This post contains affiliate links. “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
Week 17 of the NFL season is here. Six teams have already won a spot after the season, leaving eight remaining playoff spots. While teams try to make a push in the late season, they have to deal with injuries and players in COVID-19 protocols.
The Minnesota Vikings will not have receiver Adam Thielen for the rest of the season as he was placed on the injured reserve list after undergoing ankle surgery. Quarterback Kirk Cousins will miss Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers after being placed on the reserve / COVID-19 list on Friday. On a positive note, runner-up Dalvin Cook returned to the team this week after being on the list.
The Indianapolis Colts activated quarterback Carson Wentz from the reserve / COVID-19 list on Saturday, making him available to start against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. He had been in the league’s coronavirus protocols for most of the week after testing positive for COVID-19.
The Baltimore Ravens saw quarterback Lamar Jackson return to training on Wednesday, but his status for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams is still questionable after a lack of training on Thursday and Friday. He has missed the last two games due to an ankle injury he sustained in Week 14 against the Cleveland Browns. The Kansas City Chiefs got tight-end Travis Kelce back from the reserve / COVID-19 list this week, but runback Clyde Edwards-Helaire is out Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals due to a shoulder injury.
Our NFL reporters have the latest injury and COVID-19 updates for big name players heading into 16 games.
Schedule | Depth charts | PickCenter
Moreau, one of Falcon’s starting cornerbacks, is in doubt after not practicing all week with a rib injury. Given that Atlanta is facing one of the better passing attacks in the league, the Falcons may have some issues if Moreau does not play. They could turn to rookie Darren Hall or veteran Kendall Sheffield, who played over 60% of the defensive snaps in 2019 and 2020, but has not played a poor defense this season, to replace Moreau. – Michael Rothstein
Jackson is officially listed as questionable, but he has had that designation for the past two weeks and has not played. When Jackson returned to training on Wednesday – his first time on the track in 17 days – he limped badly and had trouble jogging himself. Sunday’s game against the Rams is basically a must-win, and the Ravens could really use Jackson. But there has been a tendency for Tyler Huntley to start in the last few days. – Jamison Hensley
Sanders missed the Bills’ win over the Carolina Panthers two weeks ago with a knee sprain, but returned for the win over the New England Patriots in Week 16. After being limited in walk-thru Wednesday, Sanders missed training on Thursday and Friday with a knee. damage. He is officially questionable for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. If he can not go, Bills ‘wide receiver group will get a boost from Cole Beasley’s and Gabriel Davis’ return from the reserve / COVID-19 list.
Oliver was restricted all week with an ankle injury and is doubtful for the match against the Falcons. He appears to be more likely to walk than Sanders, but should he miss his first game of the season, the Bills will be one of their best defensive linemen. Oliver has put together a strong season and has been disruptively consistent. – Alaina Getzenberg
Smith has missed five games this season with a left ankle problem, but he underwent a full week of training and has no injury designation for Sunday’s game. That’s a plus for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that Cardinals star passer Rush Chandler Jones will be up against him. Smith has played well when he is healthy and has been given a Pro Bowl spot. His return plus the growing confidence in the entire offense coming from the Washington game has the Cowboys in a good spot. Mike McCarthy said this could be just as healthy of a team as he has had in his career so late in the season when he does not take the reserve / COVID-19 list into account. – Todd Archer
Goff is listed as doubtful for the Lions’ last road game of the regular season in Seattle with a knee injury. Goff missed training this week and backup Tim Boyle is set to start again if he is unable to play. This may be the second game in a row that Goff misses when he did not play last week against Atlanta after testing positive for COVID-19. – Eric Woodyard
Carr was injured on a strip sack last week. He did not miss a snatch in the fight after walking in the blue medical tent. He did not miss training all week, and interim coach Rich Bisaccia said Carr “looked good.”
