December 16, 2011
Here's your final status check of the week, with several updates from the initial Pre-Wrap. I will update the file on Saturday afternoon if anything if note breaks (Ben Roethlisberger is one player to keep an eye on). To the medical center:
• Matt Hasselbeck (calf) and Jake Locker (ribs) have both practiced this week, but it appears that Hasselbeck is healthy enough to get the call at Indianapolis. Not a monumental hit to the Tennessee passing game, though it did seem like Locker and Nate Washington had something working in previous weeks. Washington, for what it's worth, should be able to play despite his sore ankle and back. He was at Friday's practice after two days of rest.
• Kyle Orton (finger) did fine in the practice week and interim coach Romeo Crennel says Orton will start against the Packers. And Tyler Palko appears to be out of our lives for a while, as he's now the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart; former Iowa star Ricky Stanzi is the new backup. I'm still not expecting a lot from Orton in this spot - he won't be near the starting line for me - but his presence at least gives Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston a fighting chance.
• Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) had limited practices Friday and Saturday and remains up in the air for the Monday Nighter in San Francisco. The extra day could be his saving grace here. The Pittsburgh passing game obviously gets a major downgrade if Charlie Batch has to play.
• Matt Moore (neck) has been practicing all week, though the new Miami regime is listing him as questionable. It's an early start at Buffalo, so we'll know before the bullets are flying on game day.
• Christian Ponder is listed as probable, despite his sore hip. He's in line to start against New Orleans.
• Although Kevin Kolb (post concussion) is considered a game-time decision, it's hard to see why the Cardinals would risk anything with him. John Skelton has played better than Kolb for most of the year, anyway.
• Kevin Smith (ankle) took some Thursday and Friday reps and the Detroit News expects that he'll play at Oakland. He's listed as questionable on the injury report. I'd look to play Smith where it makes sense (the matchup is divine), but be sure to have a late-game caddy available, just in case.
• Cedric Benson has a sore back, though he's listed as probable. You'll want to dial him up in St. Louis.
• Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) worked with the Giants on Friday and he's considered probable for the home game against Washington.
• James Starks (ankle) is a game-time decision, though he thinks he has a good chance to play at Kansas City. We'll see how Mike McCarthy feels about that. I wouldn't want to devote any fantasy space to Starks this week, but his presence could detract from Ryan Grant.
• Denarius Moore (foot) has been practicing all week and has a good chance to dress against Detroit. Carson Palmer desperately needs a playmaker to jump start this passing game. Forget about Jacoby Ford (foot); he's already been scratched.
• Andre Johnson (hamstring) has been officially ruled out for Sunday's game against Carolina, and he's no sure thing for next week, either. T.J. Yates has been focusing on the tight ends (Joel Dreessen, Owen Daniels) since becoming the starter. Kevin Walter (knee) is listed as probable, not that you should be dialing him up.
• Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) has been practicing and should be able to go against the Jets, no matter that he's listed as questionable. But keep in mind Maclin wasn't a factor in Miami last week (one catch for 13 yards) and Michael Vick also looked rusty (69.9 rating, four sacks, one pick).
• Wes Welker (knee) is listed as questionable, though he traveled to Denver and should get his normal work on Sunday. Forget about Deion Branch (knee), however; the Patriots didn't take him on the trip.
• Laurent Robinson (shoulder) is expected to play Saturday at Tampa, though he's listed as questionable. He had the same tag last week against the Giants and went on to post big numbers, despite an ordinary snap count.
• Eddie Royal (post concussion) is expected to play for the Broncos this week, but I don't think his return will take much away from Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. Even if Royal gets announced as a starter, I feel good about the other guys and I'm not trusting him.
• Devin Hester (ankle) is listed as questionable and missed all of Friday's practice. This affects the Chicago special teams more than it does the offense.
• Jimmy Graham (back) didn't miss any reps and the Saints list him as probable. Sounds like he'll be starting at Minnesota.
• Anthony Fasano (ribs) had three days of partial practice but he's got a good chance to play at Buffalo. He's listed as questionable.
• Heads up on Billy Cundiff (calf), who's questionable and hasn't practiced all week. The Ravens will probably make their decision Saturday.
• Dallas sackman DeMarcus Ware (neck) had a limited week but is expected to play in the prime-time game at Tampa.
• Patrick Willis (hamstring) didn't work Friday and remains questionable for Monday night.
• Ray Lewis (toe) had a limited week and might be a game-time decision for Sunday night's game at San Diego.
• Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib (hamstring) should be able to play Saturday against the Cowboys; he's listed as probable. The Bucs are expected to match Talib against Dez Bryant, though a decision like that can change at any moment.
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