By Dr. Matt ProvencherFOX Sports Injury & Performance AnalystThe NFL playoffs have moved on to the divisional round, and the stakes are higher than ever.Here is the lowdown on the big injuries to keep an eye on ahead of this weekend’s playoff action, including some players expected to return from their ailments, with an analysis of the impact on their production.For more analysis of the NFL from Dr. Matt, follow him on Twitter or go to FantasyPredictors.com.Tristan Wirfs, OL, BuccaneersInjury: Right high-ankle sprainImpact: Affects pass protection, strength, mobilitySurgery: NoPotential time missed: 0-1 gameNotes: Wirfs suffered his injury on the first drive of the Bucs’ win over the Eagles on Sunday. He returned in the second quarter with his ankle heavily taped but could be seen limping and having issues with mobility both during and between plays. Wirfs was ultimately taken out of the game and is rehabbing this week. He will not practice until Friday to test whether he can play this weekend.Production upon return: High-ankle sprains are tough for any position, and the sheer power required of an O-lineman makes playing with this injury very difficult — even taped. It is likely that Wirfs will not be able to play Sunday against the Rams, but if he can manage to brace/tape and get in there, the data suggests his productivity will be down around 25-30%. This could mean a lot of quick pass plays might be coming from Tom Brady as the Bucs take on a top-tier Rams defensive line.’Tristan could be sidelined one-to-three weeks’
Dr. Matt Provencher evaluates Tristan Wirfs’ ankle injury and gives a timetable for his return.
Derrick Henry, RB, TitansInjury: Right foot Jones fractureImpact: Affects cutting, power, quicknessSurgery: Yes, on Nov. 1Potential time missed: Should return this weekNotes: Henry returning for Tennessee’s divisional-round matchup against the Bengals on Saturday almost seems like a movie storyline. The Titans’ top offensive weapon hasn’t had contact practice but will go this week to see if he can return to face a banged-up Cincinnati defensive line. Although Henry has not been on the field since Week 8, it would be a massive lift for the Titans’ offense if he feels strong enough to play. Henry has had just more than 11 weeks to heal the fifth metatarsal stress fracture after surgical fixation. He should have solid healing at this point, and we have seen other running backs and wideouts return as soon as eight or nine weeks after surgery. Production upon return: If Henry does return this week, expect him to test the ankle at first, meaning he will likely have a minimum 20-25% reduction in snap percentage. If all goes well and he feels good, those numbers should be cranked up if the Titans can pull off a win this weekend.Nick Bosa, DE, 49ersInjury: ConcussionImpact: Affects mental preparedness, cognitive decision-makingSurgery: NoPotential time missed: 0-1 gameNotes: Bosa suffered a concussion against Dallas on Sunday and will have to clear concussion protocol to play this week against the Green Bay Packers. Unfortunately for the 49ers, the game is Saturday, giving Bosa one fewer day to clear protocol. San Francisco is hopeful that he will be able to do so, but only time will tell. We will follow his progress this week to see if he will be able to play. Having him back would be a massive help for the 49ers going up against the Packers, but obviously, his health is paramount.Production upon return: If Bosa returns this week, his productivity could fall 5-10% based on the data. But hopefully, he will be ready to go and can be back to his dominant self on the field.Larry Ogunjobi, DT, Bengals Injury: Right foot, likely ligamentous and/or stress injury to the mid-footImpact: Affects run-stopping, mobility, powerSurgery: YesPotential time missed: Remainder of playoffsNotes: Ogunjobi suffered his foot injury in Saturday’s victory over the Raiders. After the game, he was seen on a scooter and was recently placed on IR. Although he will be out the remainder of the playoffs — a big blow to the Bengals’ defensive line — the real concern is for his future. He was signed to a one-year deal and proved to be a force, starting 16 games and registering a career-high seven sacks. Now it will be interesting to see how the team handles his contract negotiation this offseason. We will await further confirmation from imaging to see how severe the injury is.Production upon return: We will have to wait to check the severity of the injury, but barring any massive damage, Ogunjobi should have a lot of time to recover and rehab this offseason, so he should be back to his normal self next season.Mike Daniels, DT, BengalsInjury: GroinImpact: Affects movement, pass-rushing, change of directionSurgery: NoPotential time missed: 0-1 gameNotes: The Bengals are already thin on the defensive line, with injuries to Ogunjobi and Trey Hendrickson and Josh Tupou still dealing with his MCL. This makes Daniels’ injury a much bigger