Biggest Week 16 injury questions for all 32 NFL teams — Daniel Jones, Derek Carr, Alex Smith and more

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The New York Giants and Las Vegas Raiders are clinging to fleeting playoff hopes, but they can be a little more optimistic this week that they’ll have their first-string quarterbacks in place in Week 16. For NFC East-leading Washington, it’s still iffy if Alex Smith (calf) will be able to return this week.

Both the Giants’ Daniel Jones (hamstring, ankle) and the Raiders’ Derek Carr (groin) took first-team snaps on Wednesday, and signs are positive that they’ll be on the field this week.

Our NFL Nation reporters update the top injury question for every team heading into Week 16:

Jump to:
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LAC | LAR | LV | MIA | MIN
NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

AFC EAST

WR Stefon Diggs left Saturday’s game against the Broncos with a foot injury, but the team does not believe his injury is serious. He was able to practice Wednesday, which is a good sign for him playing against a Patriots defense that will be without CB Stephon Gilmore. If Buffalo holds him, it could mean a big day for rookie WR Gabriel Davis. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

The Dolphins’ three top receiving weapons — DeVante Parker (hamstring), Mike Gesicki (shoulder), Jakeem Grant (hamstring) — were all “very close” to playing Sunday vs. the Patriots, per coach Brian Flores, but all of them were inactive. This week there’s more optimism that the Dolphins will get at least a couple of them back for a must-win game Saturday vs. the Raiders. All three have practiced in a limited capacity everyday this week. — Cameron Wolfe


RB Damien Harris (ankle) was back at practice on Wednesday after missing the Week 15 loss to the Dolphins, but whether he is fully cleared for action Monday night remains a question mark. Sony Michel was effective as his replacement, and with the Patriots officially eliminated from the playoffs, there’s little reason to push Harris if it could compromise him in the long-range picture. — Mike Reiss


The Jets will be without their best defensive player, DT Quinnen Williams, who was placed on injured reserve with concussion/neck injury. That’s a blow to the run defense, which will be tested by the Browns’ two-headed monster, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. If slot corner Javelin Guidry (knee) doesn’t play, the Jets will have to defend Jarvis Landry with a third-string nickel. The Jets are a mess. — Rich Cimini

AFC NORTH

Three-time Pro Bowl CB Marcus Peters remains out after missing his first game in three years. Peters is dealing with a calf injury sustained on Dec. 14 in Cleveland. It sounds like Peters has a chance of playing Sunday against the New York Giants. Ravens coach John Harbaugh thought Peters would play last Sunday against the Jaguars but “didn’t quiet get over the hump at the end.” If Peters is sidelined again, Anthony Averett will replace him. Averett has plenty of speed, but struggles with consistency. — Jamison Hensley


The early week was a mixed bag in terms of determining QB Brandon Allen‘s status. Allen was limited during Wednesday’s walkthrough, which was an improvement after he was out all of last week with a knee injury. However, the Bengals used one of their four practice-squad protections on QB Kevin Hogan, who was the backup behind Ryan Finley in the Week 15 win over the Steelerls. Finley picked up his first NFL win and was effective against Pittsburgh. If Allen doesn’t practice fully on Thursday, Finley is the best bet to face the Houston Texans on Sunday. — Ben Baby


Right guard Wyatt Teller, who missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, has still not returned to practice. Teller, however, did get engaged this week, proposing at midfield of FirstEnergy Stadium. — Jake Trotter

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Matthew Berry claims he will never roster James Conner again, and both Berry and Field Yates consider Benny Snell Jr. a great waiver-wire addition for Week 16.

The Steelers initially expected to have RB James Conner available against the Cincinnati Bengals before ruling him out before kickoff Monday with a quad injury. The running back was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, and coach Mike Tomlin expected to work him back in this week. Though Benny Snell played well in the loss to the Bengals, the Steelers need their run game to be at full strength against the Colts, one of the league’s best run defenses. — Brooke Pryor

AFC SOUTH

The Texans put RT Tytus Howard on injured reserve on Wednesday after he was evaluated for a concussion in Week 14 against the Colts and did not return. Howard did not travel home on the team plane so he could stay overnight in Indianapolis for evaluation. Roderick Johnson replaced Howard in the game and is his expected replacement for the final two games of the season. — Sarah Barshop


Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner‘s ankle injury had him sidelined during practice Wednesday. He originally injured his ankle in practice Dec. 17, and the Colts weren’t sure he would play in the Week 15 game against Houston. Buckner’s three sacks and a forced fumble while playing limited snaps earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. That was the good. The bad was that he came out of practice with soreness in his ankle. — Mike Wells


RB James Robinson is dealing with a left ankle injury that he suffered late in the Jaguars’ loss at Baltimore. The plan is to test his ankle on Thursday and have him do some running. Coach Doug Marrone said he thinks Robinson will play against Chicago. If he doesn’t, expect the workload to be split between Dare Ogunbowale and Devine Ozigbo, with Nathan Cottrell getting a carry or two. — Mike DiRocco


