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Injury Wrap: Ray Rice doubtful, Bernard Pierce ready

Scott Pianowski
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Weekend with Bernie (USAT)

We had it easy in the Week 1 and Week 2 walkups. This go-around looks like a mess. We'll start with the running backs, then hit the other positions.

The Ravens list Ray Rice (hip) as doubtful, and for our purposes that means he's a non-entity for Week 3. Bernard Pierce looks like a terrific plug-and-play in Rice's place, even against the Houston defense. Some will call Pierce a RB2 for this week, but look around the league with all the injuries - this is a Top 10 guy for me. Unless you're loaded at the position, go ahead and use him.

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The Lions backfield remains complicated, as Reggie Bush (knee) and Joique Bell both saw first-team reps Friday. I'm guessing this could be close to a 50-50 timeshare on Sunday at Washington, and we can't ignore the laundry list of injuries Bush has already encountered in 2013.

• Le'Veon Bell (foot) took full reps Thursday and Friday and might return to action this week. He's officially listed as questionable. With the Steelers locked into a Sunday night game, I'd try to avoid this situation if at all possible.

The Colts plan to use Trent Richardson at San Francisco and the Browns say Willis McGahee will dress at Minnesota. I'd prefer safer options in both cases, and would only start either back if I didn't have reasonable alternatives. The playing-time downside concerns me.

The X-rays on LeSean McCoy's ankle came back clean, a sigh of relief. He'll enjoy the extra rest time in advance of Week 4's game against Denver.

• Maurice Jones-Drew (ankle) missed two days of practice before coming back for a partial day Friday. He's considered questionable, and I can't see using him at Seattle. The fallback runners are Jordan Todman and Justin Forsett.

• Mark Ingram (toe) missed the full week of practice and probably won't go against Arizona. Even if he's in uniform, you can't expect anything here.

Giovani Bernard (hamstring) didn't have a full practice Thursday but there's nothing to suggest he won't play against Green Bay.

• Eddie Lacy (post concussion) isn't expected to play this week, then the Packers have a Week 4 bye. James Starks is ready to go.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

• Brandon Marshall (back) practiced in full Friday and is expected to go Sunday night against Pittsburgh. The Steelers counter with Ike Taylor, but I'd nonetheless start Marshall anywhere I could.

The Texans are listing Andre Johnson (post concussion) as probable, and he practiced in full Thursday and Friday. Good enough for us. Use him as you normally would.

• Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) was at practice Friday and should be able to play against New Orleans. The Cardinals also had Rashard Mendenhall (toe) at the final practice of the week.

• Mike Wallace (groin) had a limited Friday workout and the Dolphins are listing him as questionable. Context clues point to him starting against Atlanta, but double check the news wave on game day.

A tricky day for T.Y. Hilton (groin) - he had a limited practice and was initially called a game-time decision, but now the Colts are listing him as probable. Their Sunday game is a late start at San Francisco, just to make things more complicated. While I expect the Niners to control this game, I am not afraid of the San Francisco pass defense.

• Rob Gronkowski (forearm/back) had a week of limited practices and the always-helpful Patriots are listing him as questionable. Given the leaguewide depth at this position, I'd wait a week on Gronk, even if he is active Sunday.

• Heath Miller (knee) is listed as probable for the Sunday nighter against Chicago, though he might be on a snap count. The Steelers desperately need playmakers in their passing game. Miller isn't an overlord at the position, but he's always had an excellent rapport with Ben Roethlisberger.

• Vernon Davis (hamstring) is listed as questionable and will probably be a game-time decision. It's a late start, so you need to have a caddy ready.

• Malcom Floyd (neck) is expected to miss around a month, according to Fox Sports. Slot machine Eddie Royal gets a bump from the news, albeit he has a different role than Floyd. Vincent Brown has been quiet thus far but figures to come around eventually. The Chargers visit Tennessee on Sunday.

• Leonard Hankerson (hamstring) was hurt in Thursday's practice and is considered questionable.

Other Positions

• Ryan Tannehill (shoulder) sat out Wednesday's practice but was fine the rest of the week. He's fully expected to start against Atlanta.

• Blaine Gabbert (hand) is out for another week. Good luck at Seattle, Jaguars.

• Kai Forbath (groin) is out for another week. John Potter kicks in his place.

Two Super Bowl favorites lost their left tackles: Ryan Clady is out for the year in Denver, while Russell Okung is expected to miss two months in Seattle.

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