The injury reports have been filed and player availability for Week 6 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 6.
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.
Calvin Johnson (knee, Questionable): Megatron was limited in practice on Friday and reportedly was able to shed his knee brace. This knee issue has flared up on him from time to time, so there is a definite chance he can play if they can manage his symptoms (swelling, pain) and get him moving well enough. He’ll test the knee in pregame warmups and they’ll make a determination based on how he feels. He’s going to be a true game time decision, so you’ll have to monitor him moving forward.
Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings (hamstring, Questionable): Both guys were limited all week in practice after McFadden missed Week 5 and Jennings strained his hamstring during the Week 5 contest. The expectation is that both will be game time decisions. McFadden was asked if he had run with burst in practice that he would need to have in a game and his response didn’t sound promising, “If I haven’t done it, I feel like I’ve gotten pretty close to it”. My gut tells me if McFadden plays, he won’t be anywhere near 100%. Jennings was supposed to pick up the majority of carries, but that appears to have come and gone with his injury. Expect both to be very limited if they play.
Donnie Avery (shoulder, Probable): Avery was able to return to full participation in practice this week, with Friday being a day he ramped up his activity. He looks to be a full go on Sunday and hopefully he can continue to be a big part of the Chiefs offense.
Jamaal Charles (toes, Probable): Charles had been dealing with blisters on his toes, which he was able to play through last week and looked just fine. Friday was a full participation level for him, so that’s definitely a good sign. With blisters, it’s basically figuring out ways to maintain the integrity of the semi-healed skin so that it doesn’t rip any more. Also, it’s a pain tolerance deal for these types of injuries, and it’s all dependent on the location of blisters. All signs point to him being fine moving forward, but we can see some recurrence or worsening of his blisters if they don’t heal properly.
Jacoby Jones (MCL sprain, Questionable): Jones is currently rehabbing a sprained medial collateral ligament he suffered to his left knee during the Week 1 game versus the Broncos. Jones is officially listed as questionable, as he was a limited participant in practice on Friday. The initial time table for this type of injury (grade 1 to grade 2 sprain) can be anywhere from 2-8 weeks, with Jones’ official timeframe being 4-6 weeks. He’s right at that timeframe now, but the fact that he’s still not doing everything in practice doesn’t bode well for his or fantasy owners’ confidence. Expect him to miss one more week, with a legitimate chance at returning Week 7.
Marlon Brown (hamstring, Questionable): Brown missed Week 5’s game with a strained hamstring and appears to be ready to return in Week 6. He was able to get treatment and ramp up his activity level all week and should be pretty close to 100% by the time Sunday rolls around.
Steve Johnson (back, Questionable): Johnson was officially listed as a non-participant in practice Friday and will be a game time decision Sunday. He wasn’t able to do much treatment at the facility either due to having to leave the team for personal reasons. It’s going to be a last second decision, so have some options just in case he can’t go.
Andre Johnson (shin, Questionable): Johnson did the same song and dance this week that he did last week, when he ended up playing during the Week 5 game. Expect Johnson to play and really not show much limitation tomorrow. I’d look for one more week of treatment to really make a huge difference for Johnson this week.
Alfred Morris (ribs, Probable): Luckily for Morris, he had the bye week to rest his bruised ribs. He was a full participant in practice on Friday and is officially listed as probable. He will play and will more than likely have some extra padding around the bruised area in order to help him absorb contact to the area. Bruised ribs can be very painful with any twisting or bending motions at the trunk in addition to making deep breathing a bit more difficult and restricted. This injury could bother him, but is the kind of issue that can be played through without making the injury much worse. He should be ok moving forward.
Ryan Mathews (concussion, unknown): Mathews was able to return to practice on Friday and appears to be heading in the right direction as he attempts to come back from a concussion. He must pass the ImPACT protocol mandated by the NFL prior to his return, but he appears to be headed in the right direction.
Greg Olsen (foot, Probable): He was able to fully participate in practice on Thursday and Friday and looks to be ready to go.
Cecil Shorts (groin, Probable): Shorts has been dealing with a groin strain since the preseason. He’s full on in symptom management mode, as the main goal is to have Shorts ready for the game on Sunday. This will most likely be the way things are managed for the rest of the season so long as he doesn’t suffer a setback. He may miss days of practice completely so that the strained muscle can be rested and treated in order to not allow inflammation and tissue irritation to get worse. His probable designation tells you he’ll play, so if you need him, he should be there.
Michael Vick (hamstring, Out): Vick has officially been ruled out for this week’s game. We will revisit his situation next week to see if this will be a one week issue or not.
Miles Austin (hamstring, Probable): Austin will return to the lineup on Sunday for the first time in a few weeks. Watch to see how he looks initially coming out of his breaks and with the sharpness of his routes, which can both be a bit rusty after a couple week layoff. The good news is that he’ll be out there this week, but we’ll see how he handles game speed action, which really cannot be simulated in practice.
Frank Gore, Colin Kaepernick, Vernon Davis (knee, foot, hamstring, Probable): All 3 guys are listed on the injury report as probable, so I wouldn’t be concerned about any of these guys. They’ll be ready for Sunday night.
Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring, Questionable): Similar to Shorts and AJ, Fitz will be in symptom management mode during the course of the week, which usually results in rest on Wednesday and Thursday and full practice participation on Friday, which is exactly how this week played out. This hamstring issue doesn’t seem to be going away fully, but it’s well enough for him to play through. He’ll be out there, but this week is a horrible matchup and that minor chance of reinjury will always be there.
Stevan Ridley (thigh/knee, Questionable): Still no word on the exact injury, but it appears Ridley will play this week after missing Week 5’s game. He was moving around much better in practice and seems to be just fine at this point. Hard to tell exactly with the way the Patriots conceal injury updates, but he should be ready to go.
Danny Amendola (adductor strain, Questionable): No reported setbacks during Week 5’s game is a great sign for Amendola moving forward. He should move much better this weekend so long as he doesn’t have any setbacks. Expect him to be more mobile and have a little more pep in his step this week.
Rob Gronkowski (back/forearm, Questionable): I think you all know the deal here. Gronk still hasn’t been cleared to return to the field in regards to his forearm surgery, so it’s tough to make a projection about him moving forward. If he cannot get medical clearance and if he’s not 100% confident in his ability to get out on the field and do everything, it’s really impossible to determine when this guy will come back. Nevertheless, check for the official word before the Pats-Saints game at 4:25pm ET, but the expectation is that he will not play on Sunday.