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Sims: Injury Diagnoses And Prognoses Following Week 1

Jake Locker #10 of the Tennessee Titans is helped up by the trainers after hurting his shoulder making a tackle during the season opener against the New England Patriots. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Jake Locker #10 of the Tennessee Titans is helped up by the trainers after hurting his shoulder making a tackle during the season opener against the New England Patriots. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

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By Abby Sims
» More Columns

Week 1 of the NFL resulted in the usual array of injuries, and the tally looks like this:

Foot and ankle: John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals (QB); Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (WR); Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis Colts (LB)

Knees: Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills (RB); Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars (RB); David Nelson, Buffalo Bills (WR)

Shoulder: Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans (QB)

Neck: Rodger Saffold, St. Louis Rams (OL)

Diagnoses and Prognoses:

John Skelton initially was thought to have a high ankle sprain, and was subsequently reported to have a low sprain. The difference? The more feared high ankle sprain affects the ligaments that connect the tibia and fibula in the lower leg, while the low sprain impacts the ligaments connecting the base of these bones to the talus or calcaneal bones of the rear foot. The severity of a sprain influences the ability to bear weight on the affected side and, as with any injury, determines the recovery time needed. Sprains are graded on a scale from one to three, with the mild Grade 1 resulting in little damage to the involved structures, Grade 2 involving a partial tear of variable degree and Grade 3 entailing a complete rupture. The worse the sprain, the more a joint’s stability is impaired. Instability refers to a laxity or loosening of the joint. The instability of the high ankle sprain is generally more problematic and requires a more extended recovery. Surgery may be indicated in the event of a complete rupture.  Learning he has a low sprain is bad news-good news situation for Skelton. Some reports have him returning in 2-4 weeks while others don’t rule him out for Sunday. If we weren’t talking about football, even the more conservative estimate would be overly optimistic.

Pierre Garcon’s foot injury was a cause for early concern, but he is looking to be back on the field this weekend. X-rays were evidently negative, though the specifics of the injury were not available. However, as a wide receiver, Garcon is counted on to run and cut, and if a foot problem forced him to leave the field one week, he isn’t likely to be at full capacity the next.

Dwight Freeney’s MRI results had not been reported and accounts of the extent of his ankle sprain are not known.

Fred Jackson’s MRI was reportedly negative, and it is thought he will miss 3-7 weeks with what looks to be a lateral collateral ligament sprain in his left knee.  As noted above, recovery is predicated on many things, most importantly the grade of sprain. Even seven weeks is optimistic in the real world if the injury is anything but a Grade 1.

Rashad Jennings’ MRI results have not yet been reported, but his knee injury is not thought to be particularly serious, as he played briefly after sustaining it.

David Nelson begins this week on the IR due to a torn right knee ligament (details were not reported but the ACL, plus or minus other related injuries, seems a likely suspect). He will be out for the season.

Jake Locker reportedly separated his non-throwing shoulder but expects to play (in a brace) this weekend. The term “shoulder separation” generally refers to injury to the joint formed by the outer clavicle (collarbone) with the acromion (the extension of the shoulder blade that essentially provides a hood over the shoulder joint). This is distinguished from a shoulder dislocation, which disrupts the ligaments connecting the ball at the end of the humerus of the upper arm to its socket (glenoid). Clearly, this same injury to his dominant side would have kept Locker out of action for a while. Regardless, he won’t be too comfortable.

Rodger Saffold’s early diagnosis of a severe neck strain, though painful and limiting, was great news. With initial testing negative for fracture or neurological involvement, Saffold will have to take it slow and undergo further testing. Don’t look for him to be back in the next few weeks.

Hopefully these guys return to the field as quickly as possible. Offer your thoughts and comments in the section below…