"I don't see them clearing him unless something significantly changes with the doctor," the source said.
One more round of medical meetings is scheduled for Friday before final designations for Sunday have to be declared. Coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday he would have an announcement on the quarterback situation Friday.
Rodgers, who had been splitting snaps with Matt Flynn in practice, said he did little very little in team periods on Thursday. Rodgers still has not received medical clearance for game action.
"It's an organizational and a medical decision at this point," Rodgers said.
Rodgers added, "I have a good sense of what's going to happen."
The Packers (7-6-1) have not practiced in pads this week, but McCarthy indicated that Rodgers has made significant progress over last week.
"He looks like he's ready to play," McCarthy said.
However, McCarthy would not say whether he thought Rodgers should be cleared.
"You wanted to know how he looks; he looks good," McCarthy said. "He's a limited practice participant. He hasn't been medically cleared."
Green Bay, which hosts Pittsburgh on Sunday, is one-half game behind first-place Chicago in the NFC North. The Packers close the regular season at Chicago next Sunday.
Information from ESPN.com Packers reporter Rob Demovsky was used in this report.
Spurlock admits it is kind of funny that his first game will be against the Redskins.
“It was just one of those situations where it wasn’t a fit there,” Spurlock said. “It became a fit here. You move on. There’s no hard feelings at all. Just go play, and we’re trying to get a win.”
The Cowboys hope Spurlock can spark the return game that has dried up with Dwayne Harris slowed by a hamstring injury. Terrance Williams has handled the kickoff duties in Harris’ absence, but he might not play Sunday because of a hamstring injury. Cole Beasley has handled the punt returns.
In nine games for the Lions, Spurlock averaged 22.5 yards per kick return and 6.6 yards per punt return. For his career he has three kickoff returns for touchdowns, and two punt returns for touchdowns.
The Cowboys have made a late-season play for a returner before. In 2003, they signed Michael Bates in time for the regular-season finale. In the playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers he had seven kick returns for 172 yards, with a long of 41 yards.
In 2009, the Cowboys signed Allen Rossum to return kicks and punts, but he was hurt on his first return against Atlanta. The man he was supposed to replace, Patrick Crayton, had a clinching 73-yard punt return for a touchdown in the win against the Falcons.
The Cowboys are the third team Spurlock and Bisaccia have worked with together. They were together in San Diego as well.
“I’ve been around him a long time,” Spurlock said. “Shoot, out of eight years maybe six years I’ve been around him. Some stuff has changed, but after looking at the pictures and stuff, it’s pretty much the same stuff with different names. But I’m familiar with it.”
With Dobson and Thompkins looking like they are nearing a return, it could offset the loss of Boyce at receiver. The Patriots would most likely turn to running back LeGarrette Blount or safety Devin McCourty for kickoff return duties.
Boyce was the only player not present at practice, meaning that starting left tackle Nate Solder (concussion) was on the practice field for the second straight day. Solder was limited in Thursday's practice.
After two days of practicing on the Gillette Stadium game field, the Patriots held practice on their lower grass practice field Friday.
Welker resumed light physical activity Thursday. On Friday, he will be formally ruled out of the Broncos' game Sunday against the Houston Texans, according to a team source.
League and team sources also say Welker will be held out of Denver's regular-season finale Dec. 29 against the Oakland Raiders.
The team's hope is that Welker, who left games in Week 11 and Week 14 with concussions, will recover in time to play in the postseason. Welker continues to be evaluated by the team's medical staff and an independent doctor as part of the league's concussion protocol.
A third concussion in such a short span could end Welker's season, and one source said the player's well-being is "still the highest priority."
Welker has not been medically cleared to practice, but on Thursday he spent some time working with the strength and conditioning staff in the team's weight room. Coach John Fox said Welker also did limited on-field work outside.
"The exercise is picking up,'' Fox said after practice. "They're doing more and more with him in the weight room, running around out here a little bit and ... he's doing better every day.''
Since suffering a left foot injury in a preseason loss in Seattle, Bailey has played in just three games this season. He played one full outing against the Jacksonville Jaguars, left the loss in Indianapolis after aggravating the injury, then removed himself from the lineup after 30 plays in the Dec. 1 win in Kansas City.
“I do feel like I do still have my speed and my quickness -- I have to in order to be able to play out there," Bailey said Thursday. “I feel good about what I can do. I think now it’s just being smart about how I go about doing it, and making sure I don’t have any setbacks and I don’t wear myself down or anything like that. The good thing is I’m fresh, I’m ready to go. I’ve had some time off and I’m ready to go."
“(It’s) hard for coaches to tell the difference between a guy being healthy and ready," said Broncos head coach John Fox. “He’s had a good week thus far, we’ll see how it works out this week ... (but) it was pretty evident in the game, you know, he wasn’t quite ready ... You learn, he learns."
