- Stephania Bell, Fantasy Sports
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Teams are heading into Week 4, and this marks the first of the bye weeks. Only two teams are off this week -- the Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers -- but some might be looking to their bench for replacements. Hopefully, you have depth in the most important category: Health.
Where do your players stand? Here’s what we know as of Saturday afternoon.
Terrelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders, concussion, (Q): Pryor suffered a concussion in Monday night’s game and, like all other players, is required to complete a series of steps in accordance with league guidelines to be eligible to play Sunday. On Friday, Raiders coach Dennis Allen indicated Pryor had been medically cleared for contact and return to play. However, he said the team planned on administering one additional test before determining whether Pyror would, in fact, face the Redskins.
It’s unclear just what that additional test is or why the team believes another is warranted, but Pryor’s progress late in the week was somewhat surprising. After declaring Pryor had suffered a concussion Monday night, the team rested him through Wednesday other than undergoing evaluative procedures. On Thursday, he appeared at practice but was kept to very light work. During the portion of the practice open to the media, he had his helmet off, primarily observing practice and Pryor said he took “maybe two run reps” Thursday. On Friday, Pryor passed his neurocognitive testing and was more involved in practice but was still listed as limited.
As ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez points out, Pryor’s limited reps have him behind with regards to the offensive plan for Sunday’s game against Washington. Allen has not yet announced who will start even if Pryor plays and said he above all wants to be mindful of Pryor’s health. “I'm going to make the right decision based on [Pryor's] health,” Allen said. “I want to make sure we're making the right decision for this kid."
Fantasy owners should consider this is a late game Sunday.
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars, right hand, (P): Gabbert missed Weeks 2 and 3 after suffering a laceration to his throwing hand in Week 1, on top of a previously injured thumb. Gabbert has made enough progress to practice in full daily and is expected to start when the team hosts the Colts on Sunday.
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens, hip flexor, (Q): Rice is one of the players who comes in as a true game-time decision this week after missing Week 3 with a left hip flexor strain. ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley notes that Rice has improved significantly over the past week and believes he will make every effort to play. The Baltimore Sun echoed the sentiment that Rice has a chance to play if there are no setbacks and if warm-ups on Sunday go well.
As noted Thursday, even if Rice is active, there will likely be work opportunities for Pierce, given that Rice is still shy of full health. At least the Ravens play the Buffalo Bills in an early game, so fantasy owners will get the Rice status question answered Sunday morning.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills, quadriceps, (P): After many questions about Spiller’s health throughout the week, the probable tag indicates the Bills plan on having him available Sunday. Spiller practiced in full for three consecutive days, a very good sign. On Thursday, we noted why a quad injury could potentially present a problem, but Spiller’s daily appearances in practice help alleviate concern. Teammate Fred Jackson has been a regular contributor thus far this season and will likely continue to be one this week.
Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions, knee, (P): The expectation Bush will play this week does not come as a surprise given that he practiced fully every day this week. Bush sat out Week 3 with a knee injury suffered in Week 2, and the rest appears to have helped. He has reportedly moved well in practice, and the hope is he will display some of the explosiveness seen in Week 1 and 2 when the Lions face the Bears.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars, ankle, (P): After playing in Seattle last Sunday (and finding the end zone for the first time this season!), there is little doubt about Jones-Drew’s availability this week. In fact, another week should have helped in his recovery, as evidenced by his participation in practice both Thursday and Friday, albeit on a limited basis. Expect Jones-Drew to play Sunday against the Colts.
Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals, toe, (P): This week represents a status upgrade for Mendenhall over the past two, when he has come into games listed as questionable. Despite the toe ailment, Mendenhall played last week and did not miss any practice time this week. He was kept to limited work Wednesday but participated fully Thursday and Friday and is expected to play.
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers, foot, (P): Bell is going to make his regular-season debut in London, of all places, where the Steelers are “visitors” to the host Vikings. Bell made big strides in practice last week but still seemed apprehensive about his readiness to return. After another full week of practice, both he and the team are confident the right time has come. Given the severity of the injury -- a Lisfranc sprain to his foot -- expect Bell to be eased back into action in his first outing. There will no doubt be close monitoring by the medical staff of how Bell is faring during the game, but if all goes well, this could be the beginning of a spark for the Steelers’ ground game.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals, ankle, (P): Green-Ellis was kept to limited practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury but returned to a full load Thursday and Friday. He is expected to play against the Browns.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints, toe, (Q): Ingram did not play last week, and his chances of suiting up for the Monday night game against the Dolphins are not looking good. Ingram did not practice Thursday, Friday or Saturday and should not be counted on for Week 4.
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans, shin, (P): After a very questionable status throughout the week, Johnson did enough Friday to convince the Texans he was ready to go in Week 4. According to ESPN.com’s Tania Ganguli, coach Gary Kubiak saw enough Friday to expect Johnson to start against the Seahawks.
Roddy White, ankle and Julio Jones, knee, Atlanta Falcons, (Q): White is again expected to take the field Sunday night, against the New England Patriots, but he might not be able to deliver much more than what he has the past few weeks. And it sounds as if he might be rethinking his choice to push the ankle at the start of the season. White told ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure that he now recognizes the injury might have been more serious than he perceived initially.
It’s too late to change the course he chose, however, and he plans to continue to work through the discomfort until he can get some rest in the Week 6 bye. “I've already come this far,” White said, adding, “Every week, like I said, I've got to get better. And, hopefully, I'm not injured or hurt in the game or I don't re-injure it, I'll be better the next week." For fantasy owners who have remained patient, that bye can’t come soon enough.
