have a depleted backfield this Sunday, and Adrian Peterson
isnt' the only one out. (Larry French/Getty Images)
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 15 of the 2013 season:
Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers (ankle): Lacy is good to go against Dallas' defense, an opportunity that no opponent would want to miss. The Cowboys are allowing 4.83 running back yards per carry, and they're just as vulnerable in short-yardage situations as they are at the second level. The only thing stopping Lacy from having a big day is if Packers head coach Mike McCarthy decides that quarterback Matt Flynn will have a better time ripping apart Dallas' secondary.
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons (knee)/Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons (toe): White has been surfing on both sides of the Falcons' injury report all season, but he's good to go against a Redskins defense that has been very, very gracious to opposing receivers all season. Gonzalez was limited in practice throughout the week, but he'll be looking to torch Jim Haslett's defense as well. Per Football Outsiders' metrics, Washington is 25th in the league against both No. 1 receivers and tight ends.
Kiko Alonso, LB, Buffalo Bills (knee): Alonso, who may be the NFL's leading candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year now that Arizona's Tyrann Mathieu is out for the rest of the season, will play against the Jaguars despite "tweaking" his knee in Friday practice.
Nate Solder, OT, New England Patriots: Tom Brady may not have too many receivers left, but at least he'll be protected when he's finding people who can catch the ball. Solder passed the team's concussion protocol this week, and is good to go against the Dolphins.
Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams (ankle): Austin didn't practice at all this week after suffering an ankle injury last Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, so it's no surprise that he will not go against the Saints. Austin caught just one pass against Arizona's defense, but had been much more of a factor in the Rams' three previous games after a slow start to his rookie season.
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee Titans (team rules violation): No injury for Hunter, though his pride could be hurt. He'll miss the team's game against the Cardinals due to an undisclosed violation of team rules. This after his great game against the Broncos last Sunday -- he caught four passes for 114 yards and a touchdown in Tennessee's loss. Hunter also caught six passes for 109 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders on Nov. 24, so whatever this violation was, we're assuming it was fairly serious. Teams playing Arizona's defense need all the help they can get.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings (foot)/Toby Gerhart, RB, Minnesota Vikings (hamstring): According to several reports, Vikings players were informed on Saturday night that neither Peterson nor Gerhart would be available for Minnesota's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Peterson hurt his foot in Last Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, and though he did look surprisingly good in a Friday workout, the Vikings are obviously being cautious with their superstar now that their playoff hopes are in the rear-view. Gerhart suffered a hamstring pull during a 41-yard touchdown run against the Ravens when he was subbing for Peterson. Minnesota will have Matt Asiata and Joe Banyard as its reserves.
Sean Lee, ILB, Dallas Cowboys (neck): Lee, one of the few bright spots this season in Dallas' porous pass defense, will miss Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers because he's still recovering from a sprained ligament in his neck. Lee said this week that he doesn't know when he'll return to the field, which is bad news both for Dallas' defense, and for the Cowboys' diminishing postseason hopes.
Aaron Dobson, WR, New England Patriots (foot)/Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, New England Patriots (hip): Once again, Tom Brady is dealing with diminishing returns when it comes to his targets. Not only is Rob Gronkowski out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, but Dobson and Thompkins will also be out with their own maladies as the Patriots take on the Miami Dolphins in a key divisional matchup. Running back Shane Vereen got an amazing 17 targets in last Sunday's comeback win over the Cleveland Browns, and that formula may repeat against Miami.
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars(groin)/Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (hamstring): The suddenly resurgent Jags, winners of four of their last five games, will be without their two best offensive players against the Bills. Shorts is dealing with a groin injury that may require offseason surgery, leaving Mike Brown and Ace Sanders as Chad Henne's primary targets. Jones-Drew had been hopeful about playing through the hamstring injury he suffered two weeks ago, but it will be Jordan Todman starting in the backfield this Sunday.
Robert Griffin, QB, Washington Redskins (unknown):
As expected, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan
has listed Griffin as inactive, something that will likely happen through the rest of the team's season unless injuries befall starter Kirk Cousins
and/or backup Rex Grossman