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Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson put together a solid performance on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, but he was removed from the game for the team's final two possessions following an aggravation of a groin injury. Johnson finished the game with five receptions for 82 yards.
Johnson has dealt with the injury off and on this year and this is only the latest aggravation. He has managed to stay on the field but it has led to a bit of an up and down season for him. In mid October he had two weeks where he put up a combined four receptions for 24 yards. That led many folks to bench him and miss out on his 75 yard, one touchdown performance against the New York Jets.
The Bills indicated they will not update Johnson's status until Tuesday when they return from a day off. It is a short week with most teams returning to action on Saturday for Christmas Eve football. It will be interesting to see how that impact injury situations.
The Denver Broncos found themselves a bit shorthanded on Sunday in 41-23 loss to the New England Patriots. Running back Willis McGahee had to leave the game at one point with a leg injury. While he did return to the field, the injury seemed to limit him to a certain extent.
McGahee rushed five times for 59 yards early into the second quarter before giving way to Lance Ball. McGahee returned to action on the Broncos first drive of the third quarter and had a pair of rushes for 11 yards to start the drive. He then disappeared again until the next drive. He rushed for nine more yards and that was the end of his day.
Part of the limited performance might have been the Patriots eventual sizable lead. However, given that the Broncos were getting back into the game a bit and McGahee was performing effectively when running, something had to be up. John Fox will chat with the media on Monday and might shed some light on the injury.
The Cincinnati Bengals held off the St. Louis Rams on Sunday for a 20-13 victory, but they suffered a tough injury in victory. Wide receiver A.J. Green landed awkwardly on his right shoulder and had to leave for a stretch of play. Green returned and finished with an impressive 115 yards receiving. During the game he was diagnosed with a grade three shoulder sprain, but he took a pain killer and finished the game strong.
After the game, Green said it was an injury he has dealt with before and he was optimistic he would not miss the games. Green indicated he suffered a similar injury in college and played through it. This followed word from an LA-based orthopedic surgeon who said Green could play through the pain if needed. Although it is a short week leading up to Saturday's Christmas Eve game against the Arizona Cardinals, Green should be good to go.
Green's 115-yard performance was enough to put him over 1,000 yards in his rookie season. He now has 61 receptions for 1,0006 yards and seven touchdowns. For more on Green and the Bengals, check out Cincy Jungle.
The Pittsburgh Steelers square off against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football in Week 15 and expect to have their injured quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, in the lineup for the contest. Roethlisberger reportedly looked good enough in practice on Saturday for the Steelers to make the decision to start him Monday. The Steelers reportedly made the decision even before the Ravens lost on Sunday Night Football to the San Diego Chargers.
Roethlisberger suffered a high ankle sprain a week ago Thursday against the Cleveland Browns. He injured the ankle in the second quarter but made his way out in the third quarter, hobbling on what was diagnosed at the half as a high ankle sprain. He could barely move in the pocket, but he was able to get enough done to help guide the Steelers to victory.
Charlie Batch remains on the sideline as the backup QB. Dennis Dixon is the third string quarterback and while he normally is inactive, it would not be surprising to see Dixon activated on Monday Night Football. Roethlisberger is expected to play, but a bad hit could send him to the sidelines. Batch would come on, but the Steelers would likely want another quarterback available just in case.
The Green Bay Packers will be without starting running back James Starks in Week 14 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The second-year runner is inactive with an ankle injury, the team announced. The Packers will also be without backup running back Brandon Saine, who didn't practice all week with a concussion, meaning running back duties will fall squarely on Ryan Grant and John Kuhn.
This is a big blow to fantasy owners who have been using Starks, likely as a flex play, as he's been a reliable source of yardage and the occasional touchdown. Perhaps more importantly, compounded with the loss of Greg Jennings for what's likely the rest of the regular season, this puts the Packers' quest for a 16-0 regular season record in jeopardy, though not likely against the reeling Chiefs.
This should mean a slight uptick in pass attempts for Aaron Rodgers, as the Packers have shown no willingness to trust Grant with any sort of a load in the past.
Good news for fantasy owners in the playoffs: your workhorse, Adrian Peterson, will return in Week 14, just in time to try to lead your team to the championship. Arguably the best running back in the league, Peterson has missed the past three games with an ankle, but, despite his team's 2-11 record, will give it a go against the Saints for pride, and, that's right, fantasy football.
