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|Percy Harvin is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game, but there's still a chance he could play.|
The cumulative injuries of the season are taking a toll. Numerous players again were ruled out in advance of this Sunday's games (fantasy owners are appreciative), but several key fantasy players remain game-time decisions. Foot injuries appear to be the most problematic in terms of keeping player status up in the air, but the big-name "feet" are on bye (Pierre Garcon, Cedric Benson) or their team has played already (Maurice Jones-Drew) or their status already has been determined (DeMarco Murray, out this week). That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of other injury concerns on the radar, though.
Four teams are on bye this week: Cleveland, Green Bay, Arizona and Washington. Here are the other players we're keeping an eye on in Week 10.
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans, left shoulder (P): Locker has been out since dislocating his left (non-throwing) shoulder for the second time in Week 4. He has been steadily making progress and returned to practice a few weeks ago, although he was not cleared for contact initially. The contact aspect definitely came into play in this week's practice, as Locker took a knock-down hit from Kamerion Wimbley, per coach Mike Munchak's instructions, to see how Locker would respond. As Munchak told reporters afterward, "He got up, which was good."
The coaching staff apparently has liked what it has seen, and Locker is expected to start Sunday.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins, knee (P): After Tannehill was able to play last week, there was little doubt about his status coming into this week. He has been a full participant in practice throughout the week and is expected to play.
Ahmad Bradshaw, foot (Q) and Andre Brown, shoulder (P), New York Giants: Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Such is the weekly practice cycle for Bradshaw's foot, which fantasy owners have come to expect. He continues to rest to some degree during the week with the expectation that he will play on Sunday. This week, Bradshaw did not practice Wednesday, was limited Thursday, then sat out Friday's practice. His status, despite his being listed as questionable, is not really in question (barring the unexpected setback, of course). Still, his productivity has dropped since Week 6 against San Francisco, with no catches or carries inside the 5-yard line in the past two weeks.
Meanwhile, Brown, who appears to have been the favored rushing option at the goal line of late, left Sunday's game early with a shoulder injury. He showed it was not a serious concern, however, by turning in full practice the entire week, and he, too, is expected to play. We'll see whether the pattern of practice changes when the Giants come off their Week 11 bye.
Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys, knee (P): Despite the bruised knee, Jones has been practicing daily and taking full reps, and he is on track to play Sunday against the Eagles.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, ankle/illness (P): The only reason Peterson missed Thursday practice this week is because of a "24-hour virus," as coach Leslie Frazier described it. Peterson has been dealing with a sore ankle, but it has not resulted in any missed playing time. Peterson was back practicing Friday and is expected to play Sunday against the Lions.
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles, illness (P): Like Peterson, McCoy came down with an illness, but he was back in limited practice Friday and is expected to play.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills, shoulder (P): This was what I wrote about Spiller's status last week: "Spiller's resurfacing on the injury report probably has less to do with a setback than it does with the Bills' recent fine for failure to disclose on their injury report (specifically as related to the status of Mario Williams and his wrist). Spiller may be receiving treatment, but he is not missing any practice reps and is fully expected to play." That description is still applicable in Week 10.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, back/wrist (P): After giving fantasy owners a scare by not practicing Wednesday or Thursday and adding a body part (wrist) to the injury report, Lynch turned in a full practice day Friday. The "probable" tag should cause fantasy owners to exhale, as it appears the Seahawks are confident he'll play Sunday.
Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals, illness (P): Green-Ellis missed practice Wednesday because of illness but returned Thursday and Friday and is expected to play.
Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos, knee (P): McGahee has a sore knee but managed to practice fully each day and, at "probable," is expected to play.
Marcel Reece, Oakland Raiders, hamstring (P): Uh-oh. With Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson sidelined, the team needs a healthy Reece and Taiwan Jones to run in their stead. Reece's listing here shouldn't cause too much worry, though, because he was able to practice fully every day and is listed as probable. Expect him (and Jones) to carry the load.
Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions, ankle (P): Leshoure has not been limited by this in any way and is expected to start as usual on Sunday against the Vikings.
Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, hand (P): Gore has been practicing fully all week and is expected to play, as usual.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs, neck (P): Charles has been practicing fully this week, showing no signs of any limitation since the hard hit he took late in the Week 9 game, and is expected to play Monday night.
Rashard Mendenhall, Achilles (D); Jonathan Dwyer, quad (P); Chris Rainey, rib (P), Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers continue to rotate through their carousel of running backs. The good news is that Isaac Redman does not appear on the injury report, ensuring his availability for Monday night. Dwyer is recovering from the quad strain suffered in Week 8 that caused him to miss last week. He practiced fully Thursday and Friday and, at "probable," is expected to play.
Mendenhall has begun some light practice as he returns from an Achilles strain, but the Steelers are not ready to subject him to game action just yet. His upgrade in activity this week, however, hints at him nearing a return. Rainey, who looked to be in great pain after a rib injury Sunday, has managed to participate in full practices, and, as he said would be the case, he looks to be available come Monday night.
Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings, ankle (D): On Tuesday, we noted that even Harvin called himself a "long shot" to play after suffering an ankle sprain Sunday that left him swollen and on crutches. As of Thursday, Harvin was still reported to be walking with a significant limp, and the outlook remained grim. Now it's the day before the game and there is little evidence of change. Harvin has not practiced all week (not surprising given he is still not walking normally), and the team lists him as doubtful, indicating the Vikings do not really expect to have him available.
The door remains ajar, however, as coach Leslie Frazier told 1500espn.com, "He still has a little less than 48 hours to have a chance to continue to improve."
In other words, if, after two more days of rest and treatment, Harvin shows enough improvement in the ankle to test it pregame, the team will allow him to do just that. Even if he is able to make enough gains through the weekend to give it a go Sunday, if that ankle gives him trouble in the game, he might not last. At this point, Harvin appears to be just what he said he would be at the start of the week -- a long shot to play.
Addendum: Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Harvin will not play Sunday because of his ankle injury.
Calvin Johnson, knee (Q) and Titus Young, knee (Q), Detroit Lions: Johnson has not been silent the past two weeks about how the injuries he has suffered this season are affecting him. The words he chose recently to describe his ailments seemed to put him at odds with the organization, and Johnson issued a statement Friday through the Lions' media relations department hoping to "clarify" some of his earlier remarks.
"I am aware that I did not suffer a concussion in our game against the Vikings earlier this year," Johnson said. "I misused the terms 'nerve damage' and 'concussion.'
"I have not suffered any nerve damage nor have I received any treatment for nerve damage. I did suffer a stinger and have also experienced the kind of wear and tear that most NFL players are dealing with at this point in the season."
In Johnson's defense, it's hard to ascribe any malicious intent to how he originally described his neck injury as resulting in "nerve damage." A stinger does, in fact, affect nerves between the neck and shoulder, which is precisely what causes the shooting pain, tingling or numbness, and potentially weakness into the arm and hand. (Johnson referenced shooting pain into his arm and difficulty at times with gripping the ball.)
Although stingers are often transient in that the symptoms often will resolve completely -- indicating the nerve or nerves involved suffered no true structural damage -- it's highly doubtful Johnson would have imagined that his use of the word "damage" was incorrect or was so medically and politically charged. And who could blame him for talking about some of the things that might be contributing to his less-than-optimal performance in recent weeks? It seems Johnson was just being honest about some of the physical elements affecting his performance. Even he acknowledged that these were not excuses and that he needed to improve.
On the flip side, it's understandable that the organization wants to clarify that it is not sending a player with nerve damage back onto the field of play, hence the prompting of a statement.
In a sport in which injuries are routine and players are continually walking a fine line of being healthy enough to play versus being forced to rest on the sideline, medical management is challenging. The solution from a reporting standpoint would seem to simply be for teams to be as transparent as possible about the injuries players suffer in any given week, period. Until that happens in a uniform manner around the league, these types of communication mishaps are bound to occur.
As far as their status for this week, Johnson and his teammate Young are listed as questionable after going through limited practices Friday (neither practiced earlier in the week). Johnson said his knee was feeling better this week than last, but he acknowledges it likely will be an issue present throughout the rest of the season. Both Johnson and Young seem likely to play, barring a setback before the game.
Stevie Johnson, Buffalo Bills, thigh (Q): Johnson suffered a bruised thigh in Week 9, but his progression in practice this week went just as expected. He rested Wednesday, then returned to limited practice Thursday and Friday. Despite the "questionable" tag, Johnson (who said he felt better as the week went on) is expected to play.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys, hip (P): Last week, Bryant's status was very questionable heading into a Sunday night game. This week, despite still being listed on the injury report because of his hip, Bryant has been a regular in practice and, at "probable," is more confident to start against the Eagles.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, knee (P): Well, that didn't last long. Nicks was off the Friday injury report for exactly one week but, after his knee puffed up again this week, found his way back onto it. There's no reason to be discouraged, however. First, Nicks is listed only because of the knee; his foot is no longer a part of the equation (last time he appeared on the report, it was because of his foot and his knee). This suggests, as we've been saying here for several weeks, that the issues related to Nicks' offseason foot surgery are moving into the rearview mirror.
The knee injury Nicks suffered early in the season has been the primary limiting factor of late, but he had shown enough improvement to become a regular practice participant. This week, the knee flared up a bit, but only temporarily. After taking Wednesday off, Nicks returned to limited practice Thursday and Friday. He insisted midweek that he would take the field Sunday, and, given the "probable" tag, it appears he is correct.
Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams, shoulder (Q): Since heading into the bye week, Amendola has been very declarative about his expectation that he would return in Week 10. As noted Tuesday, now that Amendola has returned to practice, the only real test remaining is game play. Despite the "questionable" tag, Amendola doesn't seem uncertain about his chances of returning this weekend. An interesting note from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Amendola acknowledged the benefit the extra rest and practice time afforded him during last week's bye and didn't have to lobby to play Sunday. Sounds as if he's confident he'll be out there, now here's hoping he passes that final test of being able to hit the ground and bounce right back up.
