And here it is. The last NFL blog of the season! Week 17 signals the finale of the regular season. How will it stack up against week 16 which featured one highest number of injuries? Here’s week 17 by the numbers:
32 = Number of players who missed game time due to injury.
2 = Number of players placed on season-ending IR.
7 = Number of knee injuries.
Two of the biggest headlines surrounding the injury report this week focused on two playoff-bound. The first is Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers who strained his calf muscle on Sunday. Rodgers initially pulled his calf a couple weeks ago but toughed it out for the last game of the season. Unfortunately, the injury came back to haunt him. And I’m not talking Casper the Friendly Ghost haunting. More like Voldemort from Harry Potter or zombies from Walking Dead haunting. So on Sunday when Rodgers took a few quick strides to escape the pressure of oncoming defenders, his tired calf decided that was all it was going to handle. We talked about injury reaggravation before and this is another classic example. Not enough rest and rehab makes his calf a sad boy. The good news is that Rodgers will have an extra week to chillax that calf as the Packers have a bye this upcoming week. If anyone has his number, please text him and tell him to foam roll like a mad man!
The other big name player who was hurt this weekend was Le’Veon Bell. Bell could possibly be the MVP on his Pittsburgh Steelers team this year. He produced 77.7% of the Steelers’ rushing yards this season! That kind of production only ranks second to my boy, DeMarco Murray.
Spell it out now: O-U-C-H! You can clearly see that Bell’s knee bends backwards. And not just a little bit. When the Bengals defender hits Bell, the impact causes his knee to hyperextend a lot. Although he was able to limp off the field under his own power, he did not return to the game. So what’s the diagnosis?
Looking at the video (over and over again), here are my best guesses:
- Muscle contusion. This is a really fancy way of saying “charley horse”. It’s possible that the impact of the hit was absorbed completely by Bell’s quads and resulted in some bleeding and bruising in that muscle. This type of injury requires some rest and icing to return to normal. With a short recovery time, this is what all Steelers fans should have been hoping for.
- Bone bruise. Yes, just like your skin or muscles, bones can bruise too! Usually there is a gap between your femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). But when the knee is forcefully hyperextended, the two bones can smack against each other. This hard impact causes some bruising of the bone. Damage to bones will take longer to heal than damage to muscles – especially in weight bearing bones like the femur or tibia.
- Ligament sprain. A PCL or ACL sprain is the most serious injury Bell could have sustained. With knee hyperextensions, the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is at greater risk of injury than the ACL. Typical ACL injuries occur with pivoting or twisting rather than hyperextending. The PCL is also found within the knee joint. Like the ACL, it stops your knee from shifting forwards and backwards too much. How long an athlete is out for following a ligament injury depends on the severity of the sprain. Regardless, with only a few weeks of playoffs before the Super Bowl, Bell’s season could be over if he’s dealing with a moderate to high grade sprain to either the ACL or PCL.
Well, let’s rule one of those differential diagnoses out, shall we? The day after the injury, Bell went for an MRI. Steelers fans rejoiced like it was Christmas Day when they heard the MRI ruled out any ligament injuries. The official injury report listed Bell as questionable with a hyperextended knee. But to be honest with you, a “hyperextended knee” is a pretty vague diagnosis. It doesn’t tell us what exact structures are damaged.
Throughout the week, I kept tabs on media updates on Bell. People must think I’m really sadistic because I bookmark tweets about his injury. It’s all for this blog, I swear! There were some really thrilling tweets about him as well. For example:
While we rang in the New Year, Bell was busy trying to rehab his knee. We iced our alcoholic beverages in a cooler. He iced his knee. We worked out by dancing (sloppily). He worked out by riding a stationary bike. We high fived our friends when midnight struck. He high fived his physio when he was able to lightly jog.
But I’m going to hazard a guess and say we probably had a better start to 2015 than poor Mr. Bell. Because on Friday morning, the Steelers announced that Bell was ruled out of the first round of playoffs. That makes all of us (you, me, and Dupree… and Le’Veon) spectators on Saturday night when the Steelers face the Baltimore Ravens.
As Bell was unable to return to football within the week, my suspicion is that he sustained a bone bruise. Like a muscle contusion, there is a fair amount of swelling around the knee and pain associated with the impact. But unlike muscle contusions, bone bruises are more painful and last longer. It can take up to 4 weeks for the pain from a bone bruise to reside enough for an athlete to return to play.
Fingers crossed that I am wrong! Even though I now own a terrible towel (thanks, Mike!), I’m still not a Steelers fan. But I don’t like seeing athletes getting hurt and missing out on playing either! Bell ran his tail off for 16 regular season games and it would be a shame to see him sit on the bench in the playoffs.
Bell is banking on a Steelers win to extend his season by another week. Hopefully that extra week gives his knee enough time to recover. For now, his rehab is very simple: rest. He’ll maintain his cardio by doing low impact activities such as biking or swimming. If he wants, he could even join aquacise with these lovely ladies. But he’s going to have to be cautious when he returns to jogging, running, sprinting, and cutting. For now, all we can do is wait and see! I suppose you could also send him some words of encouragement and maybe some flowers too.
Thanks for tuning into my NFL blog this year, folks! I have never spent this much time following the NFL. Ironically, despite my immense knowledge, I still managed to finish second last in my family pool.
Because I clearly did not take home any championships or prizes, I hope you take home some of this injury information. Or better yet, take this info to your friend’s house and drop all fun facts that you’ve learned. You’ll be “that really cool, smart, and good lucking guy/girl” at the party in no time!
– Chris (6-11)
P.S. Go Seahawks!