Jay Cutler is out with a concussion. (Getty Images)
We begin our roundup of key injuries in the NFL with — what else — the quarterback position.
Though the Chicago Bears' final injury report before Monday night's game against the San Francisco 49ers is not due until Saturday, head coach Lovie Smith has already ruled Jay Cutler out with a concussion, naming Jason Campbell the starter.
In addition to Cutler, the Bears have ruled 2012 first-round defensive end Shea McClellin out for the 49ers game with a concussion he sustained on the opening play of the Bears' 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans last Sunday night.
The status of 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (concussion) for Monday night's game has not yet been determined, but he appears on track to start. Smith has not been fully cleared, but has taken first-team reps in a black, "no contact" jersey. If Smith has a setback, or is not cleared by medical personnel, 2011 second-round pick Colin Kaepernick would get the start. The best injury news for the 49ers was the return of head coach Jim Harbaugh to practice on Friday. Harbaugh underwent a procedure for an irregular heartbeat after falling ill on Wednesday night.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was ruled out earlier this week with a sprained sternoclavicular joint in his right shoulder, along with a rib injury that could prove fatal if aggravated or exposed to additional contact. The Steelers will also be without wide receiver Antonio Brown (ankle), right tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) and safety Troy Polamalu (calf), but will have running back Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles), who is expected to start against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night. Meanwhile, the Ravens have listed starting defensive end Pernell McPhee (knee) as "doubtful" and, after giving him a week off, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (shoulder/knee) as "probable" along with safety Ed Reed (shoulder), running back Ray Rice (toe) and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles).
As expected, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has been ruled out with the concussion he suffered during the second quarter of Sunday's 38-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. 2012 third-round pick Nick Foles will make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Washington Redskins and he could remain in the lineup as Vick remains in the "first phase" of the concussion recovery process.
"He's had symptoms all week, since the [Dallas] game," Eagles head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder said on Friday via Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News. "He's had a headache, which has gotten better during the week. He's foggy -- he's not very alert right now in terms of, he just doesn't have that energy. He's tired all the time. He's sleeping a lot, he's not getting rid of the fatigue. I would consider him heavy-eyed.
"When you talk to him, he's just not the Michael Vick that you know when he's healthy."
In addition to Vick, the Eagles have ruled out wide receivers Mardy Gilyard and Jason Avant. For the Redskins, wide receiver Pierre Garcon (foot) has a chance to play in his first game since Week 5. Garcon was signed to a five-year, $42.5 million contract in March and has just eight receptions for 153 yards and a touchdown in three games this season. The considerable time Garcon has missed has cost him $93,750 in "per game active" roster bonuses, but he could avoid further financial losses on Sunday.
The Green Bay Packers have ruled out wide receiver Greg Jennings (groin/abdomen), linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring) and safety Charles Woodson (collarbone) for this Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions. The good news for the Packers is that they will get wide receiver Jordy Nelson (ankle) back in action this week. Nelson missed Week 8 and was injured in the first quarter of a Week 9 win over the Arizona Cardinals, but the bye week allowed him to get healthy and he is officially listed as "probable" for the game against a Lions' secondary that will be without safety Amari Spievey (concussion) and possibly Louis Delmas, who is "doubtful" with a knee injury. The Lions also list starting cornerback Chris Houston (ankle) and wide receiver Calvin Johnson (knee) as "questionable," but both players practiced on Thursday and Friday and are expected to play on Sunday.
Wide receiver Julio Jones (ankle) and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (ankle) did not practice at all this week and are among five Atlanta Falcons listed as "questionable" for Sunday's game against the Cardinals. Defensive end John Abraham (back) and running back Michael Turner (groin) were also listed as "questionable," but were able to practice on a limited basis this week. For the Cardinals, quarterback Kevin Kolb (ribs) was ruled out, meaning John Skelton will make another start. Defensive end Calais Campbell (calf), cornerback Greg Toler (hamstring) and tight end Todd Heap (knee) are "questionable."
The New England Patriots have listed left guard Logan Mankins (ankle/calf) as "doubtful" and 16 players as "questionable." As usual, most of the 16 players are key players, including starting offensive linemen Dan Connolly (back) and Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee), tight ends Rob Gronkowski (hip) and Aaron Hernandez (ankle), wide receivers Wes Welker (ankle) and Brandon Lloyd (knee), linebackers Brandon Spikes (knee) and Dont'a Hightower (hamstring) and safeties Patrick Chung (shoulder/hamstring) and Steve Gregory (hip). According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, Hernandez is not expected to play against the Indianapolis Colts this week after aggravating a high ankle sprain in October.
