The injury reports have been filed and player availability for Week 3 has become more clear. We take a look at player designations and practice participation levels to get the best idea of who’s playing this week and who isn’t. Updates will still filter in as Saturday goes on, especially for the GTD (Game Time Decision) folks. So let’s take a look at the guys who have all of us racking our brains as we head into Week 3.
Keep in mind, if a guy isn’t listed here, he’s already been ruled out or I’m not concerned enough about the injury to discuss. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at z_dahdul for breaking news and up to the minute analysis as news breaks this weekend.
(injury and designation in parentheses)
Maurice Jones-Drew (strained tendon, Questionable): The news continues to get worse for MJD. Last week, he suffered a strained tendon on his left foot/ankle, which is the same foot that kept him out last year with a Lisfranc injury. It’s really never a good sign when a player develops further injury so close in proximity to a big injury like MJD did, so there’s definite concern there. He was a limited participant in practice all week, but seemed to make strides on Friday, participating in team drills and goal line plays, which is viewed as a positive. He was even heard saying that he did some “striding” and “exploded and cut a little bit”, both of which can be difficult with ankle and foot problems. My guess is that he’ll test it out Saturday and Sunday and the team will make a game time decision on MJD. I just can’t see him being healthy enough to deal with the best defense in the NFL at anything less than 100%, so I’m leaning towards keeping him on your bench this week.
Brandon Marshall (back, Probable): Marshall had to leave practice on Thursday with some tightness in his low back. It appears it was more precautionary than anything else, as he was back to full participation on Friday. Marshall will be a full go on Sunday.
Ray Rice (hip flexor strain, Doubtful): Rice did not practice all week, which strengthens the argument that he will miss this Sunday’s game against the Texans. Bernard Pierce appears to be in line to get his first career start. Hip flexor strains are not easy to bounce back from, especially if it’s anything more than a minor grade 1 strain. I talked Tuesday about how this muscle group helps generate power and provides pelvic stability when we stand and move, which bodes a problem for a guy who is both a power runner between the tackles and shifty back on the outside. Although we do not know the severity of the strain or the location specifically, we do know that it was severe enough to warrant no participation in practice all week, which isn’t a good sign for his Week 3 availability. Whether he ends up being active or not, I put him in the MJD category: too limited and too good of an opposing defense. I’m sitting him. And we haven’t heard the end of this story yet, as this may not be just a one week thing.
Reggie Bush (knee, Questionable): According to the folks at SB Nation, the Lions may err on the side of caution and sit Bush for tomorrow’s contest against the Redskins. Joique Bell would get the start in his place. Bush is dealing with a knee injury after taking a helmet to the knee on Sunday, which caused him to miss practice all week up until Friday, which marked his first day of participation. Word is Bush looked fine at practice, not appearing to be too limited during the media portion of practice. My guess is the team will see how the knee responds to the return to practice, particularly in regards to swelling and pain levels. Bush will be a game time decision, so this is one of those cases where you have to wait and see if he will be active. If he is active, I don’t see much reason not to start him, considering this type of injury is more a pain tolerance thing than anything else, so if he’s feeling well enough to play, he should be able to perform. But remember, one shot to the knee again could end his day, so that risk is always there. If you have a comparable option, I’d go with it. If there’s a large difference between Bush and your next option, wait and see.
Rashard Mendenhall (toe, Questionable): Mendy was limited in practice Friday, dealing with a toe injury. Coach Arians did say that it is not a turf toe injury, which is a sprain of the metatarsalphalangeal joint of the big toe. But according to Darren Urban, “it’s damn close”. Mendenhall has just dealt with numerous injuries these last two years, so it’s really getting to the point where this is a broken record week in and out. He will probably play this week and should see a time share on carries with the likes of Andre Ellington and Alfonso Smith. He’s more of a Flex option this week than anything else, considering they’re playing a not-so-strong Saints defense.
Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring, Questionable): Consider Fitz a go this week against the Saints, which is the good news. The bad news is that we won’t know which Fitz we’ll be getting, whether it’ll be the dynamic WR1 we know and love or the limited decoy we saw last week. Word is that Fitz is moving much better this week than he was last, which is a fantastic sign for his ailing hamstring, which can really limit a guy’s burst and ability to change speeds. My expectation is that Fitz will suit up and play this week and will be better than last week, although how much remains to be seen. He’s a risky play this week no doubt because we normally don’t have options on our bench that can replace the production we expect from a guy like Fitz. Play him if you’re in need, but I don’t know how we can expect WR1 from him right now.
Danny Amendola (groin, Doubtful): Dont’ let the doubtful tag fool you. He’s not playing this week, and probably won’t for another few weeks. He remains a stash guy until he’s put this issue behind him.
Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm, Questionable): This another injury designation that’s changed this week, as he began the week with a doubtful tag. He apparently looks great out there, even though he’s been limited in practice all week. The good news for his balky back is that there have been no reported setbacks or decreases in participation levels, which can happen coming off this type of back surgery. This tells me that his physical conditioning is coming along really well and that both post-operative areas aren’t experiencing much swelling or discomfort after participation. I don’t think he goes this week, but he is looking to be a sure play next week against Atlanta.
Steven Jackson (thigh, OUT): He will be out 2-4 weeks.
Roddy White (ankle, Questionable): Still limited in practice, still a question mark heading into Week 3. He’s going to play, which makes the decision even tougher because we know he’s still not back to full strength at this point. I think another week off will do him some favors, allowing him to get treatment without the pounding of practicing day in and out. My concern is that he didn’t look close to comfortable last week coming out of breaks or running precise routes, both of which are significantly affected by an ankle sprain. I think he’ll be in the Fitzgerald boat: he’ll be better this week, but still not close to what we’ve come to expect.
Andre Johnson (concussion, Probable): Johnson passed his concussion protocol and was a full participant in practice on Friday. He will be 100% ready to go on Sunday.
Eddie Lacy (concussion, Questionable): Lacy did not go through all phases of the concussion protocol, as he was a limited participant in practice on Friday. He is still listed as questionable, but I don’t think there’s a lot that will change between now and kickoff that will allow him to pass the league mandated concussion protocol. Look elsewhere this week. James Starks is slated to get the start.
Dez Bryant (back stiffness, Probable): Bryant was limited during the week with a stiff back, but was back at practice on Friday with full participation. It appears the limited participation earlier in the week was more precautionary than anything else, just a chance to allow him to receive treatment and rest. Bryant looks to be a full go on Sunday.
Le’Veon Bell (foot sprain, Questionable): Bell was a full participant for the second consecutive day on Friday, which is why many are speculating he has an outside chance of playing this week. Word is he looked good overall and didn’t show many signs of limitation. I will continue to say that I don’t think Bell will be back to near full strength for another 2 weeks or so, which would put him on that original 6 week timeframe (give or take). I have a hard time believing that a guy can suffer the type of midfoot injury that Bell did and be back in a couple weeks. There’s too much strain placed on that area for a running back for me to think that he has gained enough stability in 2-3 weeks to play pain and limitation free. I think he’ll sit this week, with the outside possibility he’s back next week. Stay tuned.
Vernon Davis suffered a hamstring injury last Sunday against Seattle. He rested this week, got treatment, and looks ready to go on Sunday…Giovanni Bernard picked up a minor hamstring issue during practice this week, but Thursday’s limited participation in practice was precautionary. He was a full participant on Friday and is on track too be 100% on Sunday…Daryl Richardson was back to a full participant in practice on Friday as he deals with a minor foot issue. They managed it well this week and he appears ready to go. Isaiah Pead will get some carries as well, but it should not be anything related to Richardson’s foot…Tony Romo and his bruised ribs will be protected and read to go on Sunday. He may receive another pre-game injection as he did last week, but it’s all pain management at this point. He’ll be fine this week…Julio Jones was a limited participant in practice all week, but it appears to be the same song and dance as last week as a way to get him time off and rest. He’ll be his regular dynamic self on Sunday…Zach Sudfeld was a full participant in practice Friday with his strained hamstring. He looks to be at about 100% for this Sunday’s contest against Tampa Bay. However, we still don’t know if that matters with him or not yet. Stay tuned.