Week 9 of the NFL season is here, and there has been some huge injury news this week.
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery for a foot injury he suffered in Week 8 against the Indianapolis Colts. The Green Bay Packers are without quarterback Aaron Rodgers for their showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs after Rodgers tested positive for COVID-19. Green Bay will, however, get its top receiver back this week, as Davante Adams was back at practice after missing last week because of a positive COVID-19 test.
There’s good news for quarterbacks, specifically in Texas. Dak Prescott is set to start for the Dallas Cowboys after missing last week’s game with a calf injury. Tyrod Taylor was named the starter for the Houston Texans after missing the previous six games with a hamstring injury. In another positive development, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey designated him for return from reserve. If activated, he could take the field for the first time since Week 2.
As you prepare for the weekend of NFL football, our reporters have the latest updates on key players and their health entering Week 9.
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The Ravens listed two of their top three wide receivers as questionable: Bateman (groin) and Sammy Watkins (hamstring). It looks like Bateman is the safer option to play against the Vikings. After he didn’t practice Friday, coach John Harbaugh said the rookie first-round pick “has a real good chance” to play. Harbaugh was more vague about the status of Watkins, who has missed the past two games. Bateman could put up some significant numbers against the Vikings, who allowed 100-yard games to two Cowboys wide receivers a week ago. — Jamison Hensley
Beasley is questionable for Sunday’s game, but coach Sean McDermott expressed optimism when it came to his status vs. the Jaguars. He did not participate in practice Wednesday and Thursday, but he was limited Friday while wearing a noncontact jersey at practice. It’s trending up for him to be available this week.
Knox will miss a second straight game with a hand injury suffered in the team’s loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 6. He did not practice this week. Tommy Sweeney filled in well as a blocker in Knox’s absence and will do so again this week, but he has not been much of a receiving threat.
Poyer, part of the Bills’ dominant starting safety duo, suffered a shoulder injury in practice Wednesday. He didn’t participate Thursday but was limited Friday. McDermott said that they would need to see how he did during practice Friday, but he is officially questionable for the game. — Alaina Getzenberg
Injury: Concussion, shoulder
The shoulder is just as much a concern for Darnold as the concussion. If he is cleared from the concussion protocol, there’s a good chance he’s at least the backup to PJ Walker this week. Darnold could possibly start if cleared, but there is real worry over the strength in the shoulder. Walker has also gotten most of the first-team reps. In addition, running back Christian McCaffrey will be evaluated Saturday to determine if he comes off injured reserve after missing five games because of a hamstring injury. Even if he comes off IR, the final decision on him will be at game time, and even then he’d likely be on a pitch count. — David Newton
Injury: Dislocated elbow
Cleveland’s All-Pro right tackle will miss the first of several games because of the elbow dislocation he suffered Sunday vs. Pittsburgh. Blake Hance will get the start in his place in Cincinnati. — Jake Trotter
Smith has been ruled out because of an ankle injury he aggravated last week at Minnesota. Terence Steele, who started the past six games at right tackle, will side into Smith’s role and La’el Collins will go back to his familiar right tackle spot. Dak Prescott will be back after missing a game with a calf strain, but the Cowboys do not feel compromised without Smith because of how well Steele has fared on the right side. And there’s this: Denver traded Von Miller this week. Receivers Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb are questionable but both are expected to play. — Todd Archer
The Broncos traded Von Miller on Monday and Bradley Chubb is on injured reserve, so any injury to Reed, the guy who has filled in for each Miller and Chubb in the past three seasons, is going to cause a ripple in the defence. Reed was held out of Friday’s practice, and the Broncos want to see how he moves in Saturday’s on-field work before they go to Dallas. If Reed can’t play against the Cowboys, get ready to see plenty of rookie Jonathon Cooper and Stephen Weatherly, whom the Broncos acquired in a trade two weeks ago, at the two outside linebacker spots. — Jeff Legwold
Coach Urban Meyer said Robinson would move around a bit on the practice field on Friday and the team will see how his bruised right heel responds on Saturday and Sunday. Robinson, who got hurt last week in Seattle, did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, though he was out on the field. — Michael DiRocco