For the Colts, second round tight end Coby Fleener (shoulder) and cornerback Vontae Davis (knee) were ruled out earlier in the week. Everyone else on the Colts' report, including pass-rushing outside linebacker Robert Mathis (back), is "probable" and expected to be available.
Oakland Raiders running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson (ankles) and defensive tackle Richard Seymour (knee/hamstring) have been ruled out for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints. The Raiders also listed starting strong safety Tyvon Branch as "questionable" with a neck injury and it appears as though Mike Mitchell will start in his place against Brees & Co. on Sunday. Saints running back Darren Sproles is "questionable" after returning to practice just a few weeks after undergoing surgery on his left hand. Sproles participated fully on Thursday and Friday, but swelling in the hand has the Saints taking an understandably cautious approach with their versatile offensive weapon. The Saints declared right tackle Zach Strief out with a groin injury.
Denver Broncos cornerback Tracy Porter (illness) still has not received medical clearance to return to game action and has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers. On Oct. 13, Porter experienced symptoms similar to a seizure he suffered during August and will miss a fifth consecutive game. The Broncos listed right guard Chris Kuper (ankle) as "doubtful" and defensive end Elvis Dumervil (shoulder) as "questionable," but of the two, Dumervil is the more likely to play against the Chargers, who got running back Ryan Mathews back at practice on Friday. Mathews missed Wednesday and Thursday's practices with a neck injury he suffered during a helmet-to-helmet collision with Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Quincy Black (who was placed on injured reserve) last Sunday. Mathews is officially listed as "questionable" for the Broncos game. The Chargers will be without nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, who has a knee injury, and left tackle Jared Gaither (groin) was listed as "doubtful." Antonio Garay will start in place of Franklin, while undrafted rookie Mike Harris will start if Gaither is unable to play.
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew will miss a fourth consecutive game with a foot injury. The Jaguars will also be without fullback Greg Jones (thigh), cornerback Rashean Mathis (groin) and safety Dwight Lowery (ankle) against the Houston Texans on Sunday. Though each player has missed at least three games, none are candidates for injured reserve at this time, head coach Mike Mularkey said according to Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. Texans running back Ben Tate (hamstring) will miss a third consecutive game, while tight end Owen Daniels (back) is "questionable" and a game-time decision for the Jaguars game. Daniels missed last week's win over the Bears and was limited in this week's practices.
The Kansas City Chiefs will not have wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin (head/neck), guard Jon Asamoah (thumb) or tight end Jake O'Connell (ankle) against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Losing Asamoah, who has played all but one snap this season, hurts as does the possible absence of Ryan Lilja, a veteran interior lineman who has been playing center with Rodney Hudson on injured reserve. Lilja popped up on the Chiefs' injury report on Friday with a knee injury and is listed as "questionable." The Bengals' biggest injury question mark is the availability of safety Reggie Nelson, who is once again "doubtful" with a hamstring injury.
Two key defenders for the Cleveland Browns are "questionable" for Sunday's meeting with the Dallas Cowboys. Defensive tackle Ahytba Rubin (calf) was limited throughout the week and cornerback Joe Haden (oblique) missed the final two days of practice and is regarded as a "game-time decision" on Sunday. The Cowboys listed running back DeMarco Murray (foot) as "doubtful" and given that the team has a short week with the Thanksgiving Day game, it would be a surprise if they rushed Murray back for the Browns game. Also "doubtful" for the Cowboys are center Ryan Cook (knee) and cornerback Mike Jenkins (back), both of whom missed practice this week. If Cook is unable to play on Sunday, Mackenzy Bernadeau would start at center as Phil Costa (ankle) was ruled out.
Of the 19 players the New York Jets listed on their injury report, five are listed as "questionable," including nose tackle Sione Po'uha (back/ankle), linebacker Bart Scott (toe), wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (heel/hamstring) and running backs Joe McKnight (ankle) and Bilal Powell (concussion). The Jets added running back Kahlil Bell this week as an insurance policy in case McKnight and/or Powell are unavailable to face the St. Louis Rams in Sunday's "Schottenheimer Bowl." The Rams listed just four players on their injury report, all as "questionable," with wide receiver Austin Pettis (toe) the most notable name on the list.
Carolina Panthers defensive end Antwan Applewhite (hamstring) has been ruled out, but the remaining eight players on the team's injury report are "probable," including defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, who missed Wednesday's practice with an ankle injury. They may have $30 million in players on injured reserve, but the current players on the 53-man roster are in good shape, health-wise. Guard Jamon Meredith (ankle) is "questionable," but everyone else, including cornerback Eric Wright (Achilles), guard Jeremy Zuttah (shoulder) and defensive end Michael Bennett (shoulder) are "probable."
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