Players who return from injuries often speak of physically being cleared by the doctors to return, but that there is often a lag time between that medical clearance and believing whatever was repaired, whatever has healed will hold up on the field. Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno, on the brink of his first 1,000-yard rushing season, has come back from both an ACL surgery late in the 2011 season, and another knee procedure this past offseason. He has often spoke of the “first big cut you make on the knee" or the first “big hit you take" to start believing.
This is just the second time Bailey has missed at least seven games in a season -- he missed seven with a groin injury in 2008 -- but the first time he didn’t just jump back in the lineup and quickly find his rhythm. The first time he's had to go back and try again.
“Regardless of how we’re playing it’s hard to watch," Bailey said. “But I do what I can to help these guys get prepared every week, that’s what I’ve been doing. I still do the same thing this week, except I’ll be out there. I’m looking forward to getting out there and helping them while I’m on the field."
It figures to be a measured return with Bailey expected to work into the lineup the most when the Broncos are in their nickel (five defensive backs) or dime (six defensive backs) packages. It’s how the Broncos had played Bailey against the Chiefs before he left the game.
That’s still plenty of work, as the Broncos were in the nickel or dime for 39 defensive snaps against the Chargers this past week to go with three snaps of a seven-defensive back look.
“Any time you’re dealing with an injury, there’s a physical component where you have to heal, and then mentally you have to get the work in, develop the skill again, or sharpen up the skill again," said Broncos defensive coorinator Jack Del Rio. “And that’s really where we are ... We need him to help us, we think he can."
Bailey was asked Thursday if the injury had him thinking about retirement, and he said with a laugh; “Oh no. I’m thinking about winning on Sunday.”
Asked if the struggle to get back had him thinking about his long-term future, Bailey simply said he’s thinking about the here and now. About the Texans.
“Not really, not more than normal," Bailey said. “I think we all have to think long-term, especially financially. Right now I’m just concentrating on getting my foot right and getting back on the field. That’s really where my head has been."
Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker is making progress in the NFL's concussion protocol, but is still expected to be ruled out for Sunday's game against the Houston Texans, sources told ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold.
Fox Sports reported Thursday night that Welker would miss his second straight game.
Welker did not participate in Thursday's practice but spent some of the workout in the Broncos' weight room. Broncos coach John Fox said Welker also did some on-field work outside as well.
Welker also suffered a concussion in the Broncos' win Nov. 17 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Welker, 32, has 73 receptions for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games this season.
Information from ESPN.com Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold was used in this report.
"For the most part we're healthy, man, and I think that's the big thing," Bowman said. "My big thing now is that we're healthy at the end the month of December and we're able to play at 100 percent level and give it all that we have and not really have any excuses."
The team's 53-man roster is fairly healthy overall as evident by Thursday’s injury report as the 49ers have been practicing in earnest in preparation of Monday’s night’s home game against Atlanta.
The big question mark remains left guard Mike Iupati, who has missed the past four games with a knee sprain. He was limited for the fourth straight practice this week. The fact that Iupati is still limited could be concerning, but it might just be the team’s plan of bringing him back slowly.
Center Jonathan Goodwin (not injury related), receiver Mario Manningham (illness, knee), and defensive end Justin Smith (shoulder) did not practice. Barring setbacks or anything unforeseen, all three players should be on track to play Monday. Receiver Michael Crabtree had a hand injury Sunday at Tampa Bay, but he practiced fully Thursday.
The chances for Austin to get back on the field this week against Tampa Bay will likely hinge on his ability to return to practice Friday.
Elsewhere on the injury report, the Rams made some additions to the two they had listed Wednesday. Here's the full breakdown:
Did not practice: Austin (ankle), running back Daryl Richardson (thigh), offensive tackle Mike Person (illness), linebacker Will Witherspoon (illness)
Limited practice: Cornerback Janoris Jenkins (back)
“It’s not broken,” coach Rex Ryan said. “Like I said, it’s hard to describe, but defensive linemen go through these things. Their hands, wrists, thumbs, they’re always beat up and I think that’s really what it is. So, he’s got a finger and a wrist and like I said before, even yesterday, I think when you really look at our guys, all the defensive linemen have something. That’s just part of being a defensive lineman, but nothing that’s going to keep him out.”
So that clears it up. As for the rest of the injury report:
Did Not Practice: S Ed Reed (not injury related).
Limited: CB Antonio Cromartie (hip), WR Santonio Holmes (foot, hamstring), CB Ellis Lankster (jaw), DT Sheldon Richardson (wrist, finger), TE Kellen Winslow (knee).
