It's Week 6 of the NFL season, and three of tomorrow's most anticipated showdowns – the New York Giants at the San Francisco 49ers, the New England Patriots at the Seattle Seahawks, and the Green Bay Packers at the Houston Texans – will be impacted by the injury statuses of several important players. Here are some key injuries, and their impact, for Week 6:
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins, concussion
WAS vs. MIN, 4:25pm
Washington's dual-threat QB, who left last week's loss to Atlanta after suffering a concussion, appears to have passed all neurological tests this week and should be ready to play tomorrow against the 4-1 Vikings. The Redskins eased Griffin back into practice starting this past Wednesday, and all indications are that he has not suffered from any lasting effects from the initial injury. Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan said this week that he has no intentions of changing the Redskins' offense based on the injury, although Griffin himself said he would attempt to avoid unnecessary contact by throwing the ball away or running out of bounds on plays similar to the sideline run last week that resulted in his concussion. If not, Redskins fans may see more of backup quarterback Kirk Cousins than they had anticipated this season.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, back
SEA vs. NE, 4:05pm
The Seahawks' featured back has been limited in practice this week due to a sore back, and has been in and out of practice all season thus far due to recurring spasms. Back spasms, which are spontaneous, abnormal contractions of a muscle, can be extremely painful when occurring near the spinal cord or the nerve roots. While things look good for Lynch's chances of playing tomorrow, it is quite possible he will cede some carries to backup running back Robert Turbin.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins, foot
WAS vs. MIN, 4:25pm
Garcon, who missed time earlier in the season due to a foot injury suffered in Washington's Week 1 win over New Orleans, reportedly suffered a setback in practice Thursday and has been listed as questionable for the Redskins' contest with Minnesota. Coach Mike Shanahan has been typically evasive when answering questions about Garcon's availability this week, only saying it is a "pain tolerance" issue, which has been significant enough to limit his participation in practice this week. If Garcon cannot play at St. Louis tomorrow, wideouts Aldrick Robinson and Leonard Hankerson gain some additional fantasy value.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, knee
NYG @ SF, 4:25pm
Nicks has been limited in practice this week with swelling in his left knee that caused him to miss the Giants last three games, and he is listed as questionable for tomorrow's showdown at San Francisco. Nicks injured the knee in New York's Week 2 win over Tampa Bay, a 10-catch, 199-yard performance, adding to his injury woes following offseason surgery to his right foot. While it appears Nicks is likely to play tomorrow, it may take several games and more consistent practice time before he returns to his usual form.
Martellus Bennett, New York Giants, knee
NYG @ SF, 4:25pm
The Giants' tight end, who emerged as a favorite red zone option for Eli Manning over the first few weeks of the season, suffered a hyperextended knee in last week's win over Cleveland, but after two consecutive days of full practice, appears to be a good bet to play tomorrow at San Francisco. If Bennett is limited or unable to play, backup Bear Pascoe is likely to take the bulk of the snaps at tight end.
Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers, shoulder
GB @ HOU, 8:20pm
Finley left the Packers' Week 5 loss at Indianapolis in the third quarter due to a right shoulder injury, which was diagnosed as a partial dislocation. A dislocated shoulder is a type of sprain that involves tearing of the ligaments holding the shoulder joint in place, with higher degrees of tearing causing more significant instability. With this type of injury, Finley's main issue will be pain tolerance, and if he returns to action too soon, there is always the risk of aggravating the injury and further tearing the ligaments that hold the shoulder joint in place. Finley has been listed as questionable on the Packers' injury report, although he was optimistic yesterday that he would be able to play tomorrow night at Houston.
Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots, ankle
NE @ SEA, 4:05pm
The Patriots' tight end, part of the team's dynamic duo alongside Rob Gronkowski, suffered a right high ankle sprain in New England's Week 2 loss to Arizona and has missed the team's past three games. While Hernandez is officially listed as questionable for tomorrow's game at Seattle, indications are favorable that he will take the field. The term "high ankle sprain" is usually used to describe an injury to the syndesmotic ligaments of the ankle, which hold the lower ends of the tibia and fibula (lower leg bones) together. Injuries to these ligaments are usually more serious than to other areas of the ankle, causing significant pain and difficulty bearing weight. Hernandez's return would likely provide a boost to Gronkowski's fantasy numbers as well, keeping teams from double-teaming him as they have been doing and opening up opportunities down the middle of the field.