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Week 8 NFL Injury Report: The Curious Case of Julian Edelman

Nic Civale is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and former NCAA Division I athlete. This week’s NFL Injury Report focuses on fantasy-relevant players who are likely to miss multiple weeks, and how to handle their absences. A large part of roster strategy is knowing what to expect from your players, so let’s take a deep dive into this week’s most relevant long term injuries.

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Week 8 NFL Injury Report

Kenyan Drake, RB, ARI

Kenyan Drake will miss “a few weeks,” per Adam Schefter, after sustaining an ankle injury. Fracture and high ankle sprain have been ruled out and it has been classified as an ankle ligament injury. Based on the way the play ended, and the way Drake fell, I would assume the ligament that was injured was the commonly sprained, anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL).

This ligament is injured with an inversion sprain, or commonly referred to as a “rolled ankle.” The lateral ankle gets stretched intensely as the side of the foot approaches the ground. The ATFL is responsible for making sure the ankle doesn’t collapse on itself when this happens. In this case, it appears as if Drake has slightly torn this ligament. It will take 2-3 weeks for the swelling to subside, and additional rehab to make sure the surrounding musculature is strengthened appropriately.

Certainly, the Cardinals will want their talented tailback on the field as soon as possible, but he will have to demonstrate the ability to perform cuts and jukes without pain. He will be taped up significantly, which does indeed help. Those managers who were lucky enough to snag Chase Edwards in the draft/waiver wire, now is the time to play him.

When Drake comes back, it will be interesting to see if Drake is schemed into fewer passing plays and toss plays while being designated more for single cut runs and draw plays, where lateral movements are less frequent.

Julian Edelman, WR, NE

Julian Edelman’s season has been filled with mystery since before he even stepped on the field. Week after week, he has been a limited participant in all practices. He has only the 3rd-highest snap count of NE receivers, and his injuries have been described with as little words as possible, in classic Patriots tradition.

All of these factors make it hard to definitively state what is the exact problem, but there is one explanation I’d be willing to be on…

The clues we have are limited, but do narrow down the possibilities:

1) Edelman has dealt with lingering issues all year, presumably getting worse, triggering a surgery

2) Per Michael Giardi of Comcast SportsNet New England, the knee is “bone on bone.”

3) Multiple reports state Edelman will miss multiple weeks, but the surgery is not season ending.

(Clues 1-3 lead me to believe that osteoarthritis and knee meniscectomy (meniscus removal) may be the most likely procedures.Arthritis and meniscus injuries can both be very painful, and require minor surgeries to help relieve pain. The final clue seems to clear things up slightly.)

4) Per Adam Schefter, the procedure was a “precautionary standard knee procedure.”

This final clue leads me to believe the cause of the surgery was more likely an ailing meniscus. A “precautionary procedure” does not describe an arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis; that would be more of reactionary procedure in response to gradual degradation of bone. It does, however, describe a meniscectomy.  When a meniscus is partially torn, it can be more effective, IN THE SHORT TERM, to remove the entirety of the meniscus. An athlete can return to play in about 2-3 weeks following this procedure, whereas a meniscus repair would require around 6-8. If Edelman did indeed undergo meniscectomy, the long term ramifications will be that he is more likely to experience more severe arthritis in the future.

Ultimately, we do not know for sure what Edelman had surgically done to his knee, but meniscectomy remains a reasonable guess. The meniscus, if torn, can deplete agility, stability, power, and be especially painful. This would explain the lack of production and decreased snap counts in the 2020 season.

Either way, this may be the reason to finally cut Edelman if you’ve been holding on to him. On the other hand, you may see this as an interesting buying opportunity in a few weeks prior to his return. If he can return to play without the pain he had been experiencing all year, an uptick in production would not be surprising.

If you found Nic’s Week 8 NFL Injury Report helpful, make sure to check out the rest of our NFL Week 8 Slate of Analysis.

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