The Trey Hendrickson injury could be a concern for the New Orleans Saints. Hendrickson suffered a neck strain in the team’s Week 15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. It is an injury which forced the defensive end to miss the Saints Christmas day demolition of the Minnesota Vikings. The assumption is Hendrickson will return this week, but New Orleans needs their most disruptive defensive player at one hundred percent in time for the playoffs.
Trey Hendrickson Injury a Concern for New Orleans Saints
The Injury Issue
Hendrickson was enjoying an incredible game against the Chiefs before he exited with the neck injury. He sacked Patrick Mahomes twice in the 32-29 loss, bringing his season total to 12.5, a sack tally that leads the team. He has compiled five more sacks than New Orleans’ usual sack leader, Cameron Jordan.
Hendrickson was a late addition to the injury report prior to the team’s Christmas day victory over the Vikings. The short turnaround of only five days between games made injury evaluations difficult for team doctors. Consequently, Saints staff exersized caution and ruled Hendrickson out of the game against Minnesota.
The neck injury is not reported to be serious, and Hendrickson may have played against the Vikings if he had another few days to recover. However, neck injuries are often difficult to evaluate and such a vulnerable area of the body could be susceptible to reaggravate in the future. That means it could be concerning for both Hendrickson and the Saints in the future.
New Orleans Saints Need Trey Hendrickson
Hendrickson’s injury is concerning because he is so crucial to New Orleans’ success on defense. The Saints have steadily improved defensively the past few seasons, and this year have become one of the most dominant in the league.
If any defensive end was expected to enjoy a surge in production in 2020, many may have expected it to be former first-round pick Marcus Davenport. However, it is Hendrickson’s production that has exploded. In fact, the former third-round pick only recorded 6.5 sacks in his first three seasons. Moreover, Hendrickson is compiling these stats in a contract year, as his rookie deal runs out after this season.
Hendrickson plays with toughness, has developed a strong bull rush and an ability to shed blockers with his strength. The effort the Saints star gives might be his most consistent trait. No play is over even if he loses at the snap. His high motor has earned several sacks when quarterbacks have failed to get rid of the ball quickly.
Cameron Jordan has been the Saints biggest sack threat for nearly a decade, and New Orleans needs a threat opposite the face of their defense. Hendrickson’s success has made teams game plan for two disruptive defensive ends. As a result, there is usually more one-on-one pass-rush opportunities for Sheldon Rankins and David Onyemata inside. The balance and depth of the Saints defensive line is key to the team’s success and Hendrickson is a crucial piece.
Trey Hendrickson Not the Only Injury Concern
It’s the time of year when any injury to a playoff contender is magnified. The Saints have largely been luckier than some teams with regards to injuries in 2020. Especially when it comes to season-ending injuries. However, Drew Brees missed four games with broken ribs and Michael Thomas has missed significant time and is sitting out the remainder of the regular season after an injury-plagued campaign.
Hendrickson was not the only player to miss the 52-33 win over Minnesota. Guard Andrus Peat and center Nick Easton missed the game with injuries as well. The offensive line didn’t seem to miss a beat as New Orleans’ offense rushed for 264 yards and Alvin Kamara tied an NFL record for rushing touchdowns in a game with six. However, with tougher opponents to come, elite offensive line play will be essential in the postseason. It could be the difference between a first-round exit and a possible Super Bowl run.
Even though the Saints have been lucky overall as it pertains to injuries, Thomas’ injury is a major concern. The Vikings defense is a young unit ravaged by their own injuries. While the victory is a confidence booster, New Orleans will face a much tougher test(s) in the playoffs. The Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears are among the possible opponents for the Saints. Both teams possess strong defensive units. A true number one receiving threat like Thomas brings balance to the Saints attack.
Questions To Answer in Week 17
The Trey Hendrickson injury is a major concern to the Saints Super Bowl hopes. However, there are several more injury questions that need answering in the team’s regular-season finale. New Orleans needs to beat the Carolina Panthers in Week 17 to secure the number two seed. The seeding will ensure home-field advantage in the divisional round if New Orleans emerges from their Wild Card contest.
Despite needing a win, ensuring the roster avoids any more major injuries is priority number one. And getting Trey Hendrickson back would be a huge boost as well.