NFL spring practices are in full swing, which means NFL injury updates are back. Trey Lance gets healthy. The Atlanta Falcons’ finances might take a major hit. And Matthew Stafford will have a light workload for the foreseeable future. Here’s the latest on many of the biggest names dealing with either new or existing injuries, and how they’ve impacted them as OTAs roll on.
Latest NFL injuries from OTAs
Deion Jones, LB, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have one of the worst rosters in football and are in full rebuild mode after trading Matt Ryan.
Rebuilding teams would prefer not carrying a $20 million cap number on an inside linebacker, but that’s the reality with Deion Jones after a 2021 restructure that guaranteed his $9.6 million base salary.
Jones would have been a prime candidate for a post-June 1 trade (which would have cleared that entire salary off their books), but those plans are now in serious doubt.
Falcons coach Arthur Smith announced Thursday that Jones underwent offseason shoulder surgery and will miss all of spring ball. The Falcons do expect him back for the start of training camp. Whether he’s on the roster at that point might depend on how much of Jones’ contract the Falcons would be willing to eat in a trade — if they don’t cut him outright.
Jameis Winston, QB, New Orleans Saints
Jaboo wins — the rehab race. Seven months after tearing his ACL, Jameis Winston was a participant in Saints OTAs this week. That’s great news for Winston. And perhaps even better news for a New Orleans offense that stunk without him in 2021.
Winston returned to New Orleans on a two-year, $28 million contract, and barring a significant setback in his rehab, is expected to start for the Saints against the Falcons in Week 1. Prior to his injury, Winston threw 14 touchdowns and 1,170 yards with just three interceptions, leading the Saints to a 5-2 start to the season.
Trey Lance, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo’s shoulder isn’t the only thing that has needed healing in the 49ers’ quarterbacks room this offseason. Trey Lance’s entire rookie season was impacted by a finger injury he suffered during the preseason.
The issue didn’t keep him out of regular-season games, but it did impact his performance. Lance completed 57.7% of his passes for 603 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions in six appearances.
“I kind of dealt with my finger throughout the season, so for me, it was kind of getting that back, and getting healthy, and feeling back to myself,” Lance said this week, per 49ersWebzone.com. “Like, towards the end of the season, I wasn’t the best version of myself overall. It was a long season, a long pre-draft process, of me not being in school. Everyone says it’s going to be, but you don’t really realize it until it happens. And I think the finger, for me, was the biggest thing just as far as throwing the ball.
“I kind of had to learn to throw the ball differently without kind of using my pointer finger, I guess because of just where it was at throughout the year. But now, I feel like I’m in a great spot, health-wise, and throwing the ball wall, and feeling really good.”
Matthew Stafford, QB, Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford has thrown more than 7,000 career passes in the NFL, including the playoffs. Some wear and tear with that body of work is inevitable.
So Stafford is largely getting OTAs off after receiving what Rams coach Sean McVay classified as an anti-inflammatory shot in his right elbow to treat an issue that plagued him for much of last season. McVay, speaking with the media this week, wouldn’t commit to throwing during the mandatory minicamp in two weeks.
“We’re taking it a day at a time right now, but the goal and the thought process was that he’ll start to ramp that up when we get closer to training camp,” McVay said. “He’s able to communicate with us in how he’s feeling. But the plan all along has been, ‘Let’s really stress above-the-neck and things that we can control, but be smarter than anything else with him, especially with his experience and his ability to communicate with us.'”
A rundown of minor Dallas Cowboys issues
New Cowboys wide receiver James Washington was a spectator for OTAs Thursday, wearing a walking boot on an injured left foot/ankle. Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy didn’t sound any alarm bells, however, and Washington told reporters he should be OK for the Cowboys’ mandatory minicamp next month.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys held out left tackle Tyron Smith (back tightness) as a precaution. Rookie Jalen Tolbert is also dealing with a minor injury, but McCarthy said he’s expected to practice next week.