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2017 NFL – Biggest injury questions for all 32 teams in Week 17

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NFL Nation reporters assess the biggest injuries across the league for Week 17.

NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West
AFC East | AFC North| AFC South | AFC West


NFC EAST

According to Jason Garrett, if a player is healthy enough to play, he will play Sunday against the Eagles — despite nothing being on the line. But don’t expect left tackle Tyron Smith to play. He lasted three snaps last week against Seattle before realizing his sprained right knee could not hold up. Byron Bell will start for Smith, who has dealt with back, groin and hip injuries. So there is no reason for him to risk further injury. Right tackle La’el Collins and linebacker Anthony Hitchens have been managed through the week as they dealt with injuries and they are expected to play as well. — Todd Archer

Tight end Evan Engram (ribs) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (neck) left last week’s loss to the Cardinals early. They were at practice Wednesday and stretched before heading off to the side and onto the stationary bikes. The Giants’ top two weapons might be a stretch to be ready by Sunday for the finale in a 2-13 season. — Jordan Raanan

Wednesday’s practice report is only an estimation since it was a walk-through, but defensive end Brandon Graham was listed as a nonparticipant. With the No. 1 seed locked up, the Eagles can afford to rest players in the regular-season finale against the Cowboys. Graham is a good candidate. — Tim McManus

All of Washington’s injured players have mostly been shut down for the season, but there are some questions at linebacker. Zach Brown is unlikely to play Sunday against the Giants with an Achilles/knee issue, and rookie Ryan Anderson might play despite sitting out again because of a knee injury. Without Brown, Washington would start a combo of Zach Vigil and Martrell Spaight. Vigil’s ability to communicate well has helped the defense and Spaight has been solid. Anderson has been a backup all season. — John Keim

NFC NORTH

Right tackle Bobby Massie was held out of Wednesday’s practice because of a knee injury he suffered in last week’s win over Cleveland. Massie missed only one game since the Bears signed him in the 2016 offseason, but the veteran is a question mark for the regular-season finale at Minnesota. Starting guard Josh Sitton was the only other player to sit out Wednesday because of an ankle injury. Sitton is doubtful to play again in 2017. The team holds an option worth up to $8 million on Sitton for 2018. — Jeff Dickerson

Cornerback Nevin Lawson (concussion) still did not practice Wednesday, so monitoring his progress for the regular-season finale will be something to watch. So, too, will be T.J. Lang‘s foot injury. At this point, the Lions have to make decisions on whether it is worth it to risk the health of some guys heading into the offseason versus playing a little bit more. — Michael Rothstein

It looks as if the Packers will be without both Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson for the season finale against the Lions. Although coach Mike McCarthy hasn’t ruled either of them out yet, Adams remains in the concussion protocol, and even if he’s cleared, why would the Packers risk playing him after his third concussion in 14 months? Nelson did not practice because of a shoulder injury. A third receiver, Geronimo Allison went home sick Wednesday, leaving the team thin at the position. — Rob Demovsky

The Vikings signed long snapper Jeff Overbaugh on Tuesday after Kevin McDermott dislocated his left shoulder against the Packers. Defensive tackle Shamar Stephen missed practice Wednesday because of the ankle injury he sustained in Green Bay, as did cornerback Tramaine Brock (foot) and center Pat Elflein (shoulder). Elflein’s shoulder injury held him out of practice ahead of the Carolina game and kept him limited for two days last week. Kyle Rudolph is still battling an injured ankle from the Panthers game but has been able to play the past two games. — Courtney Cronin

NFC SOUTH

Tight end Levine Toilolo injured a knee — but no tear — in last week’s loss to the Saints and was held out of practice Wednesday. It might not look like a big loss on paper, but Toilolo has established a niche as a pretty solid blocker while breaking free for an occasional catch. If Toilolo can’t go, then rookie Eric Saubert, who has been battling a back injury, would have to step in as the second tight end behind Austin Hooper. — Vaughn McClure

Guard Trai Turner was back working with the first team in practice Wednesday after missing the past two games because of a concussion. Barring a setback, the Pro Bowler should be cleared from concussion protocol in time for Sunday’s game at Atlanta. Wide receiver Russell Shepard, who missed last week’s game because of a shoulder injury, also should be back. He’ll help fill the role of Damiere Byrd, who suffered a season-ending leg injury in the win over Tampa Bay. — David Newton

