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The 2023 NFL season has been a roller coaster, marked by intense competition, stunning plays, and unfortunately, numerous injuries. Several key players were sidelined, placed on Short-Term Injured Reserve (IR) as they recovered. These injuries not only affected the players’ careers but also had significant impacts on their respective teams. Here’s a detailed look at each of these players, the injuries they faced, and the games they missed.

Quarter Back

NameTeamInjuryDetailsGame Missed
Kyler MurrayARIPost-ACLReturning from ACL.9

Kyler Murray, ARI

Kyler Murray, the dynamic quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, spent the beginning of the 2023 season on Short-Term IR as he continued his recovery from an ACL injury. The recovery process was lengthy, causing him to miss nine games. Murray’s absence was keenly felt by the Cardinals, as they struggled to find consistency on offense without their star QB. His return was highly anticipated, not just for his playmaking abilities but also for the leadership he brings to the field.

Running back

NameTeamInjuryDetailsGame Missed
Jonathan TaylorINDAnkle/ ContractAnkle vs. Contract issues.3
Kyren WilliamsLARAnkleLikely high-ankle sprain4
James ConnerARIKneeKnee, no details.4.5
Jamaal WilliamsNOHamstringKnee, no details.4
Damien HarrisBUFNeck, ConcussionConcussion, Cervical injury11
Jeff Wilson Jr.MIAUnknownMidsection, Finger6
Keaton MitchellBALShoulderNo details. Shoulder dislocation vs. Grade 2-3 AC sprain6

Jonathan Taylor, IND

Jonathan Taylor, the Indianapolis Colts’ star running back, found himself on Short-Term IR due to a combination of an ankle injury and contract disputes. This dual issue caused him to miss three games early in the season. The Colts’ running game faltered without Taylor, highlighting his importance to their offensive scheme. His absence underscored the precarious balance between player health and contract negotiations in professional sports.

Kyren Williams, LAR

Kyren Williams, a promising running back for the Los Angeles Rams, suffered a high-ankle sprain that sidelined him for four games. This injury was particularly frustrating for the Rams, as Williams had shown significant potential early in the season. High-ankle sprains are notoriously slow to heal, and Williams’ recovery was closely monitored. The Rams missed his versatility and explosive running during his time on IR, and when he returned he picked up exactly where he left off.

James Conner, ARI

James Conner, the Arizona Cardinals’ reliable running back, was placed on Short-Term IR with a knee injury. An absence of 4+ games is pretty regular for him. Although specific details about the injury were scarce, Conner missed four and a half games. His physical running style and ability to find the end zone were sorely missed by the Cardinals’ offense. Conner’s absence highlighted the depth issues in Arizona’s backfield and the importance of his veteran presence.

Jamaal Williams, NO

Jamaal Williams, more of a depth piece rather than a key running back for the New Orleans Saints, was sidelined with a grade 2 hamstring injury. Hamstring injuries can be particularly tricky, requiring careful management to avoid re-injury. Williams missed four games, a period during which the Saints had to rely on their backup running backs.

Damien Harris, BUF

Damien Harris, running back for the Buffalo Bills, experienced a severe neck and concussion injury that led to him being placed on Short-Term IR. Harris missed eleven games, making it one of the more extended absences on this list. His injury raised concerns about player safety and the long-term effects of concussions in the NFL. The Bills missed his physicality and veteran experience in their backfield, and Harris has since announced his retirement from the NFL.

Jeff Wilson Jr., MIA

Jeff Wilson Jr., a versatile running back for the Miami Dolphins, faced a mysterious midsection and finger injury that saw him miss a total of six games. The lack of detailed information about his injury left fans and analysts speculating about his condition. Wilson’s absence impacted the Dolphins’ offensive rhythm, as his dual-threat capability as a runner and receiver out of the backfield was hard to replace.