CB Adoree Jackson didn’t practice on Wednesday after playing last week against the Lions. Jackson’s knee is something to monitor. He played 27 snaps last week and will be needed against the Packers prolific passing offense. — Turron Davenport

AFC WEST

For a defense with four starters already on injured reserve, a fifth suspended for the remainder of the season in CB A.J. Bouye, and has lost five cornerbacks in the last three weeks, LB Bradley Chubb‘s sore ankle is not the news the group needs. Chubb, who was named to his first Pro Bowl this week, did not practice Wednesday and earlier this week coach Vic Fangio said he was hopeful Chubb would practice “at some point this week.” The Broncos on Sunday will face the Chargers, who have the league’s No. 5 passing attack with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert having topped 300 yards passing seven times this season. — Jeff Legwold

WR Tyreek Hill‘s sore hamstring kept him out of practice on Wednesday, but that was more of a precaution than anything. The Chiefs still expect him to play on Sunday against the Falcons. But if the Chiefs clinch the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed before the game is over, expect Hill to be among the first group of players pulled from the game. — Adam Teicher


QB Derek Carr‘s strained groin, suffered late in the first quarter of Thursday’s overtime loss to the Chargers, limited him in practice on Tuesday, though he was a full participant on Wednesday. Marcus Mariota, who replaced Carr and nearly led a comeback victory, was splitting reps with Carr, who said “if it’s up to me, I’m going to do everything I can to be on that field.” And as coach Jon Gruden said, “We’re going to be smart…we’ll do what’s right. We’ll do we think is right for Derek and for our team.” — Paul Gutierrez


DE Joey Bosa is in the concussion protocol for the second time in eight weeks. Coach Anthony Lynn said it is not his intention to shut Bosa down for the last two games and it’s a guarantee it’s not what Bosa would want. He’s the toughest guy out there and they need him. — Shelley Smith

NFC EAST

The Cowboys’ defense that played Philadelphia on Nov. 1 will look a lot different than the defense that plays Sunday. There could be as many as five different starters, with LB Leighton Vander Esch (ankle), S Xavier Woods (ribs) and DT Antwaun Woods (ankle) not expected to play, and CB Trevon Diggs is working back from a broken foot. DE Tyrone Crawford started in the first meeting, but it’s not clear what his role will be Sunday. Sean Lee will get the start in Vander Esch’s absence in what could be the final game he plays at AT&T Stadium if he opts to retire when the season ends. — Todd Archer


QB Daniel Jones was back taking snaps ahead of Colt McCoy when practice began on Wednesday. That is a good sign for his prospects to play on Sunday against the Ravens. Jones said he is “feeling better” after missing last week’s game with hamstring and ankle injuries. He certainly seemed to be moving better, perhaps the best he has since the original hamstring injury almost a month ago. Jones was officially listed as limited in Wednesday’s practice, but I like his chances to play this week, barring a setback. — Jordan Raanan


CB Darius Slay is out of concussion protocol and is expected to play against the Dallas Cowboys after missing last Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. Punter Cameron Johnston, meanwhile, remains in concussion protocol. If he can’t go, kicker Jake Elliott is expected to assume punting duties, as he did last week when Johnston was injured. Coach Doug Pederson conceded he will probably go for two more than normal Sunday if he’s without Johnston, who is also the team’s holder. — Tim McManus

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Dwayne Haskins apologizes for going to an event without a mask and accepts his punishment, which includes his captaincy being taken away.

QB Alex Smith was limited in practice, though during the portion open to the media, all he did was play catch with a non-player as teammates stretched and he watched Dwayne Haskins take reps with the starters. There is some optimism that Smith’s strained right calf, which sidelined him the past 1.5 games, will be OK for him to play vs. Carolina and he said he “absolutely” plans on playing. But it’s still too early to say for sure. Meanwhile, RB Antonio Gibson (turf toe) was limited in practice. He has missed the past two games. It’s too early to gauge his status. — John Keim

NFC NORTH

The Bears’ secondary remains in the spotlight after starters Buster Skrine (concussion) and Jaylon Johnson (shoulder) did not participate in Wednesday’s walk-through in advance of Week 16’s must-win game at Jacksonville. Duke Shelley and Kindle Vildor filled-in admirably for Skrine and Johnson last week against the Vikings, but at 7-7, the Bears have zero margin for error in the final two games. Chicago’s defensive backfield needs to be a full-strength in order for the Bears to make any noise in January if they are fortunate enough to qualify for the postseason. — Jeff Dickerson


QB Matthew Stafford (rib, right thumb) remains the biggest injury concern for the Detroit Lions on many levels. Lions interim coach Darrell Bevell said Tuesday that Stafford was “sore” coming out of last Sunday’s loss to Tennessee but there had been no conversations of shutting him down for the season and that if Stafford can play safely, he likely will. If not, Chase Daniel will start for Detroit. Stafford said Wednesday he’s “doing OK” and not any worse. Detroit, of course, has bigger issues than any player injury as Bevell, defensive coordinator Cory Undlin, linebackers coach Ty McKenzie, defensive line coach Bo Davis and defensive backs coach Steve Gregory are all away from the facility due to COVID-19 protocols and it remains unclear how many of them, if any, will coach Saturday against the Buccaneers. — Michael Rothstein


