AFC North: 2013 NFL injury wire

CINCINNATI -- For the second straight weekend, the Cincinnati Bengals will be leaving town Saturday for a road game with an injury-free roster.

Sure, there are players among them who have minor bumps and bruises. We are, after all, heading to the midpoint of the season. No player actually is at 100 percent health right now, but the Bengals have enough players who are close enough to full health that they can go to Detroit with more options than they have had at earlier stages of the season.

Newman
Newman
"It's good to have everybody out working," coach Marvin Lewis said. "You hope to have that. It just shows what a physical game the NFL is; how infrequently you're in this situation."

The Bengals only had one real health concern this week, and it had to do with veteran cornerback Terence Newman. An abdominal issue forced the starter to sit the first two practice days of the week, Wednesday and Thursday, before suiting up and working out Friday. He worked out in full capacity and is listed as probable, according to the Bengals' injury report.

With Newman expected to play, the Bengals will have a full secondary for a second straight week. At Buffalo last Sunday, the Bengals cycled through their full group of safeties and cornerbacks for the first time since the Week 2 win against Pittsburgh. In the games between those, different defensive backs missed time with varying injuries.

Lewis credited his players, as well as strength and conditioning coach Chip Morton, with keeping their bodies healthy, despite the physical abuse they take each and every week.

"Certainly to Chip and the training staff and everything they do, we really harp on our guys about taking care of their bodies," Lewis said. "Their bodies are their way of life."

Here's the Bengals' complete Friday injury report ahead of Sunday's game at Ford Field:

PROBABLE
CB Terence Newman (abdomen)
C Kyle Cook (shoulder)
DT Devon Still (back)

Inactives: Spiller in, Weeden No. 2

October, 3, 2013
10/03/13
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Brandon Weeden will be the backup quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, and running back C.J. Spiller is active and will play tonight for the Buffalo Bills. That's the fallout from the team's inactives list, which were just released.

Browns inactives include quarterback Jason Campbell, which makes Weeden the backup to Brian Hoyer. Also inactive are injured linebackers Quentin Groves (ankle) and Jabaal Sheard (knee) as well as defensive lineman Billy Winn. Newly-acquired running Fozzy Whittaker will not play, nor will offensive linemen Martin Wallace and Patrick Lewis. Shawn Lauvao is active, and likely will start at right guard. Lauvao has not played since injuring an ankle in training camp, and his replacement, Oniel Cousins, had mixed results, especially in pass protection. Lauvao's return means the Browns have their first-team offensive line in place for the first time this season.

Buffalo will not have safety Jairus Byrd active. He practiced the past two days, but his foot injury will sideline him. Other inactives include cornerback Stephon Gilmore, kicker Dustin Hopkins, cornerback Ron Brooks, offensive lineman Sam Young, receiver Marquise Goodwin and tight end Chris Gragg. Both Spiller and running back Fred Jackson will play through pain, Jackson with a knee and Spiller with an ankle. It's likely the Bills will give Tashard Choice more carries than any back.

Big Ben finger injury not serious

October, 1, 2013
10/01/13
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PITTSBURGH -- Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger partially dislocated the index finger on his throwing hand last Sunday, but he said the injury isn't serious and won't prevent him from playing Oct. 13 when the Steelers visit the New York Jets.

The Steelers have a bye this week, and Roethlisberger said his injury is minor enough that he could have practiced today.

"I'd go because I want to be out there," Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger hurt his right finger when he hit the hand of a Vikings defensive player while throwing a touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery. He didn't miss any playing time and threw for 383 yards, a touchdown and an interception in a 34-27 loss to the Vikings.

The Steelers survived another injury scare with starting left guard Ramon Foster.

Foster left the game against the Vikings with a chest injury but sustained only a minor pectoral sprain, according to multiple reports. He could return against the Jets.

Running back LeVeon Bell said he felt fine after playing in his first NFL game.

Bell, who had been out with a mid-foot sprain since Aug. 19, started at running back and rushed for 57 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 16 carries. Bell also caught four passes for 27 yards and said his right foot held up well.

"I tweaked it a bit during the game," Bell said, "but it didn't give me any issues."

Jacoby Jones returning to practice

September, 30, 2013
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Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones will return to practice this week after missing the past three games with a knee sprain.

Jones
This is an encouraging sign for the Ravens as they try to mend a banged-up wide receiver group. Jones was injured in the season opener when his own teammate, rookie Brynden Trawick, ran into him on a punt return. Jones had been projected to miss four to six weeks.

