Even though Super Bowl injuries get the most attention of any all season long, the process is the same as any other week during the NFL regular season. With a Sunday game, both the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles will release an injury report Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Final injury designations and the status of each player will be reported Friday.
There are plenty of big names to discuss among these Super Bowl injuries, including both quarterbacks. Patrick Mahomes played through a high ankle sprain in the AFC Championship. Jalen Hurts has not been on the injury report, but all indications are he has clearly not been playing at 100%.
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Will Carroll has covered injuries in sports for more than 20 years, working at places like ESPN, Baseball Prospectus, Football Outsiders, and FanDuel. He’s written four books, including the upcoming “The Science of Football” and consults with several pro teams. He is currently the Director of Bioanalytics for Northstarr, a sports science startup company.Editor’s Note
Kansas City Chiefs Injuries
The Chiefs must love the two-week gap between the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl. Wide receivers were falling like dominoes in a very physical game, leaving Patrick Mahomes with fewer targets at the time where his high ankle issue was becoming more and more problematic. The time off gives the Chiefs medical staff more time to heal as many of them up as much as possible.
QB Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes is at the top of the list of Super Bowl injuries everyone is monitoring. His high ankle sprain won’t be healed by Super Bowl time, but it should be no worse than it was. The Eagles won’t target the ankle, but the more he moved and the later the game got, the tougher it was on Mahomes. He made a key run at the end, so there’s still NFL-level speed; however, his agility and change of direction is clearly impacted. The Chiefs will once again need to hold in tight ends, go with more 12 packages, and use Isaiah Pacheco more to utilize his power blocking skills.
WR Mecole Hardman
The WRs are all question marks, save for Mecole Hardman. His return from the pelvis issue didn’t go well. He’s OUT for the Super Bowl and perhaps beyond, as he seeks opinions.
WR Kadarius Toney
Kadarius Toney has both an ankle and hamstring issue, so he’ll be spending a lot of time with the medical staff. Watch to see if he can get in a limited practice before the team heads to Phoenix. The change in venue makes this a “road game” for both in terms of having all their medical tools handy. Even with great facilities, it’s not like being at home.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu Smith-Schuster is a bigger question mark. Like Toney, he hasn’t been in drills, focused on getting his knee as healthy as possible. He was held to one catch against the Bengals. Some have wondered if his knee injury happened earlier than thought. My re-watch of the game doesn’t show any apparent deficits before he went down in the second half. The knee sprain is going to be a problem, but if he’s able to go at all, he’s likely to push to play, at least as a decoy.
Chiefs Defensive Injuries
On the defensive side, the only real question is L’Jarius Sneed. The CB was concussed early and has not yet been cleared. With two weeks, the hope is that he’ll clear, but remember practice schedules might make this one a bit quirky. He was at practice on Thursday, so he could progress to the needed limited practice as soon as Friday.
Philadelphia Eagles Injuries
The Eagles are better than the Chiefs in some ways, but they’re hardly unscathed. Part of their strength this year is that they were so healthy for much of the season, helped by a longstanding commitment to team health, sports science, and an overall program that’s outlasted personnel, coaches, and even the staffers running it. But when Jalen Hurts and others went down at the end of the season, the near-invincible team not only looked more beatable, they were beaten a couple times. Holding on to the playoff bye week really helped and is the dividend of that early team health.
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QB Jalen Hurts
Hurts’ SC joint remains painful on hits, but it’s manageable and Hurts has shown in three games now that he can play through it. His replies to media questions have been coy, but let’s focus on the production and what we’ve seen on the field. It’s excellent and there’s no sign of a shoulder or even a pain management issue.
RT Lane Johnson
Lane Johnson pushed Joey Bosa around on one leg and with a couple weeks to heal up, he should be basically the same. Word that he’d “retorn the groin” weren’t completely wrong, but what he’d really done in the Giants game was torn the scar tissue that had built up. That was a known risk and was going to be cleaned out in the impending surgery regardless. Painful, yes, but not a problem surprisingly.
LG Landon Dickerson
Landon Dickerson is more concerning. His elbow was forcibly hyperextended when he landed on it, then had someone fall on it, bending it the wrong way. He didn’t return and was seen in a brace afterwards. Elbow dislocations and hyperextensions are more common in recent years; it’s an issue of bigger and faster players running and falling. Dickerson could play in the same kind of brace JJ Watt made famous, but it will come down to function. Watching him in practice could tell us a lot about how the Eagles might have to adjust their run game.
Eagles Defensive Injuries
On the defensive side, there’s little issue. Both Robert Quinn (knee) and Avonte Maddox (toe) are late-season returns and are being held out of practice early, but expect to feature in the big game. This is a big, strong, and quick defense and their matchup and plan against a limited Mahomes is going to be fascinating.
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Beyond Super Bowl Injuries
49ers QB Brock Purdy
The known is that he has some sort of UCL sprain. With a minor one, he could come back the way Josh Allen did. This is more than that and the question of how much tore helps determine how it has to be fixed. Early reports of a rupture would lead Purdy to the more-standard Tommy John surgery, where the ligament is reconstructed. A lesser tear could open up the newer InternalBrace repair. The difference is about rehab time, with the repair taking three to six months less.
Dr. Jeff Dugas, a pioneer in this kind of surgery, told me that a current NFL QB has had this procedure. It was Nick Mullens, who had the InternalBrace surgery in 2020 and stunningly, Mullens was with the Niners at the time. It was yet again, the exact type of mechanism, where the arm was blocked and the elbow took the stress. My guess is we’ll get more surety on Purdy soon, with the surgery coming in the next week or so.
I was asked by one team member if I thought with two serious injuries to QBs on the same kind of “reach and block” play whether the NFL would seek to protect quarterbacks even more. I have a hard time thinking they would make trying to block a pass a part of the roughing definition, but it’s not impossible either. Going for the ball instead of the arm might be the point of emphasis, but it’s a rare injury and while I’m protective of all players, this seems a step too far.