It's that time of year again, when health matters to NFL teams almost as much as talent and coaching. As the calendar flips from autumn to winter, injuries are beginning to mount. Teams out of the playoff race are placing their banged-up pieces of tomorrow on injured reserve. Teams in the playoff running are simply trying to survive as long as possible.
Welcome to our Week 16 injury check-in, where we'll take a look at every team's initial injury report heading into the weekend so you know what important players are banged up heading into a pivotal week that'll go a long ways toward determining the playoff field and seeding. It's worth noting that there are three Saturday games: Texans at Buccaneers, Bills at Patriots, and Rams at 49ers. You'll find the injury reports for those three games listed at the top.
Let's get to all the games.
Wednesday practice report notes
Texans -3 at Buccaneers
Two key Texans offensive players missed practice: receiver DeAndre Hopkins (illness) and running back Carlos Hyde (ankle, not injury related). Receiver Will Fuller (hamstring) and Darren Fells (hand) were limited. On the defensive side of the ball, the Texans are banged up at linebacker. Brennan Scarlett (Achilles and shoulder) and Jacob Martin (knee) were limited, and Benardrick McKinney missed practice with a concussion.
Over in Tampa Bay, quarterback Jameis Winston (right thumb, knee) practiced in a limited capacity and receiver Chris Godwin (hamstring) didn't practice. Left tackle Donovan Smith (ankle, knee) and kicker Matt Gay (right groin) were both limited.
Patriots -6.5 vs. Bills
Only one key Patriots player missed practice. That would be cornerback Jonathan Jones, who is dealing with a groin injury. Limited at practice were receiver Julian Edelman (knee, shoulder), linebacker Jamie Collins (shoulder), cornerback Jason McCourty (groin), and defensive lineman Danny Shelton (shoulder).
The Bills are almost entirely healthy heading into their biggest game of the season. Only two backups -- defensive tackle Corey Liuget (limited with a knee issue) and offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe (missed practice with an ankle issue) -- weren't able to practice fully.
49ers -6.5 vs. Rams
Three different Niners defenders missed practice: pass rusher Dee Ford (quad, hamstring), safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs) and defensive tackle Jullian Taylor (elbow). Ford, the most notable of the trio, also sat out San Francisco's Week 15 loss to the Falcons. Pro Bowl corner Richard Sherman (hamstring) was a full go and shouldn't have any limitations for this NFC West rematch.
Star wideout Julio Jones (shoulder) was limited at practice along with five others, but he's also played through the injury for a few weeks. He should be fine and is primed for a big outing against Jacksonville's leaky defense. Kicker Younghoe Koo (foot) was also limited, however, and could be worth monitoring. Running back Kenjon Barner (knee, shoulder), who had a return touchdown a few weeks back, sat out, as did tight end Luke Stocker (hip).
In Jacksonville, starting quarterback Gardner Minshew (shoulder) was the biggest name on Wednesday's report with a limited designation, but all indications are that he'll be fine to suit up against Atlanta. Ditto for his favorite target, receiver D.J. Chark (ankle). Linemen Brandon Linder (knee) and Calais Campbell (back), just named to another Pro Bowl, were the only two to sit out.
Two Saints starters missed practice: safety Von Bell (knee) and right guard Larry Warford (knee). It's also worth noting that Bell's backup on the depth chart, C.J. Gardner-Johnson (concussion) missed practice too. Meanwhile, four more starters were limited at practice: linebacker Kiko Alonso (quadricep), left tackle Terron Armstead (ankle), left guard Andrus Peat (forearm), and right tackle Ryan Ramczyk (knee).
For the Titans, it's notable that cornerback Adoree' Jackson (foot), running back Derrick Henry (hamstring), and receiver Corey Davis (ankle) were all limited while receiver Adam Humphries (ankle) did not practice. Obviously, Henry and Jackson are the two biggest names to keep an eye on heading into the weekend.
Safety Landon Collins (Achilles), who wasn't particularly good against the Eagles in Week 15, missed Wednesday's practice. So did corner Fabian Moreau (hamstring). All of the active-roster offensive playmakers, however, were good to go, as QB Dwayne Haskins (ankle) and RB Adrian Peterson (toe) were full participants.
The biggest news is that Daniel Jones is set to make his return from an ankle injury that allowed Eli Manning to enjoy a final swansong. Jones practiced in full on Wednesday, putting him on track to regain his starting job. Most importantly, that means Manning is likely to finish his career with a 117-117 record as a starter.
