NFL injury report, Week 16: Will DeMarco Murray and Julio Jones play?
With most fantasy championships being decided in Week 16 – and many NFL teams jockeying for playoff position — SB Nation Medical Expert Dr. Ali Mohamadi gives insight into the most notable injuries in the NFL landscape and how they might affect your roster decisions.
The status of Dallas running back DeMarco Murray has been the source of palpitations for Cowboys fans and fantasy owners alike this week. His availability Sunday will play a huge role in playoff fates on more than one level. Murray fractured the fourth metacarpal of his left hand – the bone connecting the ring finger to the wrist – in last week’s huge win over Philadelphia and had surgery Monday to stabilize the bone using a plate and screws. Murray has been practicing this week with a plastic shell on the hand. Although he’s listed as questionable for this week’s pivotal home matchup with Indianapolis appears determined to play. The biggest issues Murray will face if he does suit up don’t involve bone healing as much as pain control and ball control: whether the protective shell will insulate the hand sufficiently from the pounding it will take as well as whether wearing it will make it more difficult to maintain a grip on the football. Murray will know about pain during pregame warmups; whether he’ll have problems holding onto the ball is something fans will have to wait until game time to find out.
In the same game, it will be a game time decision for Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who injured his left hamstring during last week’s division-clinching victory over Houston. Hilton spent the waning moments of the contest on the sideline with an ice wrap on the hamstring, and although an MRI obtained the same day was largely reassuring, Hilton has missed the entire week of practice thus far. He is listed as questionable for Sunday’s contest with Dallas. Although the Colts have wrapped up the AFC South, they are playing for playoff seeding, with a chance for a first-round bye if they can leapfrog either the New England Patriots or Denver Broncos in the standings. If Hilton can’t go – and it’s increasingly appearing that may be the case – the biggest beneficiaries in Andrew Luck’s receiving arsenal would likely be Donte Moncrief and Coby Fleener.
Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones missed last Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh due to a left hip injury and has once again been held out of practice the entire week. The Falcons’ staff continues to be coy about the injury, listing him as questionable for this week’s crucial divisional matchup at New Orleans, but otherwise being sparing with details. On the play that caused him to exit the game against the Packers, Jones fell to the ground then came up favoring the front of the hip area, which is suspicious for a hip flexor injury. If so, it could mean missing this and next week as well. The first sign of Jones’ possible status is whether he makes the trip to New Orleans with the rest of the team. If he does, the next test will be in pregame warmups. For Atlanta, Roddy White and Harry Douglas are likely to see more passes come their way if Jones is unable to suit up.
DeAndre Hopkins has been a positive in a generally tough season for the Texans offense, but his status for Sunday’s contest against Baltimore, essentially an elimination game for Houston, is in doubt due to an ankle injury that has kept him out of practice this week. The Texans are already short at QB, with Case Keenum taking over after injuries to Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, and Tom Savage, so possibly losing Hopkins would be a huge blow to the team’s chances. Hopkins will test the ankle early Sunday morning, and his status will be determined based on how it responds.
49ers receiver Michael Crabtree has been dealing with a knee injury the past several weeks that hasn’t kept him from playing, but his status is questionable for Sunday’s matchup with San Diego after only participating on a limited basis in practice the past two days. With San Francisco out of the playoff chase, it’s distinctly possible Jim Harbaugh will consider sitting Crabtree, making Anquan Boldin more likely to see targets from Colin Kaepernick. Crabtree’s status should be clear by late afternoon Saturday.