While he's only played all or part of 10 games this season, Peterson has been one of the more productive backs in the league when he's in there. He's scored 11 touchdowns in that time, rushing for 872 yards and adding 16 receptions and a receiving TD for good measure. He wants to surpass 1,200 yards on the season again — he's never finished under the landmark in his career — and will have his work cut out for him to do so. If he's serious about getting there, that can only mean good things for fantasy owners. As 31 NFL teams have found out, when Peterson wants to get somewhere, it's really hard to stop him.
Seattle Seahawks rookie wide receiver Doug Baldwin was held out of Wednesday's practice with an ankle injury, but practiced fully on Thursday and Friday and is listed as "Probable" for Sunday's game must-win game against the Chicago Bears.
Undrafted out of Stanford, Baldwin leads the Seahawks with 45 receptions for 718 yards is tied for the team lead with Golden Tate with three touchdown receptions. Baldwin had a team-high seven receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown in Monday night's 30-13 win over the St. Louis Rams, and earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors after returning the opening kick 37 yards, downing a punt at the Rams' 6-yard line and blocking a punt that was returned for a touchdown...in the first quarter.
Baldwin is on target to become the first undrafted rookie to lead his team in receptions and receiving yards and is 22 receptions and 54 yards away from breaking the records for most by an undrafted rookie free agent.
For more on the Seahawks, visit Field Gulls.
Washington was held out of Wednesday and Thursday's practices and is officially listed as "Questionable" with an ankle injury that has nagged him for the last couple of weeks.
Washington, who has stepped up for the injured Kenny Britt and leads the Titans with 59 receptions for 798 yards and five touchdowns, was able to play through the injury last week against the New Orleans Saints, catching six passes for a season-high 130 yards and a touchdown in the 22-17 loss.
Washington has been a preferred target of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who is expected to start against the Colts, whose defense ranks 22nd against the pass and are 30th in the league in passing yards allowed per play (7.78).
For more on the Titans, check out Music City Miracles.
Veteran Jake Delhomme is once again expected to be the No. 2 quarterback.
After opening the season as the No. 3 quarterback, injuries to starter Matt Schaub and No. 2 quarterback Matt Leinart have pressed Yates into a starting role. In two starts, Yates has completed 38-of-69 pass attempts for 488 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, guiding the team to a pair of wins that have allowed the franchise to clinch its first AFC South title and playoff appearance.
As has been the case throughout the season, the Texans will be short a few weapons, including perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson, who will miss an eighth game this season with a hamstring injury. No. 2 tight end Joel Dreessen, who leads the Texans with six receiving touchdowns, is questionable with a knee injury.
For more on the AFC South Champion Texans, check out Battle Red Blog.
Vick is officially listed as "Probable" on the team's final injury report of the week.
Vick suffered the injury during a loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10, with backup Vince Young starting three games before Vick was able to return for last week's win over the Miami Dolphins. Vick completed 15-of-30 pass attempts for 208 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and added nine yards with his legs, but came out of the game in relatively good shape despite being sacked four times.
Vick was held out of Wednesday's practice, but practiced fully and expects to keep playing his style of football.
I take a lot of hits, I get hit, but it doesn't affect me. I get up from it," Vick said last week according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "When I was a young man, we used to play football in the backyard, and I got hit probably six million times up until this point."
For more on the Eagles, be sure to visit Bleeding Green Nation.
New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker was limited during this week's practices and is one of 13 players on the Patriots who are listed as "Questionable" on the team's final injury report of the week.
"It's nice to get there early, get used to the elements, get acclimated to everything and get ready for the game on Sunday," Welker said on Friday according to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston. "I don't know if it's a huge deal, but it's still a long flight. I think [it's good] getting there early and making sure we put ourselves in position, and if there is any acclimating to do, we do it."
After catching just two passes for 22 yards in the Patriots' win over the Kansas City Chiefs on November 21, Welker has 26 receptions for 311 yards and three touchdowns over the last three games, giving him an NFL-high 100 receptions for 1,339 yards on the season.
For more on the Patriots, pop on over to Pats Pulpit.
Inactive the previous week against the the Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers running back James Starks missed the bulk of the week's practices with knee and ankle injuries, but was able to work on a limited basis and is listed as "Questionable" for Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"It's looking pretty good right now but I'll keep waiting," Starks said according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "It'll probably be another game-day right now but I feel good about it.
