Ben Roethlisberger. (Getty Images)
We begin our look at the NFL injury situation with the final injury reports before Thursday night's New Orleans Saints-Atlanta Falcons game. Five Saints were ruled out, including wide receiver Courtney Roby (ankle), offensive tackle Charles Brown (knee) and defensive linemen Junior Galette (ankle) and Tom Johnson (back). The absence of Brown is compounded by the "questionable" status of right tackle Zach Strief, who has a groin injury that has kept him out of the last three weeks. If Strief cannot play, Will Robinson will start at right tackle. For the Falcons, cornerback Asante Samuel (shoulder) and defensive tackle Peria Jerry (knee) are "questionable" after not practicing at all this week.
Good news for the Pittsburgh Steelers as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (right shoulder) returned to practice on a limited basis, while wide receiver Antonio Brown (ankle) and safety Troy Polamalu (calf) practiced fully on Wednesday. While Roethlisberger threw during practice, Charlie Batch is likely to make a second consecutive start when the Steelers take on the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. The Ravens ruled out cornerback Jimmy Smith (abdomen) and practiced without wide receiver Jacoby Jones (ankle), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (ankle/knee) and tight end Ed Dickson (knee), while wide receiver Torrey Smith (thigh) and safeties Ed Reed (shoulder) and Bernard Pollard (chest) were limited.
Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray practiced on a limited basis after missing the last six games with a foot injury. Wide receiver Miles Austin (hip) and offensive tackle Tyron Smith (ankle) were limited, while the Cowboys practiced with running back Felix Jones (knee), nose tackle Jay Ratliff (groin) and cornerback Orlando Scandrick (hand) missed practiced. Scandrick underwent surgery on his left hand will miss six-to-eight weeks. For the Philadelphia Eagles, quarterback Michael Vick and running back LeSean McCoy were absent as they remain in the league's concussion protocol process. First-round defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was also absent due to a tailbone injury, while left tackle King Dunlap was limited with a knee injury.
An extra few days were not enough for six New England Patriots to practice on Wednesday. Tight end Rob Gronkowski (forearm/hip), first-round defensive end Chandler Jones (ankle), and 60 percent of the starting offensive line — Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins (ankle/calf), right tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee) and right guard Dan Connolly (back) — were absent on Wednesday. Twelve Patriots were limited, including wide receivers Wes Welker (ankle) and Brandon Lloyd (knee), tight end Aaron Hernandez (ankle), linebackers Brandon Spikes (knee) and Dont'a Hightower (hamstring). The most notable injury for the Miami Dolphins was fullback Jorvorskie Lane, who missed practice with a knee injury.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb (ribs) was limited on Wednesday, but is not expected to play against the New York Jets this week. Defensive end Calais Campbell (calf) and running back Chris Wells (knee) were also limited, while wide receiver Andre Roberts did not practice due to an ankle injury. Meanwhile, Jets quarterback Tim Tebow (ribs), linebacker Bart Scott (toe), nose tackle Sione Po'uha (back) and wide receivers Jeremy Kerley (heel/hamstring) and Chaz Schilens (concussion/hip) were also limited.
The Kansas City Chiefs were without left tackle Branden Albert (back), linebacker Tamba Hali (knee), center Ryan Lilja (knee) and wide receiver Dexter McCluster (head) as they began preparations for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers, who conducted a walkthrough on Wednesday, estimating that cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (not injury related) and running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle) would not have participated in a full practice.
Notable injuries for the Cincinnati Bengals were cornerback Terence Newman (shoulder) and defensive tackle Pat Sims (thigh), who were limited. The San Diego Chargers practiced without linebacker Donald Butler (groin), wide receiver Eddie Royal (hamstring) and safety Darrell Stuckey (hamstring). Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle (concussion) was among five Chargers who were limited.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden (head) practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday and appears on track to play against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
"We're moving ahead with Brandon,'' head coach Pat Shurmur said via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
The Raiders practiced without defensive tackle Richard Seymour (knee/hamstring), and linebacker Rolando McClain, whose absence was not injury-related and could mark the end of his tenure with the team. Raiders running backs Darren McFadden, Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones were limited in practice with ankle injuries.
Six Houston Texans missed practice on Wednesday, including defensive end J.J. Watt (illness), linebacker Brooks Reed (groin) and cornerback Johnathan Joseph (hamstring). Watt is expected to play on Sunday, while Joseph is expected to be a game-time decision for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans. In addition to the six players out of Wednesday's practice, seven Texans were limited, most notably running back Arian Foster (not injury related), wide receiver Andre Johnson (groin), tight end Owen Daniels (back), defensive end Antonio Smith (ankle) and nose tackle Shaun Cody (ribs/back). The Titans practiced without middle linebacker Colin McCarthy (concussion) and defensive end Derrick Morgan (knee).
McCarthy, who had been bothered by an ankle injury all season, developed concussion symptoms following last Sunday's loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"It's one of those things where he seems to be getting better and seems to be fine, but I don't know how that will all work out," head coach Mike Munchak said of McCarthy's injury according to John Glennon of The Tennessean.
The Detroit Lions practiced without defensive end Cliff Avril (back), safety Louis Delmas (knee) and defensive tackle Corey Williams (knee), while the offense did not have left tackle Jeff Backus (hamstring) and running back Mikel Leshoure (ankle). Wide receiver Calvin Johnson (thumb), cornerback Chris Houston (ankle) and guard Rob Sims (hamstring) were limited, but could play on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) was among five Jacksonville Jaguars to miss practice on Wednesday, a group that includes defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (calf) and cornerback Derek Cox (hamstring). Cornerback Rashean Mathis (groin) and fullback Greg Jones (thigh) were limited. The Buffalo Bills practiced without defensive ends Mark Anderson (knee) and Chris Kelsay (neck), and defensive tackle Kyle Williams (ankle), while guard Kraig Urbik (knee) and cornerback Aaron Williams (knee) were among seven Bills who were limited on Wednesday.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (concussion/shoulder) missed Wednesday's practice, while linebacker Jasper Brinkley (shoulder), cornerback Antoine Winfield (knee), safety Harrison Smith (concussion) and wide receiver Percy Harvin (ankle) were limited. Rudolph and Smith have been cleared to return and could play against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Green Bay ruled out cornerback Sam Shields (ankle) and safety Charles Woodson (collarbone), and practiced without linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring) and wide receiver Donald Driver (thumb). In good injury news for the Packers, wide receiver Greg Jennings (groin/abdomen) practiced fully and could return on Sunday.
Thirteen San Francisco 49ers were listed on Wednesday's report, with eight regarded as "full participants." The only 49ers player to miss practice was tight end Delanie Walker, who has hip and rib injuries. Outside linebacker Aldon Smith, who leads the NFL with 16.5 sacks, was limited by a shoulder injury. Five key St. Louis Rams were non-participants on Wednesday, a group that included wide receiver Danny Amendola (foot), running back Steven Jackson (foot), defensive end Robert Quinn (concussion) and center Scott Wells, who has a knee injury.
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant (foot) and linebacker Leroy Hill (ankle) missed practice on Wednesday and their status for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears will be determined later this week. Running back Marshawn Lynch (back) was limited. The Bears were without several starters on Wednesday, including cornerback Charles Tillman, linebacker Lance Briggs and tight end Kellen Davis, who have ankle injuries. Running back Matt Forte was limited, also with an ankle injury.
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