Coach John Harbaugh wouldn't indicate whether Jones' return to practice means he'll play Sunday at the Miami Dolphins.

"We'll see how well he does with [practice]," Harbaugh said Monday.

Of the six wide receivers on the roster, four are dealing with injuries: Jones (knee), Marlon Brown (hamstring), Brandon Stokley (groin) and Deonte Thompson (concussion). Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss are the only healthy receivers.

According to Harbaugh, Brown is doing well and Thompson is not showing any significant side effects from a concussion. Stokley injured his groin Friday, and he was ruled inactive Sunday after the injury tightened up on him in pre-game warmups.

But, outside of Jones, all should be available for Sunday's game.

"It's hard on us, there's no question," Harbaugh said. "We're down legs on that side of the ball. It's hard to work on the things you want to work on. But you have to do it. Everybody faces that. It'll be good to get those guys back."

In other injury news, Harbaugh also didn't seem too concerned about cornerback Lardarius Webb's hamstring injury.
CLEVELAND -- Cincinnati Bengals right guard Kevin Zeitler left Sunday afternoon's game with a foot injury that occurred in the second quarter, according to team officials. His return is questionable.

In an effort to fill the gap left by his departure, the Bengals moved left guard Clint Boling over to the right guard position and shifted left tackle Andrew Whitworth to left guard. Backup left tackle Anthony Collins entered the game to play at Whitworth's old spot.

At the time Zeitler's injury occurred, Cincinnati had passed for 68 yards and rushed for 46. It also trailed 7-3.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice is active after missing last Sunday's game with a hip injury.

Rice
Rice
But his workload remains a question mark. When he spoke to reporters Friday, Rice talked about how he felt fatigued while practicing all week.

Rice and the Ravens are trying to get their running back on track. The Bills rank 31st in run defense this season and gave up 149 yards rushing to the New York Jets' Bilal Powell last week.

The biggest surprise to the Ravens' inactive list was wide receiver Brandon Stokley. He was added to the injury report Friday with a groin injury. Tandon Doss likely will be the team's No. 3 receiver Sunday.

Here's the Ravens' full inactive list: Stokley (groin), WR Jacoby Jones (knee), S Jeromy Miles, LB Arthur Brown (chest), DT Terrence Cody (knee), OL Jah Reid, C Ryan Jensen (foot).

Bengals declare DB trio inactive

September, 29, 2013
9/29/13
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CLEVELAND -- Cincinnati's secondary, it appears, will have its hands full against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

As had been anticipated for much of the week, about an hour and a half before the game, the Bengals declared a trio of injured defensive backs inactive. Cornerbacks Leon Hall and Dre Kirkpatrick and safety Reggie Nelson won't participate after trying all week to overcome respective hamstring injuries. Kirkpatrick has now missed the past two games, although he practiced Friday for the first time since getting hurt during the Bengals' Week 2 win against Pittsburgh.

Hall and Nelson were injured at the end of last week's win against the Green Bay Packers.

Adam Jones will take Hall's spot on the field at cornerback, and Taylor Mays will move into Nelson's spot at safety. After bouncing back from his own injury last Sunday, Jones played nearly every snap against the Packers. He'll likely be backed up by Brandon Ghee, who rejoined the team this week after being out the last six weeks with a concussion. Mays likely will be backed up by veteran Chris Crocker, who was re-signed earlier this week.

Along with the defensive backs, defensive end Margus Hunt also was listed on the inactives. It's the fourth straight game he's missed.

The Browns will be without their former starting quarterback, Brandon Weeden. Replaced last week by Brian Hoyer, a hometown kid who will be making his first career start at FirstEnergy Stadium, Weeden will miss his second straight game.

While Weeden will be out, kicker Billy Cundiff, who had a hamstring injury, will participate in Sunday's game for the Browns.

Here is the full list of inactives for the Bengals and Browns:

Bengals: S Reggie Nelson, CB Leon Hall, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, RB Rex Burkhead, G Mike Pollak, G Tanner Hawkinson, DE Margus Hunt

Browns: QB Brandon Weeden, LB Quentin Groves, OL Martin Wallace, OL Shawn Lauvao, TE Keavon Milton, DL Billy Winn, LB Jabaal Sheard
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- There have been subtle hints pointing to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice playing Sunday at the Buffalo Bills.

Rice has practiced all week without any setbacks. He made himself available to reporters, which is something he didn't do last week when he sat out with the hip injury.

Rice
Rice
But here's why I believe Rice will make every effort to play -- the Bills have the 31st-ranked run defense in the NFL. In fact, Buffalo is giving up 152.8 rushing yards per game since the start of 2009, the most in the NFL over that span.

