Trouble is brewing in paradise. Josh Allen suffered an elbow injury to his throwing arm during the Buffalo Bills’ Week 9 tilt against the New York Jets. The trauma is creating drama, leaving Bills Mafia feeling kaput. The question is, what is the injury and how long will Josh be out?
The injury occurred on the third to last play of the game. Bryce Huff, a third-year player with 5.5 career sacks, blew by Bills RT David Quessenberry to force a strip sack. When this occurred, Huff violently wrenched Josh Allen’s arm while he was cocking to unload a piss missile of a throw that only one man could ever accomplish.
Virtually no quarterback would have been injured on this play, but Josh Allen is such a flamethrower, that resisting his cannon can cause harm. The bad news is Josh Allen has sustained an Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) sprain and ulnar nerve involvement.
The good news is Bryce Huff is so small that he couldn’t seriously injure the massive Josh Allen.
What is a UCL sprain?
The UCL of the elbow is commonly called the ‘Tommy John’ ligament. A famous death knell in the baseball circles, this injury has an ominous aura.
Fortunately, the mechanics of football make it easier to throw when compared to pitching in baseball. Therefore, the return to play in football is much more aggressive than its ball-tossing counterpart. Reported in 2010, the average return to play in the NFL for QBs sustaining a UCL injury was roughly four weeks (1). Fortunately for the players, the study had a small sample size (10 individuals). Reports currently indicate Josh Allen is dealing with a minor sprain, as a Week 10 return versus the Minnesota Vikings is still possible.
Don’t forget the related nerve though. This is likely referring to the ulnar nerve, which is in intimate relation to the UCL. Due to his elbow injury, the ulnar nerve may be irritated. If it was a stand-alone injury, a player could play as soon as tolerable with an overall good prognosis. On the contrary, if this nerve subluxated during the play, the prognosis is much worse and would have possible surgical ramifications.
Fortunately, it had to be minor right? As Josh Allen shook it off and threw a record setting throw two plays later.
When will Josh Allen return?
What is for certain is the Buffalo Bills medical staff will do their due diligence. With Sean McDermott being predictably mum on the situation, it is clear the Bills are getting Josh Allen additional tests to fully evaluate the severity of his injury.
For Josh, this is the same injury he sustained in his rookie season. On the surface, that situation seemed more severe. To reminisce, Allen left after he took a shot to his elbow and was seen in pain on the sideline immediately.
When this occurred in 2018, Josh Allen missed four games, which amounted to five weeks of recovery due to a bye week. He was able to return to action with a brace thereafter.
As for the current situation, there are several scenarios at play. Depending on the severity, which is TBD, his recovery may range from 0-4 weeks. I believe, based on current reports and his response to the injury in the game/postgame, Josh Allen will miss no more than one game. His injury resilience might even get him back this week.
1. Dodson CC, Slenker N, Cohen SB, Ciccotti MG, DeLuca P. Ulnar collateral ligament injuries of the elbow in professional football quarterbacks. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2010 Dec; 19(8): 1276-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2010.05.028. Epub 2010 Jul 6. PMID: 20609599.
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