Dr. Flynn: NFL quarterbacks in a world of hurt right now

Hi everyone! Here at, we tend to focus on…umm … Boston sports. If you don’t mind humoring me, though, could we take a look around the NFL for a sec?

Andrew Luck
Nick Foles
Drew Brees
Ben Roethlisberger
Sam Darnold
Trevor Siemian
Cam Newton.

Notice a trend?

Andrew Luck (QB, Colts) retired on August 24th after battling multiple painful injuries with prolonged recoveries.

Nick Foles (QB, Jaguars) got hit while throwing a pass in week 1 and broke his collarbone. He had surgery and is likely out until at least week 11.

Have you had enough?

Drew Brees (QB, Saints) got hit in the right hand by Aaron Donald in Week 2 and tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb. He is having surgery and will be out for a minimum of 6-8 weeks, depending on which type of procedure is chosen.

Ben Roethlisberger (QB, Steelers) appeared in his Week 2 matchup with a counterforce strap/tape around his right forearm. He intermittently shook his right arm out after throws, and after one pass, in particular, grabbed his elbow, looked at the sideline, and left the field. He’s out for the rest of the season and will be having an undisclosed surgery which is reportedly “not Tommy John.”

Oh, there’s more…

Sam Darnold (QB, Jets) the baby-faced 22-year-old has mono and is out for at least a month.

Trevor Siemian (QB #2, Jets) who stepped in for Darnold in week 2, sustained a gruesome ankle ligament injury and has been declared out for the season and may need surgery.

And (hopefully) finally…

Cam Newton (QB, Panthers), who had another surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder this past offseason. He has been working with QB coach Tom House on a more “compact” throwing motion. The only issue? In Week 2, he looked more like he was chucking a shot-put than throwing a football. To add injury to insult, on the Gillette Stadium turf this preseason, Newton sustained a Lisfranc sprain in his left foot. Reports surfaced Tuesday that Newton re-aggravated the foot in week 2 and his status going forward is unknown. Lisfranc injuries are notoriously tough to heal, and the combination of the throwing shoulder and foot issues will make things very difficult for the mobile quarterback. (PS going vegan doesn’t appear to have worked)

So that’s where we are. IN WEEK 3 of the NFL season. With starting quarterbacks dropping left and right around them, the Patriots’ most important injury is one that they need to prevent.

Tom Brady. Any part of him.

I won’t go into painstaking detail here, but Brady takes care of himself. He’s 42 years old and looks like he’s 30. He drinks a lot of water, coined the phrase “pliability,” and spent some time adding mass this offseason so he can absorb hits a little better. He’s a master at his job — reads the defense like a child’s book, anticipates and avoids contact. But remember when Kam Chancellor drove his helmet into Brady’s thigh? Here’s a reminder).

Unfortunately, contact can come when he least expects it.

So who do the Patriots have protecting their quarterback?

Veteran center David Andrews is out for an extended period of time with blood clots in his lungs. He is replaced by offensive lineman Ted Karras, whose shotgun snaps appeared significantly more crisp in week 2.

Starting right tackle Marcus Cannon came down hard on his left shoulder in week 1 and was forced to leave the Patriots’ matchup with the Steelers. The exact nature of the injury is unknown, but the good news is that he traveled with the team to Miami last weekend and was testing the shoulder out pregame with the training staff. All reports point to a possible week 3 return.

Starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn, who missed last season with an Achilles tear, suffered a toe injury in week 2. He reportedly has turf toe, which is an injury to soft tissues under the first toe. These structures, together named the “plantar plate,” are very important for push-off. Turf toe is a difficult injury to heal and often lingers if it is not fully rested. The Patriots have announced that they are placing Wynn on IR with an ability to return in week 10 at the earliest.

Three out of the Patriots’ five projected starting offensive linemen are out. There is hope that Cannon may be able to return within a week or two.

For now, it’s Marshall Newhouse and Korey Cunningham, Ted Karras at center, a weak stretch in the schedule, and the wizard himself, Dante Scarnecchia — who is now more than ever in the business of quarterback injury prevention.


Dr. Jessica Flynn is a sports medicine physician at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, MA. She writes about injuries in professional sports on her blog, You can follow her on Twitter @jessdeede.

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