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Thursday, October 24, 2013
Panthers-Bucs Thursday injury update

By Stephania Bell

"Thursday Night Football" features an NFC South matchup as the Carolina Panthers pay a Week 8 visit to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here’s an injury update on key fantasy players on both teams.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Doug Martin, RB, shoulder (out): Martin injured his shoulder in Sunday’s game when he landed hard on his elbow while trying to make a catch. He reportedly suffered a torn labrum, and the amount of time he will miss is not clear. Other than ruling him out early for Thursday night’s game, the team has given no indication as to how long Martin will be absent. For his part, Martin has expressed confidence that he will return this year. According to ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas, Martin said during his weekly radio show that his pain has decreased and his range of motion has increased, two encouraging early signs. Although it may take some time for him to attempt a return, he has not given up on this season. In the meantime, Mike James will take his place.

Mike Williams, WR, hamstring (questionable): The good news is that Williams played Sunday after being listed as questionable. The bad news is that his hamstring issue is still enough of a problem to keep him listed as “questionable” entering Thursday’s game. Williams cropped up on the injury report in Week 4 (though he played), had a bye in Week 5, sat out Week 6, and then returned without much fanfare in Week 7 (four receptions for 32 yards). Williams was listed as a full practice participant Monday, was listed as a limited participant Tuesday, and then upgraded to full status on Wednesday. Barring a setback, it appears likely that Williams will take the field Thursday night. However, it also appears his hamstring is still limiting him. Having two games only four days apart isn’t helping.

Carolina Panthers

Steve Smith, WR, ankle (probable) and Brandon LaFell, WR, knee (probable): One of the least favorite sights in fantasy football is when a player’s name is added to the injury report the day before a game. That is the case with Smith, who appeared on Wednesday’s injured list after reportedly getting his foot stepped on in practice. However, the “probable” tag tells us not to be concerned, and Smith is expected to play. As for LaFell, he was limited in Monday’s practice coming out of the Week 7 game but was back to full practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. He also is expected to play Thursday night.

Greg Olsen, TE, foot (probable): Olsen has been a regular on the injury report for several weeks with a foot ailment, often starting the week in a boot but upping his activity late in the week and playing on game day. It appears he is doing the same thing this week. Olsen sat out Monday’s practice but was a full participant Tuesday and Wednesday. Despite the short week, Olsen is expected to play against the Buccaneers.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, ankle (out): Although Stewart has been ruled out for Thursday night’s game, the important note is that this week he joined his teammates on the practice field for the first time this season. Stewart started the year on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list after lingering problems with his ankles, both of which had been operated on in the offseason. According to ESPN.com’s David Newton, Stewart expects to play Nov. 3 when the Panthers host the Atlanta Falcons.