The biggest NFL Week 1 injury happened on Sunday Night Football when Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a thumb injury that will sideline him for 6-8 weeks. Prescott wasn’t the only key player to go down on Sunday, though. Let’s round up the latest injury news from the NFL’s opening week.
NFL Week 1 injury news
The season is only one week old, but significant injuries have already occurred. Here’s the latest on recovery timelines from around the league.
Mac Jones, QB, New England Patriots
Mac Jones was sent for X-rays on his back after Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, but the tests came back “normal,” according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. New England will see how Jones feels before they play the Steelers in Week 2, but it sounds as though the second-year quarterback will be fine. If not, veteran Brian Hoyer will step in under center for the Patriots.
Chris Godwin, WR and Donovan Smith, OT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chris Godwin, who recovered quickly enough from a torn ACL to be ready for Week 1, suffered a hamstring strain against the Cowboys and will miss time, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Fortunately, Godwin may only miss a few weeks as the injury is not considered overly serious. Russell Gage and Julio Jones should pick up more snaps behind Mike Evans in Godwin’s absence.
Meanwhile, Donovan Smith left the game with an elbow injury and did not return. Head coach Todd Bowles said today that Smith has a hyperextended elbow — the veteran’s pain tolerance will establish when he can return.
The Buccaneers can ill afford any more offensive line injuries after losing center Ryan Jensen and projected starting left guard Aaron Stinnie in the preseason. Veteran Josh Wells would fill in at left tackle if Smith is forced to miss extensive action.
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Keenan Allen was ruled out after halftime on Sunday due to a hamstring injury, and he told reporters he could “possibly” be ready for the Chargers’ Thursday night game against the Chiefs, per Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.
Allen later clarified that, given the short turnaround, it’s more likely a “small possibly” that he’ll be available against Kansas City. Look for second-year WR Joshua Palmer to take over as LA’s No. 2 receiver as long as Allen is out.
Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers
After injuring his knee against the Bears, Elijah Mitchell is likely looking at a multi-week absence, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Mitchell, who missed a lot of preseason work with a hamstring issue, had a “significant brace” on his knee after the game, reports Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports. He’s undergoing an MRI on Monday.
UPDATE (4:20 p.m.): ESPN reported late Monday afternoon that Mitchell suffered a sprained MCL and will be sidelined up to two months.
Jeff Wilson Jr. is Mitchell’s direct backup in San Francisco, but it won’t be surprising if the team gets more RBs involved alongside Wilson. Rookie undrafted free agent Jordan Mason generated a lot of buzz throughout training camp, while third-round rookie Tyrion Davis-Price should also see action.
Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
We’re still awaiting the official word on whether the Steelers lost reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt to a pectoral injury on Sunday, but Najee Harris appears to be out of the woods. Harris suffered a foot injury against the Bengals, but the ailment is “not considered a big deal,” according to Mike Girardi of NFL Network.
Harris’ foot issue is related to the Lisfranc injury he dealt with in camp, which is undeniably concerning. He’ll undergo an MRI today to determine the full extent of the damage, but it’s not looking overly serious. Rookie Jaylen Warren is Harris’ backup in Pittsburgh.
Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals announced that Tee Higgins left Sunday’s game against the Steelers with a concussion, but he’s “doing well,” per Jordan Schultz of The Score. Still, it’s too early to say whether he’ll be ready to face the Cowboys in Week 2. Mike Thomas filled in for Higgins on Sunday, but Cincinnati could opt to play more 12 personnel if Higgins is out against Dallas.
Meanwhile, the Bengals have placed long snapper Clark Harris on injured reserve and promoted fellow LS Cal Adomitis from the practice squad. Harris’ mid-game injury forced third-string TE Mitchell Wilcox into Sunday’s game as the backup LS, and the results were disastrous.
Ja’Wuan James, OT and Kyle Fuller, CB, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens will be without two key veterans for the rest of the season. Ja’Wuan James, filling in at left tackle for the inactive Ronnie Stanley, tore his Achilles on Sunday, head coach John Harbaugh told reporters. Stanley is still recovering from a longstanding ankle injury — if he’s not ready for Week 2, Patrick Mekari will take over on Lamar Jackson’s blindside.
Meanwhile, Kyle Fuller tore his ACL, per Harbaugh. After signing with Baltimore over the offseason, the 30-year-old CB was projected as a starter for the Ravens. With Marcus Peters still recovering from an ACL tear of his own, rookies Damarion Williams and Jalyn Armour-Davis could see more time alongside CB1 Marlon Humphrey.
Derek Barnett, DE, Philadelphia Eagles
Expected to be part of the Eagles’ deep defensive line rotation, Derek Barnett will miss the season after tearing his ACL, per Rapoport. A first-round pick in the 2017 draft, Barnett was a backup on Philadelphia’s line but was expected to play a role. The Eagles could conceivably look to the free agent or trade market for a replacement, but their defensive front is so deep that they may not need to.
Jayron Kearse, S and Connor McGovern, G, Dallas Cowboys
Jayron Kearse will miss a few weeks with an MCL sprain, reports Schultz. He was a revelation for the Cowboys in 2021 after coming over from the Vikings. Dallas runs a lot of three-safety looks with Kearse, Malik Hooker, and Donovan Wilson, so we’ll have to see how they adjust in Week 2.
On the other side of the ball, Connor McGovern has a high-ankle sprain, as owner Jerry Jones told the media following last night’s game. That’s typically a 4-6 week injury. Matt Farniok, a 2021 seventh-round draft choice, stepped in at left guard against the Buccaneers. At some point, though, Jason Peters should take over as Dallas’ left tackle while first-round rookie Tyler Smith shifts to left guard.
Phidarian Mathis and Jonathan Allen, DTs, Washington Commanders
Phidarian Mathis, a second-round pick in April’s draft, went down with a torn meniscus on Sunday and will undergo season-ending surgery, according to Rapoport. While the Commanders will lose some of their defensive tackle depth, they appear to have dodged a bullet on Jonathan Allen. Head coach Ron Rivera told reporters today that while Allen is going for an MRI on his groin injury, it doesn’t appear to be a serious issue.
Anthony Averett, CB, Las Vegas Raiders
Anthony Averett broke his right thumb and will need surgery, per Rapoport. He’s expected to miss at least a month, so he’ll be a candidate to land on short-term IR. Amik Robertson could see more time in the slot for the Raiders, but Las Vegas signed veteran slot CB Nickell Robey-Coleman on Monday. NRC could play inside in nickel while Nate Hobbs stays at outside corner.
Krys Barnes, LB, Green Bay Packers
After suffering a high-ankle sprain against the Vikings, Krys Barnes will miss action but could return in a few weeks, according to Pelissero. Barnes started 13 games for Green Bay in 2021 but had largely been usurped by first-round rookie Quay Walker. Still, he’s a valuable presence on special teams.