Dominic Rhodes, IND – Bruised Ribs
Colts’ backup RB Dominic Rhodes, who was inactive last week because of bruised ribs, has returned to full practice and head coach Tony Dungy expects him to play this weekend against the Chargers. Rhodes was held out of team drills last week as a precaution and Dungy said that he was deactivated for the team’s final regular season game so that he had an additional week to recover in preparation for the post season. Rhodes has reportedly looked fine in contact drills this week so his injury no longer appears to be a problem. He’ll likely split carries with starting RB Joseph Addai this weekend.
Ray Rice, BAL – Shin Contusion
Ravens’ rookie RB Ray Rice missed the team’s final three regular season games because of a problematic shin contusion but it looks like he will be active when the team opens it’s post-season against the Dolphins this weekend. According to reports Rice bruised his shin during Week 14 and it became very swollen and painful after the game. In fact there is speculation that he was suffering from compartment syndrome, which is a condition involving swelling that can lead to long-term damage and in untreated cases permanent injury. This hasn’t been confirmed by the Ravens but it would explain why he missed so much time. Rice resumed practicing this week and he said that he expects to be active. Head coach John Harbaugh told reporters that Rice was “doing better” however he still wasn’t sure if the rookie would be able to play this weekend. It looks like he will be a game-time decision.
LaDainian Tomlinson, SD – Strained Groin
Chargers’ coach Norv Turner said that he is “optimistic” about RB LaDainian Tomlinson’s chance of playing tomorrow against the Colts. However he admitted that an official decision on his availability and playing time won’t be made until moments before kick-off. Tomlinson, who pulled his groin muscle in last week’s game, remains a bit sore and as a result he has been held out of practice so that he has a much time as possible to heal and get ready for the game. LT was reportedly feeling better late Thursday but he admitted earlier in the week that he wouldn’t be 100% for the start of the playoffs. I can’t imagine Tomlinson being deactivated for the game unless he suffers a setback during pre game warm-ups. But don’t expect him to be at full speed.
Brian Westbrook, PHI – Lingering knee and ankle soreness
As expected Eagles’ RB Brian Westbrook has been limited in practice this week because of lingering problems in his knee and ankle, but team officials expect him to be fine for this weekend’s game. According to reports Westbrook has been dealing with inflammation and soreness associated with cartilage damage in his knee since September and he is apparently dealing with discomfort as a result of a high ankle sprain that occurred a few months ago as well. He’s been limited in practice each week to rest his injuries but he’s battled through the problems and he’s found a way to be productive despite not being at 100%. Team officials are confident that he is healthy enough to be productive against the Vikings.
Bernard Berrian, MIN – Sprained Ankle
Vikings’ WR Bernard Berrian has been limited in practice this week because of soreness in his injured ankle, however team officials expect him to do more in practice today and they believe he will start on Sunday against the Eagles. Berrian sprained his ankle a couple of weeks ago and although he was limited in practice last week and he was still active for the Vikings’ regular season finale. Barring a setback look for Berrian to start this weekend.
Anquan Boldin, ARI – Sprained Shoulder
Cardinals’ WR Anquan Boldin has reportedly made good progress in his recovery from a shoulder sprain and head coach Ken Whisenhunt expects him to start tomorrow against the Falcons. According to reports Boldin sprained his shoulder in Week 15 and he hasn’t played since. He returned to practice for the first time this week and although he hasn’t participated in a full practice his reps have increased each day that he has been out there and his shoulder has held up OK. Whisenhunt said that Boldin “feels a lot better and is a lot more confident going into this game” so it appears that the team expects him to be active.
Anthony Gonzalez, IND – Hip Pointer
Colts’ head coach Tony Dungy told reporters after his team’s Week 17 win that injured WR Anthony Gonzalez could have returned to the game had the team needed him and that he should be ready for the start of the playoffs. After taking part in full practices on Wednesday and Thursday Gonzalez seems fine and it looks like Dungy was right. Gonzalez suffered a hip pointer or hip contusion, last weekend and while he was sore on Monday he was feeling a lot better by Tuesday and he was cleared to practice without restrictions on Wednesday. He’ll definitely play this weekend against the Chargers.
Derrick Mason, BAL – Dislocated Shoulder
Ravens’ WR Derrick Mason has been limited in practice this week as expected so that his sore shoulder is rested in preparation for the team’s playoff game against the Dolphins. Mason won’t be 100%, but he will be healthy enough to play. The veteran wideout has been playing with a very painful shoulder for several weeks now and at times it has forced him out of games. Head coach John Harbaugh has indicated that Mason’s injury would not improve until the medical team works with him during the off-season. Mason could still have a big day against the Dolphins, but he could aggravate his injury at any time. WR Mark Clayton was held out of drills on Wednesday and limited in practice on Thursday because of a lingering knee problem however Harbaugh expects him to be active this weekend as well.
Antonio Gates, SD – Sprained Ankle
Chargers’ TE Antonio Gates, who sprained his ankle during last week’s game, has not practiced this week and his status for this weekend’s playoff game remains uncertain. Earlier this week team officials called Gates’ ankle injury minor. However coach Norv Turner told reporters that if the game was played on Thursday that he wouldn’t have been able to play. I can’t imagine the team deactivating Gates for their opening playoff game unless the injury is very serious, and it doesn’t look like his ankle sprain is that bad. He probably won’t be playing at full speed, but he should be in the starting lineup against the Colts.
David Martin, MIA – Minor Concussion / Neck Stiffness
Dolphins’ TE David Martin missed practice on Wednesday and he was held out of all contact drills on Thursday as he continues to recover from a minor concussion and his status for this weekend’s playoff game is questionable. Martin, who is also dealing with stiffness and soreness in his neck, returned to the field on Thursday but he was held out of contact drills and team officials aren’t sure if he will be cleared to play. It looks like he will be a game-time decision.
L.J. Smith, PHI – Shoulder and Knee Soreness
Eagles’ TE L.J. Smith is reportedly dealing with soreness in his knee and shoulder and head coach Andy Reid isn’t sure if he will be active for this weekend’s game against the Vikings. Smith, who was inactive for the team’s Week 17 game against the Cowboys, continues to be slowed by a lingering knee problem and according to recent reports he is also dealing with a shoulder injury. Team officials are concerned that both injuries could keep him out of the game. Reid won’t make a decision on his availability until he consults with the medical staff on game day.