With just two weeks to go in the 2020 season, it’s clear there are two motivations for teams: push for the postseason, or try to keep everyone healthy for 2021. Despite this, over 66 injuries occurred in Week 15, and other key players are stuck on the reserve/COVID-19 list as their teams try to make it to the finish line without them.
Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of all the biggest injury news following Week 15:
The Cardinals finished Sunday’s game without the services of TE Maxx Williams (ankle) and LB Dennis Gardeck. Despite starting every game since Week 9, Williams has just 10 targets this season compared to Dan Arnold’s 37 targets and 367 receiving yards. Gardeck played a season-high 24 defensive snaps on Sunday before leaving with an undisclosed injury. On special teams, Mike Nugent has taken over the kicker spot after Zane Gonzalez was placed on the IR with a back injury.
Guard James Carpenter was questionable to play on Sunday, but managed to suit up against Tampa Bay. However, Carpenter couldn’t make it through the game before aggravating his groin injury. Carpenter has struggled in 2020, earning an overall grade of 57.1 from Pro Football Focus. Justin McCray has filled in for Carpenter and hasn’t played any better, allowing three sacks and 11 quarterback pressures in 102 pass-blocking snaps.
The Ravens had little trouble defeating the Jaguars on Sunday, but OL Tyre Phillips did leave the game to be evaluated for a concussion. There is no update on the rookie’s condition, however, he has struggled since losing his job at right guard to Ben Powers. Phillips has seen most of his time in recent weeks at right tackle, but has allowed five sacks in the past four games. D.J. Fluker remains the Ravens starting right tackle. Defensive stars Calais Campbell and Marcus Peters were inactive on Sunday due to calf injuries suffered in Week 14, although John Harbaugh told reporters Peters was “close” to playing, so he should be back next week.
Star WR Stefon Diggs is dealing with a foot injury, according to Sean McDermott. Diggs had a monster game, catching 11 passes for 147 yards against the Broncos, but was carted into the locker room late in the fourth quarter. However, it looks like Diggs’s injury isn’t serious and shouldn’t affect his availability moving forward. Cornerback Tre’Davious White also exited the blowout win early, but said he’s feeling “pretty good” while dealing with a stinger.
Maybe RB Christian McCaffrey (shoulder/thigh) will practice this week? Since injuring his thigh prior to Week 14, McCaffrey was expected to play in each of the last two games, but was inactive. A pair of young defensive players suffered injuries on Saturday. Cornerback Troy Pride Jr. is doubtful after suffering a hip injury and DE Brian Burns is dealing with an MCL injury. Burns has nine sacks this season and his 88.5 pass-rushing grade ranks fifth among all edge defenders on PFF. Pride has struggled this season and will be replaced by Rasul Douglas.
The Bears’ secondary is lacking depth. Slot cornerback Buster Skrine missed his second-straight game with a concussion and CB Jaylon Johnson (shoulder) was out as well. Duke Shelley started in the Bears’ base defense and slid inside to the slot when they were in their nickel package. Against the Vikings, Shelley was targeted eight times, allowing seven completions for 80 yards. Offensive weapon Cordarrelle Patterson suffered a knee injury against his former team, but is considered “day-to-day” by Matt Nagy.
Wide receiver Tyler Boyd suffered a concussion in the Bengals’ upset win over the Steelers on Monday night. Boyd is the Bengals’ leading receiver this year, but failed to record a catch before exiting on Monday. The Bengals are deep at wide receiver with Tee Higgins and A.J. Green still available.
The Browns’ right guard situation is in disarray as star RG Wyatt Teller is expected to miss at least one more game with an ankle injury and his backup, Chris Hubbard, is done for the season after suffering a dislocated kneecap on Sunday. Fifth-round pick Nick Harris got his first NFL snaps on Sunday, allowing one sack in 34 pass-blocking snaps. Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson is expected to be held out of practice while dealing with a neck injury this week.
The Cowboys suffered a litany of injuries in their win over the 49ers. Running back Ezekiel Elliott was held out due to a calf injury and his status for Week 16 is questionable. Meanwhile, LB Leighton Vander Esch suffered a high-ankle sprain and will miss time. However, WR Michael Gallup avoided a serious injury and has a shot of playing against the Eagles on Sunday. Safety Xavier Woods (ribs), DT Antwaun Woods (ankle), and CB Chris Westry (knee) were all injured on Sunday as well.
Pass rusher Bradley Chubb suffered an ankle injury on Saturday. However, Vic Fangio told reporters on Monday that Chubb should return to practice sometime this week. Chubb leads the Broncos with 8 sacks in 2020. Unfortunately, Fangio didn’t have the same optimistic tone when it came to LB Von Miller or star CB Bryce Callahan, both of whom he expects to miss the rest of the season.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford was able to play, despite suffering a rib injury in Week 14. Cornerback Mike Ford got the first start of his career with Desmond Trufant and Jeff Okudah on IR. However, Ford injured his foot in the first half and was replaced by Justin Coleman, who wasn’t targeted. Coleman has spent most of 2020 as the Lions’ slot cornerback, but could see more time on the outside with Trufant, Okudah, Ford, and Darryl Roberts all dealing with injuries.