deal. Groin injuries — including hamstring injuries and other soft tissues — need time to heal. Even the slightest wrong move can reinjure the area if it hasn’t had sufficient recovery time. Severity plays a big role in this, and the medical staff will do everything it can to assist in Daniels’ recovery. But it is likely he will miss Saturday’s game, and if he does play, he will be very limited.Production upon return: After this type of injury, players can experience a 40-50% reduction in snap percentage in their first game back. That number drops to 30% in the following games. Expect to see much less of Daniels this week. Mario Addison, DE, BillsInjury: Right shoulder labrum sprainImpact: Affects tackling, pass-rushing, strengthSurgery: NoPotential time missed: 0-1 gameNotes: Addison had a hard fall while attempting a tackle this past weekend. In the video, you can see medical personnel tending to him and testing his labrum, as well as a few other structures. This is the same shoulder on which he had a labral repair following the 2015 season. We will watch how he progresses this week, as the team currently says he is “day-to-day.” If they can brace or pad him, I would expect him to be out there Sunday at Kansas City, assuming he has the strength to go.Production upon return: When Addison returns, his snap percentage will most likely be down around 10-15%. If he feels good against the Chiefs, this could decrease for the next game, should they win.Jaire Alexander, CB, PackersInjury: Right shoulder AC joint sprainImpact: Affects coverage, press coverage, tackling, pass breakupsSurgery: NoPotential time missed: Returning this weekNotes: Alexander has been practicing but unfortunately found his way to the COVID-19 reserve list prior to the end of the regular season. He will most likely be back this week. He was injured in a Week 4 win against the Steelers and hasn’t played since. Production upon return: We normally see a 10-15% reduction in productivity after an AC joint injury, which might cause Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry to give Alexander some help over the top. But the Packers will undoubtedly be thrilled to get their Pro Bowl DB back on the field.Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, ChiefsInjury: ShoulderImpact: Affects ability to absorb hits, yards after contact, ball carryingSurgery: NoPotential time missed: 0-2 gamesNotes: Edwards-Helaire has missed three games with what the team called a “shoulder contusion.” He tried to practice last week but ultimately was ruled out for K.C.’s win over the Steelers on Sunday. Coach Andy Reid said his running back will have to get on the field to test it this week. We will watch his progression. If he strings some practices together, expect him to play against the Bills on Sunday.Production upon return: Even if Edwards-Helaire plays, I believe the team will use him on a limited basis. His snap percentage will most likely be down 5-15%. The Chiefs do have Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon in the backfield as well, though Williams is battling a toe injury.Andrew Whitworth, OL, RamsInjury: AnkleImpact: Affects mobility, powerSurgery: NoPotential time missed: 0 gamesNotes: Whitworth went down on the first play from scrimmage in the Rams’ win over the Cardinals on Monday but returned and played the rest of the game. The team might give him some time off this week to rehab his ankle, but he should play Sunday at Tampa Bay. Medical staff will most likely tape him up and get him ready in time for the divisional round. Production upon return: Ankle sprains can cause a 15-20% decrease in production — sometimes even higher, depending on the severity of the injury. The fact that Whitworth was able to play the rest of the game Monday likely points to a lower number. Keep in mind that the veteran lineman is also returning from a knee injury (PCL and MCL) but has played extremely well this season.Taylor Rapp, S, RamsInjury: ConcussionImpact: Affects cognitive abilitySurgery: NoPotential time missed: 0-1 gameNotes: Rapp didn’t clear concussion protocol in time to play in Monday’s game. He will continue to work this week, and if he can pass protocol, expect to see him out on the field. Concussions are serious ordeals, and the Rams will definitely do what is safe for Rapp before allowing him to return.Production upon return: When Rapp returns, his productivity might be down some, but most likely he will be back and ready to go.Renowned orthopedist Dr. Matt Provencher and his company, Proven Performance Technology (PPT), deliver data-driven injury insights to football fans. In this first-of-a-kind role as Athlete Injury and Performance Analyst for FOX Sports’ digital platforms, Provencher provides important predictive player health and recovery information about post-injury performance, the impact of weather, field conditions and more. Get more from National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more.