NFL injury report, Week 17: Will bumps & bruises change the playoff picture?

Leon Halip

A number of teams fighting to make the playoffs, or trying to improve their seeding, are facing critical injury situations with key players. SB Nation's medical expert, Dr. Ali Mohamadi, has a look at the injury report.

With the NFL playoffs quickly approaching, and with fantasy titles at stake in some leagues today, the injury status of several pivotal players -- including a pair of Baltimore Ravens -- takes on increased importance this week. Here are some key injuries, and their impact, for Week 17:

Running backs

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens, thigh

BAL (8-7) @ CIN (10-5), 1:00 p.m.

With the Ravens needing a win and help from other teams to lock up a wild card playoff spot, news that Rice has been limited in practice this week with a thigh injury could not come at a worse time. Given the magnitude of the contest this afternoon against Cincinnati, it's unlikely that Rice will sit this one out despite being listed as questionable on the team's injury report. But for those fantasy owners relying on the Ravens' feature back during championship week, it bears to note that Rice will likely be dealing with some degree of pain upon contact and limited range of motion of the affected leg.

Shane Vereen, New England Patriots, groin

NE (11-4) vs. BUF (6-9), 4:25 p.m.

Vereen has practiced sparingly this week after suffering a groin injury in the Patriots' win over Baltimore last week and is listed as questionable for today's contest against Buffalo. Groin injuries are particularly susceptible to aggravation if tested prior to an athlete having recovered fully, and with Vereen likely to be a game-time decision, fantasy owners may want to look elsewhere this week.

Wide receivers

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, knee

DET (7-8) @ MIN (4-10-1), 1:00 p.m.

Johnson has been playing through a sore knee the past several weeks, but with the Lions officially eliminated from playoff contention, there is a legitimate chance that he may sit out today's contest against the Vikings. To add fuel to the fire, Johnson uncharacteristically did not participate in practice this week, making his status particularly concerning for fantasy owners across the country vying for league titles. If Johnson is unable to play today, Nate Burleson is most likely among Lions' pass-catchers to see an increase in targets today.

Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens, thigh

BAL (8-7) @ CIN (10-5), 1:00 p.m.

Yet another Raven with a thigh injury heading into today's must-win against Cincinnati, Smith has been limited in practice this week and is listed as questionable on the team's injury report. Early indications are that Smith will suit up and attempt to catch passes from QB Joe Flacco, who himself has been dealing with a sprained medial collateral ligament of the left knee. All in all, not exactly the way Baltimore wanted to enter today's elimination game.

Tight ends

Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns, concussion

CLE (4-11) @ PIT (7-8), 1:00 p.m.

Cameron missed last week's contest due to a concussion and is listed as questionable for today's matchup with the Steelers. He was able to practice on a limited basis late in the week but will still need a second level of clearance from a neurologist prior to today's contest in order to suit up. Pittsburgh, which still has chance of making the playoffs with a win over the Browns, along with a lot of outside help from other teams, won't complain if Cameron, who has had an exceptional campaign, is unable to take the field.

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