On Sunday, the New York Jets suffered significant injuries to two different starters in the win versus the Colts. It has been reported that both Quincy Enunwa and Marcus Maye will be out at least 3 weeks with a high ankle sprain and a broken thumb, respectively. Unfortunately, I don’t see any of these players returning in that time frame.
The shin comprises of two bones (the tibia and fibula) and these bones are connected through a series of ligaments called syndesmosis. A high ankle sprain is when these ligaments are sprained/torn. Given that these ligaments are above the ankle, it is aptly named a high ankle sprain. Sprains are graded from 1 (least severe) to 3 (most severe) and each grade has different time tables. In some scenarios, a CAM (aka walking) boot will be utilized to provide stability to the area (as seen on Enunwa when he left the locker room on Sunday) due to instability caused by the ligament damage. Because ligaments receive less blood flow than other parts of the body, the timeline for recovery is typically slower and is usually at least 6-8 weeks. These injuries typically occur when the foot is planted and the shin rotates in either from a traumatic force (i.e. tackle) or in an attempt to pivot while running.
With regards to the actual rehabilitation, the rehab staff will work on moving the joint passively (meaning they will move the joint for the athlete opposed to having him move it by itself) until Enunwa is out of the boot. Moving the joint passively will prevent swelling and joint stiffness from developing as potential limiting factors for care. Once he can fully weight bear on the ankle again without pain, the rehab staff will shift their focus on regaining strength and balance before performing football-related activities such as agility, speed, and power. The key for rehab is not solely focused on the ankle but to also assure that there is no muscular imbalance between the different muscle groups of the ankle . In addition, the ankle needs to work together with the hip and knee when returning to whole body movements (squatting, jumping, running, etc.).
Enunwa will benefit from the bye week and will likely return for the Thanksgiving weekend showdown versus the Patriots.
A broken thumb is rather a vague injury compared to a high ankle sprain as the thumb has multiple potential fracture sites. Regardless of the location, there is a similar time frame (6-8 weeks) for a bone to heal as a sprained ligament. The major difference is that Maye can technically play before the bone is fully healed due to various splints/casts available. If surgery is not required, then the cast should provide enough immobilization to not damage the healing of the fractured bone. Because Maye is a safety, he does not need to use his hands as much as other positions such as CBs (jam WRs at the line), lineman, and any offensive player. Of course, tackling and intercepting the ball is much harder with his hand in the cast, however it is not impossible for Maye to still be out there and be a productive member of the defense. For that reason, it is tough to say when he can return, especially considering that Todd Bowles is as tight-lipped as they come when discussing injuries.
Rehab for a broken thumb begins once X-rays confirm that the bone has fully healed. The rehab staff will immediately begin on restoring joint mobility and range of motion prior to focusing on improving grip strength. As strength improves, exercises will tailor towards being able to put weight through the wrist/thumb to further improve stability and strength.