Week 15 actives/inactives: Jones out vs. Steelers, Jackson suiting up
Who's in and who's out for Week 15 of the NFL season? We're tracking all the key actives and inactives for this Sunday's action.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (hip): The hottest receiver in the game will not get to take advantage of Pittsburgh's leaky pass defense. Even if he had been able to play, Jones likely wouldn't have been much more than a decoy. He ran on Saturday after missing practice all week, making him a gametime decision. Jones injured his hip on Monday night against the Packers, after torching Green Bay's defense for 259 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches. The week before, Jones hit the Cardinals' defense for 10 catches, 189 yards and a touchdown. The Steelers are giving up a lot of explosive plays, but look for Roddy White to get the majority of those opportunities this time around.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers (ankle): The oft-injured Mathews, who has played in just six games this season, will not be available against the Broncos due to the sprained ankle he suffered against the Patriots last Sunday. The Chargers are trying to gain a foothold in a very congested AFC playoff race, and will go with Branden Oliver and Donald Brown as they take on Denver.
Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans (concussion): Johnson didn't get medical clearance to play after suffering a concussion after being hit hard last week by Jaguars' linebacker Telvin Smith. DeAndre Hopkins moves to the No. 1 wide receiver spot against the Colts' defense on Sunday, and will most likely get the most looks from shutdown cornerback Vontae Davis.
“All of these concussion questions are great questions, but they’re more for our medical staff," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said Thursday. "All that I know is that we’re on top of it. He’s taking the test every single day. When they feel like he passes that test, they’ll pass them to the field. I wouldn’t know that until probably ultimately right before Sunday, the game.”
Johnson hasn't had a 100-yard game this season, though he came closest against Indy's defense on Oct. 9 -- seven catches for 99 yards and a touchdown.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers (back): Newton will not go against the Buccaneers -- he fractured two transverse processes in his back in a mid-week car accident and will be replaced by Derek Anderson. Many are optimistic that Newton will be able to return for Week 16 though, since Tony Romo had a similar injury earlier this season and missed just one game.
Ike Taylor, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers (knee, shoulder, forearm): Taylor has been dealing with a bevy of injuries, and he won't be available against the Falcons. Not that this is a bad thing, to be honest -- Taylor has been very vulnerable in coverage this season, allowing four touchdowns to no interceptions and a 157.2 opposing quarterback rating.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington Redskins (fibula): Jackson missed Washington's loss to the Rams last week, but he'll be good to go against the Giants' leaky secondary. Neither team is playing for much in this game, but Jackson is just 58 yards away from surpassing 1,000 receiving yards this season. That would be an impressive feat, given that the Redskins' quarterback situation has been a dumpster fire this year. However, he caught just one pass for nine yards when these two teams played on Sept. 25.
Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos (ankle): Thomas hasn't played since Nov. 16 as he has recovered from an ankle injury. He was active against the Bills last week but didn't play, and in Thomas' absence, the Broncos have gone to a more run-heavy attack with impressive success. Against San Diego's defense, it looks as if Thomas will be more of a full-go participant -- head coach John Fox said this week that while he liked Thomas' progress while preparing the Buffalo game, he was even more encouraged in recent days. Expect Thomas to be a high-volume target on seam and crossing routes and in the red zone if he can go at full-speed.
Chandler Jones, DE, New England Patriots (hip): Jones has been out since Week 7 with a hip injury, but his active status against the Dolphins is still more good news for a Patriots defense that has been playing as well as any in the league over the second half of the season. Jones had 4.5 sacks, three quarterback hits and 15 quarterback hurries before he was hurt. Ryan Tannehill will have a lot to think about, as New England brings pressure from just about everywhere, and Jones is the team's best pass-rushing weapon.
Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens (knee): The prolific Smith has been dealing with a balky knee over the past couple of weeks, and he did not play against the Dolphins last Sunday. Smith was still limited in practice this week, so even though he is active, it would be a bit much to expect him to go off against the Jaguars.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers (hip): The news is that Lacy and James Starks will probably split the reps when the Packers take on the Bills on Sunday. Lacy hurt his hip late in Green Bay's Monday night win over the Falcons. Buffalo's estimable front four are allowing just 3.77 running back yards per carry this season, so whoever gets the ball will have a bit of trouble moving it with consistency.