We are roughly one-fourth of the way through the NFL season — and it hasn’t disappointed thus far. Entering Week 5, this is where the contenders begin to separate themselves from the pretenders. As teams prepare for their opponents this week, they also have to assess the injuries among their players.
It was a tough week for some squads that suffered critical injuries to some top players. The Chicago Bears lost their starting running back, David Montgomery, after he sprained a knee against the Detroit Lions. According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, he could miss four to five weeks, a tough blow given how he he played last week. The Washington Football Team lost linebacker Jon Bostic for the rest of the year after he injured a pectoral muscle. The New England Patriots also have a player with a pectoral injury, as defensive end Henry Anderson will miss the rest of the 2021 season because of it. Lastly, the San Francisco 49ers placed kicker Robbie Gould on injured reserve because he is nursing a groin injury.
Before the action kicks off on Sunday, our NFL team reporters are back to provide you important notes and updates about key players and their availability heading into Week 5.
Edmonds will be a game-time decision, coach Kliff Kingsbury said. The Cardinals will see how he feels after warming up Sunday. After last weekend’s game, Edmonds said his injured shoulder was fine even while wearing a huge bag of ice on it during his news conference. The Cardinals’ run game would be fine without him, but if there’s any way Edmonds can go, especially in another crucial NFC West game, he’ll be out there. — John Weinfuss
Injury: Personal matter
Ridley, the Falcons’ most talented receiver, didn’t practice on Thursday and didn’t travel with the team to London for their game against the New York Jets, making him officially out. He is dealing with a personal matter. — Michael Rothstein
Gage will miss his third game with an ankle injury he suffered against the Buccaneers. With Atlanta’s top two receivers out, expect to see Olamide Zaccheaus and Tajae Sharpe as the top two potential options for Atlanta. Beyond them, it’s a very, very inexperienced bunch with Christian Blake and rookie Frank Darby (who has not taken an NFL snap at receiver) on the active roster and Keelan Doss, Austin Trammell and Juwan Green on the practice squad. Don’t be surprised if there are a lot of two-back and two-tight-end sets against New York, because players in those positions (RBs Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson along with TEs Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst) are all experienced pass-catchers.
This is notable for a few reasons. First, if Williams — listed as doubtful after being injured Thursday — doesn’t play, Atlanta will be on its third nickel corner in a week after Isaiah Oliver (knee) was lost for the season against Washington. Second, the potential options — unless Atlanta moves Fabian Moreau or A.J. Terrell inside — are T.J. Green and a bunch of unproven players, including rookie safety Richie Grant and rookie corner Darren Hall, neither of whom have played much. Kendall Sheffield, who is eligible to come off injured reserve, could be another option, but he hasn’t played yet this season. Williams’ injury also leaves Atlanta with a question at punt returner. Olamide Zaccheaus — the team’s No. 1 receiver this week — could be an option, as could practice squad receiver Austin Trammell if he’s called up.
Milano, one of the Bills’ best defensive players, is questionable for Sunday night’s game against Kansas City. He was injured during the team’s Week 4 win over the Houston Texans. During his five-year NFL career, Milano has dealt with a variety of hamstring injuries and missed time previously. His absence would be a significant loss for the Bills against the Chiefs. If Milano can’t play, A.J. Klein is in line to get the start in his place. — Alaina Getzenburg
Despite Christian McCaffrey‘s optimism, saying after Thursday’s practice that he might play, he is listed as doubtful and is not expected to go. If so, that means rookie Chuba Hubbard will be up against the Eagles, who rank second to last in run defense. Just as significant is left tackle Cameron Erving (neck) being out. — David Newton
Mixon didn’t practice all week while he dealt with an ankle injury suffered in last Thursday’s win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, Bengals coach Zac Taylor didn’t rule Mixon out for this weekend’s game against the Green Bay Packers. Mixon, who was officially designated as questionable for Sunday’s contest, will give it a go on Saturday as the team makes another evaluation. That should determine his status for the Bengals’ toughest game so far this season. — Ben Baby
Newsome is expected to miss his second consecutive game with a calf injury. Greedy Williams, who had the game-clinching interception last weekend against the Minnesota Vikings, will get the start in place of the rookie again. — Jake Trotter
Elliott did not practice Wednesday and was limited Thursday and is officially listed as questionable for Sunday after their “mock game” on Friday. But coach Mike McCarthy said he fully expects the team’s top back to be available. Elliott has been on a good run the past three weeks and has three 100-yard games vs. the New York Giants. — Todd Archer
Bridgewater was a full participant in practice Friday, and if he is cleared in his medical check on Saturday before the team leaves for Pittsburgh, he is expected to start Sunday against the Steelers. Bridgewater had practiced on a limited basis Thursday and took some snaps with the starters and was cleared for full participation in Friday’s workout. If Saturday’s exam goes as the Broncos expect, he will start Sunday. — Jeff Legwold
Sutton rolled an ankle in Friday’s practice and was limited in the workout after the injury. The team has added him to the injury report and officially listed him as questionable.
