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Injuries roundup: Which star players are expected to play?

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Carter: Brown's absence is huge loss for Steelers (1:37)

ESPN NFL analyst Cris Carter reacts to Steelers WR Antonio Brown being officially ruled out for Sunday's game against the Broncos as a result of a concussion Brown suffered after getting hit by Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict. (1:37)

Here are the big names who landed on the injury report this week.

Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots: After missing Week 13 with a knee injury, Gronk managed to play the Patriots' final four games of the regular season. So it was bit of a surprise when he was a limited participant in practice Wednesday. The mystery grew when he missed Thursday's session entirely to get an injection in his knee, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter and Mike Reiss. And on top of all that, the Patriots tweaked their injury report on Thursday to add a back injury to the mix for Gronk. He was at the facility Friday for normal day-before-game work, according to Reiss. The Patriots think their star tight end will play Saturday, but it's fair to wonder whether he'll be at full strength.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Chiefs: The good news is that Maclin did not suffer a torn ACL in the wild-card round, as was initially feared. The bad news is that the Chiefs' leading receiver still might miss Saturday's game -- or be limited -- because of a high ankle sprain that kept him off the practice field all week.

Justin Houston, OLB, Chiefs: Houston sat out the final five games of the regular season with a hyperextended knee but returned for the wild-card round. He came in and out of that game, as his knee brace was giving him problems, saying, "[It's] a little sore from that brace. The brace beat me up more than anything." Houston, the NFL's sack leader last season, missed Friday's practice after being a limited participant both Wednesday and Thursday. He's officially listed as questionable.

Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: Edelman hasn't played in a game since breaking his foot against the New York Giants on Nov. 15. He's expected to play Saturday, as he spent time working with Tom Brady during the bye and has been a limited participant in practice this week. Edelman told the media, "I'm going to go full throttle [in the game] regardless. If it goes, it goes."

Spencer Ware, RB, Chiefs: Ware tweaked his ankle against the Texans in the wild-card round but returned to the practice field Thursday as a limited participant and was full-go Friday. Quietly, Ware has overtaken Charcandrick West as the Chiefs' running back of choice down the stretch. Ware averaged 4.47 yards per carry on 32 rushes in K.C.'s last two games, compared with 2.86 on 21 carries for West.

Tamba Hali, OLB, Chiefs: Hali missed Week 16 with a broken thumb, and in his two games since then, he's played only 28 total defensive snaps. Hali missed the first two practices of the week before being limited on Friday. With backup Dee Ford playing better down the stretch, the veteran pass-rusher could again see abbreviated playing time -- even if he's active.

Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots: Amendola missed the Patriots' Week 16 game with a knee injury and played just 22 snaps in Week 17. He's expected to take the field Saturday after being a limited participant in practice this week.

Dont'a Hightower, LB, Patriots: Hightower has been bothered by a nagging knee injury in the latter half of the season. It kept him out of Weeks 13 and 14 before he returned for the next two games. Hightower said he felt he was getting stronger in the second half of the Patriots' Week 16 contest, but he was held out of their season finale. He was limited in practice all week and is listed as questionable.

Sebastian Vollmer, T, Patriots: Vollmer was carted off the field with an ankle injury five snaps into the Patriots' Week 16 matchup against the Jets. Without him on the field, Brady got banged up in Week 17. If Vollmer plays on Saturday (he's listed as questionable), his ankle will be tested against the Chiefs' stout pass rush.

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: Brady is going to play. After spraining his ankle in the regular-season finale, he's been a full participant in all of the team's practices this week.

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals

David Bakhtiari, T, Packers: Bakhtiari (ankle) is expected to play against Arizona; the team listed him as probable Friday. He missed the Packers' Week 16 matchup against the Cardinals, when Aaron Rodgers was sacked eight times behind a banged up O-line.

Sam Shields, CB, Packers: Shields has missed the last four games with a concussion, but he returned to the practice field for the first time this week -- which could be a good sign for his chances of playing Saturday. The Packers officially listed him as questionable. Shields tied for the team lead with three interceptions in the regular season, despite playing only 12 games.

Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: Lacy injured his ribs in Week 15, and as ESPN Packers reporter Rob Demovsky notes, he hasn't received more than 13 carries in any game since then. He looks on track to play Saturday after practicing in full Friday, but Lacy will continue to wear a rib pad that helps ease the pain -- at least a little bit.

Davante Adams, WR, Packers: Adams suffered an MCL sprain last Sunday against the Redskins and is officially out against the Cardinals after missing the entire week of practice.

Mike Iupati, G, Cardinals: Iupati practiced in full Thursday with a shoulder injury and will play on Saturday.

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks: This can go any direction, really. Last week, Lynch was a full participant in all the Seahawks' practices but didn't feel up to making the trip. This week, Lynch did the same thing -- practice full-go the whole time -- and he even texted ESPN's Kenny Mayne "I'm Ready." We'll see if that translates to Lynch playing his first game since undergoing abdomen surgery Nov. 25. For whatever it's worth, the Seahawks officially listed Beast Mode as probable.

Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Panthers: Ginn showed up on the injury report Friday after practicing the previous two days. Usually that's not a good sign, but coach Ron Rivera called the rest "precautionary." Ginn also told reporters that he plans to play Sunday.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: Roethlisberger suffered a separated shoulder last Saturday after getting sacked by Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict. He returned to the game but relied a lot on short passes. Roethlisberger said this week that he'd "do whatever I can to be out there, but not at the expense of my team." The QB was a full practice participant Friday after being limited on Wednesday and Thursday. According to ESPN injury expert Stephania Bell, even if Big Ben plays, his shoulder is "likely to become sore, not only from repeated throwing but also from contact."

Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers: Brown was ruled out Friday with a concussion, which he suffered on a hit from Vontaze Burfict late in last Saturday's game. Burfict has since been suspended three games by the NFL. Brown tied for the league lead with 136 catches this season.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Steelers: Williams (foot) will miss his second consecutive game. Last week, Steelers RBs Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman combined for 123 yards on 28 carries against the Bengals. But the Broncos are a different animal, ranking first in yards per carry allowed (3.28). With both Williams and Brown sidelined, this marks the first time in the history of the AFL and NFL that a team's leading rusher and receiver from the regular season both missed a playoff game.

Chris Harris Jr., CB, Broncos: Harris missed some practice time last week while recovering from a left shoulder injury, but he was a limited participant in the Broncos' sessions Wednesday and Thursday. If he plays Sunday -- and he likely will since he's listed as probable -- his task got slightly easier with Roethisberger banged up and Brown out.

DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Broncos: Ware -- who left the Broncos' Week 17 game with a knee injury -- practiced full-go on Friday after being limited on Wednesday and Thursday. The 33-year-old has 7.5 sacks in 11 games this season, and is probable to play on Sunday.

Brock Osweiler, QB, Broncos: Osweiler didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday but was seen throwing on Friday by ESPN Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold. The team listed him as questionable, and if he plays, Osweiler will serve as Peyton Manning's backup Sunday.