Who's in and who's out for Week 7 of the NFL season? We are tracking all the key actives and inactives for this Sunday's action:
Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints (shoulder): Last season against the Bills in Week 8, Graham was limited to red zone duty due to injuries. He caught three passes in 20 total snaps -- and two of them were for touchdowns. Graham will have a similar role, and tougher opposition, when the Saints face off with the Lions and their top-ranked defense. Graham hasn't played since Week 5, but he practiced Thursday and Friday, and head coach Sean Payton said Sunday morning that he'll be smart with how Graham is used.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers (concussion): Benjamin has been a pleasant surprise this season, putting up 31 catches for 416 yards and four touchdowns in an offense that was supposed to be a disaster without Cam Newton's top three targets from 2013. The good news for Carolina this week is that Benjamin will start despite a concussion, and that he'll be going against a Packers defense without cornerback Sam Shields.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers (knee): The Panthers got some good news regarding their depleted running back rotation when it was deemed that Stewart was ready to go against the Packers' iffy run defense. Stewart had been out three weeks, and there was hope he could go against the Bengals last week, but it didn't play out. DeAngelo Williams and Fozzy Whitaker are still on the bench with their own maladies.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings (hip): It's been hard for the Vikings' combo platter of quarterbacks to integrate Patterson in any meaningful way this season, but he'll at least be on the field for today's game against the Bills.
"Obviously we’re not getting done the things we want to get done offensively," offensive coordinator Norv Turner said Friday about Patterson, who has just 17 catches for 204 yards, and five rushes for 97 yards, this season. "It’s not ever on a guy, right now it’s on our entire group and when I speak to the entire group it’s coaching, it’s every player getting better and that’s our emphasis. We’ve just got to shore some things up. We’ve got to do a better job of protecting the quarterback and when we talk about the protection with the quarterback I know the emphasis, in terms of the conversations, have been the offensive line but it’s everyone involved in terms of what we’re doing, how we’re doing and then getting the ball out on time, backs being exact in protection and then everyone taking care of their assignment, taking care of their guy."
Today would be a good start. And sometimes, it's simple -- just find a way to get the ball into Patterson's hands.
Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks/Kevin Norwood, WR, Seahawks: With Percy Harvin off to New York, the Seahawks will finally avail themselves of the services of the two receivers they took in the 2014 draft. Richardson is a speedster from Colorado who could replace not only Harvin, but Golden Tate as a deep target, and Norwood is a bigger possession receiver with red zone potential.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions (ankle): Megatron has been dealing with that balky ankle for weeks -- it first limited his production severely, then took him out of last week's game against the Vikings. He won't go against the Saints either, and with the team traveling to London next week to face the Falcons and then a bye, it may be a while before Detroit's (and the NFL's) best receiver is back in action. The next game after Detroit's bye is Nov. 9 against the Dolphins.
Sam Shields, CB, Packers (knee): Shields has been vulnerable in coverage this season, allowing 16 catches and three touchdowns on 29 targets, but against the Panthers, he won't be a factor at all. He went down in the third quarter of Green Bay's win over the Dolphins last Sunday and was replaced by Davon House. Soon after Shields left the game, fellow cornerback Tramon Williams hurt his ankle and was replaced by Casey Hayward.
"Casey and I feel like we can start in this league," House said after the game. "We looked at each other like, 'Man, this is what we've been waiting for,' to show the world that we're not just backups. We felt like we did a good job out there, but that was the last thing on our mind was two corners on back-to-back plays coming out."
However, Williams (who was a game-time decision) will be active, which gives the Packers more options in Shields' place.
Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans (thumb): Locker is still working his way back from the thumb injury he suffered a couple weeks back, and as Charlie Whitehurst took most of the first-team snaps in practice this week, he should be as ready to go as possible against Washington's depleted pass defense.