Injury Aftermath: Week 17
by Andrew Potter
With the regular season over, we shift our focus exclusively to the remaining playoff teams.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (Saturday, 4:35 EST, ESPN)
Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight end Eric Ebron were the team's major injury doubts heading into Sunday night's winner-take-all clash in Tennessee, but both were able to play important roles in the playoff-clinching victory. Hilton has not participated in a full practice since injuring his shoulder in Week 12, but has appeared in every game over that period. His availability for the wild-card round does not appear to be in any doubt, regardless of his practice status. Center Ryan Kelly and safety Clayton Geathers missed the Titans game, but both are expected to recover in time to play against Houston. Receiver Ryan Grant injured his toe against the Titans, giving way to Chester Rogers. No update is yet available on Grant. Defensive tackle Tyquan Lewis left the game with a knee injury and did not return; as with Grant, no update is yet available.
Texans No. 1 receiver DeAndre Hopkins is in a similar position to Hilton: though limited in practice recently, Hopkins has not missed a game and has continued to be productive through the pain. His availability for this weekend does not appear to be in question. Rookie Keke Coutee has missed the past five games with a hamstring injury, but Coutee has returned to practice in recent weeks and should be far enough removed from the original injury to have a good chance of suiting up on Saturday afternoon. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph missed the Jaguars game with a neck injury, but Bill O'Brien likewise believes Joseph will be available next weekend. Defensive lineman J.J. Watt injured his arm against the Jaguars, but Watt returned to the game and is also expected to be available against the Colts.
Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys (Saturday, 8:15 EST, FOX)
Seahawks starters J.R. Sweezy and Tedric Thompson and rotational defensive end Dion Jordan all missed the Week 17 near-miss against Arizona, but the team hopes to have all three available for participation in Dallas. Fluker and Thompson could have played against the Cardinals if required; Sweezy is likely to be a game-day decision in Dallas. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin hurt his ankle against the Cardinals; Pete Carroll said this morningthat Griffin was fine after the game, but the injury stiffened overnight. Still, the Seahawks hope that he will improve as the week progresses and be available for their playoff opener.
Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and guard Xavier Su'a-Filo had injury scares in the meaningless regular-season finale against the Giants, but the team believes that both players are fine. Offensive linemen Zack Martin and Tyron Smith were held out of the Giants game, but both are expected to play against Seattle. The Cowboys expect everybody other than David Irving to practice on Tuesday, making Irving the only player whose status appears to be in question for Saturday night.
Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (Sunday, 1:05 EST, CBS)
Chargers linebacker Jatavis Brown left Sunday's win over the Denver Broncos with an unspecified ankle injury and his status for Sunday's game against the Ravens appears to be genuinely questionable. He is, however, the only Chargers player on the active roster who is currently in danger of missing the game. That active roster has been bolstered by the return of tight end Hunter Henry, who tore his ACL in May. The team expects Henry to be available against the Ravens, though it may be too much to expect a full snap count in his first game in over a calendar year. Melvin Gordon, who left Sunday's game with a knee injury, is expected to be available as usual; his absence appears to have been precautionary, with the Chargers having no chance of improving their playoff seeding.
Ravens guard Alex Lewis is the only absentee from their starting lineup; Lewis has missed four consecutive games with a shoulder injury. Even Lewis was a full participant in the team's final regular-season practice, along with every other player on the 53-man roster.
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (Sunday, 4:40 EST, NBC)
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles caused quite a commotion when he left Sunday's blowout win in Washington with a rib injury, but Foles appears to have suffered only bruising. He expects to be available for the team's visit to Chicago. Foles will almost certainly start because No. 1 quarterback Carson Wentz has a stress fracture in his back. The team hopes that Wentz will be able to play if they advance far enough in the playoffs, but even another Super Bowl run would probably not afford Wentz enough time to heal adequately; Foles and Nate Sudfeld will probably be the two active quarterbacks again on Sunday night. Receiver Mike Wallace has returned to the active roster after recovering from a broken leg, but Doug Pederson considers Wallace a "long shot" to suit up in Chicago. Cornerback Sidney Jones has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury, which puts him right in line with the usual two- to four-week recovery period, but Pederson still considers Jones "day-to-day." Guard Isaac Seumalo will have his practice participation increased as the week progresses, in hopes that he will be able to handle the increased workload; his pectoral injury still has him considered questionable at the beginning of the week.
Bears receivers Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel both left Sunday's victory over the Vikings with injuries. Miller's was the most obvious, and probably the more severe: he very obviously re-dislocated his shoulder while running with the ball, and the television broadcast clearly showed the medical team's attempt to "reduce" (pop back in) the dislocated joint in the tunnel as he left for the locker room. Miller was already wearing a harness, which was evidently insufficient, and will almost certainly require surgery to repair the injured soft tissue. The team does still expect to have him available through the playoffs, again wearing a harness to theoretically secure the joint, with any surgery postponed until the team's season is over. Taylor Gabriel injured his ribs, but he is expected to be fine. The same is true of Allen Robinson, who was held out of Sunday's game as a precaution, as well as safety Eddie Jackson and edge rusher Aaron Lynch.
Kansas City Chiefs: Safety Eric Berry remains a long-term absentee as the team carefully manages his return from last season's Achilles tendon rupture. Berry has been listed with an ankle injury for most of the season, and was held out of Sunday's win against the Raiders, but he had practiced in full until the final practice of the week and does hope to play in two weeks' time. Spencer Ware was inactive again after injuring his hamstring against the Ravens, but his absence was likely precautionary. Sammy Watkins continues to rehabilitate his foot injury, and his status for the divisional round is unclear. Guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has been activated from injured reserve, and has a chance to return for that game. Defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi left Sunday's game with a head injury and enters the league concussion protocol, but has a good chance to clear the protocol with the additional rest week.
New England Patriots: Safety Devin McCourty injured his head in a collision with teammate Dont'a Hightower against the Jets. McCourty was ruled out later in the game, but no reports have confirmed whether that means he is in the league's mandatory concussion protocol. Either way, he is expected to be available following the team's playoff bye. Kick returner and offensive "gadget" player Cordarrelle Patterson missed Week 17 with a knee injury, but he is likewise expected to be fine after the bye.
New Orleans Saints:The Saints rested anybody and everybody from their offense against the Panthers, including most of their starting offensive linemen. Andrus Peat injured his hand and left the game, but no update is yet available; Peat's absence after the injury may have been precautionary. The Saints hope to be at full strength, minus only long-term absentee Patrick Robinson, in their playoff game.
Los Angeles Rams: Todd Gurley has been held out of the last two games with swelling in his knee, more-than-ably deputized by C.J. Anderson, but everybody expects him to return after the team's bye. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth clashed knees with another player and was removed from the team's big win over the 49ers, but his status for the playoffs is not in jeopardy.