Still, Raiders backed up Marcus Mariota from the reserve / COVID-19 list last Friday. So if the ribs flare up against the Colts, Las Vegas has more of a double threat at its disposal in Mariota than it did with Nathan Peterman. – Paul Gutierrez
Agholor will miss his second match in a row as he has already been ruled out. He did not train all week as a result of the blow he took from Colts LB Darius Leonard in a loss on December 18th. N’Keal Harry, the 2019 first-round pick who has not lived up to expectations for his draft spot, was his best replacement last week. It will be exciting to see if the Patriots explore other options this week after Harry had a hard fall last week. – Mike Reiss
Williams has proven to be one of the NFL’s best free throws and a key to the Saints’ excellent defense (which is why they used the franchise badge on him this year). Unfortunately, he is out to be placed on the reserve / COVID-19 list. The good news is that the Saints have good depth in safety with Malcolm Jenkins, CJ Gardner-Johnson and PJ Williams.
McCoy is out to be placed in COVID-19 protocols, another big blow to New Orleans’ exhausted offensive line. The group has struggled this year due to a rash of injuries to tackle Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk and guard Andrus Peat. Armstead has a chance to return from his knee injury this week (he is questionable). Veteran backup Will Clapp is likely to replace McCoy at either center or guard, with second-year pro Cesar Ruiz manning second place. – Mike Triplett
Crowder is expected to miss his second game in a row, meaning Braxton Berrios will once again play a significant role as slot receiver. Berrios had six goals and five catches last week. Rookie WR Elijah Moore (quad) remains on injured reserve after an early week of hopes he would be activated. All that means rookie QB Zach Wilson will be without his three starting receivers again. – Rig Cimini
Howard is doubtful for the Washington fight after being limited in practice most of the week with a stinger. Coach Nick Sirianni expressed optimism that he will be able to play. With Miles Sanders out with a broken hand, there will likely be bigger roles in store for Boston Scott and rookie Kenneth Gainwell. – Tim McManus
Garoppolo is officially listed as doubtful for Sunday against the Texans as he works his way back from an injury to his right thumb. Coach Kyle Shanahan declined to name rookie Trey Lance as the starter, saying the team decided to rest Garoppolo all week before testing his thumb on Saturday. The team’s quarterback decision will be made depending on how it goes. Nate Sudfeld will be called up from the training team as an additional quarterback insurance. – Nick Wagoner
Mitchell finally returned to training this week and took enough steps toward a return to being listed as questionable for Sunday against Houston. Coach Kyle Shanahan said Mitchell had a good week and appears to be heading towards playing and having a role in the attack.
“We want to play Elijah as much as he can handle, so it’s about seeing him, seeing how his legs work, communicating with him, which really is Bobby. [Turner] do throughout the game, “said Shanahan.” And when he’s tired, if he goes, Bobby does not hesitate, he puts Jeff [Wilson] in there, and we have a number of guys we can put in there. ” – Nick Wagoner
The Seahawks list Collins as questionable for Sunday’s game against Detroit. He was limited in Seattle’s first two workouts of the week and a non-participant on Friday. Rashaad Penny, who has had the two best matches of his career over the last three weeks, is expected to start both ways again. But Collins’ availability affects the backfield rotation. The team also has DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer on its 53-man list. Adrian Peterson was on the Seahawks’ training team, but went straight to IR. – Brady Henderson
Evans got a sprained hamstring in week 15 and missed last week’s training. He was also placed on the reserve / COVID-19 list this week, but came from Friday and trained with the team in a limited capacity. He is officially questionable until Sunday. Remember – the long-term goal is his return to health for the off-season. If they can beat the Jets without him, then why risk it?
Bucs interim head coach Harold Goodwin said Brown tweaked his ankle last week in his 10-catch, 101-yard receiving performance against the Panthers. I participated in Wednesday’s review, but sat out Thursday and Friday training. The injury had already put him on the shelf for several weeks this season. He is doubtful for Sunday. Like Evans, his health for the off-season is a priority, and they need to balance that with the desire to try to move up in seeding. However, there is no doubt about how big his influence is on the third attempt. – Jenna Laine
Samuel is listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury, another issue he has had to deal with in what has become a lost season for him. With so many injured players, Washington could use a lot more from Samuel. He was limited in training this week and was not among the receivers who caught passes in the red zone on Friday – often a sign of who should play a role on Sunday. Samuel did not play in last Sunday’s defeat in Dallas. – John Keim