Green Bay Packers
Rookie LB Krys Barnes sustained an eye injury on Saturday night, but he should be good to go for next week. Barnes, an undrafted free agent, has played 35% of the Packers defensive snaps this season and has started eight games, but his 41.7 overall grade on PFF ranks in the bottom 10 of linebackers who have played at least 300 snaps this year. Veteran Christian Kirksey could get more snaps if Barnes is limited on Sunday night.
Right tackle Tytus Howard was hospitalized overnight in Indianapolis after suffering a concussion on Sunday. However, he was released and traveled home to Houston on Monday. Howard has started every game at right tackle for the Texans this year and has allowed just two sacks all season. However, Howard has allowed four or more QB pressures in six different games. With just two games remaining, it’s possible Houston will keep Roderick Johnson in the lineup for the rest of the regular season.
Linebacker Darius Leonard suffered a back injury on Sunday, but Frank Reich told the media that it wasn’t too serious. Leonard is the Colts’ leading tackler, despite missing two games earlier in the year and his 83.6 pass-rushing grade ranks second on the team. The Colts dodged another bullet with CB Xavier Rhodes, who isn’t ruled out for Week 16 after suffering a knee injury. Rhodes has been among the NFL’s top cornerbacks this season, allowing a passer rating of 60.9 when targeted. Both guys being available would be huge for Indianapolis when it plays Houston next week.
Safety Josh Jones suffered a shoulder injury on Sunday. Head coach Doug Marrone told reporters he won’t know the extent of the injury until later in the week. Andrew Wingard could replace Jones if he has to miss time. Wingard has made four starts for the Jags this season at safety and is much better in coverage than Jones. Wingard has an interception and three passes defended this year while Jones has allowed 23 completions for 243 yards and two touchdowns on just 25 targets. Marrone also said C Brandon Linder will miss his second-straight game with an ankle injury. Tyler Shatley played center on Sunday and was the Jaguars’ highest-graded pass-blocker.
Kansas City Chiefs
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire suffered a high-ankle sprain on Sunday. The rookie has more than double the touches of anyone else on the Chiefs roster (217) and is third on the team in yards from scrimmage (1100). It is doubtful that Edwards-Helaire can recover in time to join his team in the regular season, which thrusts Le’Veon Bell into the spotlight. Bell has performed better since the Chiefs’ bye week, averaging 4.25 yards per carry and eight yards per reception. He picked up 76 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on 16 touches on Sunday.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers won a thriller on Thursday night. But Joey Bosa remains stuck in protocol after suffering a concussion in the win. Bosa missed two games earlier this season with a concussion, so it makes sense that the Chargers are being extra cautious with their star pass-rusher. In a lost season, it wouldn’t be shocking if he was shut down for the remainder of the season. Although Anthony Lynn told reporters that is not the case.
Los Angeles Rams
Rookie RB Cam Akers suffered a high-ankle sprain on Sunday. Akers has seen an uptick in his touches recently with 65 of his 121 rushes coming in the last three weeks. Darrell Henderson is the Rams’ leading rusher, although he’s received 10 carries just once since Week 7. Sean McVay expects Henderson to split carries with Malcolm Brown until Akers can come back.
Las Vegas Raiders
Quarterback Derek Carr suffered a “significant” groin injury and was replaced by Marcus Mariota. However, Carr is expected to make every effort to be back for Week 16. Initial reports were it would take Carr 10-14 days to recover, which puts him right on the border of being ready on Sunday. Mariota was a true dual-threat on Thursday, rushing for 88 yards and throwing for 226 and a touchdown. Cornerbacks Daryl Worley and Isaiah Johnson were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Brian Flores didn’t have an update on RG Solomon Kindley who left Sunday’s game with a knee injury, but he did seem optimistic that TE Mike Gesicki was close to returning from the shoulder injury he suffered in Week 14. Adam Shaheen filled in for Gesicki against New England and caught one pass for 15 yards. Veteran Jesse Davis filled in for Kindley and earned the team’s highest pass-blocking grade on PFF.
The Vikings have a quick turnaround with a Christmas night matchup on the horizon. Unfortunately, it looks like they’ll be without veterans TE Kyle Rudolph and LB Eric Kendricks. Mike Zimmer even went as far as to say he didn’t know if Kendricks would suit up again in 2020. We’re still unsure if Rudolph (foot) will continue to miss time, but the duo of Irv Smith Jr. and Tyler Conklin has stepped up in his absence, combining for six catches, 94 yards, and one touchdown on Sunday.
