It's Week 14 of the NFL regular season, and that means each of the 32 teams is dealing with a list of injuries, albeit in varying degrees of severity. With only four games remaining before the playoffs blast off, there are several teams still scratching and clawing for a shot at landing a wild card berth in their respective conference -- within the NFC as -- setting the stage for a photo finish in both conferences.
The teams who are healthier will have the edge in December and potentially beyond, but the reality is it'll all come down to not simply that, but also which ones can get players to step up and play big in the absence of key talent. The margin for error for every club is thinner than a razor's edge, and with everything from home field advantage to wild cards still very much in the air, let's take a look around the league at who's nursing what going into this week's slate of games.
Below, you'll find all the notable injury news and notes you need as clubs begin to file their injury reports.
- Cowboys: LB Leighton Vander Esch (neck), DL Antwaun Woods (knee), S Jeff Heath (shoulders) OUT; RB Tony Pollard QUESTIONABLE
, and the same is now true for Woods and Heath, with all three starters set to miss yet another game for the Cowboys. They'll also monitor rookie halfback and returner Tony Pollard, who will be a game-time decision and whose absence would alter both the offense and special teams unit.
The Bears have their own concerns to wade through this week, though, forced to battle the win-thirsty Cowboys without leaders like Amukamara, Trevathan and a speedy receiver/returner in Gabriel. Neither have an edge over the other on the injury front, setting the stage for what could be a back alley brawl in Chicago.
Wednesday practice report notes
An injury to running back Mark Ingram would complicate matters a bit in Baltimore, despite the MVP-caliber season Lamar Jackson is having. The good news for the Ravens is although Ingram wasn't present for the first practice of the week, his absence was listed as non-injury related, joining three other Ravens who missed for the same reason -- namely Earl Thomas, Brandon Carr, and Jimmy Smith. Tight end Nick Boyle did not participate due to illness, while cornerback Marlon Humphrey (thigh), linebacker Patrick Onwuasor (ankle) and wideout Seth Roberts (knee) were present, but limited.
The Bills injury report is much easier to digest because they had only one player with an issue, and that is offensive lineman Ty Nsekhe, who was sidelined on Wednesday with an ankle issue. Nsekhe plays backup to Cody Ford and Dion Dawkins, so if he can't go on Sunday, the Bills will have an issue with depth at the offensive tackle position.
Dwayne Haskins will have a tough time trying to outduel Aaron Rodgers, but he might have to give it a go without one or two key receivers, depending upon how the remainder of the week plays out. Both Trey Quinn and Paul Richardson were absent on Wednesday with a concussion and hamstring injury, respectively, thinning out an already slim WR depth chart. Key to watch on that side of the ball as well will be the health of offensive linemen Morgan Moses (back) and Brandon Scherff (shoulder), who practiced but were both limited, along with defensive counterparts Montez Sweat (quad) and Ryan Anderson (shoulder).
Rodgers is dealing with offensive concerns on his end as well, with tight end Jimmy Graham (calf, wrist), wide receiver Ryan Grant (illness) and starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) all absent from Wednesday's practice. Defensively, cornerback Kevin King is working through a shoulder injury that held him out as well.
Drew Lock landed the first win of his NFL career in Week 13, but there's a chance his protection will take a hit if Ronald Leary can't clear concussion protocol this week, having sat out of practice because of it; and while starting center Connor McGovern is showing progress with his back injury, he was still limited on Wednesday because of it. Like Leary, safety Will Parks (hand) and linebacker Malik Reed (ankle, shoulder) didn't suit up today, as the team monitors them as well for possible unavailability on Sunday.
Things are healthier on the Texans' front going into this AFC fight, but cornerback Gareon Conley (hip) and speedy wideout Will Fuller (hamstring) were limited in practice, as was linebacker Brennan Scarlett (shoulder), cornerback Bradley Roby (hamstring/toe), and defensive ends Carlos Watkins (hamstring) and Angelo Blackson (shoulder). Only backup running back Taiwan Jones missed practice entirely, making for only a small bit of concern on the Texans front.
It's time for Matt Breida to return to help lift the 49ers' running back unit, now officially a full participant in practice after missing time due to an ankle injury. Richard Sherman looks to be OK despite his knee injury, participating in limited fashion in practice, but he'll continue to be monitored along with defensive lineman Dee Ford (quad, hamstring) and George Kittle (knee, ankle) -- the latter two also practicing in a limited capacity. The 49ers secondary isn't only keyed in on the status of Sherman though, with starting safety Jaquiski Tartt not participating on Wednesday with a rib injury.
Things are a bit more disconcerting on the Saints injury report, with starting left guard Andrus Peat (forearm), linebacker Kiko Alonso (thigh) and linebacker A.J. Klein (knee) all sitting out on Wednesday, while starting left tackle Terron Armstead (ankle) was limited. It's a short list for the Saints, but one that carries a ton of weight should any/all be absent in a game of this magnitude.
