When Trevor Siemian was smacked to the Raymond James Stadium turf, you could see him grimace. You probably clenched your teeth as well.
Clinton McDonald threw Siemian around like a rag doll. It was a brutal hit, and one has to wonder if the Denver Broncos defense would have drawn a flag if it did the same thing.
Siemian stayed on the field for one more play, but was carted off and missed the rest of the game.
The Broncos had an original diagnosis of an AC joint sprain, and coach Gary Kubiak told the media after the game that Siemian is day-to-day. Kubiak stuck with that theme in an interview on Denver Sports 760 late Monday morning.
“Our plan is for Trevor being there Sunday, but we have to take it day-to-day," Kubiak said in today’s interview. He added that Siemian doesn’t need the majority of the reps to play against the Atlanta Falcons.
Kubiak said in his afternoon news conference that Siemian is still the starter, but added a huge caveat at the end. “Hopefully he’s going to be OK,” Kubiak said. Better to keep his options open at this point, but the questions will persist. (Story was updated with Kubiak’s comment from the news conference).
As it stands now, the Broncos need to stick with Paxton Lynch at quarterback. Even if the injury to Siemian isn’t severe, there’s no need to risk it. Lynch proved in a tough situation he is highly capable of leading the team. The expectation should be that Lynch can get even better when he gets the majority of the reps in practice and is the starter over the course of the week.
“Pax went in there and handled himself well," Kubiak said in the interview. "I thought the players really helped him."
Denver also has the short week to consider after the Falcons game. Give Siemian these next two games off, take the short bye after the Thursday Night game against the San Diego Chargers and re-evaluate the situation before the Monday Night game against the Houston Texans on Oct. 24.
It’s similar to what Denver did last season with Peyton Manning and his foot. They were extra careful that he was healthy before returning him to the field.
So, how long could a recovery take?
The injury to Siemian’s left arm is also known as a separated shoulder. As orthoinfo.aaos.org says, “A shoulder separation is not truly an injury to the shoulder joint. The injury actually involves the acromioclavicular joint. The AC joint is where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the highest joint of the shoulder blade.”
Lynch got plenty of support from his #Broncos teammates "guys came to the sideline and were talking to me about, ‘We got your back.'"— Cecil Lammey (@CecilLammey) October 3, 2016
As is the case with injuries, recovery time is all about the severity level. Aside from “day-to-day,” we don’t know how severe the sprain is or which of the six types of shoulder separations Siemian suffered. If there’s no ligament damage (short of the sprain), one would assume it’s one of the least severe types.
According to Uptodate.com, anything between Type 4-6 usually requires surgery. That would mean there's no shot Siemian plays on Sunday.
Simple logic then stipulates it's between Type 1-3. The most likely situation is Siemian has a Type 1 injury.
For a Type 1 separation, the least severe, it takes a professional athlete (especially a quarterback) four-six weeks to heal, and contact sports should be avoided for about two-three months to prevent a Type 1 or 2 injury from becoming a Type 3 injury.
There’s no question that Siemian is tough and he’s receiving the best medical care possible. Yes, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed no time after suffering a similar injury last season, but he was in a win-or-go-home game against the Broncos. The situation for Siemian and Denver is completely different.
Even after Kubiak’s Monday news conference, it won’t get much different than “day-to-day.”
It’s now up to Kubiak, the coaches and training staff to make the best decision for Siemian and the team as the week progresses.
Given everything we do know, it’s doubtful Siemian’s shoulder will be fully healed, and that leads to a bevy of new questions. Yes, the injury is to his non-throwing shoulder, but do they really want to throw a guy out to there with one arm?
What will his range of motion be? Could his fragile shoulder handle even the most gentle of sacks? Will Siemian’s presence on the field be more of a hindrance for the Broncos?
Of course he will say he’s ready to play. While admirable, that’s why Denver has a training staff. That’s to ensure he doesn’t make the injury worse but also so the team has the best options on the field.
Would the Broncos risk a potentially worse injury that would require surgery and put Siemian’s career in jeopardy?
As the Broncos showed last season, you know that Kubiak and the organization will do right by Siemian and the team.