It’s Week 17 in the NFL, and for me it’s the saddest week of the NFL. The NFL regular season is coming to an end, fantasy football is finished (sorry NFL.com, but the playoff version is just not the same), and until recent years the 49ers were packing it in for another depressing offseason.
No matter, there’s still a week left. For teams gearing up for the playoffs, there’s the debate on whether to rest guys or to play them. For the non-playoff teams, there’s the curiosity embedded in coaches to play rookies or bench players in order to get an early look for next year.
With that said, here’s a look at some of the key injury statuses by position leading into the final week of the NFL regular season.
Robert Griffin III, WAS—RGIII has been nursing a sprained LCL in his right knee since taking a late-game hit by Haloti Ngata in a 31-28 win over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 14.
After sitting in Week 15, he bounced back to lead the Redskins to their six straight win and set up a division title showdown with the Dallas Cowboys.
He’s on the cusp of leading the Redskins to their first playoff appearance since 2007, as well as their first division title since the Clinton Administration (1999).
Carson Palmer, OAK—Palmer was hit by Panthers DE Greg Hardy in last Sunday’s game, breaking ribs. Palmer has been declared out for this Sunday’s game at San Diego.
Nick Foles, PHI—The audition is officially over for Nick Foles after suffering a broken hand in Sunday’s game against the Redskins. With Andy Reid’s future in doubt, it is also in doubt whether Nick Foles will be “the guy” in Philadelphia next season.
Arian Foster, HOU—Arian Foster left Sunday’s game against the Vikings with an irregular heartbeat. Initially alarming, both Foster and Texans coach Gary Kubiak have stated that there is no cause for concern. With the top seed in the AFC on the line against the Colts; look for a heavy dose of Arian Foster.
Adrian Peterson, MIN—“All Day” will need to run all day to get the 208 rushing yards needed—he ran for 210 against the Packers in Week 14—to surpass Eric Dickerson on the single-season rushing yards list. He will be playing with some abdominal soreness and was limited in practice but will certainly be a go on Sunday with the record and the playoffs on the line against the Packers.
Trent Richardson, CLE—The rookie phenom in Cleveland has played well this season amassing 950 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Alas, with an injury to his ankle and the Browns having nothing to play for, Richardson will not be hitting that 1K mark.
Matt Forte, CHI—Forte returned to practice and was a full participant Friday. Barring any setbacks, he is expected to start Sunday as the Bears try to pull out a playoff berth with a win against the Lions.
Anquan Boldin, BAL—Boldin left Sunday’s win over the Giants in the third quarter with what coach Jim Harbaugh noted as a "shoulder bruise." He has been limited in practice and listed as questionable for this week’s game at Cincinnati.
Given that Baltimore and Cincy can’t really improve their playoff positioning, there’s no point to risking further injury in a somewhat meaningless game.
Randall Cobb, GB—Cobb was listed as questionable on the latest injury report because of an ankle injury suffered on a third-quarter punt return against Tennessee on Sunday.
He took some limited reps in practice, but it will not be known if he’ll play for sure until Sunday. If Cobb is unable to go, his presence will be missed, especially on special teams.
Roddy White, ATL—White has been limited in recent weeks because of injury yet has still performed well—153 yards and two TDs in Week 16. With nothing to play for in Atlanta, White could see limited game action Sunday.
He will likely not be held out completely as coach Mike Smith wants to keep his players game-ready, given their recent playoff misfires, but don’t expect a full game out of him or the other key starters for that matter.
Mario Manningham, SF—Unfortunately for the 49ers, Manningham suffered a torn ACL in Sunday night’s prime-time blowout by the Seahawks. Manningham was placed on injured reserve and will not be available for the postseason.
Vernon Davis, SF—Davis is still recovering from the effects of a concussion suffered at the hands of a brutal, yet legal hit by Seahawks defender Kam Chancellor in the first half of Sunday’s game.
Davis has not been approved for contact yet and is listed as questionable. While coach Harbaugh has stated that Davis could play Sunday, the prognosis, given that Davis has not been cleared, looks uncertain.
Rob Gronkowski, NE—“Gronk” continues to rehab his broken forearm suffered nearly six weeks ago. Although he has returned to practice, he still has not received medical clearance to get back onto the field. Listed as questionable, a Gronkowski sighting is unlikely until the playoffs.