Meanwhile, Jones remains on the injury report because of his knee -- practicing only on a limited basis throughout the week -- but is not holding back on game day. The leading receiver on the Falcons will likely continue to be the top target for the near future.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals, hamstring, (P): Fitzgerald’s hamstring health is clearly improving with time. This week he practiced fully every day, and that got the attention of one particular cornerback in Tampa. The Buccaneers’ Darrelle Revis, improving weekly in his return from ACL surgery, offered this per ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss: "I’m excited he’s healthy and I’m excited he’s back [from injury],” Revis said. “So it’s going to be fun.”
Vincent Jackson, ribs and Mike Williams, hamstring, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Q): Jackson suffered bruised ribs in last week’s contest and was held out of practice until Friday, when he did limited work. If Jackson plays, he could wear additional padding as an extra measure of protection.
Williams was out until Friday with a hamstring ailment but returned on a limited basis for the final day. He sounded very confident he would play Sunday, “100 percent,” according to ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinkas. Williams also dismissed concerns about chemistry between the receivers and rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, who will get his first start Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills, hamstring, (P): Johnson sustained a mild strain to his hamstring last Sunday and it wasn’t serious enough to remove him from the game. This week Johnson got a couple days of rest, not just with this week’s game in mind, but also with an eye on next week’s game which comes just four days later (Thursday night), on the road. Johnson was able to work on a limited basis Friday and is expected to play Sunday.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, knee, (P): Nothing to see here. Johnson has routinely been absent from Wednesday practices in years past, then increased his activity Thursday (limited) and Friday (full) to be ready Sunday. The probable tag says it all: Johnson will play.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, toe, (P): The sight of Hilton in a walking boot and not practicing Friday gave everyone a scare. Breathe easy, fantasy owners. None other than coach Chuck Pagano said Friday that Hilton is fine and expected to play. Pagano called the boot “precautionary,” suggesting something about Hilton’s toe is sore. Beyond not stressing the foot in practice, placing Hilton in a boot decreases the work of the toes having to push off with even regular walking since the boot has a heel that rocks the foot forward. Expect Hilton to suit up as usual in Jacksonville.
Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints, hand, (Q): Moore injured his hand in last week’s game and hasn’t practiced since. While the Saints have offered no specifics about his injury, his absence from all practices and a questionable designation suggest he has a good chance of missing Monday night’s game. Fantasy owners should replace him in their lineups.
Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans, neck/ribs, (Q): Britt is on the injury report more often than not over the past few years, but this time it’s not because of his knees. Britt has a cracked rib along with a sore neck, the result of a hard landing on his upper body in last week’s game. He is a legitimate question mark for Sunday’s game against the Jets, and it could come down to a game-time decision. Incidentally, this is a late game, so fantasy owners should have a backup plan.
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns, ankle, (P): Gordon was a late add (Friday) to the injury report because of his ankle but was still considered a full participant. The probable designation tells us the Browns expect him to play, barring a downturn before Sunday.
Stephen Hill, knee and Santonio Holmes, foot, New York Jets, (P): Given that this is a late game against the Titans, the probable designation for both receivers is a helpful indicator that the Jets expect them both to play. Holmes is still recovering while playing from offseason foot surgery. Hill has been a regular on the injury report because of his knee but has played every week. He will do the same again in Week 4.
Eric Decker, shoulder, Demaryius Thomas, ankle, Wes Welker, ankle, Denver Broncos, (P): What would Peyton Manning do if all three of these receivers were in jeopardy of missing the game? Luckily for him, that is not a concern. All three receivers were full practice participants throughout the week and all are expected to play when the Broncos host the Eagles.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers, knee, (P): Even Miller said prior to last week’s debut not to expect him to be in midseason form. He is expected to play again this week but is truly still progressing his knee following multi-ligament reconstruction.
Fred Davis, Washington Redskins, ankle, (Q): Davis sat out Week 3 after a late-week ankle injury. This week, Davis participated on a limited basis each day and the Redskins hope to have him available. This is a late game in Oakland, so fantasy owners should have an alternate plan.
Kellen Winslow, New York Jets, knee, (P): Winslow is a regular here because of his chronic knee health but will play on Sunday against the Titans.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots, back/forearm: Gronkowski has been making good progress in his return to football activity, and this was really shaping up as the week he might return. But as it turns out, returning from multiple and complex injuries can be complicated, and there are often many variables at work. With all that in mind, there is perhaps less rather than more clarity as to when Gronkowski will see the field.
Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots, groin: Amendola is making progress as time is a great healer, but he still has a ways to go following an adductor (groin) tear before being game ready.
Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys, hamstring: Oh, those nagging hamstring injuries. This is the third consecutive year Austin has dealt with a hamstring problem. While this episode might not be particularly severe, the fact that it is happening yet again warrants caution. Austin has not practiced, so it will remain to be seen what next week holds.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Indianapolis Colts, neck: Bradshaw hurt his neck in the Week 3 game and has not practiced since. Last year, Bradshaw dealt with a bulging disc in his neck, but it is not clear if this injury is related. No word yet on how much time he might miss but Bradshaw is definitely out for Week 4.
Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta Falcons, hamstring: Jackson is not practicing and is expected to be out through the team’s Week 6 bye.
Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets, hamstring: When Ivory injured his hamstring, there were hints that he could miss extended time. At the very least, he is out this week.
Jacoby Jones, WR, Baltimore Ravens, knee: Jones sprained his MCL in the season opener and is likely out at least another week.
Off the injury report
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys: After taking a shot to the ribs in Week 1, Romo appeared on the injury report (but played) for the past two weeks. Now that he is off the report, we can assume the bruised ribs -- and the pain associated with them -- are no longer an issue.
Teams are heading into Week 4, and this marks the first of the bye weeks. Only two teams are off this week -- the Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers -- but some might be looking to their bench for replacements.