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Thursday, October 31, 2002
Updated: November 2, 2:18 PM ET
Week 9: Injury updates around the NFL

By John Clayton

Here's the latest news on key injuries going into Week 9:

AFC East
Team Comment
Bills coach Gregg Williams still thinks it's doubtful that cornerback Antoine Winfield will play on his surgically repaired knee, but he will wait until game time to make a final determination. Expect Chris Watson to continue as the starter. Winfield has missed two weeks following arthroscopic surgery. Mike Williams returns at the right tackle position after missing two games because of a hamstring injury. Linebacker Keith Newman, who is listed as questionable with a knee injury, has a better than 50-50 chance of playing. He practiced a little Friday. There is less of a chance that backup safety Tony Driver (hip) will play. He's also listed as questionable.
The Dolphins should have left tackle Mark Dixon available for the Monday night game against the Packers, but it's not known whether or not he will be the starter. Dixon has been out with an ankle injury, and Marcus Spriggs has done a good job filling in for him. Still, the Dolphins should have both players available. Coach Dave Wannstedt has until Monday to determine the starter. Quarterback Jay Fiedler is out with his broken thumb and Ray Lucas will start. The Dolphins used the bye week to get healthy. They should have safety Trent Gamble (groin) and Twan Russell (knee) available for special teams duty.
The biggest question marks for the Patriots are cornerback Otis Smith (arm) and special teams star Larry Izzo (leg). If Smith can't start, Bill Belichick is leaning toward starting veteran Terrell Buckley. Jimmy Hitchcock is another option. There is a chance with an extra roster spot available that the Patriots could bring cornerback Leonard Myers off the physically unable to perform list. He's been practicing the past two weeks. Running back Antoine Womack, another PUP guy, started practicing Thursday and is a candidate for that open spot on the roster. Last week, the Patriots had only 52 players available for their game against the Broncos.
The Jets will have Kareem McKenzie at right tackle for Sunday's game against the Chargers. McKenzie was upgraded from questionable to probable Friday after returning to practice. He has been fighting an ankle injury all week. Linebacker Mo Lewis, who hurt his ankle earlier this week, should be able to start. Safety Jon McGraw, who missed last week's game with a shoulder injury, was removed from the injury list. The only lost Jet is defensive tackle Jason Ferguson, who hasn't practiced because of a shoulder injury and is expected to be replaced by James Reed.

AFC North
Team Comment
The Ravens added backup tackle Damion Cook to the injury list Friday because of an ankle injury. He's listed as probable. Normally, the Ravens keep only seven offensive linemen on the 45-man roster as active players every Sunday. Cornerback Gary Baxter is okay with a neck injury that has been bothering him all week and has him listed as probable. The Ravens, who visit the Falcons, will be without linebacker Ray Lewis (shoulder), quarterback Chris Redman (back) and defensive end Michael McCrary (knee). Jeff Blake gets his second start for the Ravens.
The Bengals placed linebacker Armegis Spearman on the injured reserve list Friday. He had been listed out for the game with an ankle injury. Before Sunday's game against the Texans, the Bengals are expected to bring a player off the practice squad. Tight end Sean Brewer (knee) and defensive end Vaughn Booker (knee) are also out. It will be a game-time decision whether cornerback Jeff Burris will play with his hamstring injury. He did more work Friday and has a decent chance to play. If he can't go, the Bengals would start Kevin Kaesviham. Safety Cory Hall also remains questionable but did some work. Mark Roman might start if Hall can't go.
The Browns added backup defensive tackle Alvin McKinley to the injury report as probable because of a thumb injury suffered during practice Friday. The Browns are down two starters in their secondary -- cornerback Corey Fuller (hamstring) and safety Robert Griffith (shoulder). Daylon McCutcheon returns to his job as a starter now that he's completely healthy. The Browns will also be without backup linebacker Ben Taylor, who has a hamstring injury. Wide receiver Quincy Morgan and guard Shaun O'Hara will keep their starting jobs even though they were demoted during last week's game. The Browns host the Steelers.
Despite a hip pointer injury that had his name added to the injury report, backup Chukky Okobi will start at center for the Steelers in Sunday's game against the Bears. Jeff Hartings, who has a knee injury, is expected to be on the active roster but only as a backup. The Steelers scratched their two biggest running backs -- Jerome Bettis (knee) and Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala (pec). Amos Zereoue gets his second start of the season. The Steelers visit the Browns.

