It's only the fourth week of the NFL season, and the injury bug has already reared its ugly head, with a number of teams featuring pivotal players whose status is up-in-the-air as kickoff approaches. Here are some key injuries, and their impact, for Week 4:
Terelle Pryor, Oakland Raiders, concussion
OAK (1-2) vs. WAS (0-3), 4:25pm
Pryor, who has been a dynamic playmaker this year and faces a porous Washington defense this afternoon, is listed as questionable with a concussion suffered late in last week's loss to the Broncos. Oakland has proceeded with appropriate caution regarding Pryor's activity in practice, and although he has been cleared for contact, he has been limited the past two days. Pryor has been cleared to play, but his backup Matt Flynn will start.
PIT (0-3) @ MIN (0-3), 1pm (Wembley Stadium, London)
The rookie RB had been expected to start out of the gate this season for the Steelers, but has missed the Steelers' first three games due to a Lisfranc sprain suffered in the preseason. The good news is that Bell is listed as probable today and likely to see action for the first time as a pro. The bad news is that he is likely to platoon today with Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer. While Bell may not be as reliable a fantasy option today if his carries are indeed limited, he stands to be Pittsburgh's workhorse in subsequent weeks if there are no setbacks from the original injury.
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens, hip
BAL (2-1) @ BUF (1-2), 1pm
Rice missed last week's win over the Texans due to a hip flexor strained suffered in the Ravens' Week 2 win over Cleveland. The hip flexors are a series of muscles that line the front side of the thigh and hip. As their name implies, they are critical in ensuring adequate flexion of the leg at the joint. Injuries to these muscles can result in significant pain and loss of range of motion. Rice returned to practice on a limited basis this week and is likely to be a game-time decision for today's matchup at Buffalo, with Bernard Pierce waiting in the wings at running back.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills, quadriceps
BUF (1-2) vs. BAL (2-1), 1pm
The prognosis appeared much worse for Spiller after Buffalo's Week 3 loss to the New York Jets, when he left the game with a leg injury that was feared at the time to potentially be related to his knee. However, it turned out instead to be a quadriceps injury, and while the Bills have been vague regarding its nature, Spiller is listed as probable for today's tough matchup with the Ravens. Spiller has mentioned there has been some residual soreness in the leg this week, but he has practiced in full and there are no indications that his status will change come game time.
NE (3-0) @ ATL (1-2), 8:30pm
Amendola, who has been out since suffering a high-grade groin strain in the Patriots' Week 1 over Buffalo, is out for Sunday night's contest at Atlanta. Amendola has practiced on a limited basis this week.
TB (0-3) vs. ARI (1-2), 1pm
Tampa Bay's top receiving threat exited during the second half of last Sunday's loss to the Patriots after taking a hit to the ribs and has missed practice the entire week. Jackson is listed as questionable on the team's injury list and will be a game-time decision this afternoon against the Cardinals. The biggest issue with rib injuries is typically pain management, and many players can return to action the following week wearing a protective lining over the affected area. If Jackson were to play, it would be a huge boost to rookie QB Mike Glennon, who will be making his first career start today.
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans, shin
HOU (2-1) vs. SEA (3-0), 1pm
Johnson suffered a deep shin bruise in the second quarter of last Sunday's loss at Baltimore, with and MRI confirming that there was no bone damage as a result of the injury. Johnson, who is listed as questionable for today's game against Seattle, attempted to return for one play following the injury, but head coach Gary Kubiak pulled Johnson after watching him run with a significant limp. A deep bruise can be limiting due to pain upon contact and movement of the affected area, which can take a week or more to heal. Rookie DeAndre Hopkins would stand to see increased playing time today if Johnson is limited.
Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons, ankle
ATL (1-2) vs. NE (3-0), 8:30pm
The Falcons' receiver, who has not missed a game in his eight-year NFL career, sprained his right ankle in the preseason, and although he has played in all three of Atlanta's games this season, his effectiveness has been minimized as a result of the injury. Similar to the past three weeks, White has practiced on a limited basis this week, is listed as questionable on Atlanta's injury report, and all indications are that he will get the start tonight. Just as similar, his effectiveness tonight against the Patriots remains a question given the relatively high risk of re-injury with ankle sprains.