Wild-card weekend: Biggest injury questions for all eight teams

January 2, 2020

The 2019 NFL regular season is over, and the playoff bracket has been revealed. As in every week of the regular season, injuries are sure to play a major part in determining which teams win and which head home to improve for next season.

Our NFL Nation reporters have searched for the latest intel on all the key injuries. Read on to get the latest scoop from inside NFL locker rooms on who’s in and who’s out this weekend.

Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty has been slowed by a nagging groin injury, and he is one of seven players who has been limited in practice. If he is cleared, he could prove to be an ideal option against some of the Titans’ multiple-tight-end options.

Otherwise, the Patriots seem to be in relatively good shape on the injury front, which was a point Bill Belichick echoed earlier in the week. Slot corner Jonathan Jones (groin) played last week and appeared to come out of the game OK. — Mike Reiss

Adoree’ Jackson (foot) was a full participant in back-to-back practices to start the week. On Wednesday, Mike Vrabel said the team will continue to evaluate Jackson, but the coach seemed optimistic about Jackson’s status. Jackson’s return would give the Titans’ secondary a huge boost. Unfortunately for the Titans, wideout Adam Humphries (ankle) missed yet another practice and is likely to be ruled out on Saturday. — Turron Davenport


Will Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V play against the Bills? Head coach Bill O’Brien said it’s too early in the week to tell, but the receiver is making progress toward being on the field against Buffalo. Defensive end J.J. Watt expects to return from a torn pectoral muscle on Saturday but said he isn’t sure how much he will play after missing eight games. — Sarah Barshop

Will Levi Wallace play? The Bills’ starting cornerback opposite Tre’Davious White was carted into the locker room last week after injuring his ankle in the first quarter. Although he missed practice Tuesday, he returned to the field Wednesday — a positive sign for his availability Saturday. Kevin Johnson can competently fill in if need be, but Fuller or no Fuller, Buffalo will need all hands on deck against the Texans’ group of receivers. — Marcel Louis-Jacques


The Saints are getting healthier at the right time. Last week, they got their full offensive line back. And now their secondary is healing. Safeties Vonn Bell (knee) and Marcus Williams (groin) practiced on a limited basis last week, though cornerback Eli Apple (ankle) remained sidelined. — Mike Triplett

The Vikings’ backfield is nearing full strength, pending the returns of Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison. Both running backs were full participants in Wednesday’s practice and said they would be “ready to go” in New Orleans. “I definitely feel refreshed,” Cook said. “I wouldn’t put a percentage on it. If I were whatever percent, I’d be out there on Sunday. So I’m gonna be ready to go, I’m gonna be at full strength, and I’m looking forward to a good football game.” Minnesota is in line to have its entire offense available to play Sunday for the first time since Week 6, which is a remarkable feat at this time of year. On the defensive side, linebacker Eric Kendricks remained sidelined Wednesday with a quad injury, despite coach Mike Zimmer’s noting that he thinks the time Kendricks had to rehab last week would put him in line to return against the Saints. Mackensie Alexander (knee), Andrew Sendejo (illness) and Stephen Weatherly (illness) were also non-participants in the Vikings’ first practice of the week. — Courtney Cronin


Tight end Zach Ertz (ribs) hasn’t been cleared for contact. Although he was able to participate in a light practice to start the week, he needs the medical green light before suiting up against the Seahawks, which puts his availability for Sunday in question. Running back Miles Sanders is day-to-day with an ankle injury. The key will be getting the inflammation down. There’s optimism that he’ll play, so long as he continues to show progress in the coming days. — Tim McManus

All week, Pete Carroll has sounded confident but not quite certain about free safety Quandre Diggs‘ returning for the Seahawks’ game at Philadelphia. He missed the past two games with a high-ankle sprain and returned to practice Wednesday as a limited participant. Diggs said earlier in the day that he’s “feeling good,” but he gave a “we’ll see” about playing Sunday, noting that he has to avoid setbacks in practice this week. Diggs’ return would be significant. He was a difference-maker once he entered the starting lineup, allowing Seattle to play more Cover 3 with Diggs as the lone deep safety. He had a hand in four takeaways in his five starts. The Seahawks haven’t gotten anything close to that out of his replacement, Lano Hill. — Brady Henderson

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/page/nfl_32for32010220/nfl-playoffs-wild-card-weekend-biggest-injury-questions-all-eight-teams

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