For the Jets, right guard Tom Compton (calf) and receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) missed practice while safety Jamal Adams (ankle), defensive lineman Henry Anderson (shoulder), left tackle Kelvin Beachum (ankle), and defensive lineman Quinnen Williams (neck) were limited.
The Dolphins didn't see a single player miss practice, but six were limited, including receivers DeVante Parker (hip), Allen Hurns (ankle, knee), and Albert Wilson (hip), and cornerback Nik Needham (groin).
The Bengals might not be good, but at least they're mostly healthy. Star receiver A.J. Green (ankle) did not practice, but we already knew he wasn't likely to play again this season. Right guard John Miller missed practice due to an illness.
Four different Colts defenders missed practice two days after getting shellacked by the Saints, as DT Denico Autry (concussion), CBs Kenny Moore (ankle) and Quincy Wilson (shoulder), and safety Malik Hooker (hand) all sat out Wednesday.
The good news for the Panthers is that tight end Greg Olsen (concussion) practiced in full. The bad news is that several important defensive players like defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (knee), defensive end Mario Addison (shoulder), safety Eric Reid (shoulder), and linebacker Shaq Thompson (ankle) all missed practice. The Panthers are clearly banged up defensively.
As the Ravens look to clinch home-field advantage throughout the postseason, they're remarkably healthy. Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (concussion) practiced in full. The only players who missed practice did so for non-injury-related reasons.
The Browns were missing center JC Tretter (knee) and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (back) to start the week. Bigger names to keep an eye on are out wide: Odell Beckham Jr. (groin) and Jarvis Landry (hip), both of whom have played through questionable tags for weeks and remained limited. OT Chris Hubbard (knee) was also limited, along with CB Denzel Ward (ankle) and DE Olivier Vernon (knee).
Right tackle Ja'Wuan James (knee) is out again for the Broncos, according to Vic Fangio. The pricey free agent addition has appeared in only three games this season. Right guard Ron Leary (concussion), left guard Dalton Risner (illness), and defensive end Adam Gotsis (knee) all missed practice. Tight end Noah Fant (shoulder) was limited.
For the Lions, linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring) and defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson (shoulder) didn't practice. Fellow linebacker Christian Jones (shoulder), running back Bo Scarbrough (knee), and right tackle Rick Wagner (knee) were limited. But defensive tackle Damon Harrison (knee, calf) was able to log a full practice.
Quarterback Dak Prescott (shoulder) has never missed a game -- or a practice -- for Dallas, but he was held back Wednesday with limitations to his throwing shoulder, an effect of a hit into the ground in Week 15. As of right now, all signs point to Prescott suiting up, but inexperienced reserve Cooper Rush can't be ruled out as an emergency starter for this must-win game just yet. OT La'el Collins (knee) was also limited, while OT Tyron Smith (eye), DE Michael Bennett (foot, illness) and LBs Sean Lee (pectoral, thigh) and Leighton Vander Esch (neck) sat out and could be sidelined for Sunday.
The Eagles are still banged up heading into the game that will likely decide their season. Receiver Nelson Agholor (knee), defensive end Derek Barnett (ankle), and right tackle Lane Johnson (ankle) all missed practice. Meanwhile, right guard Brandon Brooks (calf), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (triceps), cornerback Ronald Darby (hip flexor), and running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) were all limited.
Seattle had nearly a half-dozen notables out of practice on Wednesday: pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney (core), linebacker Bobby Wagner (ankle), safety Quandre Diggs (ankle) and linemen Duane Brown (biceps, knee) and George Fant (illness). Another six were limited, including LB Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) and guard Mike Iupati (neck).
The Cardinals were missing receiver Christian Kirk (ankle), lineman Justin Pugh (back) and inside linebacker Jordan Hicks (calf) at practice.
Only one Chiefs player missed practice: left guard Andrew Wylie (illness, ankle, shoulder). Running back Damien Williams (rib) was limited. The good news is that quarterback Patrick Mahomes (right hand) and Tyreek Hill (shoulder) practiced in full.
Neither receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussion) nor right tackle Bobby Massie (ankle) practiced for the Bears, which doesn't bode well heading into their matchup with the Chiefs. Defensive end Akiem Hicks, who made his return last week after a lengthy absence, was not on the injury report.