Wide receiver Michael Thomas was limited in Wednesday’s practice, saying the team wants to be “smart” about his workload after a hamstring injury limited him to 40 snaps this past Sunday. Thomas said he “felt good” after playing through the injury, which he had suffered at the end of last Friday’s practice. So chances are he’ll be close to full speed by this Sunday. Meanwhile, fellow receiver Brandon Coleman missed Wednesday’s practice because of a neck injury and left tackle Terron missed because of a thigh injury, leaving their status uncertain. — Mike Triplett

The Bucs could really use some healthy defensive lineman to help combat the Saints’ offensive attack. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will continue playing through a partially-torn bicep, and defensive end Robert Ayers returned to practice this week but was limited with a shoulder stinger and defensive end Ryan Russell has been limited by a shoulder injury. On the other side of the ball, DeSean Jackson returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis, but rookie wide receiver Chris Godwin (ankle) and tight end Cameron Brate (knee/hip) were both missing in action. — Jenna Laine

NFC WEST

After catching his first touchdown pass since Week 6 this past Sunday, wide receiver John Brown missed Wednesday’s practice because of turf toe, the same injury that caused him to miss four games recently. Brown’s injury-ravaged season adds to an injury-ravaged last few years. His future with the franchise could come down to his ability to stay healthy, which he hasn’t been able to do lately. If he misses the season finale at Seattle, that’ll be his fifth missed game in the past six. — Josh Weinfuss

The Rams have decided to sit several of their starters for the regular-season finale against the 49ers, most notably Jared Goff, Todd Gurley II and Aaron Donald. Guys who have been banged up of late will also get a rest. That list includes inside linebackers Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron, left guard Rodger Saffold and, potentially, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who coach Sean McVay said has been dealing with some knee soreness. Veteran offensive linemen Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan also will not play. — Alden Gonzalez

Linebacker Reuben Foster missed the first meeting against the Rams because of an ankle injury and now he’s battling a shoulder stinger that has popped up in each of the past two weeks. Foster has already emerged as the heartbeat of the defense and the Niners would undoubtedly like to have him available. Coach Kyle Shanahan says Tuesday that he believes Foster will be ready to play Sunday, but he will be limited in practice this week. Having Foster at full strength would bolster San Francisco’s chances at a fifth straight win to wrap up 2017. — Nick Wagoner

The Seahawks made it out of their win over Dallas OK health-wise, save for starting left guard Luke Joeckel, who suffered a foot injury. Pete Carroll revealed that injury Monday but didn’t specify the severity. Joeckel has regularly missed practice this season to manage his surgically-repaired knee, so it won’t be the least bit surprising if he hardly practices this week or doesn’t practice at all. The Seahawks need to beat Arizona on Sunday to have any shot at making the playoffs. And considering they recently released their only backup guard who had any starting experience in their system — Mark Glowinski — they need Joeckel to be available. — Brady Henderson

AFC EAST

Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was held out of Wednesday’s practice because of his lingering knee injury, but that also happened last week and Benjamin ended up playing his best game since joining the Bills. Expect Benjamin to return to practice Thursday and play in Sunday’s finale in Miami, although he remains less than 100 percent because of a torn meniscus that he said will “probably” require surgery after the season. — Mike Rodak

Left tackle Laremy Tunsil injured his ankle last week but finished the game against the Chiefs. However, Tunsil didn’t practice Wednesday and his status is up in the air for Sunday’s game against the Bills. Without playoff implications, it’s possible Tunsil could rest for the final game. Buffalo’s defensive line could be an issue for Miami, with or without Tunsil. — James Walker

Wide receiver Chris Hogan has missed six of the past seven games because of a shoulder injury, and the Patriots could decide that the smartest play is to sit him out the regular-season finale so he can have an additional two weeks of rest heading into the playoffs. That ties into significant news from Wednesday with receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who has been on IR all season, returning to practice for the first time. Mitchell uses the Patriots’ second and final spot for an IR designated-to-return player. Now the question is whether the team will activate him to the 53-man roster. — Mike Reiss

Defensive end Leonard Williams, who is battling a lower-back injury, didn’t practice Wednesday — a rarity for him. Williams hasn’t missed a game in three seasons, so it’ll be tough to keep him out of the finale. If he sits, the defensive line will be hurting because Muhammad Wilkerson is expected to be inactive for the third straight week (coach’s decision). — Rich Cimini

AFC NORTH

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin missed practice again Wednesday. He hasn’t suited up since injuring his knee on Dec. 17. “It is a healing issue,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Jeremy has always been a quick healer, so that is a good thing. It will be maybe this game [against Cincinnati]. I think he has a chance. We will just have to see as it gets closer to game time.” Chris Moore, who had two catches for 29 yards last week, would continue to take Maclin’s spot in the starting lineup. –Jamison Hensley