Full Participation: LB Quinton Coples (shoulder), DT Kenrick Ellis (back), T Austin Howard (knee), WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow), LB Garrett McIntyre (knee, elbow), WR David Nelson (ribs), DE Muhammad Wilkerson (wrist).
Did Not Practice: WR Davone Bess (not injury related), TE Jordan Cameron (concussion), G John Greco (knee), CB Joe Haden (hip), TE Andre Smith (calf).
Limited: RB Willis McGahee (concussion, knee), DE Ahtyba Rubin (calf), T Joe Thomas (back).
Full: LB Tank Carder (shoulder), P Spencer Lanning (left knee), LB Eric Martin (illness), T Mitchell Schwartz (toe), S T.J. Ward (shoulder).
And Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said Wednesday that of some of the players who missed practice because of injury that day, Pettigrew was the most concerning. So there is at least a decent chance the Lions’ top tight end doesn’t play Sunday against the New York Giants.
That can leave Detroit in an interesting predicament. Neither of the other tight ends on the roster, Joseph Fauria or Dorin Dickerson, present the full blocking-and-catching arsenal that Pettigrew does.
“We’re going to have some scenarios there. We’ve got to wait until we get the word on Brandon,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “If anyone’s going to answer the bell, it’s going to be him. So Saturday night we’ll figure that out.
“The contingency is to have the next two guys ready to go. Joe’s been in the system all year. Dorin has done a really nice job of picking up what we’re doing. We’ve done extra tackle stuff before, so that’s not new to us.”
The Lions have seen what Fauria and Dickerson have been able to do this season. More and more each week, Fauria has played next to offensive linemen with his hand on the ground, showing signs of becoming an improved blocker.
But even he’ll admit he isn’t fully there yet toward the end of his rookie season. And Dickerson only plays a handful of snaps as it is, so it is unknown how effective he can be in that role.
So that leaves the offensive linemen -- specifically Dylan Gandy and possibly Rodney Austin -- as the sixth offensive linemen. When Tony Scheffler was injured this season, the Lions discussed using Gandy as an emergency tight end/sixth offensive lineman.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” Gandy said. “You just get ready for whatever comes and you take advantage of any opportunity you get.”
For Austin, that could be a first chance. He was signed off the practice squad last month and has yet to be active in a game. But he has consistently worked on his hands, including after practice Thursday.
This is not new for Austin. He did this last season and throughout OTAs in the offseason. He just had not done it as frequently during the regular season.
“Just trying to get back to it,” Austin said Thursday. “Working on my hands. The more you can do, you know.”
Interestingly, Austin seemed more comfortable with his left hand instead of his right hand. This is because he said while his mother made him write with his right hand when he was a kid, he thinks he is a natural lefty.
He said she just didn’t like to see him writing with his left, so he learned with his right.
But if he were to be called on to be an extra lineman or even run routes, Austin would be comfortable with that. After all, it would be a way on the field for a guy who has yet to be active for a game this season.
“I would love that. I run pretty good routes,” Austin said. “I’m pretty quick for a big man. My coach, he prides himself on working on my footwork and getting me right. (Jeremiah Washburn) and (Terry Heffernan), they been getting my footwork down.
“Footwork in one drill can only help you in any other drill, making sure you’re doing the right things with every part of your body that you’re supposed to just makes you a better player overall.”
While having options is nice, Detroit also knows it would be at a loss without Pettigrew, who has been a comfortable target for quarterback Matthew Stafford and a more-than-capable blocker.
Pettigrew has 41 catches for 416 yards this season and, according to Pro Football Focus, has only allowed one sack of Stafford this season.
“Brandon is a good, veteran player and a multidimensional player,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. “He’s done a really nice job for us. I think what you would see is a lot of different people replacing parts of what he did, rather than one person stepping into his role.
“It is still too son to really have a good handle on that. We’ll be ready for a lot of different contingencies, just like a lot of other injuries that we have.”
At a thin position group, though, the Lions will have to have more plans than most.
"Johnny Jolly suffered a significant injury," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday. "We got the report last night, so that's why Johnny is declared out."
McCarthy provided no other details about the injury.
If Jolly's injury keeps him out for the rest of the year, it ends his remarkable comeback after serving prison time and a three-year NFL suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Jolly is not under contract for next season, but the 30-year-old perhaps showed enough to warrant a new contract for next season.
"If anybody can bounce back from something, it's Jolly," said Packers defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, one of Jolly's closest friends on the team. "We all feel good about that. He'll be back. He'll be playing football again. So all we can do is be there for him, just wish him well."
There were no other changes to the injury report.
