03 Feb Super Bowl 50 Injury Report
Mary Larkin, PT and Senior Sports Injury Analysis
It’s been quite a season for the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. There is a quote by Hunter Thompson that says, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a ride!” This pretty much sums up how the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos fair, headed into Super Bowl 50. The injury report for both teams, have been quite extensive reaching the pinnacle of the NFL season. Between bumps and bruises, sprains and strains, fractured bones, and even surgery, both teams needed this two week break between the championship games and Super Bowl 50, to help with healing and recovery. Although there are general time frames for return to sport after an injury for the general population, NFL athletes do not abide by these time frames, especially when you’re getting ready for the biggest game of your life. Usually, the biggest question for coaches is not whether these athletes are willing to play, it’s whether or not they will be effective on the field. We will give you an oversight of the player’s injuries, probability of return to play, and most important, attempting to predict how effective they will be.
Jared Allen, fractured foot (DE): Jared Allen sustained a fracture to an unspecified bone in his foot, missing the NFC championship game. At this time it is still unknown exactly what bone or exact type of fracture occurred in his foot, but it was enough to sideline him for the NFC championship game. It is suspected that he has a fracture of the fifth metatarsal. This is the bone along the outside of your foot. There could be a fracture in the mid-portion of the bone, or there could be something called a Jones fracture, which is a fracture at the base of the fifth metatarsal, which is the bump you feel along the mid-portion of the outside of your foot. This injury can occur from a high impact trauma (ie – forceful ankle sprain), or a hairline fracture that would usually result from repetitive overuse and trauma. Depending on the type of fracture, general recovery time is anywhere between 4-8 weeks. During these two weeks, Jared Allen will be receiving daily treatment from the athletic trainers/physical therapists. This treatment will include modalities to decrease any swelling and pain, ankle strengthening to support and take pressure off of the fractured bone, and a bone stimulator, which is used to help promote quicker healing of the fracture site. The unfortunate part is that biology plays a huge role in each individuals healing potential. The fortunate part is that Jared Allen didn’t play in last week’s NFC championship game, and has been theoretically resting his foot, and getting treatment for what will be three weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. Allen is stated as probable for play on Sunday, and reports practicing at 100% at Monday’s practice. But again, how effective will he be, and will he be limited in his play time? If he does play he will be wearing a brace and heavily taped. Due to the area of injury, general discomfort will likely be present due to the limited healing time, and the player’s position. This injury will lead to difficulty with power and quickness off the line, decreased ability to cut, decreased ability to put pressure on the quarterback, and decreased ability to shut down the run. The factor that will help Allen during the game is that Peyton Manning is dealing with his own foot injury, and is generally not a highly mobile quarterback out of the pocket. Either way, it looks probable that Jared Allen will play on Sunday, but will probably have limited participation.
Thomas Davis, fractured arm (LB): Thomas Davis sustained an isolated ulna fracture during the NFC championship game last Sunday. If you place your arm out in front of you with your palm down, the ulna bone is on the outside border of your forearm. The fracture occurred in the mid-portion of this bone, from a high impact force to that area. Davis underwent surgery last Monday, which included a plate and 12 screws to stabilize the bone, and allow for healing in the proper position. Generally, a cast or splint would be on for 4-6 weeks, with continued physical therapy after this point to maximize strength and mobility. Davis was casted with a short arm cast, which does not go above the elbow, and allows for increased mobility at the elbow. This is important because it will allow him mobility to reach up and defend against the pass. The difficulty with this injury is the general post-op pain and discomfort. He will only be two weeks post-surgery, at the time of the Super Bowl. He reportedly participated in practice on Monday, but is unknown to what extent. You don’t get to be one of the best defensive players and pass rushers in the NFL by being weak and playing it safe. Davis is listed as probable, and I believe he will be available to play on Sunday. Again, how effective will he be? Multiple hits and physical stress to that arm, despite the cast, will cause pain and discomfort that will progress throughout the game. Davis will likely have a limited role, but will most likely be effective due to his experience, toughness, and familiarity with returning to play following multiple surgeries in the past.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 2, 2016
Jonathan Stewart, ankle sprain (RB): Jonathan Stewart has been nursing a mild ankle sprain since week 14 of the NFL season. Monday marked the first participation in practice since the NFC championship game against the Cardinals, but to what extent he practiced is unknown. The two week break between the championship game and Super Bowl, will give Stewart added healing time. General low ankle sprains take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to heal. Stuart did not practice last week, and most likely received therapy daily to help promote healing, decrease any swelling, and work on ankle stability. Holding Stewart out of practice last week did more benefit than harm. At this point in the season, he should be used to his offense, to where he doesn’t have to participate in every snap at practice. Allowing him to sit out of practice for week, and promote maximal healing, will far benefit the team and Stuart’s performance on Sunday. He will most likely be heavily taped. Assuming he has minimal to no pain, he should be able to perform at close to full strength. Stuart will most likely have minimal difficulty with straight ahead runs, but may have some difficulty when he’s required to cut or perform lateral movements. Again, depending on Stewart’s functional status, he may be used in specific down situations, as opposed to being used in his usual capacity. A better insight into Stewart’s recovery will be known on Wednesday, when teams are required to submit their injury reports.
Peyton Manning, foot – plantar fasciitis (QB): After a four-week absence due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot, Peyton Manning returned to full play during last week’s AFC championship game, with a victory over the New England Patriots. Manning appeared to have fair mobility in the pocket, and didn’t appear to let his injury hamper his play. The two-week time period between the AFC championship game and the Super Bowl, will greatly help Manning. He will receive therapy daily with modalities for pain, techniques to promote healing, and improve his flexibility and mobility. Manning has participated in all practices since the AFC championship game, and will be available for the Super Bowl on Sunday. Manning’s throwing arm continues to be a source of concern.
Darian Stewart, knee – MCL Sprain (S): Darian Stewart sustained a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain during Sunday’s AFC championship game. Your MCL ligament is located on the medial (inner) part of your knee and attaches the top to the bottom. It is a stabilizing ligament of the knee, and allows you to move and perform activities without your knee buckling. MCL sprains have grades between one and three, one being mild and three being the worst. It is unknown how bad Stewart’s sprain is at this time. The average healing time for grade 1 or 2 MCL sprain is 2 to 4 weeks. The difficulty for Stewart with this injury is that he will have difficulty cutting back to the receiver. Typically MCL injuries cause sharp pains on the inside of your knee when stressed, and may lead to a “gapping” type feeling when cutting or performing lateral movements. Depending on the severity of the sprain, Stewart may be wearing a brace to prevent this gapping, and possible further damage to his knee. Again, depending on the severity of his injury, he may have a limited role in Sunday’s game. More will be known when the teams submit their injury report on Wednesday.