Eric Decker, thigh, Demaryius Thomas, knee and Brandon Stokley, knee, Denver Broncos (P): It's a reflection of the toll of the season when three wide receivers end up on the injury report. The good news is that all have been practicing fully (the only one to be limited in any way was Decker, and that was only on Wednesday), all are listed as probable and all will be available for Peyton Manning to target Sunday.
Kenny Britt, knee, Kendall Wright, elbow and Nate Washington, illness, Tennessee Titans (P): Taking a chapter out of the Broncos' book, the Titans have a trio of receivers on the injury report heading into Week 10. And, as with the Broncos, all are listed as probable and are expected to play. Britt is no surprise with his knee history; Wright injured his elbow this past Sunday but has taken his usual practice reps all week; and Washington was limited Friday because of illness. All three are expected to be there with Jake Locker (expected back this week after missing the past five games with a shoulder injury) throwing to them.
Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins, hamstring (P): Hartline was questionable for Week 9, yet was able to rack up more than 100 yards receiving and emerge no worse for the wear. He was a full practice participant each day, and his status this week is not in question.
Brandon Lloyd, knee (Q); Wes Welker, ankle (Q); Julian Edelman, hand (P), New England Patriots: Edelman's status is the most definitive -- at "probable," there is little doubt he will play. Lloyd and Welker have been limited in practice throughout the week, but their injuries are not new and both have played since incurring them. It's always a good idea to check back before game time, but, at this point, Welker and Lloyd also seem likely to play.
Mario Manningham, shoulder and Michael Crabtree, illness, San Francisco 49ers (P): Manningham and Crabtree are expected to be on the field Sunday to face the division-rival Rams.
Jerome Simpson, Minnesota Vikings, calf (P): No word on whether this is related to Simpson's earlier back and leg issues, but it doesn't seem to put him in jeopardy of missing Sunday's game. Simpson practiced daily and is expected to play.
Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers, hamstring (P): As noted earlier in the week, both players have been practicing fully and are expected to play against the Buccaneers.
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears, hand (D): Jeffery is making progress, moving from "out" for the past few weeks to "doubtful." Although he is back practicing on a limited basis, it appears he is not quite ready for game play. It looks as if he could return in another week if all goes well.
Owen Daniels, Houston Texans, back (Q): Daniels is among the most questionable of those assigned that tag this week, as he is still dealing with significant soreness after a hard fall in Week 9. Coach Gary Kubiak described Daniels on Friday as being "very limited" in his first and only practice of the week, taking only a couple of reps, according to the Texans' official website. Kubiak summed it up this way: "He's a game-time decision, but he does have some progress to make if he's gonna be there Sunday."
With this game not kicking off until Sunday night, Daniels -- who clearly would not be at full health even if active -- is a risky play.
Rob Gronkowski, hip and Aaron Hernandez, ankle, New England Patriots (Q): Both players remain limited in practice daily and listed as questionable for Sunday. Gronkowski has played all along through his injury and is expected to do so again. Hernandez returned from his ankle sprain in Week 6 after missing a month but was then out in Week 8 after struggling with cutting and agility maneuvers. Whether the past two weeks were enough to allow him to return is uncertain, although his presence in practice is a good sign. Still, given the "questionable" tag, fantasy owners would be wise to double-check his status before kickoff.
Addendum: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports Hernandez is not expected to play Sunday due to his lingering ankle injury. The Patriots have activated TE Visanthe Shiancoe.
This space is intended for a list of key players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are officially listed as "out" for the upcoming game.
Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson, RB, Oakland Raiders (ankle): McFadden got more than halfway through the season before being forced to miss a game to injury. That's already an improvement over last year. Still, the high ankle sprain he suffered in Week 9 will keep him sidelined this week and perhaps longer. Teammate Goodson suffered a similar injury, and he too will miss at least this week's game. Both are in walking boots and are not yet able to practice. Marcel Reece and Taiwan Jones take their places.
Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans Saints (hand): Given that Sproles underwent hand surgery less than two weeks ago, his absence this week is not a surprise. The Saints issued a timetable for Sproles as four to six weeks, but they also said they expect him to return sooner.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys (foot): Murray is showing up at team practices but is still limited to individual work. He is out again this Sunday.
Brandon Bolden, RB, New England Patriots (knee): No word on what the ailment is, but it certainly has kept Bolden sidelined for several weeks.
Addendum: Bolden is serving a 4-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing substances. His soonest possible return date is Week 14.
Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans (hamstring): Tate continues to nurse an injured hamstring and is not yet practicing with the team.
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (ankle): Coach Mike Tomlin hinted early in the week that Brown would be absent. He has a mild high ankle sprain and has not practiced since suffering the injury this past Sunday.
Be sure to check out "Fantasy Football Now" this Sunday (11 a.m., ESPN2) for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!