Jacob Phillips landed on the Cleveland Browns‘ injured reserve with his bicep tendon injury.
The timing of the designation indicates the team hopes the linebacker can return before the end of the season.
Had the team placed Phillips on IR prior to September 1, his season would be over.
There is hope Jacob Phillips will return this season.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 1, 2021
Sure enough, head coach Kevin Stefanski offered optimism at an open presser yesterday, adding.
“Hopefully, he attacks this rehab like I know he will and then see where we are as he gets healthy.”
That is a lot of pressure to put on a young player whose injury usually results in 6-8 months of recovery and rehab.
#Browns HC Kevin Stefanski on whether he has confidence in LB Jacob Phillips returning at some point this season: "Yes."
— 92.3 The Fan (@923TheFan) September 1, 2021
But Phillips seems up for the task, already back in Berea working with Browns trainers after surgery.
And the further the team goes into the playoffs, the better the odds Phillips will hit the field at some point.
How Bad Is Phillips’ Injury?
Phillips tore his biceps tendon after reaching out and making contact with a crossing receiver.
It looked innocent enough, but the harsh back-motion is what typically causes a biceps tendon to tear.
Cleveland originally reported Phillips’ injury as an elbow issue, indicating the tear is at that end of the bicep.
That is far worse than a proximal, or shoulder-side tendon tear.
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) August 20, 2021
For one thing, there are 2 biceps tendons at the shoulder, but only one at the elbow.
Players can play through the former, but lose most arm strength and function with an elbow-side tear.
While surgery and rehab of a distal biceps tendon tear are intense, the repairs are overwhelmingly successful.
A recent study concluded players who do return to competition can be expected to perform at an NFL level.
How Long Could Phillips Be Out?
Every human being, including NFL players, is unique as far as recovery times and pain tolerance levels.
But when it comes to biceps tendon injuries, the prognosis already varies widely.
Playing through the injury was not an option, and Phillips’ bicep is already repaired.
Normal human beings require 2-3 months of rest to heal properly post-surgery.
— Jeff-LJ-Lloyd (@Jeff_LJ_Lloyd) May 19, 2021
After that, patients typically need to limit vigorous activity and lifting for several more months.
But Phillips is already working with trainers, presumably to maintain flexibility and as much strength as possible.
It remains to be seen if such an early regimen accelerates the normal recovery and rehabilitation time.
Ultimately, pain tolerance might decide if Phillips makes it back for a playoff run.
What It Means To The Browns
Jacob Phillips showed promise after coming back from other injuries last season.
He has the speed, smarts, and strength to play a big role in Joe Woods’ defensive scheme.
But despite his proclaimed optimism, Stefanski is already moving forward as if Phillips’ season is over.
Cleveland protected an extra linebacker or two by naming 7 to the initial 53-man roster.
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) August 31, 2021
Tony Fields returned to the practice field and is expected to be ready for Week 1.
But Mack Wilson, the subject of trade inquiries, remains on the roster in case Fields needs more time.
But with Anthony Walker and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the fold, Woods surely has big plans at linebacker.