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|It appears as though Frank Gore will be ready to go Monday night.|
The biggest injury news of the week involved a player who was hurt much earlier in the season. Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings announced his decision to undergo surgery to address a torn abdominal muscle. Jennings has said he will return when he is ready, however long that takes, but fantasy owners should plan on his being out approximately a month and perhaps longer.
Between teams on bye and injury issues, many fantasy owners are desperately seeking replacements. Thankfully, only four games (including the night games Sunday and Monday) are played after 1 p.m. ET, so many final inactives will be known before kickoff.
There are four teams on bye this week: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Houston. Here are the players we're keeping an eye on heading into Week 8.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, calf (P): Rodgers played last week despite the calf issue, so you know he'll be out there again this week. He didn't even miss any practice time.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears, ribs (P): Cutler took a shot to the ribs in Monday night's game from the Lions' Ndamokong Suh but still managed to finish. The bruised ribs clearly affected his ability to throw and there was no doubt he was in pain, yet he managed to get through the remainder of the game. After a couple of days to rest (with only limited practice Wednesday), Cutler returned to full practice Thursday and Friday. He will start as usual.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts, knee (P): There's no word of anything serious here. The Indianapolis Star reports Luck has been wearing a sleeve on his right knee in practice but insists he is fine. He was a full participant in practice each day this week and is expected to play Sunday against the Titans.
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars, left shoulder, (P): Gabbert tore the labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. The good news is, well, it's his non-throwing shoulder. The injury really shouldn't have an impact on him functionally, but it might make it uncomfortable if he falls on it hard. He practiced fully every day this week, showing that he should be able to handle the job. Expect him to play.
Kevin Kolb, ribs and John Skelton, ankle, Arizona Cardinals (no designation yet): Kolb is nowhere near returning from his rib and shoulder injury and is not practicing yet. Skelton is still listed on the injury report because of his ankle, likely because he is still receiving some treatment on it. He has practiced in full daily, however, and is expected to start for the Cardinals on Monday night when they host the 49ers.
Ahmad Bradshaw, foot, New York Giants (Q): On Thursday, we explained why Bradshaw should be expected to play despite not practicing thus far in the week. Indeed, Bradshaw returned to limited work Friday, and, according to ESPN New York, coach Tom Coughlin told reporters afterward that he was confident in what he saw. Although Bradshaw's status is officially listed as questionable, the expectation is that he will play, barring some pregame setback. As Bradshaw said Thursday, "The foot is no problem when my adrenaline is running. I don't even think about it."
Trent Richardson, chest/rib (Q) and Montario Hardesty, knee (P), Cleveland Browns: After his abbreviated appearance Sunday, it was clear Richardson would need to be more convincing in practice this week if he wanted a chance to suit up. It seems he accomplished the task of leaving the door open for Week 8. Although he is still on the mend from his right-sided rib cartilage injury -- and probably will be for several weeks -- Richardson was able to practice daily, albeit on a limited basis.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, coach Pat Shurmur said Richardson had a good third day in a row of practice. Although he is still listed as questionable, it looks as if he has a good chance to play. Uncertainty remains, however, about how Richardson will respond to the unique punishment of in-game contact.
The Browns might opt to limit his exposure by leaning more heavily on Hardesty, who stepped in when Richardson was benched in the second half of Week 7. Hardesty was limited early in the week but put in a full practice Friday and, at "probable," is expected to play.
Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys, knee (Q): Jones practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday after resting his bruised knee Wednesday. Despite the "questionable" tag, Jones is expected to play, but his durability is certainly a concern.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts, knee (Q): After undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery just under three weeks ago, it appears Brown will be making his return to game action, barring a setback. Brown practiced daily this week, in a limited role Wednesday but graduating to full on Thursday and Friday. His ability to work with the team on three consecutive days and suffer no ill effects, even as he increased his effort, bodes well for his chances of seeing the field Sunday. Although it's not likely he would see a full workload in his first game back from surgery, if he responds favorably to this week's activity, he could resume the bulk of the work by next week.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, back (P): There's not really a concern as to whether Lynch will play (unless he's a surprise scratch like the incident last year), but it's worth noting that he remains on the injury report because of his back. Back spasms in the preseason caused him to miss some practice and (preseason) game action, but he had progressed to the point of being listed on the injury report only for "rest." The past two weeks, he has been listed with a "back" ailment yet has practiced fully each day. As long as there are no pregame flares, he will play.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans, ankle (P): Maybe Johnson's ankle is feeling the effects of running down the field more. He practiced fully every day despite appearing on the injury report. Clearly, he is expected to play.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders, shoulder (P): McFadden continues to be listed on the injury report because of his shoulder but continues to practice without limitation each day. The "probable" tag confirms he is again expected to play. Despite this being a late game, fantasy owners should not be concerned about his availability.
Isaac Redman, Pittsburgh Steelers, ankle (Q): Redman is gradually making progress from the ankle injury he suffered two weeks ago. He returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday and repeated the effort Friday. It appears Jonathan Dwyer will again be the starter, but Redman at least has a chance to get in the mix.
Peyton Hillis, ankle, Kansas City Chiefs (P): It looks as if the Chiefs are finally getting Hillis back into the running back rotation after he missed the past three games with an ankle injury. He returned to practice this week and was a full participant Thursday and Friday. It's unclear just how much action he's likely to see in his first game in a month, but if Hillis holds up well this week, he could have some fantasy value down the line.
Bilal Powell, shoulder (D) and Joe McKnight, ankle (Q), New York Jets: Powell has not practiced at all this week and, at "doubtful," is not expected to play. Interestingly, McKnight has not practiced all week, either, yet he says he expects to be available, according to Jane McManus of ESPN New York. Last week, McKnight entered the game while Shonn Greene was out. Greene returned in the overtime session and does not appear on the injury report this week, suggesting he will get his usual start. Meanwhile McKnight, who reportedly is dealing with a high ankle sprain that was sore after last week's game, could be available to back up Greene but is clearly not at full health.
James Starks, Green Bay Packers, illness (P): Starks was added to the report Thursday when he did not practice because of illness. He did return Friday to limited work and is expected to be available Sunday, but Alex Green retains the starting role.
Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, ribs (no designation yet): Gore has said all along that he plans to play Monday night, and his practice participation since then would seem to support him. The extra time between the Thursday game Oct.18 and a Monday night matchup can only have helped his recovery.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, knee/foot (P): Nicks' health appears to be trending in the right direction. Not only did he practice three days in a row again this week but he put in full workouts each day. The "probable" tag means fantasy owners won't be guessing about his status heading into a late afternoon game. Barring a pregame setback, Nicks will start against the Cowboys.
Calvin Johnson, knee (P) and Titus Young, knee (Q), Detroit Lions: Johnson is expected to play despite practicing only one day (Thursday) this week. Young has been listed as questionable for several weeks, but, according to the Detroit Free Press, he too is expected to play.
Danny Amendola, shoulder (Q) and Brandon Gibson, illness (P), St. Louis Rams: Gibson missed Wednesday's practice to illness but was a full participant Thursday and Friday and will play. Amendola, on the other hand, would be a big surprise if he actually suits up. After suffering a posterior sternoclavicular dislocation, Amendola has made good progress to be back in limited practice this week. Even if he can function as a receiver, though, the primary concern would be absorbing contact through the shoulder and collarbone area.
With the Rams having a bye in Week 9, it seems likely he will not appear until the week after that. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Amendola is not expected to play but acknowledges that the "questionable" tag leaves the door open.
Jordy Nelson, hamstring (Q) and Donald Driver, neck (P), Green Bay Packers: Nelson was limited in practice Wednesday after his hamstring tightened up on him. He was then held out Thursday and Friday to rest the leg. Nelson was perhaps going to test the hamstring this weekend before the game, but signs are not pointing to his being active. Driver was on the injury report because of his neck, but it does not seem serious because he was able to practice fully Thursday and Friday. Driver is expected to play.
Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers, hamstring (Q): Royal was limited Thursday and did not practice Friday because of his hamstring. This injury was bothering him heading into Week 6, and it's a concern that it's still an issue after the bye week.
Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans, knee (P): Britt is back on the injury report this week, but it doesn't seem to reflect any change in his status for Sunday. He is expected to play but remains risky until he shows he can get through a series of games without a setback.
Mohamed Massaquoi, hamstring (Q) and Travis Benjamin, hamstring (P), Cleveland Browns: Massaquoi has missed a month with the hamstring injury, and his practice work continues to be limited. He is very much a question mark heading into Sunday. That isn't the case with Benjamin. He has practiced fully every day and after being active last week -- and getting through the game successfully -- he is expected to be active again this week.
Mario Manningham, San Francisco 49ers, shoulder (no designation yet): Manningham missed last week's game, which wasn't a huge surprise as it came just four days after he suffered the injury. The bruised shoulder was not thought to be serious and primarily needed some additional rest. He practiced in full this week and looks to be on track for a Monday night appearance.
Wes Welker, ankle, Brandon Lloyd, knee and Julian Edelman, hand, New England Patriots (Q): All three receivers were listed as limited participants throughout the week. All three are expected to be active this Sunday, but it's an early game, so be sure to check the inactive reports.
Jeremy Kerley, finger, New York Jets (P): Kerley undoubtedly is playing after doing so last week and notching more than 100 receiving yards on the day.
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints, ankle (Q): After three consecutive days of limited practice, Graham remains questionable for Sunday. His status is actually a game-time decision, according to Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and because this is a night game in Denver, it qualifies as a fantasy nightmare. Graham did not do much Wednesday or Thursday in practice, relegated primarily to light individual work. Triplett points out that Graham did more in Friday's practice, but he's still not fully healthy.
The Saints have said before that they value Graham's presence on the field because he presents a threat opposing defenses must account for, but how that translates to receiving productivity is uncertain, especially if his mobility is still limited.
Rob Gronkowski, hip, New England Patriots (Q): Gronkowski has been playing through this ailment and will continue to do so. He's already making a splash away from the field in London, and owners hope last week's performance is a sign he will show up big again in this overseas contest against the Rams.
Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers, shoulder (P): Finley will play, but he acknowledges he is still less than 100 percent healthy as far as his shoulder is concerned. He also acknowledges that this is affecting the play calling for him. Expect him on the field, but don't count on high productivity.
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions, knee (P): Pettigrew has been playing through his knee ailment and will again, as the "probable" tag suggests. He has not seen the end zone much, but, then again, not many of the receiving options in Detroit have, either.
Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos, hip (P): Tamme has been practicing fully despite the sore hip. At "probable," he is expected to play Sunday night.
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 the upcoming game.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (foot): Jones-Drew has a midfoot sprain and likely is out for multiple weeks. Rashad Jennings will start in his place.
Aaron Hernandez, TE, New England Patriots (ankle): In a bit of a surprise move, Hernandez did not travel to London with the team and was later ruled out of this week's game. His ankle is not yet fully recovered from the serious sprain he suffered in Week 2. With the Patriots on bye next week, this could present a good opportunity to move the healing process forward.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (Achilles): Mendenhall's Achilles strain might not be serious, but the team isn't taking any chances. He did not practice all week, so this doesn't come as a surprise.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins (foot): On Thursday, we outlined the latest concerns with Garcon's ongoing foot issue. He is out this week and perhaps for the foreseeable future.
Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers (groin): We knew this was likely going to be the case again this week. Jennings remains out until his groin is fully recovered.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys (foot): Murray remains out with a sprained foot. In the meantime, Felix Jones will start in his place.
Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots (knee): The specifics of Bolden's knee injury aren't known, but his inability to practice says plenty. No surprise that he is out this week.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears (hand): Jeffery is out again this week as he heals from a fractured bone in his hand.
Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans (left shoulder): Locker has returned to limited practice but will sit out again this week, and Matt Hasselbeck will start in his place.
Be sure to check out "Fantasy Football Now" this Sunday -- on ESPNEWS at 11 a.m. ET, then switching to ESPN2 at 11:30 -- for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!