If you're waiting for A.J. Green to return to the field in 2019, you should probably stop holding your breath. Head coach Zac Taylor wasted little time ruling out the Pro Bowl wide receiver against the Browns this week, as Green continues to recover from ankle surgery he underwent this past summer. The Bengals also start practice in Week 14 without starting pass rusher Sam Hubbard (knee), but have less of a concern on Geno Atkins and Darqueze Dennard -- both sitting for a rest day, along with Tyler Eifert. Safeties Shawn Williams (ankle) and Brandon Wilson (hand) landed on the injury report, but did participate in limited fashion in practice.
The headline for the Browns' report is Baker Mayfield, who was limited in practice with rib and right hand injury, but who made it clear he'll play because his mother "didn't raise a wuss." There are questions in front of him though, with Chris Hubbard and J.C. Tretter both sitting out of Wednesday practice with knee issues, and Odell Beckham, Jr. was limited with a groin injury. This could all create (more) issues for the Browns' inconsistent offense when they face the Bengals.
It's been a tough few weeks for the Panthers, capped off by the firing of head coach Ron Rivera, but there are still games to be played. It's undetermined what star players they'll have going forward, because the injury bug is digging its teeth into the club. Neither Eric Reid (ankle), Greg Olsen (concussion), Gerald McCoy (ankle, knee) nor Greg Little (ankle) practiced on Wednesday ahead of their division battle with the Falcons. While Taylor Moton and Shaq Thompson both did, they were limited with a knee and ankle injury, respectively.
For Atlanta, the name to watch in injury news isJames Carpenter, who was absent on Wednesday with a concussion. He won't play this week if he can't clear concussion protocol, but the good news for the Falcons is there aren't many concerns regarding injury to top players outside of Carpenter. Julio Jones (shoulder) was limited but did practice, as did Calvin Ridley (toe), Desmond Trufant (toe), Ricardo Allen (knee, oblique) and red zone dynamo Austin Hooper (knee).
For yet another week, the Lions will start the week planning to play without franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford, who continues to battle fractures in his back. Stafford did not participate in the first practice in preparation for the Vikings, and likely won't at all this week, but he's the only absence on the team's injury report. Limited participants were cornerback Jamal Agnew (ankle), defensive lineman Da'Shawn Hand (ankle), cornerback Rashaan Melvin (ribs) and punter Sam Martin (abdomen). They leave Wednesday feeling good about All-Pro lineman Damon Harrison (calf, knee), who was a full participant despite his ailments.
The verdict remains out on if Adam Thielen will take the field this week, with the Pro Bowl wide receiver again missing practice due to a hamstring injury that's cost him the last three games. He's the whale to watch, but the Vikings were also without starters Linval Joseph (knee) and Riley Reiff (concussion) to start this week's practice, creating concern on both their offensive and defensive fronts. Dalvin Cook (chest) was limited, along with Everson Griffen (knee), Eric Wilson (shoulder), Harrison Smith (hamstring) and Shamar Stephen (knee), but each of those five starters are on track to suit up against Detroit.
The Jets will likely be without superstar safety Jamal Adams, who did not practice with an ankle injury and lists himself as day-to-day, but admits he isn't sure when he'll return. Also absent on Wednesday were quite a few others, including Maurice Canady (knee), Matthias Farley (rib, ankle), Ryan Griffin (illness), Arthur Maulet (calf), Steve McLendon (knee, hip), Brian Poole (concussion), Paul Worrilow (quad) and staring right tackle Chuma Edoga (knee). Limited were defensive lineman Henry Anderson (shoulder), wideout Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) and offensive linemen Kelvin Beachum (ankles) and Alex Lewis (elbow).
Things are much healthier on the Dolphins side after downing the Eagles in Week 13, with no active players having missed practice to start the week. They had four limited participants in linebacker Jerome Baker (chest), cornerback Nik Needham (groin), safety Steven Parker (groin) and cornerback Ken Webster (ankle).
All eyes for this matchup are on Pro Bowl wideout T.Y. Hilton, who didn't take the field in the Colts loss to the Titans in Week 13 due to a calf injury. His status this week again begins in doubt, having sat out practice on Wednesday as the team readies to meet the Buccaneers in Tampa. He was joined on the sideline Wednesday by cornerback Kenny Moore (ankle), but running back Marlon Mack (hand), Adam Vinatieri (knee) and safeties Clayton Geathers (rest) and Malik Hooker (foot) were all present -- in a limited capacity -- while wideout Parris Campbell (hand) remains on the injury report, but participated fully.
Tampa Bay is more banged up than Indy this week, and especially when it comes to top players. Jason Pierre-Paul (knee), Anthony Nelson (hamstring) and Alex Cappa (elbow) were all absent on Wednesday due to injury. That's a lot of firepower in jeopardy of not playing unless they show progress over the next two days, but Jameis Winston is fine -- a full participant despite knee pain.
