It's only mid-September, but already key injuries have begun to play a major role in how the standings are shaping up.
While the NFL has placed a greater emphasis on player safety in recent years, you wouldn't know it by glancing at the weekly injury reports and inactive lists. A slew of big hits in Week 2 sidelined a handful of notable players, including Andre Johnson, Eddie Lacy and Brandon Meriweather.
On top of those stars who have been banged up in the early goings, there's a handful of big names who are hoping to make their 2013 debuts any day now.
Below we'll check up on the status of some notable banged-up players and get you set for Week 3 with a complete list of inactives.
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans, WR
Houston Texans superstar wideout Andre Johnson hadn't practiced much this week after suffering a concussion in Week 2's overtime win over the Tennessee Titans. But according to ESPN's Tania Ganguli, Johnson is "on course to play" this weekend.
Johnson was hit hard by Titans safety Bernard Pollard in the fourth quarter in Week 2. Though it won't aid Johnson's recovery, Pollard has since been fined $42,000 for the hit, according to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport on Twitter:
On Bernard Pollard: He did get fined $42K. He got his head out of the way, but hit "defenseless" Andre Johnson in the head and neck area.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 18, 2013
Johnson appears likely to suit up for Sunday's showdown in Baltimore. That's great news for the Texans' offense, obviously.
The 32-year-old has yet to catch a touchdown pass this season, but has been targeted 29 times through the first two weeks, reeling in 20 balls for 222 yards.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots, TE
Don't expect to see Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski, who underwent offseason surgeries on his back and forearm, in pads against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. According to The Boston Globe's Michael Whitmer, the Patriots are "leaning toward keeping Gronkowski out of Sunday's game."
According to a league source via Whitmer, Gronkowski is healthy enough to participate, but the coaching staff wants to give him more practice time before putting him in a game where the intensity is much higher.
Although the struggling Pats offense could definitely use Gronkowski, at 2-0, New England isn't under a ton of pressure to rush him back to the field.
Whitmer adds that Gronkowski has been listed as questionable in each of the past two weeks despite limited participation in practice during the week. Although he could be back any week now, it doesn't appear as if we'll see Gronkowski catching passes from Tom Brady in Week 3.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers, RB
After suffering a concussion early on in Week 2's win over the Washington Redskins, Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy's status remains uncertain for Sunday's Week 3 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tyler Dunne.
According to Dunne, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy has announced that James Starks will get the start at running back this weekend, but hasn't yet ruled out Lacy.
Lacy has carried the ball just 15 times for Green Bay this season, averaging 3.4 yards per carry with one touchdown. If Lacy doesn't see the field at all in Cincinnati, Green Bay fans can feel somewhat confident with Starks in the backfield.
The veteran started for the Packers during their Super Bowl run in 2010 and rushed for 132 yards and a score on 20 carries against Washington in Week 2.
Ed Reed, Houston Texans, S
Veteran safety Ed Reed will make his return to Baltimore with the Houston Texans in Week 3. But the question is: Will he play or watch from the sidelines?
Reed is recovering from offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, and was a game-time decision coming into Week 2 before being put on the inactive list at the last minute.
While no one seems to know for sure what the 35-year-old's status is heading into the weekend, keep in mind that Reed could be added to the mix at any point, as pointed out by The Houston Chronicle's John McClain on Twitter:
Nobody has a clue about Ed Reed's status for Sunday. If Reed says he's ready and shows them he is on the field, he'll play.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) September 18, 2013
Reed played 11 seasons with the Ravens and helped the franchise win its second Super Bowl championship last February, so you can bet he'll be itching to get on the field this Sunday.
Full Inactives List
Inactive lists will be updated as they become available via NFL.com.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
Raiders Inactives: QB Matt McGloin, SS Tyvon Branch, LB Sio Moore, T Menelik Watson, G Lucas Nix, OL Antoine McClain and WR Juron Criner
Broncos Inactives: QB Zac Dysert, CB Quentin Jammer, CB Champ Bailey, RB C.J. Anderson, TE Joel Dreessen, OL Chris Kuper, OL Winston Justice
Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers
Bears Inactives: WR Marquess Wilson, CB C.J. Wilson, RB Michael Ford, G James Brown, OT Jonathan Scott, DE David Bass, DT Zach Minter.
