The “DL” Report: NFL Week 6

One of the most potent offenses of 2018 has taken a blow, for at least a few weeks. Cooper Kupp who sustained a concussion in Week 5 and was cleared to play in Week 6 against Denver sustained an injury, which at first looked much worse. When I first saw that injury I thought 3 things: A. He is out for the year. B. That reminded me of an injury T.O. suffered with the Eagles. C. He could destroyed his knee and broke his ankle or leg.

While it was not an injury you ever what to see, there is always a high probably of suffering an injury with that type of tackle. But lucky for Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, he did not suffer a broken bone or a complete tear of any ligament or tendon.

Let’s take a dive into Cooper Kupp’s knee injury.

Anatomy Review:

The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) is a band of fibrous tissue that attaches the distal-medial end of the Femur to the proximal medial end of the Tibia. The MCL is closely associated with the medial meniscus (a shock absorber for the knee). So when there is damage to the MCL you have to check if the meniscus has been compromised and vice versa.


The MCL can be damaged through several mechanisms but the overarching theme is a severe lateral to medial (valgus) stress on the knee is the usual culprit. And in this case, with the horse-collar tackle, the valgus stress on the knee is what caused the damage.


The severity of injury is determined by imaging, particularly an MRI. But if I had to guess he’s in line between a Grade 1 or Grade 2. It has not come out that he has a torn MCL.

Rehabilitation Outlook:

With MCL sprains, there is going to be a lot of pain management for the first few days after an injury. He’s going to be braced up to protect the knee and undergoing further testing to make sure structurally his knee is sound.

With Kupp, being able to run and cut without pain is going to be crucial, so his rehabilitation is going to be based around getting back to sport and most of it is going to be focused on taking away the pain. It’s not that he had hip weakness or quadriceps weakness that caused his knee to get bent awkwardly.

So you can throw ice, heat, electrical stimulation, TENS, ultrasound and manual work at his knee, quadriceps, and hamstrings to help with the pain.

Once he is pain-free then we start to focus on the strengthen portion of treatment. That’s testing it with squats, deadlifts, lunges in the weight room; cutting and change of direction movement on the field; and then football-specific movements afterwards. The pace of return at this phase of care is based on if he has pain as he transitions through each phase.

Season Outlook:

He’s going to miss several weeks. He’s probably looking at a 2-4 week timeframe before a return can be even considered. With the amount of stress that was placed on his knee and ankle when getting tackled that way, it’s not going to be a quick recovery. Ligaments do not heal at the same rate as tendons do.


He’s already been listed out of this week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. With the Los Angeles Rams expected to be playing late into January, there is no need to rush him back. What you don’t want to have happen is that he’s rushed back and then susceptible to being “re-injured.” While there is no truth to complete “injury prevention” there is injury mitigation. His rehabilitation and treatment is not just on the MCL itself, it’s the rest of the knee and the muscles and ligaments that cross the joint.

What is great new for Kupp and the Rams is that they have one game against San Francisco and then a BYE week. With three weeks of treatment before the next game he could play, that is a lot of time for recovery and pain relief.

Happy Healing.

Disclaimer: I don’t own the videos or photos. That belongs to the NFL and their sponsors. I just write my own thoughts and opinions. 

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