The 2020 NFL regular season is in the books and 14 teams still have dreams of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy next month.
Here’s a quick team-by-team rundown of all the injury news that concerns the 2020 NFL playoff field:
The Ravens have a number of veterans who are dealing with injuries, but John Harbaugh seemed pretty confident they would all be ready for the first round of the playoffs. Slot receiver Willie Snead Jr. is dealing with an ankle injury, but Harbaugh is “hopeful” he will return. Punter Sam Koch “should be available” after spending Week 17 on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Rookie Johnny Townsend was signed off the Chiefs practice squad to fill in for Koch last week as the punter and holder on kicks. As for CB Jimmy Smith and DE Yannick Ngakoue (thigh), Harbaugh believes each guy has a “good chance” of playing this weekend after being inactive in Week 17.
Cole Beasley has been the best slot receiver in the NFL this season, but was absent in Week 17 and remains “week-to-week” ahead of Wild Card Weekend. Isaiah McKenzie filled in for Beasley in Week 17 and turned in a career performance, setting career highs in catches (6), receiving yards (65), and receiving touchdowns (2). McKenzie even returned a punt for a touchdown.
Rookie CB Jaylon Johnson remains day-to-day with a shoulder injury that has forced him to miss the last three weeks. Rookie Kindle Vildor has struggled in his limited role replacing Johnson, allowing 105 yards and two touchdowns on 15 targets. As for LB Roquan Smith (elbow) and WR Darnell Mooney (ankle), who were both injured in Week 17, Matt Nagy won’t have an update on either guy before Wednesday. In better news, RT Bobby Massie was designated to return from the IR. Massie hasn’t played since suffering a knee injury in Week 8. Germain Ifedi has played right tackle since Week 12 and has played well recently, not allowing a single quarterback pressure in the last three games.
Defensive end Olivier Vernon will miss the entire postseason after rupturing his Achilles in Week 17. Since Week 10, Vernon led the NFL in quarterback pressures. Ten-year veteran Adrian Clayborn will replace Vernon in the starting lineup. Clayborn has just 14 pressures in 2020, although he did turn in a 1.5-sack performance against the Eagles earlier this year. Pro Bowl LG Joel Bitonio and WR KhaDarel Hodge both tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the Browns’ first playoff game. The Browns will also be without head coach Kevin Stefanski, who also tested positive for COVID-19 and must isolate for a minimum of 10 days.
Green Bay Packers
All-Pro LT David Bakhtiari will miss the postseason after tearing his ACL last week. Billy Turner got the start at left tackle in Week 17 and struggled, allowing three QB pressures and earning an overall grade of 53.5 from Pro Football Focus. The Packers still put up 35 points on the Bears, but without Bakhtiari, the NFL’s eighth-best rushing attack managed 79 yards against the Bears.
Left tackle Anthony Castonzo has been dealing with an ankle since Week 15 and was finally added to the IR this week after undergoing surgery. With La’Raven Clark also on the IR, the Colts turned to Jared Veldheer to start at left tackle in Week 17. Veldheer allowed two quarterback pressures in his first game as a Colt. The 11-year veteran was added to the Colts’ practice squad less than a week before being called up. Veldheer was sent back to the practice squad after the game, but he should be the starter in the Wild Card round.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs hold the sole bye in the AFC and that could give a couple key players a chance to get back on the team. Rookie RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire has missed the last two weeks with a high-ankle sprain and LB Anthony Hitchens has spent the last two weeks on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Chiefs are healthy otherwise and will sit at home, awaiting their Divisional Round matchup.
Los Angeles Rams
Quarterback Jared Goff has not been ruled out for Saturday’s game yet, but after undergoing thumb surgery prior to Week 17, it would be a surprise if he suited up. John Wolford had an up-and-down performance in his NFL debut, throwing for 231 yards and adding 56 on the ground. However, he threw an interception and averaged just 6.1 yards per attempt. Another guy to keep an eye on is Cooper Kupp, who was added to the reserve/COVID-19 list last week. Sean McVay hasn’t given an update on his situation yet, but Saturday will mark 12 days since he was removed from the active roster.
New Orleans Saints
At the moment, all of the New Orleans running backs are on the reserve/COVID-19 list. That includes Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, and Dwayne Washington. Kamara tested positive last Thursday, so it is possible for him to return as soon as Sunday, provided he doesn’t become symptomatic or test positive again. As for the other guys, since they didn’t test positive, they have an opportunity to return to practice later this week.
Cornerback Joe Haden will miss the first round of the playoffs after testing positive for COVID-19. With Haden out, Cam Sutton and Mike Hilton will take more defensive snaps. Sutton has been the Steelers’ primary reserve cornerback and has played well in 2020, allowing a passer rating of 88.5 on 57 targets. Tight end Eric Ebron and LB Cassius Marsh are also on the reserve/COVID-19 list, however, neither player has tested positive.
Safety Jamal Adams suffered a shoulder injury on Sunday and Pete Carroll is unsure whether the former Jet will be ready to play this weekend. Ryan Neal could return to the starting lineup if Adams is out. Neal started four games when Adams missed time earlier in the season. Carroll also wasn’t too optimistic about DE Jarran Reed, who is “pretty sore” after suffering an oblique injury. However, it isn’t all bad news in Seattle as RT Brandon Shell (COVID-19) and LG Mike Iupati (neck) are expected to play on Saturday against the Rams.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Wide receiver Mike Evans is day-to-day with a knee injury, however, there isn’t any structural damage to the knee. The Buccaneers are confident Evans will play on Saturday, but if he is out or ineffective, Antonio Brown could fill in his slot. Brown did just that in Week 17 and delivered his best game since leaving Pittsburgh, catching 11 passes for 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Linebacker Devin White was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list last week and will be out. With the Buccaneers scheduled to play on Saturday, it is impossible for White to get cleared in time. Kevin Minter and Lavonte David will be the Bucs starting inside linebackers on Saturday.
Left guard Rodger Saffold will be a game-time decision on Sunday after exited Week 17 with an ankle injury. Aaron Brewer filled in for Saffold and ended up being the Titans’ second-highest graded offensive player by PFF. Brewer has played 60 snaps at left guard since Week 14, allowing just one quarterback pressure and putting up an overall grade of 76.2 on PFF.
Washington Football Team
Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis has missed the last three weeks with an ankle injury and is the only Washington starter who is dealing with an injury heading into Wild Card weekend. Washington played with just two linebackers against the Eagles, with John Bostic and Cole Holcomb playing nearly every snap together and Khaleke Hudson played five snaps. Expect a similar rotation against Tampa Bay if Pierre-Louis remains out.