Update: Ben Chodos of Bleacher Report—via Tom Curran of CSN New England—Gronkowski will in fact suit up for Sunday's game.
Brandon Pettigrew, DET—Pettigrew returned to practice this week from a high ankle sprain. He was limited in participation and is not expected to play in the finale against Chicago.
Sebastian Vollmer, NE—Vollmer has been bothered by a sore back for a number of weeks. He’s listed as questionable but insists that his back is “not an issue” and is expected to play against Miami on Sunday.
Mike Adams, PIT—The Steelers’ 2012 top rookie performer has been hampered by injuries for a good portion of the season, playing in only 10 games thus far.
His latest injury, a high ankle sprain, has caused him to miss the last four games. Given that he missed practice on Friday, he will miss his fifth straight game as well.
Uche Nwaneri, JAX—Nwaneri suffered a concussion against the Patriots last week and failed his initial concussion test when the team returned to practice Wednesday.
He failed his second round of testing Friday and has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Titans.
David Baas, NYG—Baas sat out of practice most of the week to rest an injured hip but returned Friday. He’s listed as probable and will likely play Sunday.
Muhammad Wilkerson, NYJ—Wilkerson was initially thought to have suffered a concussion but appears to be clear of the symptoms that affected him earlier in the week. He practiced fully on Friday and is expected to play against Buffalo on Sunday.
J.J. Watt, HOU—Watt will be chasing Michael Strahan’s sack record in the regular-season finale with a chest injury. He was limited in practice, but the injury is said to not be serious. He needs only two-and-a-half sacks to eclipse Strahan’s record of 22.5.
Haloti Ngata, BAL—Ngata has been bothered by a knee issue for a good portion of the season. While he didn’t practice all week and is listed as questionable, he still is likely to play barring any setbacks.
With the AFC North locked up, the Ravens don’t have much to play for so Ngata could see limited action against the Bengals.
Justin Smith, SF—Smith’s injury is a huge blow to the Niners' stout defense. It was reported Thursday that Smith has a bone spur attached to a detached triceps tendon.
Smith has stated that he’ll be ready to play come playoff time, which is good news considering that Marshawn Lynch gashed San Fran for 111 rushing yards. The Niners list Smith as doubtful this weekend.
Ray Lewis, BAL—Initially thought to be done for the year, Ray Lewis was given the new IR designation allowing him to return this season after tearing his right triceps against the Cowboys.
The Ravens activated him Wednesday, but he is unlikely to play while resting for the playoffs. Getting Ray back will give the Ravens their emotional leader just in time for the playoffs.
DeMarcus Ware, DAL—The Cowboys held DeMarcus Ware out of practice on Friday as he deals with injuries to his neck and elbow.
The dominant pass rusher will be going into a winner-take-all game against the Redskins on Sunday night but will do so wearing a brace on his shoulder and elbow to protect from further injury.
London Fletcher, WAS—The ageless wonder will look to make his 240th consecutive game appearance this Sunday against the Cowboys. At 37, it’s common for him to miss practice during the week.
He’s currently resting an ankle injury but will certainly play for the division title on Sunday.
Aqib Talib, NE—Talib injured his hip against the Texans in a Week 14 blowout win. He played only eight snaps against Jacksonville and has been hampered by this injury ever since.
He’s listed as questionable and with a first-round bye at stake, he likely will see the field in some capacity on Sunday, but it may be limited.
Prince Amukamara, NYG—Bugged by a hamstring injury, Prince Amukamara is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s pivotal game against the Eagles. He aggravated the injury against the Ravens and could likely miss the season finale.
A win and some help from Chicago, Dallas and Minnesota would get the Giants into the playoffs.
Charles Woodson, GB—A broken collarbone has kept Charles Woodson out since Week 7 against the Rams. He will not play this Sunday against Minnesota, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy remains optimistic that Woodson will return for the playoffs.
Mike Nugent, CIN—Nugent has missed the last three games because of a strained right calf. On Friday, the Bengals placed him on IR, officially ending his season. Josh Brown has been kicking in his place and will continue to do so throughout the playoffs.
Follow Walt J as he comes to you on his blog “Live From AREA 49″ with his rants on the world of sports from the fan perspective. Whether it’s picks against the spread, fantasy football tips, or sheer frustration with your team, AREA 49 has a place for you. Follow him on Twitter at @a49_waltj and @area49sports, and on Facebook.