With just hours remaining before today’s Week 17 games kick off in the NFL, SBNation Medical Expert Dr. Ali Mohamadi discusses some of the most significant remaining injuries impacting the final Sunday of the NFL season:
Forte, who suffered a sprained ankle in last week’s win over Arizona, has been upgraded to probable for this afternoon’s must-win game against the Lions. Despite missing practice on Wednesday, Forte returned to limited action on Thursday and had healed sufficiently by Friday to be listed as probable on the Bears’ official injury report. If he aggravates the injury, Michael Bush would be next up to shoulder the burden at running back for the Bears.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans (ankle – questionable)
TEN (5-10) vs. JAC (2-13), 1pm
Johnson has vowed to play through an injured ankle despite neither his Titans nor the Jaguars having much to play for. The Tennessee RB, who has increased his workload in practice as the week has gone on, has rebounded from last year’s disappointing campaign with 1,187 yards rushing thus far in 2012 and faces a favorable matchup against Jacksonville’s 31st-ranked rushing defense.
Having won the AFC North title and locked into the 4th seed, the Ravens have little to play for this afternoon against Cincinnati, putting Boldin’s status in question. The Baltimore WR suffered a bruised shoulder in the second half of last week’s drubbing of the New York Giants, an injury whose severity the team has downplayed – and that certainly shouldn’t affect his status for the Wild Card round of the playoffs next week – but that could result in less playing time today.
Cobb injured his right ankle on a punt return in the second half of last week’s drubbing of Tennessee and will be a game time decision for today’s game at Minnesota, which has playoff implications for both teams. Cobb returned to practice on a limited basis Friday after sitting out earlier in the week, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy hasn’t given many clues as to his status for this afternoon. With WR Jordy Nelson returning to the lineup from a hamstring injury, the Packers may feel most comfortable allowing Cobb to rest the ankle this week, even if it makes its quest to lock up a first-round NFC playoff bye all the more difficult.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (knee -- questionable)
NYG (8-7) vs PHI (4-11), 4:25pm
The Giants’ WR has been plagued by a sore knee for much of the season and has been limited in practice this week. That said, it is difficult to imagine he won’t suit up this afternoon against the Eagles in a game the Giants must win, plus get a boatload of help from other teams, to keep their playoff hopes alive. After missing three consecutive games early in the season, Nicks has been able to fight through both knee and ankle injuries the rest of the season, but if for some reason he is unable to go WRs Domenik Hixon Rueben Randle would also figure to get more playing time.
White has been playing through a sore knee for weeks, but the reliable receiver has been as effective as ever despite the injury, including last week’s 153 yard, 2 TD performance against the Lions. White’s streak of 127 straight games played is in jeopardy today, however, but thankfully for Falcons fans less due to the severity of the injury than the fact that Atlanta has already sewn up home field advantage in the NFC. With many stars on the Falcons roster likely to see limited action today, it’s likely that White will see very little, if any, himself. That said, he should be at full speed two weeks from now when Atlanta takes the field for its first playoff game.
Davis suffered a concussion on a jarring hit by Seattle S Kam Chancellor last Sunday night, and despite having cleared neurological testing this week remains a game-time decision for the 49ers Week 17 matchup with Arizona. Having spent the week participating only in non-contact drills in practice, there is less optimism that Davis will suit up this afternoon than earlier in the week, which would give backup TE Delanie Walker the start in a game San Francisco needs to win in order to claim the NFC West title.
Gronkowski has been out of action since Week 11, when he suffered a broken forearm that required surgery to repair, but all indications are that he will take the field this afternoon against the Dolphins. It is unclear to what extent Gronkowski will participate in the game, but with the Patriots still carrying an outside shot at home field advantage in the AFC playoffs, if the game is close it is quite possible he may log more plays than most expect.