C Corey Linsley is eligible to return off injured reserve this week after missing the requisite three games and he has been practicing with a brace on his left knee the last two days. Elgton Jenkins, who made the Pro Bowl in part because of his ability to play multiple positions, has started the last three games at center. When asked where he’ll be lining up this week after making his first Pro Bowl, Jenkins said: “I’ll be a Pro Bowl guard this Sunday,” an indication that Linsley is expected back. — Rob Demovsky


The Vikings had seven players not practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, including three linebackers: Eric Kendricks (calf), Troy Dye (concussion/hamstring) and Todd Davis (ribs). With only a 4% chance to make the playoffs, Minnesota might decide to shut Kendricks down for the rest of the season, and as thin as the Vikings are at linebacker, the Vikings could run into trouble trying to defend the elusive Alvin Kamara. TE Kyle Rudolph (foot) is in danger of missing his third straight game after not practicing the first two days this week. — Courtney Cronin

NFC SOUTH

The status of star WR Julio Jones hasn’t changed, as he did not participate in practice on Wednesday. He has missed the Falcons’ last two games with a hamstring injury. Three other starters — CB Darqueze Dennard, C Alex Mack and G James Carpenter — also missed Wednesday’s practice as they prepare to face the 13-1 Chiefs on Sunday. — ESPN

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Stephania Bell says fantasy managers will have to wait and see whether Christian McCaffrey will be available for Week 16, though she does expect McCaffrey to play.

Don’t look for RB Christian McCaffrey to play for the 12th time this season and sixth straight game due to a quad injury. He did not participate in Wednesday’s practice and coach Matt Rhule said the league’s highest-paid back is very doubtful. Rhule also expect DE Brian Burns to miss Sunday’s game against Washington with a knee injury. So Carolina will be without its best offensive and defensive player. — David Newton


The Saints’ WR depth will be a concern again after it cost them in last Sunday’s loss to Kansas City. Michael Thomas and Deonte Harris are on injured reserve until the playoffs, and Tre’Quan Smith hasn’t practiced this week because of an ankle injury. One thing that could help – undrafted rookie WR Marquez Callaway was designated to return from IR this week, and the Saints are hoping he can play. — Mike Triplett


Two of the best playmakers in the Bucs’ secondary who made touchdown-saving plays in the Bucs’ win last Sunday over the Falcons – CB Carlton Davis and S Antoine Winfield Jr. – were held out of practice Tuesday, with Davis dealing with a groin injury and Winfield a shoulder injury. “Carlton’s getting better,” coach Bruce Arians said. “Hopefully he can make some improvement in the next two days.” The Bucs will likely be without starting RB Ronald Jones, though. “Ro is gonna be doubtful getting through the COVID [protocols] and not having any practice with the finger [injury]. … We’ll have to wait and see on that one.” — Jenna Laine

NFC WEST

It looks like the Cardinals will be without OLB Dennis Gardeck this week, and possibly beyond. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph talked Wednesday about what the team was “losing” with Gardeck suffering a knee injury Sunday against the Eagles. Gardeck has seven sacks in 89 snaps his season, an average of one sack every 12.7 snaps. — Josh Weinfuss

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Matthew Berry and Field Yates both expect Darrell Henderson Jr. to get more work than Malcolm Brown when the Rams take on the Seahawks.

RB Cam Akers suffered a high ankle sprain last Sunday in the second quarter against the Jets, but he had it taped up and finished the game. Sean McVay called Akers a “war daddy” for his effort, but the rookie won’t be able to tough it out this week against the Seahawks and will be sidelined indefinitely. In his absence, expect Darrell Henderson to start and Malcolm Brown to also pick up some additional touches. — Lindsey Thiry


The 49ers are already thin at safety but they could have to dig even further down the depth chart Saturday as starters Jimmie Ward (concussion) and Tarvarius Moore (knee) are dealing with injuries this week. Ward has not practiced either day this week and Moore missed Tuesday’s walkthrough before being limited on Wednesday. At this point, Moore appears to have a better chance to play Saturday against Arizona than Ward, but if neither can play, the Niners will likely have to turn to Marcell Harris and recently signed Kai Nacua. — Nick Wagoner


The Seahawks are resting starting RT Brandon Shell early this week with the hope he can get some work in on Friday, then play Sunday against the Rams. He missed last week’s game with a high-ankle sprain that also sidelined him for two and a half games before that. The Seahawks would be much better off with Shell in the lineup as they face the Rams with a chance to win the NFC West, but they were thrilled with how Cedric Ogbuehi played against another tough defensive line in last Sunday’s win over Washington. — Brady Henderson



Source : ESPN