AFC South
Team Comment
The Texans are healthy heading into Sunday's game against Bengals. Tight end Rod Rutledge is healthy despite a foot injury that forced him to miss last week's game. Billy Miller gets the start at tight end. Linebacker Jamie Sharper has recovered from some swelling around his knee and will be able to start.
Colts coach Tony Dungy ruled halfback Edgerrin James out of Sunday's game against the Titans because of his second-degree sprain of the right hamstring. Rookie Ricky Williams gets his first NFL start. Right tackle Adam Meadows didn't practice Friday and is expected to miss his second consecutive game. Also out are tight end Joe Dean Davenport (shoulder) and defensive tackle Josh Williams (arm and foot). Waverly Jackson gets the start at right tackle. The Colts got some good news along the defensive line because ends Chad Bratzke (shoulder) and Brad Scioli (shoulder) practiced and will play. Defensive tackle Larry Tripplett is okay with his elbow and shoulder injuries. There was concern that kicker Mike Vanderjagt wouldn't play because of a groin injury, but Dungy expects him to handle all the kicking duties Sunday.
The Jaguars may be without starting right tackle Zach Wiegertfor Sunday's game against the Giants. Wiegert was added to the injury list Friday as questionable because of swelling in a knee. Todd Fordham is expected to start for him. Wide receiver Pat Johnson, listed as questionable because of an abdominal injury, was feeling better Friday and may be able to start. If he doesn't, Bobby Shaw will get that assignment. Shaw has been practice all week with a toe injury.
Titans halfback Eddie George will play and start Sunday, recovering from a knee injury suffered during Wednesday's practice. George hasn't shown any lingering problems from the left knee sprain. The Titans have several other injuries, though. Their biggest concern is at middle linebacker where they will be down their top two players -- Randall Godfrey (ankle) and Frank Chamberlin (broken hand). Chamberlin will only handle special teams because he is wearing a big cast. Rookie Rocky Calmus gets his first NFL start at middle linebacker. Fullback Greg Comella was back on the field but he probably won't play because of a dislocated shoulder. Out for the Titans are fullback Robert Holcombe (hip), defensive end Jevon Kearse (foot) and cornerbacks Dainon Sidney (arm) and Mike Echols (leg). The Titans play the Colts.

AFC West
Team Comment
It must be a big game because the five injured Raiders all practiced and should be able to play Sunday against the 49ers. That means Charles Woodson (shoulder) returns at cornerback and Sam Adams (knee) returns at defensive tackle. Barry Simms will gut through a turf-toe injury that forced him out of last week's game. The Raiders backfield will be strengthened by the return of Tyrone Wheatley (hamstring) and Randy Jordan (groin).
The Chargers are healthy heading into Sunday's game against the Jets. Tight end Josh Norman didn't practice and probably won't play because of a calf injury, but the defense will get the return of linebacker Junior Seau and defensive end Marcellus Wiley.

NFC East
Team Comment
The Cowboys will start their eighth different offensive line combination in nine games Sunday. Tyson Walter gets the nod at center. Andre Gurode moves from center to right guard and Solomon Page moves back to right tackle. Jeremy McKinney fought off a groin injury this week and will get his second start at left guard. Coach Dave Campo will make a game-day decision whether Larry Allen can play 10 to 15 plays on his bad left ankle. Rookie Derek Ross will start at left cornerback, but Duane Hawthorne will get considerable time playing in the secondary.
The Giants signed former Broncos punter Tom Rouen and kept him on the active roster along with current punter Matt Allen. To make room for Rouen, the Giants placed safety Darnell Dinkins on the injured reserve list with a foot injury. The other Giant who is out for Sunday's game against the Jaguars is backup linebacker Nick Greisen who has a foot injury. Jason Whittle returns at guard after missing a couple games with a back injury. The Giants added offensive lineman Dusty Zeigler to the injury report as questionable with a knee injury, but he is more doubtful than questionable.
The Eagles placed safety Rashard Cook on the injured reserve list and brought up safety Julian Jones from the practice squad. Coach Andy Reid ruled outside linebacker Carlos Emmons as out for the game because of the hamstring injury he suffered in the Monday night victory over the Eagles. Safety Brian Dawkins practiced for a second day after missing Wednesday's practice with a sore neck. He will start. Defensive end Derrick Burgess remains out with a foot injury.
Redskins halfback Stephen Davis didn't practice Friday and coach Steve Spurrier says that he is very doubtful to play Sunday against the Seahawks. Davis has a sprained knee. Right guard Brenden Stai is expected to miss his third consecutive game because of a knee injury. Wilbert Brown starts for him, but Tre' Johnson is expected to see more action. Kenny Watson will take over for Davis at halfback. With Watson handing the backfield duties, Spurrier wants to use Willie Jackson on the active roster to handle some of Watson's return duties. Jackson was signed Thursday.

