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|Trent Richardson is listed as questionable heading into Week 7.|
There are only two late afternoon games Sunday, as two NFC West teams already squared off Thursday night. The 49ers and the Seahawks managed to get through their early Week 7 contest without too much injury fallout. Niners running back Frank Gore bruised his ribs, but X-rays were negative for fracture. With the 10-day hiatus until their next game, the 49ers are hopeful Gore will be able to play.
As for the games left to be played, there are six teams on bye this week: Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego. Translation: There are many substitutions to be made!
Here are the players you might need to make your plans around in Week 7.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, calf (P): Rodgers was kept to a lighter workout Wednesday to rest his left calf but was back in full practice Thursday and Friday. Even Rodgers said as early as Wednesday, "Nothing's going to keep me out," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Sounds as if the calf is not an issue.
Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings, knee (P): Ponder has been on the injury report for a couple of weeks now but has managed to play through the inflamed bursa in his knee. He is expected to do the same again Sunday.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, ankle (P): After not practicing Wednesday or Thursday, Peterson went through a full practice Friday in advance of Sunday's game. On Thursday, we noted that the decision to rest Peterson early in the week was a precautionary one. This is the same leg on which he underwent reconstructive knee surgery earlier this year, so the caution is understood. Plus, the Vikings will have two games within the span of five days because they host the Thursday night game next week.
Last year, Peterson suffered an injury to the same ankle (reported as a high ankle sprain) and missed three games as a result. Given the abuse that side of his body has taken in the past two years, the approach is completely understandable, and the expectation is Peterson will play come game time.
Ahmad Bradshaw, foot (Q) and Andre Brown, concussion (P), New York Giants: It's a familiar refrain: Bradshaw has a sore foot. Bradshaw, however, says that it is not related to past issues he has had with his foot (metatarsal stress fractures) but rather that this episode is the result of someone stepping on his foot in Week 6. No matter the cause, Bradshaw was held out of practice Wednesday and Friday. If there's some good news, Bradshaw did do limited work on Thursday, typically the most important practice day of the week. Coach Tom Coughlin also said he expects Bradshaw to play.
As for Brown, after missing Week 6 after a concussion, he practiced in full every day this week and is eager to take the field again. As ESPN New York points out, Brown will face another team that previously cut him, the Washington Redskins. The last time he faced a former team was when the Giants visited the Carolina Panthers earlier this season. Bradshaw was sidelined with a neck injury, and Brown had his breakout game.
The Giants have an interesting situation at running back with Brown healthy, David Wilson seeing more action of late as he tries to distance himself from his early-season fumbles, and Bradshaw possibly available with a sore foot. It would not be surprising if all three are active, with Wilson contributing on special teams and Bradshaw getting the starting nod.
Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns, chest/rib (Q): On Thursday, we noted the likelihood that Richardson would play, and nothing appears to have changed. Richardson practiced again Friday (limited) and likely will start. How much he can endure will be fluid depending on the course of the game, but it wouldn't come as a great surprise if Montario Hardesty got a few more touches than usual.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders, shoulder (P): McFadden has been on the injury report because of his shoulder for a few weeks, but it has not kept him from any game action, nor did it cause him to miss any practice time this week. Expect him to play.
Alex Green, Green Bay Packers, shoulder (P): Coach Mike McCarthy came out and said this week that the team expects Green to carry the full workload. It speaks to the team's confidence in him as the primary back now that Cedric Benson is out with a Lisfranc injury. It also speaks to the likelihood of Green being ready to go by Sunday. So does the "probable" tag. Expect Green to be the starter when the Packers face the Rams.
Ben Tate, Houston Texans, toe (P): Tate was active last week but had only three carries. In fact, he was on the field for only a handful of snaps. Tate practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday, then was moved up to a full practice Friday. Again listed at probable, Tate is expected to be active, but if Foster continues to control the load, he might not see much action.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins, foot (D): Garcon and his ailing toe have been discussed at length in this blog. After not practicing again all week, he is unlikely to play.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, knee/foot (P): Nicks has practiced three days in a row. In and of itself, that is big news. More importantly for fantasy owners, it speaks to the likelihood that Nicks will play, as does the "probable" tag, which is a bump up from the questionable status Nicks has held most of the season. The further he is removed from the foot surgery, the better it is in terms of recovery. The more recent knee injury appears to be settling down, as well, given his involvement in practice this week. Now if he can just produce in a game like he did in Week 2
Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints, hamstring (P): The Saints might be without receiving tight end Jimmy Graham, but it looks as if they'll get another pass-catcher back this week. Moore, who missed Week 5 with a hamstring injury, benefited from the additional rest of the bye week that followed. He practiced fully every day and is expected to play.
Jerome Simpson, Minnesota Vikings, back (P): After sitting out last week's game because of weakness in his leg, Simpson appears to have made significant improvement this week. He was able to practice in full every day, far more than he was able to do a week ago. According to ESPN 1500 Twin Cities, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said, "Barring any unforeseen circumstance, he should be ready to go on Sunday." Simpson should start.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys, groin (Q): Friday additions to the injury report are never a welcome sight for fantasy owners, but that's exactly what Bryant was. So, how concerned should we be? According to ESPN's Ed Werder, the Cowboys expect Bryant to start Sunday against the Panthers, barring a setback in pregame warm-ups. The groin issue is not a new one but is more a case of residual soreness associated with a chronic injury.
