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2017 NFL – Biggest injury questions for every playoff team in the divisional round


NFL Nation reporters assess the biggest injuries for playoff teams in the divisional round.

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AFC

Wide receiver Chris Hogan (shoulder) missed seven of the final eight games of the regular season and his projected return would shake up the depth chart, as he would be paired with Brandin Cooks in the 2-WR grouping, with Danny Amendola in the No. 3 spot. With Hogan possibly not yet ready for a full load, it could be Cooks-Amendola in the two-receiver set at times, with Phillip Dorsett or Kenny Britt mixing in depending on the situation. But Hogan would give quarterback Tom Brady a trusted inside receiver to run some of the routes that Julian Edelman has made a staple of the team’s attack. — Mike Reiss

Cornerback Artie Burns (knee) was a new addition to the injury report on Wednesday. The Steelers need all the corner help they can get after allowing 10 passing plays of 40-plus yards over the past eight weeks. His recovery over the next four days will be crucial. Defensive end Stephon Tuitt (elbow) also appeared on the report, but I’m hearing his injury is minor. And good news for the Steelers: Wide receiver Antonio Brown (calf) was a full participant at practice, and teammates said he looked like his normal self. — Jeremy Fowler

After being relatively healthy on defense all season, the Jaguars have three linebackers banged up: Telvin Smith (ankle), Paul Posluszny (abdomen) and Blair Brown (foot). Smith is the team’s emotional leader and the best playmaker, so he’s the most important of the three, especially since he’d likely be covering running back Le’Veon Bell. Brown was injured in Wednesday’s practice, which could be an issue if Posluszny cannot play as he was next in line. That would likely force the Jaguars to stay in nickel most of Sunday’s game. — Mike DiRocco

DeMarco Murray has been ruled out for the third consecutive week, leaving the keys to the starting backfield in the hands of Derrick Henry. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as Henry has been the productive runner, but his pass-catching and blocking prowess will be tested against the Patriots. Left guard Quinton Spain (back) missed Tuesday and Wednesday practices. He missed a late week practice before starting and playing well against the Chiefs last week. He’s an important piece of their offensive line, so this will be something to keep an eye on. — Cameron Wolfe

NFC

The 53-man roster is in pretty good health. Defensive end Brandon Graham (ankle), left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) and linebacker Dannell Elerbe (hamstring) have all returned to practice. Graham is the one to watch. The Eagles’ leader in sacks (9.5) was injured on Christmas night against the Raiders, then sat out the meaningless finale against the Cowboys and last week’s practices. It’s to be determined whether he’ll be at his pass-rushing best on Saturday against the Falcons. — Tim McManus

Minnesota’s first-round bye was valuable for those dealing with lingering injuries like Kyle Rudolph. The tight end joked Wednesday about the limitations he faced in the past three games when he played through the ankle injury he sustained in Week 14. “Did you watch me play?” Rudolph said smiling. “I was pretty limited.” Only two players were limited in the first full practice of the week: cornerback Terence Newman (foot) and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (ankle). That’s a good sign for players like Pat Elflein (shoulder) and Xavier Rhodes (foot), who should be good to go when they open postseason play against the Saints on Sunday. — Courtney Cronin

The Saints placed their ninth starter of the year on injured reserve Wednesday — left guard Andrus Peat, who suffered a leg injury in last week’s wild-card win over Carolina. That’s obviously a key loss as New Orleans prepares to go up against the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense in Minnesota, and Peat was having the best season of his three-year career. However, the Saints should be in good shape with veteran backup Senio Kelemete, who has started eight games this year and 22 over the past three years. It’s also noteworthy that first-team All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan was limited in team drills Wednesday with a knee injury, though it’s too early in the week to determine if it’s anything significant. — Mike Triplett

Wide receiver Julio Jones did not practice for the second consecutive day pn Wednesday while still nursing a lingering ankle injury. It might not be too big of a concern, but Jones’ status is always worth monitoring. Coach Dan Quinn talks often about how Jones is one of those rare athletes capable of recovering faster from injuries. Jones has been banged up all season but hasn’t missed any games, so expect him to be his normal self when the Falcons face the Eagles on Saturday. — Vaughn McClure



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