Here's the full list:
- TE Brandon Bostick (foot, did not practice)
- DT Johnny Jolly (neck/shoulder, out)
- LB Brad Jones (ankle, did not practice)
- RB Eddie Lacy (ankle, did not practice)
- OLB Mike Neal (abdomen, did not practice)
- OLB Nick Perry (foot, did not practice)
- DT Ryan Pickett (knee, limited participation)
- QB Aaron Rodgers (collarbone, limited participation)
- DE C.J. Wilson (ankle, limited participation)
Burris and Woodson both practiced a day after sitting out.
Plus, guard Lucas Nix practiced after missing Wednesday with illness, though rookie linebacker Sio Moore missed Thursday's practice with illness.
Said coach Dennis Allen, about McFadden: “He had another good day today so hopefully he'll have another good day tomorrow and I would hope that he would be able to be up and ready to go this weekend.”
The following is the Raiders' injury report for Thursday:
Did not participate: RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee), DT Vance Walker (concussion), LB Sio Moore (illness)
Limited practice: Miles Burris (ankle), RB Darren McFadden (knee/ankle), FS Charles Woodson (ribs)
Full practice: TE Jeron Mastrud (wrist), G Lucas Nix (illness)
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was a full participant in practice Thursday and will see his third neurologist of the week on Friday, the last hurdle between him and the field in Seattle on Sunday.
Fitzgerald began Thursday's practice by going through individual drills and running routes. When he didn't show any symptoms of the concussion he had suffered this past Sunday, Arizona's trainers allowed him to go through a full practice. He was officially listed as limited in practice.
"No setbacks," Fitzgerald said. "I'll be ready to go again tomorrow."
Fitzgerald needs Friday's neurologist, who is the independent neurological consultant assigned to the Cardinals by the NFL, to clear him in order to play against the Seahawks. Fitzgerald, who said he is right where he needs to be after following the league protocol for concussions, expects that to happen.
"I'm feeling good," he said. "I'm making progress, not having any setbacks, anything that would make me feel I wouldn't be able to go Sunday. I'm fully functioning."
Fitzgerald passed all his tests at Tuesday's visit with a different neurologist and began the exercise portion of the protocol on Wednesday with assistant athletic trainer Chad Cook, who put Fitzgerald through a series of drills to get his heart rate and "exhaust" Fitzgerald so the training staff could see how the receiver reacted to exertion.
"I was feeling fine," Fitzgerald said. "I had no dizziness or headaches or anything like that. They said it was cool for me to ramp it up a little bit and go out there and practice."
Fitzgerald was back practicing on the hands team Thursday.
But it was also noted that people shouldn’t get excited, because how Toler responded from the practice would be key.
A sign of things to come occurred when Toler wasn’t on the field during the media portion of practice on Thursday. It became official a couple of hours later when the Colts released their practice report and the letters “DNP” were by Toler’s name, meaning he did not practice.
A better indication for Toler’s status for Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs will occur Friday when coach Chuck Pagano addresses the media. But not having Toler practice on back-to-back days can’t be a good thing, especially since he hasn’t played since Oct. 20.
So the wait could possibly continue for another week with Toler.
Another eye-catching “DNP” was receiver T.Y. Hilton because of a shoulder problem. He originally injured his shoulder against Arizona on Nov. 24. Hilton had a career-high eight receptions against Houston last weekend.
Here’s the rest of Thursday’s practice report
Did Not Practice
LB Daniel Adongo: Hamstring
S Sergio Brown: Groin
DT Montori Hughes: Knee
DT Ricky Jean Francois: Foot
OL Jeff Linkenbach: Quad
OL Joe Reitz: Concussion
OL Hugh Thornton: Neck
OL Samson Satele: Elbow
FB Stanley Havili: Knee
The Giants officially ruled out Victor Cruz (knee/concussion) for Sunday and he won't play again this year after undergoing surgery, although the Giants have not officially declared him out the remainder of the season. He was cleared of his concussion on Wednesday.
Things are also not improving for running back Peyton Hillis (concussion), according to Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.
Coughlin did say he expects guard David Diehl (knee) will work Friday after missing the last two days.
Here's the full injury report:
WR Victor Cruz (concussion/knee)
DID NOT PRACTICE
DE Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder)
CB Trumaine McBride (groin)
S Cooper Taylor (hamstring)
OG David Diehl (knee)
RB Peyton Hillis (concussion)
OG James Brewer (ankle)
CB Terrell Thomas (knee)
WR Jerrel Jernigan (knee)
DT Cullen Jenkins (shin/quad)
DID NOT PRACTICE
WR Calvin Johnson (Knee)
LB DeAndre Levy (Foot)
CB Rashean Mathis (Illness)
TE Brandon Pettigrew (Ankle)
CB Darius Slay (Knee)
S John Wendling (Ankle)
S Louis Delmas (Knee)
CB Chris Houston (Toe)
P Sam Martin Groin (Right)