Although we'd rather not see something crop up late in the week, there's also a case to be made for limiting Bryant in practice if there is even a mild concern, in the hopes of preventing it from becoming a bigger issue. With teammate Miles Austin (not on this week's injury report) just recently removed from a recurrent hamstring injury and the loss of running back DeMarco Murray, who also contributed in the passing game, to a foot injury, the specter of injury for Bryant is understandably worrisome to the Cowboys. And Bryant is no stranger to injury issues. He dealt with a high ankle sprain and a fractured fibula his first year in the league and opened this season with what was called patellar tendinitis in his right knee. As of now, it looks as if Bryant can be expected to play, but it would be wise to check pregame inactives just in case.
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, calf (P): Jackson was added to the Thursday injury report with a calf injury but returned Friday to a limited practice. According to The Tampa Tribune, the limitations were precautionary. All sounds positive for a Jackson start, but the unknown is whether it will become an issue as the game progresses.
Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders, shoulder (P): Moore missed time early in the season with a hamstring injury, but it does not appear this shoulder issue will lead to the same result. Moore practiced fully each day this week and, at "probable," is expected to play.
Mohamed Massaquoi, hamstring (Q) and Greg Little, illness (P), Cleveland Browns: Massaquoi has missed the past three games because of a hamstring injury, and, if fantasy owners were thinking of picking him up to replace a receiver on bye, be forewarned that he could miss another. He has returned to limited practice, but, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Massaquoi looked to be behind teammate Travis Benjamin (who also has been dealing with a hamstring injury). Little missed Thursday practice with illness but was back Friday for limited work. He is expected to play.Titus Young, Detroit Lions, knee (no designation yet): Young has continued to play through his knee soreness and likely will do so again Monday night.
Wes Welker, New England Patriots, ankle (Q): Welker played through this last week and is expected to do so again when the Patriots host the Jets.
Stephen Hill, hamstring and Jeremy Kerley, finger, New York Jets (P): Hill and Kerley were able to practice every day this week, and both are expected to play.
Rob Gronkowski, hip and Aaron Hernandez, ankle, New England Patriots (Q): Gronkowski and Hernandez should play again this week, as noted in Thursday's blog. Both were in practice (limited) Friday, and, although things can always change before kickoff, this week feels better than any since Week 2 in terms of having both New England tight ends available.
Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers, shoulder (P): Finley originally injured his shoulder (AC joint) in Week 5 but still played in this past Sunday night's game in Houston. Despite being active, his contribution was minimal, catching only two passes. One could argue that his contribution has been limited for much of the season; the difference Sunday was that Finley was literally on the field for far fewer snaps than in previous games. He practiced on a limited basis daily this week, and the shoulder seems to be improving. Perhaps his productivity also will improve when the Packers visit the Rams this Sunday.
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions, knee (no designation yet): Pettigrew did practice on a limited basis Thursday and Friday, suggesting he will be active for Monday night, barring a setback.
Dustin Keller, New York Jets, hamstring (P): Keller was able to return to game action last week after missing more than a month, but he was not much of a factor in the passing game (of course, there weren't many passing plays, either). Still, the further an athlete gets from his injury without a setback, the more confidence there is that he is moving past it. Although Keller is not out of the woods yet, the hope is that he will be more involved this week.
This space is intended for a list of key players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are officially listed as "out" for this week's game.
Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints, ankle: At least fantasy owners won't be holding their collective breath until pregame inactives are announced Sunday. The Saints have done everyone a favor by announcing Saturday that Graham will not make the trip to Tampa Bay for this week's game. It allows another week for Graham to get healthy. In the meantime, David Thomas likely will be the starting tight end for the Saints.
Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Isaac Redman (ankle), RBs, Pittsburgh Steelers: Another pregame panic situation avoided, especially helpful because the Steelers don't play until Sunday night. Neither Mendenhall nor Redman practiced all week, so their absence does not come as a complete surprise. Jonathan Dwyer gets the start.
Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers (groin): We knew this likely was going to be the case again this week. Jennings remains out until his groin has fully recovered.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys (foot): Earlier in the week, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones indicated that Murray would sit this week out, so there is no shock here. The bigger question remains just how much time Murray will miss. There is no definitive answer yet. In the meantime, Felix Jones will start in his place.
Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots (knee): Bolden left last week's game early because of his knee and has not practiced this week. No surprise, then, that he is sitting this one out.
Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis Colts (knee): Brown had surgery on his knee two weeks ago and already has been ruled out again for Sunday. Vick Ballard gets the start again for the Colts.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears (hand): Jeffery will miss the Monday night game against the Lions with a fractured bone in his hand.
Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans (left shoulder): Locker is out, and Hasselbeck is in again.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Arizona Cardinals (ribs): Kolb is expected to miss six to eight weeks with rib, sternoclavicular joint and shoulder injuries. Good thing John Skelton was just getting healthy.
Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams, shoulder: Amendola will miss several weeks as he recovers from his sternoclavicular joint injury.
Be sure to check out "Fantasy Football Now" (11 a.m. ET Sunday, ESPN2) for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!