This article is part of our Injury Analysis series.
The 2020 NFL season has been marred by injury and illness, but the ankle injury sustained by Prescott on Sunday was particularly gruesome. The Cowboys quarterback suffered a compound ankle fracture and dislocation in the second half of the team's win over the Giants after being tackled by Logan Ryan. His ankle was contorted in a ghastly angle before he was placed in an aircast and carted off the field.
The injury description provides a high degree of context for what Prescott is dealing with. The term compound fracture is a synonymous with an open fracture, indicating at least one of the ankle bones broke and penetrated through the skin. If the break was bad enough, the joint was also dislocated or forced out of alignment, resulting in the unsightly image of Prescott holding his angulated ankle.
The most pressing component of the injury is the compound aspect of the injury. When the skin is broken, the possibility of the infection is drastically increased. For example, Washington quarterback Alex Smith suffered multiple infections when he suffered a compound fracture of his tibia and fibula, requiring numerous surgeries and a prolonged recovery. To mitigate this risk, the Cowboys medical team reportedly covered the area in a sterile dressing and rapidly moved the quarterback to a nearby hospital so he could quickly undergo surgery. In surgery, the injury site was cleaned and the joint was relocated. The fracture site was also stabilized, likely using surgical implants like screws or pins.