"I've obviously been feeling better each day and I have a little time right now between the game time so it should get better as the time comes along. It'll be another game-time decision and hopefully I'll be able to play."
Starks leads the Packers with 565 rushing yards. If he is unable to play, Ryan Grant would get the bulk of the carries in the team's rushing attack. Grant has 102 carries for 401 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the season, including 10 carries for 85 yards in last week's win over the Raiders.
For more on the Packers, visit Acme Packing Company.
Hester is officially listed as "Questionable", but is expected to play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Hall of Fame-caliber return specialist has 25 receptions for 355 yards and a touchdown this season, but has all but disappeared from the offensive game plan. Hester has just four receptions for 47 yards in the last six weeks and was kept off the stat sheet in four of those six contests.
Hester still has the ability to impact the game on special teams, averaging 18.5 yards on 24 punt returns this season, with two returns for touchdowns along with a 22.7-yard average on 25 kick returns with a 98-yard touchdown return in a Week 6 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Seattle's special teams units have allowed two punt returns for touchdowns this season, but have tightened things up in the last three weeks, allowing just 8 return yards on four returnable punts.
For more on the Bears, visit Windy City Gridiron.
Maclin led the Eagles in receptions and receiving yards before hamstring and shoulder injuries kept him out of three games, and limited for two others. Despite being downgraded to "Questionable" due to his troublesome hamstring injury, Maclin returned for last Sunday's win over the Miami Dolphins, catching one pass for 13 yards.
Maclin said his hamstring has improved over the last week, Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News reports.
"It's a complete difference," Maclin said. "I thought I felt pretty good last week, but now you can actually see it on film and stuff like that. I practiced full-go today, so I'm ready to go."
The Eagles will need Maclin against the Jets, who have the league's sixth-ranked pass defense.
For more on the Eagles, be sure to visit Bleeding Green Nation.
Cleveland Browns running back Montario Hardesty is "Questionable" for Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals after he was limited in the final two practices of the week with a calf injury that cost him a few games earlier this season.
Head coach Pat Shurmur said that Hardesty will be active and available to play, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported on Friday.
A 2010 second-round pick out of Tennessee who missed his entire rookie season with a torn ACL, Hardestyy assumed a starting role when last year's leading rusher, Peyton Hillis, suffered a hamstring injury. After carrying the ball 33 times for 95 yards in a 6-3 win over the Seattle Seahawks, Hardesty injured his calf the following week in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers, missing three weeks before he was active, but did not play or receive carries back-to-back games against the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens in Weeks 12 and 13.
Hardesty had a team-high 11 carries for just 24 yards in last week's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
For more on the Browns, visit Dawgs By Nature.
After missing last Sunday's win over the Minnesota Vikings with a high ankle sprain, Detroit Lions running back Kevin Smith was eased back into practice this week and is on target to start against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Smith is officially listed as "Questionable".
A 2008 third-round pick out of Central Florida, the Lions opted to not even extend a qualifying offer to the oft-injured restricted free agent last offseason. With the club losing 2011 second-round pick Mikel Leshoure to an Achilles injury in the preseason, Jerome Harrison to a brain tumor and Jahvid Best to another concussion, the Lions re-signed Smith in mid-November. Smith earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after rushing for 140 yards and two touchdowns and catching four passes for 61 yards and another touchdown in a win over the Carolina Panthers in his second game back.
Smith injured his ankle in a Thanksgiving Day loss to the Green Bay Packers and has just 13 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown with six receptions for 46 yards in two games since.
For more on the Lions, be sure to visit Pride Of Detroit.
Kolb sustained a concussion in the first quarter of last Sunday's win over the San Francisco 49ers, the fifth-year veteran's second game back after missing four weeks with a foot/toe injury.
Acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles after the lockout was lifted, Kolb has had an up-and-down first season with the Cardinals. After passing for 560 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in the first two games, Kolb was intercepted seven times in five games and suffered the foot injury as the Cardinals dropped five straight to fall to 1-6 on the season.
Second-year quarterback John Skelton helped revive the Cardinals' season, leading the team to three wins in four starts before yielding to Kolb in the team's overtime win against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 13. If Kolb is unable to play against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Skelton would get the start.
For more on the Kolb and the Cardinals, be sure to visit Revenge of the Birds.
We look at some final updates to the final injury report for week 15 of the 2011 NFL season. For more on fantasy football, check out Fake Teams.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Laurent Robinson is listed as "Questionable" for Saturday night's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a right shoulder injury that limited during this week's practices.
