The Seattle Seahawks cruise into the bye week at 5-0 and atop the NFC West. In fact, the Hawks are not just atop the NFC West, with the Buffalo Bills losing to the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday Night Football, the Seahawks are the only team in the league that has played five games and won all five. The Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans are both undefeated, but due to a Week 5 bye for the Pack and a COVID-outbreak forced Week 4 bye for the Titans, both of those squads sit with just four wins.
However, in spite of the hot start which has potentially given the Hawks the inside track on not just the NFC West, but the more important than ever top seed in the NFC, the roster could see potential role players added down the stretch. Those reinforcements include potential difference makers able to come off injured reserve, the physically unable to perform list, the nonfootball injury list or return from suspension.
The first group of players that could see the field for the Hawks are those coming off injured reserve, including Rasheem Green, Phillip Dorsett and Neiko Thorpe. Green and Dorsett have each been on injured reserve for the past three games, meaning they are eligible to return, while Thorpe was only moved to IR a week ago, meaning he will not be immediately eligible to return after the bye. In addition, Thorpe is reportedly dealing with a sports hernia, which could mean either surgery or a prolonged period of rest before he returns to the active roster.
That said, even with both Green and Dorsett eligible to return, either or both of them could see their stay on injured reserve extended depending on how well their recoveries progress. Dorsett’s foot issue is something that has been bothering him since training camp in August, and foot injuries are often notoriously slow to heal.
As for Green, Pete Carroll has stated that Green’s return is likely after the bye, but Pete’s been known to be somewhat optimistic when it comes to injuries in the past. What will be important for Green is how well his recovering. Given that Green’s injury was initially reported as a shoulder injury during the Week 1 game against the Atlanta Falcons before being listed on the Week 2 injury report as a neck issue. That could certainly lead one to believe Green’s injury is a herniated disc, and the team’s actions in the weeks following Green’s injury would be consistent with that.
Specifically, according to semi-regular Field Gulls consultant and retired orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Gilbert, roughly 90% of disc issues will resolve on their own in about two weeks. This correlates well with the actions of the team, who kept Green on the active roster for twelve days after the injury before finally moving him to injured reserve on September 25. Assuming the team has evaluated Green in the nearly three weeks since he went on injured reserve, if there has been improvement since then, it would normal to expect him to be back able to play at the six to eight week mark post injury, which would obviously be in the weeks right after the bye. That would make Pete’s optimism regarding Green’s return after the bye a good sign for Green’s progress since being placed on IR.
Physically Unable to Perform
Rashaad Penny had recorded his best two game stretch in the NFL, with more than 100 yards from scrimmage against the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings in 2019 before suffering a torn ACL and additional damage against the Los Angeles Rams. Carroll recently stated that Penny is ahead of schedule in his recovery, but as the team has never identified specifically what the “additional damage” Penny suffered was it is impossible to know exactly what timeframe he should be on. Given Penny’s offseason tweets regarding his recovery, it’s likely the additional damage was a torn meniscus that they opted to repair, but without specifics it is impossible to know.
That said, the timeline for recovery from ACL reconstruction can be anywhere from six months to a year, so if the team considers one year the recovery timeline, a return anytime prior to late December would be ahead of schedule.
Moving off the subject of Penny’s medical recovery, under NFL PUP rules Penny will be eligible to return to the roster after the Seahawks Week 7 game against the Arizona Cardinals. That would put his first possible return in Week 8 against the San Francisco 49ers, though the team is under no obligation to bring him back to the active roster until he has begun practicing. Once Penny has started practicing, the Hawks will have three weeks to decide whether to activate him to the 53 man roster or move him to injured reserve for the remainder of the season. Thus, the key will be to watch when Penny starts practicing and to start the three week countdown once that happens, because until he does start practicing, it’s likely he won’t be on the 53 man roster for at least three weeks as the team eases him back in.
The Hawks have three players on the nonfootball injury list, including two 2020 draft picks. Colby Parkinson landed on the NFI list after suffering a foot injury this summer, and Darrell Taylor is on NFI while still recovering from surgery he had back in January. In addition, defensive back D.J. Reed who was claimed off waivers from the 49ers this summer is also on NFI.
Following a change to the NFL bylaws in 2018, players on NFI are eligible to return to the 53 man roster after 8 games. That means these three will be eligible to be moved to the active roster after the Seahawks Week 9 matchup against the Buffalo Bills and in time for the Week 10 game against the Rams. There have been reports that Reed is expected to be recovered from his pectoral injury by then, and the timeline for Parkinson’s recovery from a Jones fracture early in the summer should have him able to return by that time as well, assuming he has not suffered any setbacks in rehab.
What remains unknown is where Taylor is in his recovery from January 30 surgery to have a rod inserted into his leg. That is a procedure that can have a recovery timeline that lasts up to a year, however, there are so many variables involved that it is impossible to know what to expect in terms of Taylor’s recovery timeline. In short, he could be ready to hit the field Week 10, or he could miss the entirety of the 2020 season as his leg heals, it’s a complete unknown and nothing can be stated with certainty.
Seahawks fans have been wanting to know when wide receiver Josh Gordon can play since he was signed late in the summer, but that is a question to which no one has any answers. All that is known for certain at this point is that Gordon seemed to announc on Twitter that his reinstatement by the league won’t come this week.
No answers for y’all this week ♂️ Stay tuned— Flash (@JOSH_GORDONXII) October 12, 2020
Presumably the reason no answer is likely to come this week is the fact that the NFL is holding its regular October league meetings, meaning Roger Goodell is otherwise unavailable to process the reinstatement application that’s been on his desk since July. While it may seem ridiculous that the application has been outstanding for that much time, Gordon’s reinstatement is not the only reinstatement with which the league has taken its sweet time. Randy Gregory of the Dallas Cowboys applied for reinstatement in March and received his reinstatement in early September. One can only hope it doesn’t take that long for the league to process Gordon’s application, but there are no guarantees.
My personal best guess is that the league will reinstate Gordon in the coming weeks, allowing him to play sometime in early December. That’s just a guess based on what I expect the league to do, and could easily be way off, which is of course a risk of attempting to predict the future.