The list of injured players heading into Week 3 just might exceed the list of healthy ones. OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s not far off. Despite the number of players listed on the injury report as of Friday, many of them are expected to take the field. There are a few who will sit and some who have that all-time favorite designation of game-time decision. Where do your players stand? Here’s what we know as of Saturday morning:
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys, ribs (P): Last week, Romo needed a pain-relieving injection before playing. He might require the same pregame treatment this week. Rib injuries are nothing to sneeze at, and Romo has certainly had his share of them. Still, he has practiced fully every day and will be out there Sunday when the Cowboys host the Rams.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers, foot (P): The sight of Kaepernick on the injury report for the first time in his career with a foot injury is obviously worrisome for 49ers fans and fantasy owners given how much of a threat he can be with his legs. The sentiment in San Francisco, however, is that this is not anything serious, especially since he practiced fully each day. After last Sunday night’s outing, there is no doubt that Kaepernick is eager to hit the reset button.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins, right shoulder (P): Tannehill’s throwing shoulder took a hit in last week’s game, and he was limited in practice Wednesday. Thursday is an off day for the Dolphins, but if they would have practiced, Tannehill would have been limited, which is why he is listed that way on Thursday’s practice report. He did put in a full practice Friday and will start Sunday when the Dolphins host the Falcons.
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens, hip flexor (D): The Baltimore Sun reports Bernard Pierce will get his first NFL start Sunday, with Rice’s injury considered to be a two-week injury. Rice did not practice all week after straining his hip flexor late in last Sunday’s game, but coach John Harbaugh said earlier in the week that it wouldn’t necessarily prevent him from playing. The Ravens were hinting at calling Rice a game-time decision, but the odds of him playing never appeared to be in his favor, especially given the doubtful tag.
Players labeled as doubtful can play Sunday, should their status improve dramatically, but the intent of the designation is to reflect the likelihood that they will sit out. If that was where the team viewed Rice’s recovery Friday, was it really realistic to think he could play Sunday? Perhaps. Sometimes a 48-hour window can help significantly in terms of how a player’s body feels. But the more important question would be whether Rice could play effectively and whether he could last four quarters. There is no definitive way of knowing, but as outlined Tuesday, this type of injury, even if not severe, can pose challenges for a running back. It appears the Ravens made the smart choice in allowing Rice another week to rest.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers, concussion (Q): Lacy suffered a concussion on the first play of last Sunday’s game, and his status for Week 3 has been in question since. He has made progress throughout the week, according to coach Mike McCarthy, but has not practiced at all.
He would need to demonstrate no return symptoms after high-level physical activity (for most teams that includes some type of contact test) and be cleared by an independent neurological consultant in order to return. It seems unlikely he will take the field; James Starks has already been announced as the starter.
Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions, knee (Q): After explosive performances in Week 1 and the first half of Week 2, one of the biggest questions heading into Sunday is whether Bush will play and how he will perform if he does. Bush did not practice Wednesday or Thursday but sounded hopeful that he would be able to take the field Sunday.
On Friday, he appeared a step closer to doing so as he participated in practice on a limited basis. Bush was sporting a knee sleeve and appeared to be moving well, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Bush’s questionable status could result in a game-time decision, but even if he does suit up, his productivity and the work split between him and Joique Bell will be difficult to predict.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars, ankle (Q): After resting Wednesday and Thursday, Jones-Drew returned to limited practice Friday. The swelling in his ankle subsided enough to allow him to test cutting on that side. Jones-Drew would like to play but acknowledges the Jaguars would like him to be close to 100 percent.
His status for Sunday’s game in Seattle is still undetermined, although Jones-Drew’s comments indicate he will attempt to go, if able. This scenario has all the elements a fantasy owner fears: late game, game-time decision, player not likely to be 100 percent healthy. Oh, and the Jaguars are playing in Seattle.
Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals, toe (Q): Mendenhall again comes into this week as questionable, but he hopes to take the field in the Superdome on Sunday when the Cardinals face the Saints. He sat out Wednesday and Thursday but returned to practice Friday for a limited workout. According to ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss, coach Bruce Arians described Mendenhall’s injury as something “damn close” to turf toe. A painful toe could make it challenging to push off or plant and pivot off that foot. Still, his presence at Friday’s practice makes it more likely he could be available.
Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals, hamstring (P): After a surprising appearance on the Thursday injury report, Bernard alleviated fantasy owners’ concerns by putting in a full practice Friday. Coach Marvin Lewis says Bernard was removed early from practice as a precaution and he expects him to play this week. The probable tag reflects the team’s confidence that Bernard will be ready for Sunday.
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers, foot (Q): Bell had not practiced with the team since suffering a foot sprain in the preseason until Wednesday. After a limited practice, Bell surprisingly turned in a full practice Thursday, a clear sign that his foot responded positively to the increased work. He followed it up with another full practice Friday. While Bell was quick to say that he was still recovering and did not want to rush his return, there is a chance he could see some game action Sunday night. Felix Jones is still expected to get the start, and Bell would likely see only limited action.
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans, concussion (P): Johnson was on track with his progression throughout the week, increasing his activity daily. He then got final clearance to return from an independent neurological consultant, and coach Gary Kubiak declared him ready to go Friday. Johnson should be able to play without limitation when the Texans face the Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday.
Roddy White, ankle, and Julio Jones, knee, Atlanta Falcons (Q): White has returned to practice, although he remains limited. There is little doubt that White will take the field when it’s game time; the uncertainty surrounds just how well he can move on his ailing ankle.