The return of running back Joe Mixon and linebacker Vontaze Burfict from concussions last week didn’t last long, and neither practiced Wednesday. Burfict is out because of a shoulder injury and Mixon is out because of an ankle injury. It seems unlikely either would be rushed back for Sunday’s game against the Ravens, which has no playoff implications for the Bengals. — Katherine Terrell

The Browns had one of their top three cornerbacks limited and one missed practice Wednesday. Briean Boddy-Calhoun was limited because of a shoulder issue and Taylor missed practice because of a foot injury. Any issue with corners will be significant against Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday in Pittsburgh. — Pat McManamon

Antonio Brown (calf) continues to miss practices, but teammates are confident he’ll be back for the divisional round as he rehabs vigorously in Pittsburgh. Center Maurkice Pouncey (hip) missed Wednesday’s practice and could be a candidate to sit out this weekend’s Browns game with the Steelers having already locked up a No. 2 seed. Otherwise, the team is healthy for the stretch run. — Jeremy Fowler

AFC SOUTH

Cornerback Kevin Johnson, who left Monday’s game because of a knee injury, does have a chance to play against the Colts, according to coach Bill O’Brien. If he can’t return, rookie cornerback Treston Decoud could get more playing time. — Sarah Barshop

Donte Moncrief was limited in practice Wednesday. The fourth-year receiver has missed the past three games because of an ankle injury. Sunday’s finale against the Texans will be his last chance to prove his value to the franchise before becoming a free agent. Injuries and lack of consistency have hurt Moncrief, who was demoted to the No. 3 receiver during his time with the Colts. He has missed 10 games over the past two seasons due to injuries and is tied for only third on the team in receptions this season with 26. — Mike Wells

Wide receivers Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee are still dealing with ankle injuries, though Hurns was able to practice on a limited basis Wednesday. The Jaguars won’t rush either back since they need them both healthy for the playoffs, but coach Doug Marrone did say Hurns’ condition is trending upward in terms of his availability against the Titans on Sunday. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he plays, but a full load would be unlikely since he hasn’t played since injuring his ankle on Nov. 12. Lee hasn’t practiced since he hurt his ankle on Dec. 17, so his return probably will come in the playoffs. — Mike DiRocco

Running back DeMarco Murray has a knee injury that a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter is an MCL tear. Murray didn’t practice Wednesday. The Titans are expecting him to be a game-time decision against the Jaguars on Sunday, but there’s a good chance that this could be a first look at the full Derrick Henry show. The Titans are 7-0 this season when Henry has at least 10 carries. Top cornerback Logan Ryan (ankle) is the other injury to watch, but the Titans expect him back on the practice field toward the end of this week. They hope he can get hm for the finale. — Cameron Wolfe

AFC WEST

With wide receiver Demaryius Thomas hoping to finish with at least 108 yards receiving in Sunday’s season finale against Kansas City so he can notch a sixth consecutive 1,000-yard season, the Broncos are potentially thin at the position. Emmanuel Sanders (ankle) and Cody Latimer (thigh) both missed last weekend’s loss to Washington — neither even made the trip — and both did not practice Wednesday. Without one or both in the lineup, Thomas figures to see an almost constant diet of double teams, even if the Chiefs play plenty of backups. — Jeff Legwold

Backup running back Akeem Hunt injured his shoulder last week against Miami but was a full practice participant Wednesday, meaning he should be available against the Broncos. Hunt should get a bigger workload as the Chiefs plan to sit several of their key players, and starting running back Kareem Hunt probably will be one of them. That would mean the running back snaps would go to Akeem Hunt and Charcandrick West. — Adam Teicher

Running back Melvin Gordon did not practice Wednesday. Coach Anthony Lynn said Gordon is day-to-day and his status for Sunday’s game against the Raiders won’t be known until Friday at the earliest. However, asked how his ankle was feeling, Gordon said he was good and he would be ready to play this weekend. — Eric D. Williams

Cornerback David Amerson has not played since Oct. 19 because of a foot sprain. “I feel good now, but it doesn’t really matter now,” Amerson said Wednesday. “It’s a little too late.” Too late for a playoff push, anyway, as the Raiders were eliminated from the postseason last weekend. But not too late, potentially, for Amerson to help Oakland try and contain the Chargers’ powerful passing attack with wide receiver Keenan Allen, and potentially knock their division rivals out of the postseason race. Coach Jack Del Rio was still holding out hope that Amerson, who had missed only two games in his career before this season, could suit up against the Chargers. — Paul Gutierrez



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