagavailoa is Teddy Bridgewater, again. Skylar Thompson didn’t last long and might have Moonlight Graham stories someday after injuring his thumb. That put Bridgewater back in quickly and he was fine. There was a lot of confusion about Bridgewater’s status coming in, but I was told Sunday that Bridgewater cleared the concussion protocol quickly, with only the independent neurologist coming “late” because there was no real value in doing it any earlier. Bridgewater seemed fine and should be back to QB2 this week.
JAMEIS WINSTON, QB SAINTS (fractured back)
ANDY DALTON, QB SAINTS (strained back)
Check out our Thursday Night Football report for the latest news on who will start at QB for the Saints.
They’d like to give Jameis Winston time to heal up after his back fractures proved more of an issue than initially believed, especially with the long week coming up after this Thursday’s game.
The complicating factor is that Andy Dalton was clearly laboring and his back strain is remaining problematic, with a short week to get him more functional.
The interesting play would be to use Taysom Hill as more than a package QB, but the Saints seem to have moved on from that while locking in on short yardage packages that do give Hill some value and upside.
Other Week 7 NFL Injuries
CAMERON BRATE, TE BUCS (sprained neck)
Cameron Brate isn’t going to get as much attention as a QB like Tua Tagovailoa, but I’m surprised that his situation isn’t getting more attention than it is. After a missed concussion was noticed, Brate made it back under the protocol only to get laid out, necessitating a stretcher. Brate’s injury is said to be focused on the neck, though there have been little specifics from the Bucs, nor have they been clear about whether Brate suffered another concussion. It sure appeared from some shots that he was unconscious, but he could have merely been closing his eyes as well.
The Bucs have been clear that Brate did not have a concussion this time. He passed all tests and was reportedly re-tested, which is a bit unusual, but we’re seeing it more often in light of the last few weeks. Brate’s neck sprain is painful, but depending on how it responds to treatment, it’s possible he could be back this week. That would be huge for Tom Brady, who was developing something with Brate and seems to need that kind of big body. With Julio Jones out still, Brate has a chance to put up numbers and perhaps let Brady get back on track.
Brady’s gone from being a sure thing to an albatross quickly. (Gisele’s Curse?) Everything is suspect right now in Tampa, but there’s still a lot of talent in place. I have to think Brady will right the ship and that should bring up all boats (and bets.) Brate is an interesting longer term play, but this week’s props revolve around his availability. That won’t be known until Friday, so tune in to the podcast!
JOE NOTEBOOM, OT RAMS (Achilles rupture)
The Rams don’t look like the Super Bowl juggernaut from last season and a good bit of that is the lack of blocking they’ve gotten. Yes, they miss Andrew Wentworth, but the cohesion of the group shouldn’t have been this impacted. The offense didn’t lose weapons or really change much as they did in the past, losing coaches and slightly altering schemes, but the drop-off is notable heading into the bye at 500 and 2-4 ATS. They’re also five of six unders and not by a little either.
The bye comes at an opportune time, but an Achilles rupture for Joe Noteboom means they’ll have to find some line help during the break. With the running game perhaps down a man, the focus will have to go somewhere beyond Cooper Kupp. That’s going to require more time for Matthew Stafford and a quick fix for the line. It’s possible, but Stafford can’t do this with his legs. My guess is they’ll look for some kind of fix on the trade market for the line, while Sean McVay continues to adjust. Shorter passes are likely, including more 12/TE involvement. I’m looking unders for at least a few more weeks as the Rams adjust, much as they did last year and that turned out fine.
The Niners basically played the B-team across the front with Joey Bosa (groin), Javon Kinlaw (knee), and Arik Armstead (foot) shelved, along with three others on IR. All will be touch and go this week, with Bosa being the key. His groin strain wasn’t thought to be close last week, but there’s also a school of thought that the team was more willing to let him rest ahead of tougher matchups. The same is true for Armstead, so their involvement in practice by Friday will be the biggest tells. I’d expect both to have some limitations even if they play, so expect something like a role split over a play count.
Despite the absences, the defense was good enough to hit the under again, but the last couple weeks, that’s been about the competition as much as the defense. That won’t be the case in Week 7 against the Chiefs, then again in Week 8 against a rested Rams team that needs that win badly. The under seems trendy, but I like the over as the Niners will have to open up the offense some to keep up. 48.5 where it is when I turn this in seems low. I’ll take some receiving overs, every positive Kelce play I can find, and I’ll even go over on Mahomes yardage and TD.
Mac Jones is showing slow improvement with his high ankle sprain. Will it be enough to play this week? The Pats will keep going to Bailey Zappe until they’re absolutely sure, but it does look like Jones’ decision to wait on surgery was the right one … I don’t know when or how Carson Wentz broke his finger, but he had surgery and will miss at least the next month. Why is his less time than Prescott? It’s not his thumb … Kenny Pickett is on track to clear concussion protocol and get the start this weekend. He was a full participant on Wednesday, usually the last step before clearance … PJ Walker had whiplash, not a concussion Sunday. How his neck responds to treatment will determine his availability (I think he’ll play), but it won’t be Baker Mayfield who steps in. His HAS is still an issue, so Jacob Eason would be the next up … Things looked positive early in the week for Jonathan Taylor last week, so I won’t get too high here. If his ankle finishes the week without a setback this time around, it can only help a knife-edge offense that really needs to avenge another division loss this week … JK Dobbins had his surgically repaired knee “tighten up” on him last week, which gave the run to Kenyan Drake. The impending return of Gus Edwards from PUP (ACL reconstruction last year) only confuses things further, but John Harbaugh has options, doesn’t he? … The Niners have been just beat up this year, especially with knees. Elijah Mitchell hits IR to let his MCL sprain heal up. He should be back, but who knows who’ll be in the backfield in front or behind him by then? … Kyren Williams is getting closer to a return from the IR. Cam Akers’ situation could open things up for Williams, if he can stay healthy … Sammy Watkins could come off IR as soon as this week, setting him up to fill in for Randall Cobb, who has a significant ankle sprain … The Chargers have been conservative with Keenan Allen while his hamstring healed. When he’s back, I’m told he’ll be fully back so take any pitch count talk with a grain of salt … Dalton Schultz had another setback with his PCL. He could be back this week but the team is also looking at the Week 9 bye and thinking that might be a better plan… Logan Ryan has a Jones fracture, which is a break of the bone on the outside of the foot. It’s easily fixed with a long screw that goes the length of the bone. It’s not uncommon and he should make a full recovery, but it will take at least a month and probably longer … Harrison Butker returned from his leg issues and looked solid for the Chiefs, including a long kick … Dustin Hopkins felt his hamstring “pop”, but that’s seldom a real tell for severity. He’s out a month with what the Chargers are calling a simple strain.