Mac Jones is looking at a multi-week absence and a possible trip to the IL after suffering a high ankle sprain late in the Patriots week 3 loss. Jones had his left leg pinned under a defender, causing an eversion sprain, meaning the ankle rolls inward. This mechanism often results in a high ankle sprain. This means there is damage to the syndesmosis ligaments, which connect the two lower leg bones (tibia and fibula). They sit just above the ankle. A high ankle sprain is slower to heal than a standard low ankle sprain and often lingers even after the player returns. Even a mild sprain takes 3-4 weeks to fully heal. A grade 2-3 sprain can take 6-12 weeks.
For Jones, surgery is a possibility. The procedure he would undergo is called tightrope surgery. This is a technique where small tunnels are drilled through the lower leg bones, and then a suture is threaded through them and pulled, almost like a zip tie. This reinforces the damaged ligaments and stabilizes the joint.
While some view tightrope surgery as a miracle surgery that can lead to a quick return, it isn’t quite that great. It may be the right decision for Jones, but he is still looking at a multi-week absence. Our algorithm is projecting that he should sit at least 4 weeks, but if he has surgery he would ideally miss 6-8. As a quarterback it’s possible for him to return sooner than many other positions, but it will affect his mobility.
Tua Tagovailoa underwent tightrope surgery while at Alabama and was able to return in around a month. It’s a fairly new procedure so there aren’t too many NFL players who have had it.
For now the Patriots will turn to Brian Hoyer. He’s an experienced veteran, but he isn’t exactly the most exciting or inspiring option to take over under center. The loss of Jones is going to significantly hurt the fantasy value of the surrounding players, especially Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, DeVante Parker and Jakobi Meyers.