Both teams playing in Thursday night’s game suffered major personnel losses due to injury in Week 6, with little time to recover. The New York Jets lost cornerback Dee Milliner to an Achilles tendon rupture and guard Brian Winters to a torn ACL. Both have been placed on injured reserve. The New England Patriots are expected to place running back Stevan Ridley on injured reserve after he suffered a major right knee injury Sunday (torn ACL and MCL). The biggest blow for the Patriots, however, may have come on the defensive side of the ball with the loss of linebacker Jerod Mayo, also to a right knee injury. Mayo, whose 2013 season also ended prematurely due to injury (torn pectoral muscle), is a candidate to move to injured reserve in the near future.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots, ankle (probable): Brady rolled his ankle in practice last Friday and was listed as questionable heading into Week 6. Two days later he posted his best numbers of the season, completing 73 percent of his passes for 361 yards and four touchdowns, much to the delight of fantasy owners who stuck it out with him after a slow start. The Patriots made the necessary adjustments to allow the Brady of old to resurface; his appearance on the injury report was -- and still is -- of far less significance. Despite being listed as a limited participant in practice each day, Brady will start without issue Thursday night.
Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets, hamstring (probable): This is the first week in about a month where Decker’s status is something other than questionable. He remains on the injury report because of his hamstring, but the probable tag indicates the Jets expect to have him on the field Thursday night. Coach Rex Ryan has expressed varying degrees of hope for Decker’s availability each week, but it has often come down to a game-time decision.
In Week 3, Decker was given the green light to play days after aggravating a hamstring strain, even though he appeared tentative in pregame warm-ups. He lasted just 12 plays before having to leave with renewed tightness. In Week 4, Decker was again listed as questionable but managed to get through the game against the Detroit Lions, even finding the end zone. In Week 5, Decker -- who had been pulled from practice earlier in the week due to a flare-up with the hamstring -- traveled to San Diego but was held out of the game. Decker was active in Week 6 after again being listed as questionable, but he was more productive and appeared healthier, perhaps a result of having the prior week to rest. He apparently came out of Sunday’s contest no worse for the wear, able to practice daily in advance of the Thursday night game. Monday was a walk-through for the Jets, but Decker participated on a limited basis Tuesday and was upgraded to full participation on Wednesday. While it’s too soon to say Decker’s hamstring issues are completely behind him (after all, the last month has been a series of ups and downs), it is easier to have confidence that he will indeed start in Week 7.
Chris Johnson, RB, New York Jets, ankle (probable): Johnson has been a regular on the injury report with an ankle ailment, but he routinely shows up as a full participant in practice. He hasn’t missed a game yet, and Thursday will be no different. Unfortunately for Johnson, it is Chris Ivory who continues to get the majority of the work.
Jace Amaro, TE, New York Jets, knee (probable): After being listed as a limited participant for Monday’s practice (an estimate since the team conducted only a walk-through), Amaro put in full practices both Tuesday and Wednesday. He enters Thursday’s game listed as probable, indicating the team plans to have him on the field against the Patriots. After a week in which he saw the most targets and amassed the most receiving yards of any member of the Jets' offense, and scored a touchdown, Amaro appears to be an increasingly valuable presence for quarterback Geno Smith.