Wild Card Weekend Injury Tracker: Updates on Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas Before Sunday Games
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Michael Thomas (left) and Alvin Kamara.
Wild Card Weekend continues with three more games Sunday, and there are some key injuries to track among the field. In particular, the Cleveland Browns could be without multiple players and coaches following a string of positive COVID-19 tests, while the New Orleans Saints will have two offensive stars back in action.
For the first time, the sheet embedded on this page will also display each player’s value to the spread. These rankings are provided by NFL expert Sean Koerner and can be found under the “Rating” heading in the below table.
As always, be sure to check back throughout the week as this page is updated with the latest news.
NFL Injury Report
NFL Injury Updates
Saints RB Alvin Kamara (COVID-19 Protocol) and WR Michael Thomas (ankle): The Saints added both Kamara and Thomas back to the active roster on Saturday, activating Kamara from the Reserve/COVID-19 List and Thomas from Injured Reserve.
Both players are expected to play today against the Bears, though the team will still be without Tre’Quan Smith (ankle), who remains on IR. The last time Kamara was on the field, he scored six touchdowns against Minnesota in Week 16, while Thomas has been sidelined since Week 15.
Washington Football Team QB Alex Smith (calf): Smith’s status still remains very much up in the air as Washington prepares to face Tampa Bay in the Wild Card Round on Saturday. According to JP Finlay of NBC Sports, there is a “very real chance” that backup QB Taylor Heinicke plays meaningful snaps, and he may even start the game.
Smith’s final status will be updated in the above chart when the team releases its gameday inactives 90 minutes before kickoff.
There’s a “very real chance” that Taylor Heinicke plays a lot tomorrow, if not starts, per a source. Alex Smith’s calf just isn’t responding.
— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) January 9, 2021
Rams QB Jared Goff (thumb): According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, backup QB John Wolford took the majority of first-team practice reps this week while Goff recovers from a thumb injury that kept him out of the regular season finale.
As for the #Rams: QB John Wolford took the majority of snaps this week and is prepared to start vs #Seahawks, sources say. Jared Goff has thrown well despite a broken thumb, and coach Sean McVay hasn’t made a determination. Goff is pushing to play, but it remains a challenge.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 9, 2021
RapSheet adds that as of Friday night, head coach Sean McVay still hadn’t decided whether it will be Goff or Wolford under center to start the game today. As with Smith, Goff’s final status will be updated in the above table this afternoon.
Saints RB Alvin Kamara (COVID-19 Protocol): Although Kamara officially remains on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, he tweeted yesterday, “See y’all Sunday,” implying he’ll be available to face Chicago this weekend. In order to be eligible to play, Kamara must be activated from the reserve list by Saturday afternoon. While that does seem to be the expectation, nothing is official yet.
Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (knee): On Thursday, head coach Bruce Arians called Evans a “game-time decision” this week, adding, “I think he’s got a chance” to play. Arians also said Evans has been “living in the training room,” while staying off his feet. Today was Evans’ first day back on the practice field after he was a DNP (did not participate) on Tuesday and Wednesday. He is officially questionable to play on Saturday.
Bills WRs Stefon Diggs (oblique) and Cole Beasley (knee): Just when it was starting to look like Buffalo would have its full starting receiving corps of Diggs, Beasley and John Brown available in the same game for the first time since Week 10, the team listed both Diggs and Beasley as questionable to play against Indianapolis on its game status report.
Diggs played less than 50% of team snaps in Week 17, though Buffalo also rested multiple other starters in the game. He missed Wednesday’s practice, but did get in limited sessions on both Tuesday and Thursday. As for Beasley, he was able to get in his first practice session since Week 15 today, although he was also a limited participant.
Head coach Sean McDermott has kept his plans close to the vest during his entire tenure with Buffalo, so we may not gain clarity on the Bills’ injury situation until closer to kickoff.
Washington Football Team Injury Update: As was the case last week, Washington listed Alex Smith (calf), Terry McLaurin (ankle), and Antonio Gibson (toe) as questionable to play this weekend. All three ended up playing in a must-win game against Philadelphia and, given the stakes, that is the most likely outcome this week, as well.
That doesn’t mean all three players are back to full strength — far from it. In Week 17, McLaurin logged his lowest snap share of the season at 81% while Smith was clearly hobbled by his calf injury. Head coach Ron Rivera lamented the fact that Washington plays on Saturday instead of Sunday in the Wild Card Round when updating Smith’s status, adding, “I wish we had an extra day just to be sure.” Assuming Smith is active, there is a chance he may rotate with backup QB Taylor Heinicke, as Rivera mentioned on Wednesday.
Rams QB Jared Goff (thumb): A thumb injury forced Goff to miss Week 17, paving the way for backup John Wolford to lead the team to a victory over the Cardinals, clinching a playoff spot for the Rams in the process. Updating Goff’s status today, head coach Sean McVay said he’ll monitor the starting quarterback throughout the week and that he likely won’t announce who will start under center until gametime.
Rams WR Cooper Kupp (COVID-19 Protocol): While the Rams’ quarterback situation remains in flux, the team should have its full complement of receivers when they face the Seahawks this weekend. The team activated Kupp from the Reserve/COVID-19 List on Wednesday, putting him on track to play this weekend against the Seahawks. Kupp had been on the reserve list since Dec. 29 following a positive COVID-19 test.
Saints WR Michael Thomas (ankle): According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Thomas is expected to ramp up his activity level this week as he works his way back from a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 14. While it’s still early in the practice week, Thomas appears to be poised to rejoin the active roster ahead of Sunday’s showdown against the Bears as long as he does not suffer a setback.
Washington QB Alex Smith (calf): Although Smith was able to lead Washington past Philadelphia in the team’s division-clinching Week 17 victory, he is still hobbled by a calf injury that forced him to miss Weeks 15 and 16. When Washington takes on Tampa Bay this weekend, the Football Team may deploy a committee approach at QB depending on how Smith’s calf responds. Head coach Ron Rivera said today that he would “definitely have to look at” rotating Smith with backup Taylor Heinicke during the game.
Cleveland Browns COVID-19 Update: The Browns currently have 10 players on the Reserve/COVID-19 List after WR KhaDarel Hodge and OL Joel Bitonio were added today. To make matters worse, head coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for the virus today, along with two positional coaches. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer is expected to inherit head coaching duties while Stefanski is sidelined this weekend.
It’s too early to say which players the Browns may be without when they face the Steelers on Sunday night, but this will be a situation worth monitoring throughout the week.
Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (knee): Last Sunday, Evans suffered a non-contact knee injury that required him to be carted off the field. Fortunately, it seems that Evans’ injury wasn’t as bad as it appeared, as an MRI performed Monday revealed no structural damage. Head coach Bruce Arians called Evans “day-to-day”, though the 1,000 yard man started off the practice week with a “DNP” (did not participate) in today’s walkthrough practice. For now, consider Evans questionable to play this weekend.