In the NFL’s constant war of attrition, injuries can decide games, seasons and a whole lot of futures. Here’s who will give it a shot, and who will not, as we head into Week 5 of the 2013 season:
Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots (groin): Jay Glazer reported on Sunday morning that Amendola, who hasn't played since Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills, will give it a go against the Bengals. Amendola will be limited, but Tom Brady will need all the help he can get against a Bengals defense that hasn't allowed a 300-yard passer in 18 games.
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (groin): Finally, some good news for the Jaguars. Justin Blackmon returns from his league suspension today and he'll be joined by the team's best target against the St. Louis Rams.
Cameron Wake, DE, Miami Dolphins (knee): Wake missed last Monday's game against the Saints, and Drew Brees tore the Dolphins' defense apart. Joe Flacco will have a tougher time with Wake back in action and the Ravens fielding a skeleton crew of receivers.
Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys (hamstring): Austin hasn't played since Week 3 with his latest hamstring issue. That puts Terrance Williams in the driver's seat as Tony Romo's third target after Dez Bryant and Jason Witten against a Broncos defense that has been dynamite against slot receivers this season.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions (knee): Johnson saw light work on Friday and was pushing hard to start, but he won't do so against the Green Bay Packers.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots (back, forearm): Gronk will not go against the Bengals, leaving some to wonder why the Patriots didn't place him on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which would have kept him out for the first six weeks anyway, and left a roster spot open. The Pats waived TE Zach Sudfeld this week, and the Jets picked him up. The answer's pretty simple -- Gronkowski wouldn't be able to practice on PUP, and the Pats will need him up to speed as quickly as possible when he is able to play.
Jacoby Jones, WR, Baltimore Ravens (knee): Well, we thought it was pretty easy to read the tea leaves on this one. The Ravens released receiver Brandon Stokely this week, and Jones returned to practice for the first time since he was hurt in the season-opener against the Broncos. John Harbaugh said that Jones made significant progress this week, and he was listed as questionable on the injury report, but he will not go against the Dolphins. This leaves Joe Flacco with just three active receivers: Torrey Smith, Deonte Thompson, and Tandon Doss.
Leon Hall, CB, Cincinnati Bengals (hamstring): Here's some good news for Brady, though -- Hall, Cincy's best pass defender, will miss the Patriots game. Defensive end Michael Johnson will also be on the sidelines with a concussion.
Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta Falcons (hamstring): Jackson will miss his third straight game, and the Falcons have just one rushing touchdown and 325 rushing yards all season. Thus, the onus will once again be on quarterback Matt Ryan to get things done -- this time against the Jets' underrated defense.
Champ Bailey, CB, Denver Broncos (foot): It's a good thing that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Chris Harris, the Broncos' current cornerbacks, have things on lock, because Bailey will miss yet another start in his fight to return from the foot sprain he suffered in August. DRC will get a heavy challenge from Dallas' Dez Bryant.
Eric Fisher, OT, Kansas City Chiefs (concussion): The first overall pick in the 2013 draft has had his struggles this season, but he certainly would have started if he could have passed the concussion protocol. Donald Stephenson will start at right tackle in his place against Tennessee's impressive front seven.
Zach Miller, TE, Seattle Seahawks (hamstring): Miller's stats aren't generally impressive, but he's been a beast for the Seahawks in pass pro over the last few seasons. With him out of the picture, as well as starting offensive tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini and center Max Unger, the Colts' defense should be able to pressure Russell Wilson all day long. Eugene Monroe, OT, Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens traded for the former Jacksonville first-round pick this week, but Monroe won't be active against the Dolphins. Bryant McKinnie will handle the left side instead, though he may not do so for long after this game.