Steelers Inactives: CB Cortez Allen, RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Derek Moye, CB Isaiah Green, G Cody Wallace, QB Landry Jones, DT Hebron Fangupo.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks
Jaguars Inactives: QB Blaine Gabbert, WR Mike Brown, S Winston Guy, CB Alan Ball, CB Dwayne Gratz, TE Marcedes Lewis and DT Abry Jones
Seahawks Inactives: S Jeron Johnson, FB Spencer Ware, LB Malcolm Smith, DT D D'Anthony Smith, DE Benson Mayowa and DT Jordan Hill
Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers
Colts Inactives: C Samson Satele, WR Da'Rick Rogers, S LaRon Landry, LB Pat Angerer, WR David Reed, DT Montori Hughes and RB Kerwynn Williams
49ers Inactives: QB B.J. Daniels, WR Chris Harper, RB LaMichael James LB Nathan Stupar, G Joe Looney, WR Jon Baldwin and TE Vernon Davis
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
Bills Inactives: S Jairus Byrd, K Dustin Hopkins, CB Stephon Gilmore, CB Ron Brooks, C Doug Legursky, WR Marquise Goodwin, TE Chris Gragg
Jets Inactives: QB Brady Quinn, LB Ricky Sapp, G Will Campbell, T Ben Ijalana, T Oday Aboushi, WR Ryan Spadola and LB Scott Solomon
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins
Falcons Inactives: S Kemal Ishmael, RB Steven Jackson, S Zeke Motta, LB Jamar Chaney, G Harland Gunn, T Sam Baker and DT Travian Robertson
Dolphins Inactives: QB Pat Devlin, CB Jamar Taylor, CB Dimitri Patterson, LB Josh Kaddu, G Danny Watkins, G Dallas Thomas and DT Paul Soliai
Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals
Packers Inactives: CB Jarrett Bush, RB Eddie Lacy, CB Casey Hayward, FB John Kuhn, S Morgan Burnett, G Lane Taylor and DE Josh Boyd
Bengals Inactives: CB Brandon Ghee, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, RB Rex Burkhead, G Mike Pollak, OT Anthony Collins, WR Ryan Whalen and DE Margus Hunt
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens
Texans Inactives: QB Case Keenum, WR Lestar Jean, LB Sam Montgomery, G Cody White, OT Duane Brown, LB Justin Tuggle and DE Tim Jamison
Ravens Inactives: LB Arthur Brown, DL Chris Canty, WR Jacoby Jones, RB Ray Rice, C Ryan Jensen, WR Deonte Thompson and WR LaQuan Williams
Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints
Cardinals Inactives: QB Ryan Lindley, RB Ryan Williams, LB Kevin Minter, T Bobby Massie, RG Earl Watford, TE D.C. Jefferson and DT Dan Williams
Saints Inactives: RB Mark Ingram, CB Rod Sweeting, S Roman Harper, S Isa Abdul-Quddus, NT Brodrick Bunkley, WR Nick Toon and DE Tom Johnson
Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins
Lions Inactives: RB Reggie Bush, QB Kellen Moore, S Don Carey, G Leroy Harris, T Jason Fox, WR Patrick Edwards and DE Devin Taylor.
Redskins Inactives: QB Rex Grossman, RB Evan Royster, TE Fred Davis, OG Josh LeRibeus, DT Chris Baker, S Jose Gumbs and K Kai Forbath
Cleveland Browns at Minnesota Vikings
Browns Inactives: QB Brandon Weeden, LB Quentin Groves, OL Patrick Lewis, OL Martin Wallace, OL Shawn Lauvao, TE Keavon Milton, DL Amonty Bryant.
Vikings Inactives: QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, TE Rhett Ellison, S Mistral Raymond, LB Gerald Hodges, G Jeff Baca, DT Chase Baker and DE George Johnson
St. Louis Rams at Dallas Cowboys
Rams Inactives: RB Zac Stacy, G Barrett Jones, G Brandon Washington, T Mike Person, T Rodger Saffold, TE Mike McNeill and DE Gerald Rivers
Cowboys Inactives: RB Joseph Randle, LB Ernie Sims, OG David Arkin, T Darrion Weems, TE Andre Smith, NT David Carter and DE Anthony Spencer
New York Giants at Carolina Panthers
Giants Inactives: QB Ryan Nassib, CB Corey Webster, RB Michael Cox, T David Diehl, T Brandon Mosley, TE Adrien Robinson and DT Johnathan Hankins
Panthers Inactives: CB Josh Thomas, RB Kenyon Barner, S Quintin Mikell, CB D.J. Moore, CB James Dockery, DE Frank Alexander and DT Dwan Edwards
San Diego Chargers at Tennessee Titans
Chargers Inactives: QB Brad Sorensen, S Brandon Taylor CB Shareece Wright, LB Manti Te'o, LB Tourek Williams, OT D.J. Fluker and WR Malcolm Floyd
Titans Inactives: RB Shonn Greene, DT Sammie Lee Hill, CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson, C Brian Schwenke, T Byron Stingily, LB Zaviar Gooden and DL Lavar Edwards
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots
Buccaneers Inactives: QB Dan Orlovsky, CB Mike Adams, DE Steven Means, TE Luke Stocker, TE Tom Crabtree, T Gabe Carimi and DT Derek Landri
Patriots Inactives: WR Danny Amendola, LB Steve Beauharnais, TE Rob Gronkowski, DL Chris Jones, WR Matt Slater, T Will Svitek and RB Leon Washington
Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles
Chiefs Inactives: QB Tyler Bray, LB Nico Johnson, OL Eric Kush, TE Anthony Fasano, TE Travis Kelce, DT Jaye Howard and LB Josh Martin
Eagles Inactives: QB Matt Barkley, CB Roc Carmichael, CB Jordan Poyer, T Matt Tobin, T Dennis Kelly, DE Damion Square and TE Emil Igwenagu
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