According to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, Robinson is expected to play, but will be wearing some extra padding under his jersey to protect his right shoulder.
Robinson is having a breakout season with the Cowboys after failing to live up to expectations with the Atlanta Falcons, who used a 2007 third-round pick on the former Illinois State standout, and the St. Louis Rams, who acquired him from the Falcons in 2009. Robinson went to training camp in 2011 with the San Diego Chargers, but could not crack their 53-man roster.
Picked up by the Cowboys in September, Robinson ranks third on the team with 46 receptions, second with 763 receiving yards and is tied with 2010 first-round pick Dez Bryant for the team lead with eight receiving touchdowns.
For more on the Cowboys, be sure to visit Blogging The Boys.
We break down the final injury report for week 15 of the 2011 NFL season. For more on fantasy football, check out Fake Teams.
The Tennessee Titans announced on Friday that QB Matt Hasselbeck will be their starting quarterback this Sunday when they travel to Indianapolis to play the Colts. Hasselbeck was a full participant in Friday's practice after sitting out practice on Wednesday and being limited on Thursday. Titans coach Mike Munchak said Hasselbeck looked good in practice and was able to do what was needed to show he is ready.
Hasselbeck hurt his left calf last Sunday in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints. Jake Locker came on in his place and aside from one play after a big hit, Locker was the QB the rest of the way. Locker completed 13 of 29 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown and almost brought the Titans back for the upset. Locker took most of the first team reps this week and will be available as his backup. If Hasselbeck suffers a setback between now and Sunday, Locker would get the start.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has indicated he will play on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, even though his ankle is reportedly still at no better than 85%. Although Peterson's Vikings are scuffling this season at 2-11, AP has said he will play to help his teammates and to meet some personal statistical goals.
Peterson also gave a reason near and dear to many people's hearts: fantasy football. AP is one of the best fantasy running backs in the game and he has acknowledged that people have contacted him via Twitter asking about his status and hoping that he would play. Fantasy football has reached the playoffs and now is as important a time as any for fantasy owners.
Peterson is not exactly going to be going out hobbled on one leg. He has returned to practice in a limited context but has not been limping. Although the Vikings are sizable underdogs to the Saints, they will be heavily reliant on the rushing attack to control the clock and keep the game manageable. They were able to come back from a big deficit against the Lions, and even though they still lost, Toby Gerhart had a solid day. Gerhart will likely get a decent amount of carries on Sunday, but AP should be the primary back.
The Pittsburgh Steelers got back to practice on Thursday as they prepare for their Monday Night Football contest against the San Francisco 49ers. As expected, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not take part in practice as he continues to rehab the high ankle sprain he suffered on Thursday Night Football against the Cleveland Browns. Roethlisberger was diagnosed with a grade one high ankle sprain, which is the least severe type, but it still has kept him relatively incapacitated.
Roethlisberger's status for Monday Night Football remains a mystery and at this point, odds are high that he will be the dreaded "game-time decision." Even if he plays, it remains to be seen how effective he will be against the 49ers. He can connect on big plays in the pocket, but one bad hit could end his night and cost you a boatload of fantasy points. If you are unsure whether to start Roethlisberger, unless you have a QB on Thursday or Saturday, you can wait for the final injury report on Saturday. Nonetheless, odds are good you will want to bench him for Monday.
The bigger question is what to do with the rest of the Steelers given the chances of Charlie Batch starting. I think Roethlisberger ends up starting, but whatever the case, the Steelers skill players become a bit more questionable. You will still want to start Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, but there will be some manner of trepidation for them. Brown has been on fire lately and you might just have to suck it up and hope for big things from Batch. It isn't exactly inspiring, but sometimes that happens in the fantasy world.
Detroit Lions running back Kevin Smith was back at practice Thursday in a limited fashion a day after sitting out practice. While the Lions would be more comfortable with a full practice from Smith before Sunday, even limited is a step in the right direction. Although Smith was limited, he was able to take part in some team drills. Often times the "limited" classification means they took part in individual drills but not team football drills, so this is a good sign.
Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams would split the carries if Smith is unable to go, but coordinator Scott Linehan was optimistic about Smith being able to play on Sunday. If Smith can play on Sunday, it will be interesting to see how the backup carries are divided up between Morris and Williams. Morris entered last Sunday's game as the starter, but Williams ended up handling more of the carries.