Rice has been hit too many times behind the line of scrimmage this season to let Bernard Pierce gain over 100 yards against the Bills. While Rice has never seemed threatened by Pierce's increasing role in the offense, he also wants no doubts that he's the top playmaker in the backfield.

My biggest question isn't whether Rice plays -- it's how much he'll play. I'm skeptical whether the hip injury will allow him to get over 15 carries.

Asked if his workload will change, Rice said, "I don't think anything will change."

This has been one of Rice's slowest starts to a season. He's averaged 2.9 yards per carry and his longest run has been 14 yards.

Rice won't be at full strength against the Bills, but he said the status of his hip has improved significantly.

"When you get a week off and you are doing treatment, you're going to get better," Rice said. "Obviously when I found out what it was, when I was able to walk off on my own, I knew that was a good sign. You know me, I've dealt with aches, pains and sprains. When you talk about muscular stuff, they told me what it was. Let's be smart and, at the same time, it's not a life-and-death deal."
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice is officially listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills.

Rice
Rice
Rice was limited in practice all week after sitting out his first game since 2008. He is dealing with a hip flexor strain.

Defensive lineman Chris Canty is the only other starter whose availability is uncertain. He is also questionable with a groin injury.

Wide receiver Marlon Brown, who has filled in for Jacoby Jones (knee), is probable with a neck injury. He had full practices after missing Wednesday's workout.

The only additions to the injury report was wide receiver Brandon Stokley (groin), who is questionable after being limited in Friday's practice.

For the Bills, cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist) is out and the other starting corner, Leodis McKelvin (hamstring) is questionable. Free safety Jairus Byrd (foot) is also questionable.

Here's the Ravens' complete injury report:

Out: WR Jacoby Jones (knee).

Doubtful: DT Terrence Cody (knee) and C Ryan Jensen (foot).

Questionable: RB Ray Rice (hip), DE Chris Canty (groin), WR Brandon Stokley (groin), LB Arthur Brown (chest), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), DT Brandon Williams (toe), RB Shaun Draughn (ankle) and LB Pernell McPhee (knee).

Probable: WR Marlon Brown (neck).

Bengals DB trio listed as doubtful

September, 27, 2013
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CINCINNATI -- Just when the Bengals secondary was in need of a little good news, the unit got it Friday morning when second-year cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick returned to practice for the first time in more than a week.

The defensive back had been out with a hamstring injury since the Bengals' win over the Pittsburgh Steelers two Mondays ago. Without him last weekend against the Packers, the Bengals rotated three cornerbacks, Leon Hall, Terence Newman and Adam Jones. Hall and Newman were both banged up in last Sunday's 34-30 win and either completely missed or were limited in practices this week. Newman, it appears, will be good to go this Sunday when the Bengals face the Browns in Cleveland.

Hall may be a different story, though. He and safety Reggie Nelson missed their third straight practice Friday. They've been sidelined since the win over Green Bay with hamstring injuries. Typically, the odds of playing aren't in the favor of injured players who miss Friday workouts. That doesn't mean neither will dress later this weekend, but there is a high chance they may not.

Coach Marvin Lewis didn't close the door on either player Friday, but the probability of either playing appears slim. Both were listed, along with Kirkpatrick, as doubtful for the weekend. We'll know their official status Sunday when the Bengals announce their inactives.

Here's how the rest of the Bengals' injury report looks entering the weekend:

DOUBTFUL: CB Leon Hall (hamstring), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring), S Reggie Nelson (hamstring), G Mike Pollak (knee)

PROBABLE: OT Anthony Collins (knee), CB Brandon Ghee (concussion), RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (ankle), LB James Harrison (illness), CB Terence Newman (knee)
PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers will have to overcome a time change and maybe some lingering jet lag Sunday at Wembley Stadium.

Miller
Fortunately for the Steelers, injuries won’t be an issue when they play the Minnesota Vikings in London.

Heath Miller returned to practice on Friday, and the veteran tight end as well as rookie running back Le'Veon Bell and starting cornerback Cortez Allen, are listed as probable for the 1 p.m. ET game against the Vikings.

Every Steelers player on the 53-man roster practiced on Friday. Miller (knee) had been limited in practice Thursday.

Bell will make his NFL debut, barring an 11th-hour setback, after returning from a mid-foot sprain he sustained on Aug. 19.
Bell
The Steelers will likely ease the second-round draft pick back into action with Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer also in the mix at running back. Bell practiced every day this week.