There isn't much to discuss by way of the Chargers' injury report, but wide receiver Mike Williams starts off the week as limited due to a knee injury, with signs pointing to him being available against the Jaguars. Other than that, the team's currently active roster is mostly healthy as they try to end a three-game slide in Week 14.
The Jaguars are a different story on the injury front, however, with several key players not participating to start the week. While wide receiver Dede Westbrook took a personal day, star pass rusher Calais Campbell was absent with a back ailment and linebacker Myles Jack was sidelined as well on Wednesday with a knee issue. Safety Ronnie Harrison joined them and didn't practice either as he awaits clearance from concussion protocol, along with starters Brandon Linder (knee) and Seth Devalve (oblique).
The running back corps for the Chiefs is in a bit of trouble with both Damien Williams (rib) and Darrel Williams (hamstring) being forced out of the team's first practice as they ready to visit the Patriots, and the latter has now been moved to injured reserve. The injuries to the Williams Bros. is essentially the crux of the Chiefs' primary health concerns at the moment though, because while veteran pass rusher Frank Clark is nursing a bum shoulder, he did practice in a limited capacity. All signs are an absolute go for Tyreek Hill (hamstring) as well, a full participant to start the week.
Let's start with what you truly want to know first about the Patriots, and that's the fact Tom Brady (elbow) is fine and a full participant in practice on Wednesday. Starting center Ted Karras didn't practice with a knee injury, but he's the only notable player who wasn't on the field. Julian Edelman (shoulder), Mohamed Sanu (ankle), and Jason McCourty (groin) were present and accounted for, although they were limited in what they could do to begin the week.
The glowing neon sign on the Steelers injury report is JuJu Smith-Schuster, who missed practice with a knee injury. While Mark Barron and Vance McDonald were DNP as well, their issues were non-injury related, leaving Smith-Schuster as the only player who didn't participate due to health issues. He ran for the first time since suffering the injury and says he "feels fine," but also notes he doesn't want to re-injure it by pushing the issue, giving an early indication he may not play against the Cardinals. The Steelers hope he can go, as they also nurse running back James Conner through a shoulder injury and Diontae Johnson through an illness, with both being limited on Wednesday.
Larry Fitzgerald and Corey Peters didn't practice, but neither were related to injury and were likely rest days. The same can't be said for offensive lineman J.R. Sweezy, however, who missed practice with an illness. The same applies to defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard, who sat with a hamstring issue. Starting safety Jalen Thompson is working to get cleared from concussion protocol, but he's made progress, being listed as a limited participant versus being held out of practice altogether.
The Titans are surging as of late, and a large reason for that has been the potency of Derrick Henry, who battled through a hamstring injury last week that limited him in two practices before being available to help defeat the Colts with 149 yards rushing and a touchdown. He sat out of practice entirely on Wednesday ahead of the matchup with the Raiders with the injury, though, and his progress is key to monitor this week. The Titans also carried on Wednesday practice without linebacker Daren Bates (shoulder), cornerbacks Adoree Jackson (foot) and LeShaun Sims (ankle), as well as wideouts Corey Davis (non-injury related) and Adam Humphries (ankle).
As for the Raiders, well, they're concerned about the pectoral injury on Trent Brown that again has him out of practice. Fellow offensive lineman Gabe Jackson was present, but limited with a knee injury, creating to areas of worry in front of quarterback Derek Carr. The good news for Carr is there doesn't appear to be a setback on the shoulder ailment running back Josh Jacobs has been battling through recently, but the Raiders are being careful and sat him down on Wednesday, along with wideout Hunter Renfrow (rib) -- who also did not participate in practice -- adding to the list of Raiders to watch heading into an all-important meeting with the Titans.
Jadeveon Clowney came out of the win over the Vikings still nursing a core injury, but he was able to at least participate in limited fashion on Wednesday. Ziggy Ansah (neck), Mike Iupati (neck) and Jacob Hollister (quad) all did as well, making for a rather positive first practice report only two days after having played "Monday Night Football." It isn't all good though, because the Seahawks did list four key players as DNP -- taking it for what it's worth given the aforementioned MNF timetable -- with Luke Willson (hamstring), Duane Brown (biceps, knee), Neiko Thorpe (core) and Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) all being held out.
The Rams took the practice field on Wednesday without starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth, but it wasn't injury-related. Gerald Everett was absent due to a knee injury, and that is key seeing as he's the most productive tight end on the roster. There's also an eye on starting right tackle Rob Havenstein, who himself has a knee injury but did practice, although in limited fashion. Overall, the Rams are healthier than the Seahawks to start the week, and they'll need that edge plus more to avoid being swept in a game they have to have go their way.