We break down the Wednesday practice participation report for week 15 of the 2011 NFL season, including final injury reports for Thursday's Jaguars-Falcons game. For more on fantasy football, check out Fake Teams.
The Chicago Bears will likely be without their star running back Matt Forte as he continues to heal from an MCL sprain. Forte injured his knee Week 13 against the Kansas City Chiefs and has been sidelined ever since. Head coach Lovie Smith was evasive about Forte's status, and did not rule him out, but Forte was clear in stating he was not playing Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
Sprained MCL's are multi-week injuries and there is nothing surprising about Forte remaining out this week. If he is unable to play, Marion Barber would get the start in his place. Barber put together a strong game in a 13-10 loss to the Broncos as he rushed for 108 yards. Of course, he also ran out of bounds when the Bears were trying to run out the clock in the fourth quarter, and then fumbled away the ball in overtime. Kahlil Bell had nine carries against Denver and could very well end up with more carries if Lovie is particularly disappointed with the Barber fumble.
Detroit Lions running back Kevin Smith was back on the practice field a few days after missing the Lions game against the Minnesota Vikings. Smith has been dealing with an ankle sprain but was able to take part in individual workouts on Wednesday. He did not take part in team drills, but reportedly was moving well in his individual work.
If Smith can play on Sunday he would move back into the starting lineup ahead of Keiland Williams and Maurice Morris. Morris was expected to be the starting running back this past week, but Keiland Williams ended up taking the bulk of the carries against the Vikings. Williams had 12 carries for 43 yards while Morris had four carries for 13 yards. Williams could very well be moving ahead of Morris on the depth chart behind Smith.
The Minnesota Vikings had a welcome sight on Wednesday as running back Adrian Peterson was back on the practice field. Peterson has been dealing with a high ankle sprain, but he is appearing just about set to return this weekend against the New Orleans Saints. Peterson was able to practice today, which follows a pair of limited practices last week.
Toby Gerhart has been filling in for Peterson in recent weeks, but he would likely return to his backup role with the return of Peterson. It is still possible the team would go with a bit of a timeshare this first week, but if Peterson is able to get in a full week of practice, they might be content to simply roll him out there with his normal workload.
The Vikings face a Saints defense that is questionable at times, but benefits from an explosive offense. The Vikings fell behind big to the Lions last week, but they did not abandon their run game and it helped get them back into the game. They will be heavily reliant on that run game this week.
Andre Johnson knows the perils of returning from injury too quickly, as that's exactly what he did earlier this year and that ended up costing him six games earlier in the year. With that in mind, the Houston Texans wide receiver is cautiously optimistic that he can be healthy in time to play during the final weeks of the regular season.
"If I had a choice, if everything works out and I was able to be healthy with regular season games left, I would like to play in a regular season game," Johnson said. "You want to have a game to get that rust off, so I would definitely play."
When healthy, Johnson has been among the best wide receivers in the NFL this season, averaging 78.5 receiving yards per game. The problem is that he's only played in six games, limiting him to just 31 catches, 471 yards and just two touchdowns.
Johnson has now hurt both of his hamstrings this season, which suggests the team could be even more cautious than normal with his recovery. Despite dealing with numerous injuries, the Texans have already clinched the AFC South and are currently tied for the best record in the AFC.
For more insight and analysis of Johnson's injury, be sure to check out Texans blog Battle Red Blog.
A day after Toby Gerhart put together a solid 90 yard rushing effort for the Minnesota Vikings, head coach Leslie Frazier told the media he thinks Adrian Peterson should return this week against the New Orleans Saints. Peterson has been dealing with a high ankle sprain but was able to get in some limited workouts this past week. He made the trip to Detroit and did some pre-game workouts, but was unable to play.
Gerhart has been solid in relief of Peterson but it remains to be seen how much of a role he will have once AP is back on the field. The team could conceivably go with a bit of a running back by committee depending on how Peterson feels once he gets back in the action. Prior to Peterson's injury, Gerhart had one game with five carries and eight games with two or fewer carries. He never touched the ball more than five times in those games.
Whichever back is on the field, the Vikings will look to dominate time of possession this weekend against a tough Saints offense. The Saints can put up some filthy numbers inside domes, so even though this is a road game, they have some advantages in the Metrodome. A strong rushing attack is key if the Vikings want to pull the upset.
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