NFL Conference Championship Injury Report

NFL Conference Championship Injury Report

Well, we blinked, and then there were four. Four teams left in the chase for Super Bowl LVIII. Each team is looking to put their best foot forward in the most important game of their NFL season. Unfortunately, a team’s health plays a major role in the likelihood of this happening.

At this point in the season, every team is dealing with injuries, but the severity and their impact are not created equal. For a full picture of this weekend’s matchups, we need to first understand the battle on the injury reports.

Here is everything you need to know regarding the BIGGEST injuries on both sides of the ball. Welcome to the NFL Conference Championship Injury Report!

Injury news happens fast and can change quickly, so for the most up-to-date news and analysis, follow me on X @SGPNFootballDoc! This article is updated daily until Sunday Night Football, so check back in before setting your lineup!

 

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NFL Conference Championship Injury Report

Conference Championship Inactives

Derrick Nnadi (NT) Kansas City Chiefs
Skyy Moore (WR) Kansas City Chiefs
Joe Thuney (G) Kansas City Chiefs
Jonah Jackson (G) Detroit Lions
Kalif Raymond (WR) Detroit Lions
Brock Wright (TE) Detroit Lions
Clelin Ferrell (DL) San Francisco 49ers

Joe Thuney (G) Kansas City Chiefs

Injury: Pec Strain
Injury Date: 1/21/2024
Expected Recovery Time: 2-3 weeks
Recovery Time to Conference Championship: 1 week

The Kansas City Chiefs went into Buffalo and slayed the dragon that is Bills Mafia. Despite coming out victorious, there were some casualties.

The biggest injury on the offensive side was to All-Pro LG Joe Thuney. He was knocked out of the game with a chest injury, and there was some concern for a serious injury initially.

Fortunately, the Chiefs received some good news from the MRI, and Thuney only suffered a pectoral strain and not a full tear. A pectoral (pec) strain refers to damage to the chest musculature. This is the best case from the injury, but that does not mean he will be fully healed by Sunday.

Even in minor cases, a pec strain typically takes at least 2-3 weeks to fully heal. Now, offensive linemen are especially tough, so there is a good chance he will try to play through the injury. We’ll have to monitor his practice participation to see if he can give it a go.

Chiefs LG Joe Thuney avoided a major injury but is OUT this week with a pec injury – SIT. 

Isiah Pacheco (RB) Kansas City Chiefs

Injury: Toe Injury
Injury Date: 1/21/2024
Expected Recovery Time: 1-3 weeks
Recovery Time to Conference Championship: 1 week

Despite playing a full game and putting up impressive numbers, Chiefs stud RB Isiah Pacheco popped up on the injury report to start the week. He did not practice today with a toe injury. The team is not too concerned as he is reportedly getting better and said himself that he will play Sunday. Minor toe injuries can be played through but this may limit his ability to push off, thus affecting his acceleration and speed.

Chiefs RB Isiah Pacheco is dealing with a minor toe injury but is expected to play this week – START.

Jonah Jackson (G) Detroit Lions

Injury: Meniscus Tear
Injury Date: 1/21/2024
Expected Recovery Time: 2-3 weeks
Recovery Time to Conference Championship: 1 week

Despite offensive linemen being warriors who try to play through everything, there are times they have no choice but to sit out. This is the case with Lions LG Jonah Jackson, as he has been ruled out with a knee injury he suffered last week.

He was ruled out of the game and found to have a small meniscus tear that required surgery to remove. The meniscus is protective cartilage in the knee that improves the stability and shock absorption of the knee.

The good news regarding this surgery is that the recovery time is surprisingly quick for a surgery. Since the surgeon simply removed the damaged cartilage and did not repair it, there is less healing and protective time needed.

This does have some negative long term affects but in the short term, it means that Jackson would likely be available for a Lions Super Bowl.

Lions LG Jonah Jackson is OUT this week but has a good chance to be available for the Super Bowl if needed – SIT. 

Deebo Samuel (WR) San Francisco 49ers

Injury: Shoulder Injury
Injury Date: 1/20/2024
Expected Recovery Time: 1-3 weeks
Recovery Time to Conference Championship: 1 week

Next up is the MOST important injury on this NFL Conference Championship Injury Report, in my opinion. San Francisco WR Deebo Samuel is the engine that makes the 49ers offense drive.

He was knocked out of the game early with a shoulder injury, and that offense looked like a shell of itself.

At this point there is still a lot of mystery surrounding his injury. What we do know is that Deebo does NOT have a broken bone in his shoulder like he did earlier in the season. Based on the injury mechanism, it is likely Samuel is dealing with a minor AC sprain. This refers to damage to the joint connecting the shoulder and clavicle. When minor, most players are able to play through the pain.

This gives him a chance to play this week. However, the fact he was ruled out at halftime and did not attempt to return to the game makes me think the injury will not be fully healed in a week.

49ers WR Deebo Samuel is dealing with a shoulder injury that will likely limit him but I expect him to try to play through the pain – START. 