NFC North
Team Comment
The Bears didn't envision this. They will be fielding an offensive line that has rookie Marc Colombo at left tackle and Mike Gandy and Kevin Dogins as the guards. Right guard Chris Villarrial missed his second consecutive day of practice because of his back spasms. Though listed as questionable, Villarrial doesn't look as though he will be ready to play by Sunday against the Eagles. Jim Miller will start, but because he's playing with sore shoulders and a bad elbow, the Bears gave Chris Chandler more snaps this week than the normal backup quarterback. On Thursday, the Bears upgraded tight ends Fred Baxter (side) and John Davis (side) along with cornerback R.W. McQuarters to probable. They practiced Friday and should play. Expect to see a little more of backup halfback Leon Johnson. Starter Anthony Thomas has been struggling this season. The Bears activated safety Damon Moore, a former Eagle, for Sunday's game. He had been on physically unable to perform list but recently rejoined the team for practice. Moore will help the Bears on special teams.
The Lions will be without wide receiver Larry Foster (shoulder) and linebacker Clint Kriewaldt (foot), but rookie quarterback Joey Harrington will have the benefit of having four of the team's top receivers on the field together for the first time. Harrington will be able to throw to Az-Zahir Hakim, Bill Schroeder, Germane Crowell and Mikhael Ricks. He couldn't even have done that in training camp because of various injuries. The Lions will have game-day decisions on right tackle Stockar McDougle (knee), who did a little work during Friday's practice. If he can't go, Matt Joyce would get the start. Tight end John Owens, who missed last week with a shoulder injury, did some work. Wide receiver-return specialist Desmond Howard didn't do much, but he may be able to play. The Lions host the Cowboys.
Brett Favre took some of the snaps in practice for the second straight day but the Packers didn't change his status for Monday's game against the Dolphins. Favre remains questionable. All along the plan was for Favre, who has a knee injury, to get a little work even though it's much less than normal. Doug Pederson took most of the snaps Thursday and Friday. It was productive day for the Packers because most of all of their questionable players practiced, including left tackle Chad Clifton, who has been out with a knee injury. There is a chance that safety Antuan Edwards (arm), defensive end Vonnie Holliday (chest) and cornerback Mike McKenzie (leg) could all be on the active roster for the Monday night game. The Packers added defensive tackle Steve Warren to the injury list as probable because of a knee injury.
The Vikings will be without wide receiver D'Wayne Bates, who hasn't done much in practice the past two weeks because of back problems. The only chance that Bates will play is if his back feels better at game time. Derrick Alexander gets the start. Everett Lindsay will replace Lewis Kelly at left tackle. Kelly was ruled out of Sunday's game against the Bucs because of an ankle injury.

NFC South
Team Comment
T.J. Duckett is set to return for the Atlanta Falcons after missing last week's game against the Saints with a foot problem. Warrick Dunn will get the start, but Duckett will be used in different situations. The Falcons host the Baltimore Ravens. Defensive end Brady Smith didn't practice Friday because of a damaged AC joint in his shoulder. The plan is to move Travis Hall to right end and Patrick Kerney to left end. Ed Jasper will get more playing time with Smith's absence. Out for the Falcons are guard Roberto Garza (foot), backup cornerback Juran Bolden (kneecap) and wide receiver Darrin Chiaverini (quad). Chivareni tried to practice for this week's game but had a setback. The Falcons may be able to use backup cornerback Kevin Mathis, who is coming off knee surgery a couple of weeks ago. Todd Weiner returns as the starting right tackle after being bothered last week with a calf injury.
The Bucs will likely be without starting left guard Kerry Jenkins (eye) and wide receivers Keenan McCardell (fractured scapula) and Joe Jurevicius (knee-ankle), but Brad Johnson should return at quarterback. Johnson will be playing with two cracked ribs on his left side. Although Rob Johnson practiced Friday, Shaun King is expected to be Brad's backup. Coach Jon Gruden labeled the chances of McCardell and Jurevicius playing as very doubtful. Karl Williams will get the start and Reggie Barlow will be the third receiver. Charles Lee will be activated after being deactivated since signing with the Bucs.

NFC West
Team Comment
The Cardinals will have cornerback Duane Starks return to the starting lineup after a four-game absence. Good thing because they don't expect his replacement, Renaldo Hill, to play because of a foot injury. Starting defensive tackle Barron Tanner will have to wait until game time Sunday to determine if he will play with an ankle injury, but it's not promising. Marcus Bell is expected to get the start with first-round choice Wendell Bryant getting more playing time. Wide receivers David Boston (foot) and Frank Sanders (foot) practiced Thursday and Friday and are fine.
The 49ers have cleared halfback Garrison Hearst to play and start after he has bounced back from a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday against Oakland. Out for the 49ers are safety Zack Bronson (foot) and linebackers Jamie Winborn (knee) and Saleem Rasheed (thigh). Tight end Eric Johnson didn't practice because of a disc problem in his back and isn't expected to play. Justin Swift will start for him. Wide receiver J.J. Stokes will return after a three-game absence because of a knee injury, but Tai Streets will start on the other side of Terrell Owens.
The Seahawks avoided a scare that they might have been without linebacker Chad Brown. But his ankle and foot injury healed enough that he practiced Friday and will play Sunday. Linebacker Anthony Simmons, however, will continue to sit out with his high-ankle sprain. Versatile backup linebacker Tim Terry practice on his sore ankle and will play. It looks as though Jeff George will only be the emergency quarterback Sunday. Coach Mike Holmgren is planning on having Jerry Kelly backup Matt Hasselbeck, but will make the final determination Sunday.
The Rams welcomed the return of fullback James Hodgins, who has come back from a broken leg. He has practiced all week and has been cleared to play against the Cardinals Sunday. The Rams added backup linebacker Courtyard Bullard to the injury list Friday as questionable because of a foot injury. Out for the Rams are quarterback Kurt Warner (finger) and fullback Chris Hetherington (groin).

John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for