The seventh overall pick of the 2021 NFL draft missed two practices this week while nursing an ankle injury, before returning Friday on a limited basis. Lions coach Dan Campbell said there’s a chance he plays on Sunday, although offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn isn’t 100% confident he will be in the lineup. “Right now, we’re planning on going without him, but if he’s ready, that would be great,” Lynn said on Thursday. — Eric Woodyard
Detroit’s Pro Bowl tight end missed Wednesday’s practice to be precautionary while nursing a knee injury, before returning to the Thursday and Friday sessions on a limited basis. Lions coach Dan Campbell says “he’s gotten better every day,” while Hockenson claims he feels good after being hit low a couple of times during last week’s loss at Chicago. “You never play in this game 100 percent so it’s one of those things,” Hockenson said on Friday. There is a chance he plays on Sunday.
Cannon did not practice this week because of a back injury. The right tackle is listed as questionable on the injury report, but left tackle Laremy Tunsil indicated in his news conference Friday that Charlie Heck would be starting for Cannon. “Charlie is going to get the job done too,” Tunsil said. — Sarah Bishop
The Chiefs held Jones out of practice all week, though he could play on Sunday night against the Bills. Coach Andy Reid said the injury has been a “distraction” for Jones, who doesn’t have a sack since the win over the Browns in Week 1. — Adam Teicher
Mullen suffered a toe injury Monday night that required him to be carted from the sideline to the locker room, and he has put out several cryptic tweets since, though he is not the only Raiders cornerback who will be out against the Bears. Damon Arnette injured his groin and coach Jon Gruden intimated injured reserve is a possibility for both players, saying he expects Keisean Nixon to be activated off IR to join recent signee Brandon Facyson against the Bears. “And, of course, Nate Hobbs and Casey Hayward give us some pretty good corners and give us a chance,” Gruden said. — Paul Gutierrez
Cook is still dealing with an injured right ankle and is listed as questionable for the Detroit game after the Vikings held him out of practice this week. While Cook insists he’s not getting any worse, the running back admitted he’s still not feeling 100%. Minnesota should be able to beat the Lions with Alexander Mattison starting, but it’s possible the team splits carries between Cook and his backup for a second straight week. — Courtney Cronin
Barr was not on the final injury report and is expected to make his 2021 season debut on Sunday.
Wynn has been on the reserve/COVID-19 list and has not practiced all week. The Patriots are planning for him to miss their game against the Texans. That is only the beginning of New England’s problems on the O-Line. — Mike Reiss
Much like Wynn, Onwenu is also dealing with COVID-19, resulting in him missing practice this week. The Patriots are proceeding as if he won’t be available to play.
Mason has been nursing an abdominal injury, and he is officially out for this week’s game.
Brown has been bothered by a nagging calf injury that he suffered on the first drive in the first game of the season. He will be sidelined for another week, meaning the Patriots will have to piece it together upfront, which has an obvious trickle-down effect on the rest of the roster in Sunday’s road game against the Texans.
This came out of nowhere but it’s a real concern. The Giants could very well be without their starting left tackle just when he started playing his best football. Thomas is likely to be a game-time decision on Sunday against the Cowboys. If he doesn’t play, Nate Solder flips to left tackle and Matt Peart is inserted into the lineup on the right side. — Jordan Raanan
After missing one game, the talented rookie is expected to play Sunday against the Falcons in London. The top three receivers played well last week, including Moore’s replacement, Keelan Cole. Still, Moore is highly regarded by the coaches and will have a prominent role in the game plan. — Rich Cimini
Sutton is the sixth starter to miss time with a groin injury, and his absence is a hit for the versatility in the secondary. Sutton primarily plays outside corner, but he can play everywhere, including the slot. Without him, the Steelers will rely more on James Pierre and Justin Layne outside and Arthur Maulet and Tre Norwood at slot. Perhaps more concerning than this individual injury is the accumulation of soft-tissue injuries for the Steelers that are forcing players to miss games. — Brooke Pryor
The Niners hoped to have Kittle follow a similar path to what he did last week when he was able to play through his calf injury. But that didn’t happen, as Kittle was unable to practice even on a limited basis Friday and didn’t practice at all Wednesday and Thursday. On Saturday, he was placed on the injured reserve list, meaning he will miss the 49ers’ next three games, at least. — Nick Wagoner
Injury: Broken ribs
Gronkowski will miss his second consecutive game this year with broken ribs and a “small pinch” in his lungs, coach Bruce Arians said. On a positive note, Gronk has been riding a stationary bike this week, so he’s progressing. — Jenna Laine
Winfield had an interception and a forced fumble in the Bucs’ 19-17 win over the Patriots last week but also suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter. He could not get through the protocol and will be out against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
The Titans expect Brown to play after he was a full participant in practice all week. Brown didn’t practice last week because of a hamstring injury but moved well through drills, showing the ability to start and stop fluently. Getting Brown back in the lineup is a welcome addition considering how the receivers struggled to get open last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. — Turron Davenport
Samuel played 22 snaps last week in his season debut, which was delayed by a groin injury. But he then couldn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday. However, he was limited on Friday, which was a positive development. Washington coach Ron Rivera said a lot depends on how Samuel feels Saturday morning after working today, but he added that his wideout is “trending in the right direction.” — John Keim