Dre Greenlaw (LB) San Francisco 49ers

Injury: Achilles Tendinitis
Injury Date: 12/31/2023
Expected Recovery Time: 2-4 weeks
Recovery Time to Conference Championship: 4 weeks

As the 49ers ramp up for their conference championship matchup, they have a few injuries that were aided by the extra week off. This includes LB Dre Greenlaw, who is dealing with Achilles Tendinitis.

This refers to inflammation and damage of the Achilles Tendon that connects your calf muscle to your heel bone. This is typically an overuse injury, and it’s a bit difficult to rehab during the season. It is all about appropriately loading the tendon and not overworking it.

For this reason, Greenlaw did not practice much the past two weeks. The 49ers noted this was more of a maintenance decision, and Greenlaw was able to play last week. I am expecting more of the same this week with little to no practice but for him to play Sunday.

The concern I do have is that his Achilles Tendon is unlikely to fully heal until the offseason, when he can really focus on his rest and recovery. This means that there is a real chance of his tendon flaring up during a game, causing him to sit out or cause further damage to the tendon.

49ers LB Dre Greenlaw is dealing with a nagging Achilles injury but is expected to play – START.

Sam LaPorta (TE) Detroit Lions

Injury: Bone Bruise
Injury Date: 1/7/2024
Expected Recovery Time: 1-3 weeks
Recovery Time to Conference Championship: 3 weeks

The NFL Conference Championship Injury Report rolls on with the only rookie on it,  Detroit Lions TE Sam LaPorta. Despite a concerning mechanism of injury in which his left leg hyperextends and bends awkwardly, the young TE luckily did not suffer a major injury. Instead, he is only dealing with a bone bruise on his knee.

A bone bruise refers to damage to the surface of the knee bones, causing a response similar to a bruise or a contusion. Blood and inflammation rush to the injury site leading to a significant amount of pain. Pain and swelling control are going to be the biggest keys to this recovery.

After some doubts initially, the swelling and pain were able to diminish enough to allow the rookie TE to play the past two weeks. He did wear a bulky brace, and his mobility was limited, but he was able to be somewhat effective and even caught a TD pass.

Headed into this week, I expect LaPorta to only be progressing and regaining his mobility. Three weeks out from the injury, he is close to 100% and will need to have a big game if the Lions have a shot at winning.

Lions TE Sam LaPorta avoided a major injury and is dealing with a bone bruise that is unlikely to limit him at this point – START.

Marlon Humphrey (CB) Baltimore Ravens

Injury: Calf Strain
Injury Date: 12/31/2023
Expected Recovery Time: 4-6 weeks
Recovery Time to Conference Championship: 4 weeks

Despite the Ravens earning a bye and not playing most of their starters for two weeks, they still have some players on the NFL Conference Championship Injury Report.

Their star CB Marlon Humphrey is one of them as he tries to recover from a calf strain he picked up in Week 17 against Miami. At this point, he has yet to return to practice, and my concern for his availability is growing.

In mild cases, a calf strain typically heals in 1-3 weeks. However, in more severe cases it can take up to six weeks to recover. Having not practiced yet since the injury, it is likely he is dealing with a more severe grade 2 strain.

This comes with a higher reinjury risk and makes it more difficult for him to return and be productive. Humphrey returned to practice for the first time in over a month in a limited capacity to start the week. This does not guarantee he will play but gives him a chance for this week.

Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey returned to practice in a full capacity and is likely to play, but I am not optimistic he will be productive – MONITOR. 

Mark Andrews (TE) Baltimore Ravens

Injury: High Ankle Sprain + Fibula Fracture
Injury Date: 11/16/2023
Expected Recovery Time: 8-12 weeks
Recovery Time to Conference Championship: 10 weeks

Ravens TE Mark Andrews had his season turned upside down in Week 11. After a great start to the game, he was taken down by a controversial hip drop tackle and injured his ankle.

His foot got caught underneath the defender, causing the leg to twist and damage to occur. In some cases, the force of the injury is so high it not only causes ligament damage but also a fibula fracture.

The star Baltimore TE is dealing with a grade 2 high ankle sprain as well as a slight fibula fracture. This is a serious injury that often requires surgery.

Taking at least two months to heal, he will likely miss the rest of the NFL season, while there is some debate on whether he could return for the NFL playoffs.

Just under two months after having TightRope surgery to repair his ankle, Ravens TE Mark Andrews returned to practice during the bye week.

At this point, he has practiced for two weeks and even practiced fully last week but did not play. He is continuing to progress this week as he looks to ramp up before Sunday.

His progress is encouraging and gives him a real shot to play this week. While I do think there is a good chance he returns this week, he is not going to be 100%. I do expect him to only increase his mobility and production if the Ravens are able to advance in the playoffs.

Ravens TE Mark Andrews is BACK from his high ankle sprain and fibula fracture but don’t expect too much his first week back – SIT.

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