This comes with a caveat as Simpson and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (neck) were the only two Raiders players listed on the team’s injury report this week, and neither had a game status designation after being full participants all week. Physically, it is the healthiest the Raiders, who are coming off their bye, have been all season. But if Simpson tweaks his injured knee again, expect Jordan Simmons to spell him. Same with Darius Philon when it comes to Hankins. — Paul Gutierrez
Injury: Hamstring, shoulder
Dolphins coach Brian Flores said Friday that Parker recently suffered a setback to an injury that kept him out of three of Miami’s past four games. The wide receiver apparently reaggravated the injury in practice this week and was placed on the injured reserve list Friday. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Pierce didn’t have a setback in practice, according to coach Mike Zimmer, but he won’t play against Baltimore after being downgraded from limited to DNP on Thursday and Friday. Against the Ravens’ potent rushing attack, which is averaging the league’s third-highest output at 149.4 rushing yards per game, Minnesota will need to rely on backup nose tackle Armon Watts in Pierce’s place and could also be without linebacker Anthony Barr, who is questionable with a knee injury, as is cornerback Cameron Dantzler (ankle). — Courtney Cronin
Jackson, who is tied for the team lead with three interceptions, missed the first two practices of the week because of illness. The Patriots are already thin at cornerback — a hot topic this week because they face Stephon Gilmore, whom they traded to the Panthers on Oct. 6. If Jackson can’t play Sunday, it would likely thrust 2019 second-round pick Joejuan Williams into a starting role opposite Jalen Mills. — Mike Reiss
This isn’t exactly breaking news since Winston suffered a season-ending ACL tear last Sunday. But this will be the Saints’ first game without him. Coach Sean Payton announced Friday that veteran backup Trevor Siemian would get the start against the Atlanta Falcons, with Taysom Hill also playing a role on offense after returning from a concussion this week. Siemian did an impressive job of filling in during last week’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the Saints (5-2) will continue to rely most heavily on their defense and run game — as they have all season while ranking 31st in the NFL in passing yards. — Mike Triplett
Kittle has been on injured reserve for the past four weeks, missing three games in the process. But he returned to practice this week and made it through the three days without any issue. The Niners are activating him from injured reserve, which means he will play against the Cardinals. How much? Well, coach Kyle Shanahan doesn’t like the idea of limiting Kittle if he’s healthy and available, which it appears he is.
“When a guy’s not healthy, you’ve always got to [manage them],” Shanahan said. “But I haven’t heard of people managing a tight end, especially one like Kittle. Tight ends go. They play every play usually.”
Samuel has been the focal point of San Francisco’s offense all season but played through his calf issue last week in Chicago and came out the other side a bit worse for the wear. This week, Samuel has been limited in practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday against Arizona. Samuel struck an optimistic tone when talking about his injury on Friday, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to play.
“As days went by, it kind of gets better day by day, so we’ve just been taking it slow and just see how it goes,” Samuel said.
Mitchell suffered the injury during his 137-yard outburst last week, and it has been painful enough to keep him out of Wednesday’s practice and limit him on Thursday and Friday. Mitchell wore a blue no-contact jersey in both of those sessions. He’s officially listed as questionable for Sunday, and Shanahan indicated that Mitchell’s status is uncertain enough for Sunday that running back Jeff Wilson Jr. could be activated from the physically unable to perform list earlier than the team hoped.
“That is only three practices, but he looked as good and ready as he could be,” Shanahan said of Wilson. “So, from a health standpoint and everything, there’s no question on that. Ideally, in a perfect world, we could give him a couple more practices, too. But with Elijah being questionable and the way he looked this week, that’s why it’s an issue.” — Nick Wagoner
Brown didn’t practice on Friday and is listed as questionable because of a knee injury. Brown was in and out of the Iineup last season because of knee injuries. He had a procedure done on both knees during the offseason and missed some of training camp. The Titans will continue to manage the pounding on Brown’s knees going forward. — Turron Davenport