Aaron Rodgers watch is approaching seven weeks, and it's still unclear when the quarterback will suit up again for the Green Bay Packers. On Thursday, he was reportedly limited in practice yet again. While Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien took first-team reps, Rodgers was relegated to the sideline to take snap exchanges with practice squad center Garth Gerhart.
Head coach Mike McCarthy said that Rodgers looked "sharp" and ready to play. Rodgers himself said that he is healthy in body and mind. At this point, however, his status for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is questionable at best.
Wes Welker is still dealing with lingering symptoms from his Week 14 concussion, and is expected to sit Sunday when the Denver Broncos take on the Houston Texans. Welker has yet to be cleared for practice, putting his status for the rest of the regular season in doubt.
The Broncos have plenty of weapons at their disposal, so the loss of Welker shouldn't be catastrophic to the passing game, especially against the lowly Texans. If he is forced to miss time during the playoffs, however, it could have a significant impact on the Broncos' postseason chances. Andre Caldwell is expected to see more playing time as the Broncos' de facto No. 3 wide receiver. He had had a big game last week against the San Diego Chargers.
Larry Fitzgerald returned to practice Thursday from a concussion he suffered last Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. Head coach Bruce Arians said earlier this week that he expects Fitzgerald to suit up for Sunday's pivotal bout against the Seattle Seahawks. Fitzgerald's return certainly gives Arians credence.
Fitzgerald was still limited, however. He has yet to be officially cleared, as well, with final word to come Friday. Fitzgerald's absence would be a huge blow to the Arizona Cardinals. They are currently one game out of the NFC wild-card race at 9-5 overall, and may not be able to weather a loss.
Randall Cobb was back in practice Wednesday for the Packers after sitting since Week 6 due to a broken leg. While the return is encouraging, he is not expected to play Week 16 against the Steelers. Cobb is still on the Packers' injured reserve list with a designation to return.
"I believe everything's healed, just [a matter of] getting back into football shape and trusting myself," Cobb said after practice Wednesday. "I have not [been fully cleared]. I've been cleared to run and cleared to practice."
The Packers may be facing the Chicago Bears in a play-in game for the playoffs in Week 17, giving Cobb a chance to make a timely return, but the wideout still has a considerable amount of rust to shake. The Packers' careful approach with Aaron Rodgers suggests that they may not try very hard to rush Cobb.
Victor Cruz underwent surgery Thursday to clean out his left knee. After the procedure, Cruz's 2013 season with the New York Giants is likely over. He has already been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.
Even if Cruz is healthy enough to play, it wouldn't make much sense for the Giants to activate him for Week 17 against the Washington Redskins. At 5-9 overall, the Giants have been mathematically eliminated from the postseason.
Assuming Cruz is out for the year, he will fall shy of 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in three seasons. Through 14 games he had 73 receptions for 998 yards. His four touchdowns fell well short of his previous low of nine set in 2011.
The Broncos' passing game will take a hit Sunday with Welker out, but the secondary should be much improved with Champ Bailey expected to rejoin the defense. Bailey missed the last two weeks after aggravating his foot injury in Week 13, and has appeared in just three games so far this season.
The extended time on the sideline may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the 35-year-old Bailey. He says he is feeling "fresh" for Sunday.
"My fingers aren't banged up like they normally are this time of year. My shoulders don't feel as bad," Bailey said. "Those are the only things that have gotten a breather. My legs are still my legs. I'm 35 (laughs), they feel as good as they're going to feel right now."
Jordan Reed will miss the remainder of the 2013 season, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan announced Thursday. He has been battling lingering concussion symptoms for more than one month. A specialist reportedly recommended that Reed sit for the next three weeks.
Reed was one of the brightest spot on a moribund Redskins team. Through Week 11, he had 45 receptions (catching better than 75 percent of his targets) for 499 yards and three touchdowns. Though the line of reasoning may be getting old in Washington, shutting the rookie down now will ensure he has a full offseason to get healthy and make an impact in 2014.