Keaton Mitchell, BAL

Keaton Mitchell, running back for the Baltimore Ravens, dealt with a shoulder injury that sidelined him for six games. While details were sparse, it was speculated that he might have suffered a shoulder dislocation or a severe AC sprain. Mitchell’s injury deprived the Ravens of a promising young talent, forcing them to adjust their offensive plans and rely more heavily on their depth at running back. Eventually Mitchell tore his ACL, causing him to miss the rest of the season.

Wide Reciever

NameTeamInjuryDetailsGame Missed
Cooper KuppLARHamstringHamstring reinjury 8/31.4
Justin JeffersonMINHamstringHamstring, likely grade 28
Diontae JohnsonPITHamstringLikely a grade 2 strain.4
Tyquan ThorntonNEShoulderNo details. Shoulder dislocation vs. Grade 2-3 AC sprain5

Cooper Kupp, LAR

Cooper Kupp, the standout wide receiver for the Los Angeles Rams, suffered a hamstring injury in early preseason, then a reinjury just before the season started, which led to him missing four games. Kupp’s absence was a significant blow to the Rams’ passing attack, as he is one of the most productive receivers in the league, leading to the emergence of Puka Nacua. 

Justin Jefferson, MIN

Justin Jefferson, the Minnesota Vikings’ star wide receiver, was sidelined with a grade 2 hamstring injury that kept him out for eight games during the middle of the season. Jefferson’s injury was a major setback for the Vikings’ offense, as he is one of the league’s premier playmakers. His absence tested the depth of the Vikings’ receiving corps and underscored the importance of maintaining player health through the grueling NFL season.

Diontae Johnson, PIT

Diontae Johnson, wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, suffered a hamstring strain, causing him to miss four games. Johnson’s quickness, reliable hands, and route-running skills were missed by the Steelers, who struggled to find consistency in their passing game without him. His injury was a reminder of the fragility of hamstrings and the impact such injuries can have on skill position players.

Tyquan Thornton, NE

Tyquan Thornton, wide receiver for the New England Patriots, was placed on Short-Term IR with a shoulder injury. The details were not fully disclosed, but it was suspected to be a shoulder dislocation or a severe AC sprain. Thornton missed five games, during which the Patriots’ offense lacked a deep threat and struggled to stretch the field. His absence highlighted the need for durability and depth at the wide receiver position.


NameTeamInjuryDetailsGame Missed
Jelani WoodsINDHamstringHamstry re-injury, grade 2.17
Pat FreiermuthPITHamstringHamstring strain. re-injury5
Greg DulcichDENHamstringReinjury to same tendon from 2022.4
Greg DulcichDENHamstringReinjury to same area from earlier in season. sprain11

Jelani Woods, IND

Jelani Woods, tight end for the Indianapolis Colts, faced a significant hamstring re-injury, classified as grade 2. This injury led to him missing the entire 2023 season (all seventeen games), a major loss for the Colts’ offense. Woods’ size and athleticism were sorely missed, particularly in red zone situations. This is a player to monitor closely as we head into the 2024 season.

Pat Freiermuth, PIT

Pat Freiermuth, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ talented tight end, dealt with a recurring hamstring strain that caused him to miss five games. Freiermuth’s ability to create mismatches against defenders was missed by the Steelers, who relied on him heavily in their passing game. 

Greg Dulcich, DEN

Greg Dulcich, tight end for the Denver Broncos, had a season to forget in 2023 with repeated hamstring injuries. He re-injured the same tendon from 2022, missing four games initially. Later in the season, another injury to the same area caused him to miss eleven more games. Dulcich’s persistent hamstring issues were a significant concern for the Broncos, affecting their offensive continuity and the young tight end’s career trajectory.

The 2023 NFL season was a testament to the physical demands and inherent risks of professional football. The players placed on Short-Term IR demonstrated the wide range of injuries that can occur and the significant impacts these injuries have on both the players and their teams. From high-profile quarterbacks like Kyler Murray to dynamic playmakers like Justin Jefferson, the absence of these athletes due to injury was felt deeply across the league. As teams and medical staff continue to improve their approaches to player health and injury prevention, the hope is that future seasons will see fewer players sidelined and more stars shining brightly on the field.

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