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|Matt Forte is expected to play for the Bears this week.|
A couple of big names could be making a return from injury this week, but there are certainly others who will continue to be sidelined. Here are the players we're looking at heading into Week 13.
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears, ankle (P): Forte said earlier in the week that he would play against Seattle, and it appears he will indeed be on the field. After limited practice Wednesday and Thursday, Forte bumped up to a full practice Friday and is listed as probable, indicating the team expects to have him. Michael Bush undoubtedly is going to get some work, but when Forte came back from injury earlier this year (after missing one game), he still saw the majority of the carries.
Darren McFadden (ankle) and Mike Goodson (ankle), Oakland Raiders (Q): Both running backs returned to limited practices this week after beginning individual work the week before. The Raiders have made it clear there will still be a significant role for Marcel Reece, and Reece could see the bulk of the work in Week 13 given that the others are just coming off injury. In fact, the Raiders are calling McFadden and Goodson game-time decisions, showing they are not quite ready to commit to their availability. Complicating matters is the fact that this is a late game.
DeMarco Murray (foot) and Felix Jones, knee, Dallas Cowboys (Q): One never knows with a "questionable" tag whether a player will actually play, but it is looking in Dallas as though both backs will take the field. Murray has been absent for more than a month with a foot injury but returned to limited practice this week. Jones has been playing -- and shouldering the load -- despite a bruised knee, so the expectation would be that he will continue to play.
The division of work becomes the bigger question in Dallas, and although the Cowboys might prefer Murray as the primary ball-carrier, it's unlikely he could handle that much work in his first game. There is no question that practice cannot simulate in-game contact or speed. This is another situation in which how the game evolves and how the players are feeling and performing throughout might dictate the workload.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, shoulder (P): This week Peterson is listed on the report not because of his ankle but because of his shoulder. At "probable," he is expected to play.
Chris (Beanie) Wells, Arizona Cardinals, knee (Q): Wells returned this past Sunday from the toe injury that had sidelined him for multiple weeks but is back on the injury report because of his knee. His first game action in months left him sore, in all likelihood, and he was kept to limited practice throughout the week. The Cardinals still expect to have him on the field when they face the Jets.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers, ankle (D): Stewart has not been able to practice since injuring his ankle, an injury coach Ron Rivera referred to as a high ankle sprain. The "doubtful" tag indicates the team expects him to be out Sunday. (Update: Stewart did not travel with the team to Kansas City and has been ruled out of Sunday's game.)
Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions, ankle (P): Folks got a little nervous seeing Leshoure added to the list this week, but the ankle ailment proved to be nothing too worrisome. Although he was held to limited practices Thursday and Friday, Leshoure's "probable" designation confirms the team's confidence that he will play.
Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams, foot (P): Jackson played last week with this same designation, and you can bet he will again as the Rams face divisional rival San Francisco.
Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns, chest/rib/finger (P): Richardson remains on the injury report, but there is really no doubt as to his status. Expect him to play again Sunday.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts, knee (P): Brown has essentially been a member of the injury report since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Still, he has been a full participant in practice throughout the week and is expected to play Sunday against the Lions.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, back (P): Lynch has been on the report nearly every week and hasn't missed a game. Nor will he this week when the Seahawks travel to Chicago.
Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, ribs/wrist (P): Gore will play again this week, with quarterback Colin Kaepernick again at the helm.
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants, foot (no designation yet): You know the drill by now. Bradshaw gets rest for his foot, then plays. With the game being on Monday night, there is no formal designation yet, but plan on Bradshaw's playing -- and maybe a little bit more than usual with Andre Brown done for the season -- when the Giants visit the Redskins.
Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings, ankle (D): Harvin is all but ruled out for Sunday's contest because of his ailing ankle. Harvin attempted limited work Wednesday but could not participate in practice Thursday or Friday. Coach Leslie Frazier indicated that the Vikings wanted to see Harvin move confidently in practice before returning him to the field of play. That hasn't happened yet, so don't expect to see him in the game. (Update: Harvin did not travel with the team to Green Bay and has been ruled out of Sunday's game.)
Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams, foot (D): Are we going to fall for this again? Last week, Amendola was listed as doubtful yet played, albeit vary sparingly. This week, he is again listed as doubtful after not practicing all week. We don't know exactly what he can do; the only thing we know for sure is that his foot is not fully recovered.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers, ankle (P): Brown has finally made enough progress to return to the field of play but as to how much he'll be used, that remains in question. On the plus side, he was a full participant in practice the entire week. However, he has not tested the ankle in a game and Charlie Batch will be the one throwing him the ball. Might be a risky test in your lineup.
Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers, groin/abdomen (P): Jennings is finally coming back. He has been written about plenty in this space this week, so suffice it to say, he is expected to play. Although there is no guarantee from the Packers as to how much playing time he'll see because of his conditioning (they indicate it will be dictated by the flow of the game), there should be very little cause for concern on the injury front.
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans, groin (P): Johnson routinely misses some practice time during the week, so his presence here should come as no surprise. As usual, he was a full participant by Friday and there is every expectation he will play Sunday.
Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys, hip (Q): Austin did manage to see practice time each day, suggesting he will take the field Sunday once again. He has yet to miss a game this year despite not being 100 percent healthy when it comes to his hamstrings and hip flexors. The recent injury might affect his ability to get full speed or separation on the field, but it appears he is likely to give it a go. This is a Sunday night game, however, and fantasy owners should prepare accordingly.
Justin Blackmon (groin) and Cecil Shorts (hamstring), Jacksonville Jaguars (P): Whew. A sigh of relief can now be breathed by fantasy owners who might have begun to panic when these two sat out Thursday practice. At the time, all that could be surmised was that the soft tissue injuries ailing these two were minimal enough to warrant just one day of rest (to prevent worsening) or that there was serious concern. It looks now like a case of the former. Their return to limited practice Friday and their "probable" tags indicate they are expected to play. Hopefully there will be no in-game setbacks.
Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots, ankle (Q): Hernandez returned on Thanksgiving night and gave his ankle the first in-game test in weeks. There were no apparent setbacks, and Hernandez, although he might not have been at 100 percent, looked mobile enough to be functional at his position. He continues to be listed on the report and remains limited in practice, but this week there is more confidence that he will actually play.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings, concussion/shoulder (P): Rudolph was able to get back to full practice Friday after not participating at all on Wednesday, and it now looks as if the Vikings will have him in the lineup Sunday.
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.
Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (concussion): Vick remains status quo in his recovery from a concussion. Nick Foles will start again.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (concussion): McCoy is still symptomatic after his concussion and has not yet returned to practice. Bryce Brown gets another start for the Eagles.
Ben Roethlisberger (right shoulder) and Byron Leftwich (ribs), QBs, Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger has begun some light throwing but is still not able to make the hard throws necessary to return to competition. Leftwich has multiple rib fractures and likely will be out multiple weeks. Batch will start again this week.Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots (forearm/hip): Gronkowski is still recovering from surgery to repair his fractured forearm and has not yet been cleared to practice.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (foot): If you picked up Sanu for your last month of fantasy football, sadly, now he must be dropped. Sanu had an injury that required surgery, and he is done for the season.
Eddie Royal, WR, San Diego Chargers (hamstring): Royal will miss another week with his lingering hamstring injury.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (foot): Jones-Drew is still not involved in team practice.
Be sure to check out "Fantasy Football Now" at 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPN2 for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!