“He’s been getting a lot of reps in practice,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said of Bell. “He’s looked really good.”

Roethlisberger said on his radio show earlier this week that he didn’t know what to expect from Bell because he hasn’t seen him practice on a consistent basis.

Some took the comments as Roethlisberger trying to motivate Bell, who has been hampered by knee and foot injuries, or his taking a shot at the former Michigan State star.

But Roethlisberger lavished praise on Bell during a news conference that took place Friday morning, shortly after the Steelers arrived in London.

“Coach (Mike Tomlin) is making him finish runs all the way down the field and then run the way back and then run the next play to kind of get a gauge of his conditioning,” Roethlisberger said. "Everything I’ve seen has looked really good in both the pass game and run game so I expect big things.”

Allen is expected to return after missing the last two games because of a sprained ankle.

He practiced every day this week and is listed as probable for Sunday.

Also listed as probable for the Vikings game are defensive end Brett Keisel (hamstring) and nose tackle Steve McLendon (hamstring).
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice practiced for the second straight day, which keeps him on track to return for Sunday's game in Buffalo.

Rice, who has a hip flexor strain, was a limited participant again. He didn't practice all of last week when he missed his first game since 2008.

Starting wide receiver Marlon Brown (neck) had a full practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. Starting defensive lineman Chris Canty (groin) was also limited for a second straight day.

For the Bills, the only starter who didn't practice was cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist). Kicker Dustin Hopkins (groin) didn't practice again as well.

Here's the Ravens' complete injury report for Thursday:

Out: WR Jacoby Jones (knee).

Did not participate: DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot) and LB Pernell McPhee (knee).

Limited: RB Ray Rice (hip), DE Chris Canty (groin), LB Arthur Brown (chest), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), DT Brandon Williams (toe) and RB Shaun Draughn (ankle).

Full practice: WR Marlon Brown (neck).

Steelers' Miller limited in practice

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
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PITTSBURGH -- Tight end Heath Miller was limited in practice Thursday though it doesn’t appear he had more than a minor setback with his right knee.

Miller played in his first game last Sunday for the first time since undergoing reconstructive knee surgery late last December.

Miller played 39 of 65 snaps in the Steelers’ 40-23 loss to the Bears, and he caught three passes for 35 yards.

Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that Miller would not be restricted this week in practice. But it remains to be seen if the ninth-year veteran again will be on a snap count when the Steelers play the Minnesota Vikings Sunday in London.

Running back Le'Veon Bell (foot) and cornerback Cortez Allen (ankle) remain on track to play Sunday as each were full participants in practice for the second day in a row.

Defensive end Brett Keisel (hamstring) returned to practice after sitting out drills on Wednesday. Nose tackle Steve McLendon (hamstring) practiced for the second day in a row.
CINCINNATI -- For the second straight practice, the Cincinnati Bengals were without three defensive backs as they went through one of their final workouts Thursday afternoon ahead of Sunday's division showdown in Cleveland.

Hall
Cornerbacks Leon Hall and Dre Kirkpatrick missed time once again, as did safety Reggie Nelson. Hall and Nelson suffered hamstring injuries in last Sunday's 34-30 win against the Packers. Kirkpatrick's hamstring injury goes back to the Bengals' Week 2 win against Pittsburgh.

Also worth noting was the fact that Cincinnati moved a fourth injured defensive back, Terence Newman, from limited participation Wednesday to full participation Thursday. The veteran went through drills in the secondary alongside young defensive backs George Iloka, Brandon Ghee and Curtis Marsh and veteran safety Chris Crocker. Newman, who had an interception and the game-winning return for touchdown following a Packers fumble, suffered a knee injury in last Sunday's game.

In addition to Newman, the Bengals also upgraded running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis from limited participation to full participation.

Here are the full Browns and Bengals injury reports for Thursday:

Did Not Practice: Bengals -- CB Leon Hall (hamstring), S Reggie Nelson (hamstring), CB Dre Kirkpatrick, G Mike Pollak; Browns -- K Billy Cundiff (thigh), LB Quentin Groves (ankle), LB Jabaal Sheard (knee), QB Brandon Weeden (thumb), DL Billy Wynn (quadricep)

Limited Practice Participation: Bengals -- None; Browns -- OL Oniel Cousins (chest), OL Shawn Lauvao (ankle)

Full Practice Participation: Bengals -- OT Anthony Collins (knee), CB Brandon Ghee (concussion), RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (ankle), CB Terence Newman (knee); Browns -- DL Desmond Bryant (wrist), WR Josh Gordon (ankle), DL Ahtyba Rubin (calf)

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