For his part, Jones never appeared to be limited by his knee in last week’s game. Perhaps his controlled reps in practice were as much about preserving him for Sunday as anything else. Expect both receivers to take the field in Miami.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals, hamstring (Q): Fitzgerald has made it clear throughout the week that he expects to play. No one has doubted his work ethic or competitive desire, but many have questioned whether his left hamstring will cooperate. It appears we will all learn the answer Sunday. According to ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss, Fitzgerald is expected to play despite the questionable tag, and he did run full speed routes during the open portion of Friday’s practice, the only day this week he participated. Expect Fitzgerald to play barring a setback, but there’s no telling how he’ll hold up through the game. Working in his favor is an additional week of rest and treatment since sustaining the original injury Sept. 11 in practice.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys, back (P): Tightness in his back kept Bryant off the practice field Wednesday, but he was back Thursday doing work. By Friday he was a full participant, and he will be on the field Sunday.
T.Y. Hilton, groin, and Reggie Wayne, shoulder, Indianapolis Colts (P): After his big performance in Week 2, fantasy owners are in a panic about Hilton’s injury. That panic increased when it initially appeared Friday as if he could miss the game. A later update to the Colts injury report noted Hilton’s status as probable, allowing fantasy owners to breathe a sigh of relief.
Wayne is just about as reliable as they come, so his appearance on the report rarely prompts a panic. He too is listed as probable. Both receivers are expected to take the field along with their new teammate, running back Trent Richardson, when they face the 49ers at Candlestick on Sunday.
Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears, back (P): When Marshall left Thursday’s practice early with back tightness, the Bears indicated it was largely precautionary. It appears that was indeed the case as Marshall returned to full practice Friday and, at probable, is expected to play Sunday night against the Steelers.
Danny Amendola, New England Patriots, groin (D): Despite his presence on the practice field (at least during the early portions open to the media), Amendola never progressed past limited status. The sense is that he still has a ways to go to return to playing in games. The doubtful tag indicates the team does not plan to have him Sunday.
Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins, groin (Q): Wallace was a late addition to the injury report with a groin injury. He went from listed as a full practice participant Thursday to limited Friday. It’s worth remembering the Dolphins do not practice Thursdays, so practice reports on those days are a projection of what might have been. It’s unclear how or when he sustained the injury, but Wallace did have a mild groin ailment in the preseason that kept him out of a couple of practice sessions and the first preseason game. The good news is that he did participate to some degree Friday. The bad news is that this is a late game Sunday and, with the questionable tag, his status is likely to be uncertain until an hour beforehand.
Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers, toe (P): Despite remaining on the injury report again this week because of a toe injury, Finley is expected to play Sunday, just as he did last week. Finley got Wednesday off and saw limited work Thursday and Friday, but the probable tag tells us he should be in the lineup.
Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers, hamstring (Q): Throughout the week, Davis had not shown any sign of discouragement about his hamstring; in fact, he expressed confidence early on that he would be ready for Sunday’s contest against the Colts. On Friday, however, his comments seemed a little more cryptic. Asked about his status, Davis told The Sacramento Bee, “We shall see when Sunday comes." He did say he was feeling “pretty good,” yet he also described himself as “sore.”
Although he didn’t practice formally all week, Davis was able to do some light running Friday. It bears repeating: Hamstring strains are notoriously difficult to predict and are extremely easy to aggravate. While it would seem Davis has a chance to play Sunday, this is a late game and his status may not be known until just prior to kickoff.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers, knee (P): Miller’s practice activity took a marked upturn this week as he participated in consecutive full practices from Wednesday through Friday. After coming into the past two games as questionable, Miller this week is upgraded to probable, which tells us the Steelers expect him to take the field. It will be nice to see him return to action after such a devastating knee injury last season, but it’s worth remembering there is still some adjustment to playing in live games (think: RG III).
As ESPN.com’s Scott Brown reported, Miller offered this perspective: “Whenever I'm ready to play, I think it's unrealistic to think I'm going to come back in midseason form." Expectations should be guarded initially, but he could provide a boost for what has been a lackluster offense.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots, back/forearm (Q): Much has already been said in this space about Gronkowski’s ongoing progress. His status for Sunday is still uncertain, although it seems he would likely take part in more than just limited work in practice before returning to game situations.
Fred Davis, Washington Redskins, ankle (Q): Davis was added to the injury report Saturday with an ankle injury of uncertain severity. The questionable tag coming the day before the game suggests fantasy owners should make a backup plan.
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints, foot: Ingram was not practicing throughout the week because of the foot. The Saints did fantasy owners a favor by removing him from the list of available backs in Week 3. Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas will face the Falcons.
Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta Falcons, hamstring: The Falcons made the announcement Thursday that Jackson would miss Week 3, and coach Mike Smith intimated that his absence would extend another week or two, at least.
Malcom Floyd, WR, San Diego Chargers, neck: Floyd was taken off the field last week on a spine board after suffering a frightening neck injury. Thankfully the injury was not more serious, but it will take time before Floyd is released to contact. It is no surprise that he is out this week and likely for a bit longer.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland Browns, thumb: Weeden was ruled out earlier in the week after injuring his thumb late in last week’s game. The Browns surprised some by announcing Brian Hoyer will get the start. There is no timetable for when Weeden will be available (and it’s unclear whether he will automatically reclaim the starting role), but it appears he will not need surgery on his thumb.