New England Patriots
Stephon Gilmore partially tore his quad on Sunday. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year has taken a step back this season, allowing a passer rating of 96.7 when targeted in 2020; a far cry from the 48.0 he yielded in 2019. Gilmore is done for the year after undergoing surgery on Tuesday morning. Jason McCourty will fill in for Gilmore in the final two weeks. He was not targeted on Sunday.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints have to get their team ready for a Friday night contest against the Vikings, but DE Trey Hendrickson’s status for that game remains in question after he suffered a stinger on Sunday. Hendrickson has been one of the best pass rushers in the NFL this season, racking up 13 sacks, tied for second-most in the league. UTSA product Marcus Davenport could see more action if Hendrickson misses time, but that would be a huge drop-off for the Saints. Davenport is mainly a run-stopper, but he does have 26 quarterback pressures this year.
New York Giants
Daniel Jones is still out, but he is considered questionable for this week with a hamstring injury and a sprained ankle. Joe Judge told reporters they will evaluate Jones in practice, then only let him play if he’s healthy. However, Judge said the same thing two weeks ago and let an injured Jones get sacked six times by the Cardinals and sprain his ankle in the process. In some positive news, RB Devonta Freeman has been designated to return from the IR and could suit up as early as next week, albeit in a complementary role to Wayne Gallman.
New York Jets
DT Quinnen Williams is in concussion protocol after leaving Sunday’s contest in the third quarter. Williams has been the Jets’ best defensive player this season, leading the team with eight sacks and ranking second on the team in total QB pressures and defensive grade on PFF. Nathan Shepherd could receiver some extra snaps if Williams misses time, especially after his performance against the Rams. Shepherd recorded his first sack of the season, as well as two quarterback hits and two tackles for loss.
Eagles punter Cameron Johnston suffered a head injury on a blocked kick and missed most of Sunday’s game. Kicker Jake Elliott had to punt for the first time in his life and Zach Ertz tried to hold an extra point, but the snap was botched. If Johnston can’t clear concussion protocol by Sunday, it sounds like Elliott could continue to punt for the Eagles. In other news, rookie WR Jalen Reagor suffered an ankle injury, but WR Desean Jackson has been designated to return from the IR, so the Eagles won’t be too shorthanded if the rookie can’t play.
Fullback Derek Watt suffered a concussion early on Monday night and will have to fight through protocol to be ready by Week 16. The Steelers did play without James Conner (quad), who was a game-time decision, so he should be back next week. Also coming back is LB Vince Williams, who is preparing to come off the reserve/COVID-19 list sometime this week. Mike Tomlin also told reporters that G Kevin Dotson should return and start at left guard in Week 16 after missing time with a shoulder injury.
San Francisco 49ers
It’s been a rough season for RB Raheem Mostert, who has had multiple stints on IR and will now be finished for 2020 after suffering a high-ankle sprain on Sunday. The Niners also have a huge question mark at quarterback now with Nick Mullens sidelined for the rest of 2020 with a sprained elbow. San Francisco signed Josh Rosen off Tampa Bay’s practice squad to back up CJ Beathard. In better news, TE George Kittle is pressing the team to let him play in the final two weeks, but San Francisco is being cautious with its star. Kittle hasn’t played since breaking his foot in early November, but he did return to practice last week and could be activated at any time.
Mike Iupati suffered a stinger on Sunday and was replaced by Jordan Simmons. Pete Carroll didn’t have any idea which guy would be starting at right guard on Sunday. The Seahawks do have some positive news as TE Greg Olsen will be returning from the IR this week and star WR DK Metcalf is fine after an awkward play in Sunday’s game. The Seahawks also have a question at right tackle as Brandon Shell tries to return from an ankle injury. Cedric Ogbuehi is their backup plan.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Running back Ronald Jones II is on the reserve/COVID-19 list and missed Sunday’s game against Atlanta. However, LT Donovan Smith has been removed from the list and should be good to go in Week 16. With Smith out on Sunday, Tom Brady was sacked three times and hit six times. CB Carlton Davis suffered a groin injury on Sunday and is questionable for next week. Davis leads the NFL in passes defended this season.
At long last, CB Adoree’ Jackson made his 2020 debut, playing 27 snaps and recording two tackles. Expect Jackson’s role to expand as he continues to heal and we get closer to the playoffs.
Washington Football Team
RT Morgan Moses injured his leg on Sunday, but tried to gut it out, only to return on the final drive and allow a game-ending sack. Moses’s status for Week 16 is questionable. Perhaps the bigger news in Washington revolves around QB Dwayne Haskins, who was pictured at a strip club, maskless, on Sunday night. The team said they expect to handle the matter internally, which should just lead to a fine. However, Alex Smith could return from his calf injury on Sunday, moving Haskins back to the bench.