If there's anyone who understands what Josh Allen is going through right now, it's probably former NFL quarterback Carson Palmer, who dealt with a similar injury while playing for the Bengals in 2008.
According to ESPN.com, the Bills quarterback is dealing with a right elbow injury that involves his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). The Bills have been mum about the specifics of Allen's injury, but it's bad enough that they held him out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday.
Allen hasn't been ruled out for Sunday's game against Minnesota and Bills coach Sean McDermott has said the team will take things "hour by hour" with Allen's injury.
Allen suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of Buffalo's 20-17 loss to the Jets on Sunday.
#Bills QB Josh Allen, who has a history of UCL sprain in 2018, appeared to suffer another UCL sprain on this play very late in the game. Threw a nice deep ball right after, but was shaking out the elbow/may have been dealing w some nerve stretch symptoms. Injury to watch this wk. pic.twitter.com/61nLQO1cw1— DocFlynn (@DocFlynnNFL) November 6, 2022
If Allen suffered a complete tear of the UCL, then his season would be over, but that's almost certainly not what happened here. Instead, it seems that Allen may have sprained the ligament or the nerves around it.
In 2008, Palmer also suffered his injury against a team from New York (in his case, it was the Giants). The injuries between Palmer and Allen looked so similar that former Bengals offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth, who was teammates with Palmer in 2008, compared them during Amazon's NFL pregame show on Thursday night.
"Yep, Carson Palmer. Same injury," Whitworth said when asked about Allen's injury, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Tried to come back and play. And then -- tried it out, didn't work, felt like he was too uncomfortable and then sat out the rest of the season."
When Allen was injured on Sunday, he was able to keep playing, but according to Palmer, that's not unexpected and it doesn't mean the elbow is fine. The Bengals quarterback also finished the game he was playing in following his injury.
"I think I tore 75% of the ulnar collateral ligament," Palmer told the 33rd team. "It wasn't painful. It didn't hurt. I kept throwing, I finished that game, it was sore. It wasn't even to the point where I was getting an MRI. It was just sore."
Following the Bills' loss on Sunday, Allen said he was experiencing some minor pain.
"There's some slight pain, but we'll get through it," Allen said, via the AP.
Palmer also thought he was going to get through it, but when he went out to practice to get ready for the Bengals' next game, he realized something was amiss.
"I went out to practice the following week on Wednesday and I was just throwing a dead football every once in awhile," Palmer said. "I was warming up -- I'll never forget -- I was warming up with T.J. Houshmandzadeh and the first couple were just getting warm, and then all of a sudden, it was like somebody had shot the ball out of the sky with a 12-gauge shotgun. The ball just died. It just had zero velocity. It was spiraling, it was coming out, but it just ended."
Bills coach Sean McDermott was asked on Thursday if Allen had thrown at all this week and he wouldn't say. On Palmer's end, he was throwing in practice, but it got ugly.
"These 15-yard, 20-yard warm-up throws and the ball wasn't even going 10 yards," Palmer said. "It wasn't happening every single throw, it was happening every couple. I wasn't in a ton of pain at the time. The team doctors were like, 'What the heck is going on?'"
With Palmer struggling to consistently get any juice on the ball, the team finally tested his elbow to see if anything was wrong.
"I went right in to get a scan on the elbow and in the scan -- it sounds a lot like what happened to Josh -- they found a 60% to 70% tear of the UCL," Palmer said.
If there's a complete tear of the UCL, it would require Tommy John surgery to repair it. However, in Palmer's situation, the ligament wasn't completely torn.
"My situation was, they said, 'Let's shut the arm down. Hopefully scar tissue will form over that UCL ligament and you'll be back,'" Palmer said.
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Palmer, who injured his arm in a Week 3 game, was ruled out in Week 4 of 2008. After a week of rest, he was adamant that he was healthy enough to play in Week 5.
"I actually played in one more game," Palmer said. "We went to Dallas, played at Dallas. I fought with the team [to play]. I grew up a Dallas fan, it was the old Cowboys stadium and I always wanted to play there."
It was during that game that Palmer realized he couldn't trust his arm as long as the UCL was still injured. He could make some of the throws that he'd normally make, but his arm strength just wasn't there for other throws.
"I'll never forget it. I got through the game and there were a couple of balls that died on me," Palmer said. "It was the last series of the game on a third down, an important part of the game, I got to my third option, the halfback running a 10-yard route. He was wide open, it was third-and-10 and he had an easy first down and I went to throw it and the ball went like six yards. It went right at Chris [Perry] and just fell out of the sky. Chris kind of looked at me and was like, 'What was that?'"
In the 31-22 loss to the Cowboys, Palmer finished with decent numbers -- he went 23 of 39 for 217 yards with two touchdowns and one interception -- but he also realized that he was now hurting his team.
"It was at that moment where I was like, 'I'm costing us. I'm costing us a an opportunity to get this first down,'" Palmer said. "I was more of a hinderance than a help at that point and that's when the the team officially said, 'You're either going to have the surgery or not, but you're done playing this year.'"
Despite thinking Palmer was likely done for the year, the team held out hope that he might be able to recover. Palmer was never placed on injured reserve and he spent the final 12 weeks of the season on the team's inactive list.
If Allen does end up playing over the next few weeks, there could be risk that he DOES end up tearing his UCL, which is why the Bills might decide to keep him on ice for the next week or two.
"I hope Josh isn't at that point," Palmer said. "It's looking more promising than it was just a couple of days ago."
This is actually the second time in his career that Allen has dealt with a UCL injury. The Bills quarterback sprained his UCL during his rookie year in 2018. That injury caused him to miss a total of four games while sidelining him from Oct. 15 thru Nov. 24. If Allen is once again sidelined for four games, that means he wouldn't return until Dec. 11 when the Bills host the same Jets team that injured him in Week 14.
If Allen can't go on Sunday against Minnesota, then Case Keenum will be getting his first start with the Bills and just his third start overall since the beginning of the 2020 season.