Several major injuries occurred on the defensive side of the ball last week, the worst of which could affect the Chicago Bears' run toward home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in the NFC. Meanwhile, several quarterbacks are fighting hand and wrist injuries and the league's top rookie receiver is still suffering the effects of an ankle injury.
Let's go to the injury report and find out who's in, who's out and who might be getting signed.
Jake Delhomme of the Carolina Panthers was unable to practice after injuring the thumb on his throwing hand against the Eagles. An MRI revealed a partially torn ligament, but the team has not yet confirmed if it will keep him out against the Giants. If he cannot practice by Friday, it is likely that the Panthers will turn to backup Chris Weinke this weekend.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Charlie Frye has been unable to practice or throw since suffering an injury to his right wrist in Sunday's win over Kansas City. If he is unable to play, Derek Anderson will start with Ken Dorsey serving as backup for Thursday night's game against the Steelers.
Brooks Bollinger of the Minnesota Vikings has sat out practice with a sore shoulder. Coach Brad Childress announced on Wednesday that a decision has been made on Sunday's starter against the Lions, but won't reveal whether it's incumbent Brad Johnson or rookie Tarvaris Jackson. The team has added free agent Drew Henson to the active roster.
Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers is currently dealing with several issues. In addition to his lingering elbow problem, he also has bone spurs in his ankle. The injuries will not keep him from playing the rest of this season, but will require offseason surgery, according to a Packers insider.
Willis McGahee of the Buffalo Bills did not practice and will be listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Jets. His ankle injury comes a week after he had been re-inserted into the lineup following two missed games because of cracked ribs.
Carolina's DeShaun Foster practiced for the first time after suffering a dislocated left elbow a few weeks ago. The Panthers will continue to evaluate his progress, and if he is deemed healthy, he will start ahead of rookie DeAngelo Williams.
Minnesota's Chester Taylor, who was knocked out of last week's game when he injured his ribs, has missed practice and will be re-evaluated later this week. The Vikings could give the bulk of the carries to Ciatrick Fason, who gained 75 yards and scored a touchdown on just 11 carries against the Bears last week. Taylor is listed as doubtful.
Ronnie Brown of the Miami Dolphins has not practiced as he continues to heal from a broken hand he suffered two weeks ago. He is not expected to practice or play this weekend against the Pats, but could return to practice next week and try to play in one of the team's final three games. Veteran running back Sammy Morris will continue to get the bulk of the carries, but Patrick Cobbs could get a look if Brown misses additional time.
Laurence Maroney of the New England Patriots was knocked out of last week's game against the Lions with a concussion and is questionable against Miami. If Maroney is forced to miss any game action, Corey Dillon will get more of the workload and Patrick Pass will pick up a few additional carries and catches out of the backfield.
Josh Scobey of the Seattle Seahawks has been placed on the IR list ending his 2006 campaign. He was primarily used on special teams, especially kickoff returns, so the team has promoted running back Marquis Weeks to the active roster.
WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston has tried unsuccessfully to return the past two weeks from the high left ankle sprain he suffered against the Bengals. After sitting out the past two weeks plus the fact the game against Dallas was pushed back to Sunday night, Colston might feel comfortable enough to rejoin the lineup. But he was unable to practice all out Wednesday.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward will be out of action again. He has failed to show progress or practice since suffering a hyperextended knee. The first MRI showed no further damage, but Ward has not been able to get back to full strength. Fellow wide receiver Cedrick Wilson will also miss the game against the Browns because of an ankle injury. In their place, rookie Santonio Holmes and Nate Washington will be the starting wide receivers on Thursday night against Cleveland.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Michael Clayton will miss the rest of the season after being placed on IR with a partially torn MCL in his left knee.
Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow has missed practice this week with a lingering knee injury and although he is listed as questionable on the team's injury list, he fully expects to start against Pittsburgh.
New York Giants offensive tackle Luke Petitgout is out of a cast and walking without too much pain as he tries to return to the team after suffering a broken left fibula last month. The team has no official timetable for his return, but he seems to be progressing faster than expected and could return to the team if the Giants stay in the playoff mix.
The Cincinnati Bengals expect to have Bobbie Williams back in the starting lineup after he has missed the past three weeks because of an appendectomy. He is back to full strength and has practiced, so he should regain his starting offensive guard spot, which has been filled by Stacy Andrews the past three games.
Giants defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan could both be back in action this week, although Strahan seems to be more of a question mark as he recovers from his right foot injury. Umenyiora suited up for their loss to the Cowboys and says he will be closer to 100 percent this weekend against the Panthers. Meanwhile, the news is not so good for cornerback Corey Webster, who has been sidelined this week with a toe injury. The Giants firmed up the depth of their defensive line by signing Titus Adams off the Jets practice squad.
Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris has been ruled out of this week's game with what initially was thought to be a sprained knee, but no further details have been given by team doctors. Meanwhile, cornerback Nathan Vasher could also be inactive because of a pulled hamstring. Vasher is listed as questionable for Monday's game against the Rams, but Harris could miss several weeks since the Bears have already clinched a playoff spot.
Steelers safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark will both miss this week's game because of leg injuries. Polamalu has a sprained knee, while Clark has a groin injury that has not allowed him to return to practice. Rookie Anthony Smith will be in the starting lineup on Thursday night and should warrant a long look next summer to start opposite Polamalu.
Houston Texans defensive lineman Mario Williams has not practiced early this week, but is expected to return on Friday and play this weekend against the Titans. The Texans will be without defensive tackle Thomas Johnson, but both defensive end Jason Babin and linebacker DaShon Polk, who are listed as day-to-day, should be healthy enough to dress against the Titans.
Bengals outside linebacker David Pollack, who suffered a major neck injury earlier this season, will have the halo removed and a subsequent MRI to evaluate the progress of how the fractured vertebra has healed. According to the team's website, the outcome of that MRI should let the team know if and when he could return to the football field.
New England safety Rodney Harrison said that at his current rehab pace, he expects to rejoin the Patriots defensive unit at some point of this season. He is trying to return from a major shoulder injury that many expected would sideline him for the rest of the season. The team has not given a timetable for his return, but said they would welcome him back if he proves to be 100 percent healthy.
Detroit Lions have placed defensive tackle Shaun Rogers on the season-ending IR list after his recent knee injury did not show any signs of healing. Veteran defensive tackle Tyoka Jackson will likely start in his place, but the team is lacking in depth at that position.
Philadelphia Eagles safety Michael Lewis has not practiced after suffering a concussion in Monday night's win over the Panthers. Meanwhile, cornerback Roderick Hood also missed Wednesday's practice due to a hamstring injury and defensive end Darren Howard has also not practiced because of a strained knee. Both players will be listed as questionable for Sunday.