The 2020 NFL season slides into Week 5, and with it includes a rash of injury news and notes about several of the league’s top quarterbacks, including Baltimore Ravens‘ Lamar Jackson, Denver Broncos‘ Drew Lock, the New York Jets‘ Sam Darnold and San Francisco 49ers‘ Jimmy Garoppolo.
Elsewhere, in his Thursday night debut with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1), quarterback Tom Brady will be without Pro Bowl wide receiver Chris Godwin, wide receiver Justin Watson and running back LeSean McCoy in the prime-time matchup against the Chicago Bears (3-1). The Bears, a little more fortunate in the injury department at this time, will be without defensive backs Sherrick McManis (hamstring) and Deon Bush (hamstring).
Here’s a look at the biggest injuries for every team:
Linebacker Matt Milano left Buffalo’s game against the Raiders in Week 4 with a pectoral injury and coach Sean McDermott described his status as “week to week.” The unbeaten Bills, who play at Tennessee Sunday, have struggled to cover the middle of the field with and without Milano this season, but losing him for an extended period of time could curb this defense’s attempt at building on the “energy” it found during the second half of last week’s win. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones has missed the past two games with a groin injury, but there appears to be a real chance he can make his return Sunday at San Francisco. His return would help the Dolphins’ heavy man-to-man defense. — Cameron Wolfe
Coach Bill Belichick said his plans at quarterback start with if Cam Newton is cleared to come off the COVID-19/reserve list, so that’s the headline. Elsewhere, starting right guard Shaq Mason (calf) missed Monday’s loss to the Chiefs and opened the week remaining limited in practice. — Mike Reiss
Starting quarterback Sam Darnold‘s right-shoulder injury, considered week-to-week, means Joe Flacco will make his first start in nearly a year. Talk about tough spots: It’s a new team, a new offense and he had no training camp. Darnold, who hasn’t tried to throw, could miss next week’s game against the Chargers, too. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman (ankle) looks like he could miss his third straight game. Good news: Running back Le’Veon Bell (hamstring) should be ready to come off IR. Look for him to split carries with Frank Gore. — Rich Cimini
With Joe Flacco starting for an injured Sam Darnold, Damien Woody reflects on the Jets’ mess of a season, saying fans of the team only have the possibility of drafting Trevor Lawrence to look forward to.
Reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson did not practice Wednesday because of a knee injury, but it’s not considered serious, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. This marked only the third missed practice for Jackson in his three-year NFL career. Jackson has never missed a game since taking over as Baltimore’s starting quarterback midway through the 2018 season. He has taken a league-high 47 hits this season. The Ravens should be able to protect Jackson better Sunday against the Bengals because left tackle Ronnie Stanley (shoulder) returned to practice after being sidelined last game. — Jamison Hensley
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins is making progress. Atkins, who has missed the first four weeks with a shoulder injury, continued to work his way back into practice on Wednesday. While Atkins’ availability will be determined later in the week, there’s a decent chance the Bengals will have him for Sunday’s game against the Ravens. Cincinnati will need Atkins if it wants to stop a Ravens’ attack that is third in the league in total rushing. — Ben Baby
Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi continues to struggle with an abdomen injury and had to sit out Wednesday’s practice. Ogunjobi has played well this season and the Browns don’t have a ton of depth behind him, so getting him healthy again will be key for a Cleveland defensive line that has been solid alongside star pass-rusher Myles Garrett. — Jake Trotter
The Steelers were fairly healthy going into the impromptu bye week, but they did get back a key contributor in wide receiver Diontae Johnson, who was still in the concussion protocol last week. With Johnson back and mostly healthy, save for a toe injury, the Steelers’ offense is nearly at full strength, just in time for the Week 5 game against Philadelphia. Fullback Derek Watt (hamstring) is still working back from injury, though he could potentially play Sunday. — Brooke Pryor
Tight end Jordan Akins, who left the Texans’ Week 4 loss to the Vikings with a concussion, did not practice on Wednesday and was listed on the injury report with a concussion and an ankle injury. Akins leads Texans tight ends with 14 catches for 168 yards and a touchdown. If Akins does not play in Week 5 against the Jaguars, then it could mean a larger role for teammate Darren Fells. — Sarah Barshop
The Colts could go into their biggest test of the season so far defensively without one of the best linebackers in the NFL. All-Pro Darius Leonard, who leads the Colts in tackles with 27, did not practice Wednesday because of a groin injury that caused him to miss the second half of their Week 4 victory over Chicago. The Colts lead the NFL in fewest yards (236.3) and points (14.0) allowed per game. But they’re not about to face the Jets, Vikings or Bears. The Browns lead the league in rushing (204.5) and are fourth in points (31.0) per game. — Mike Wells
The Jaguars are dealing with injuries to three defensive starters, who also happen to be their three best players: linebacker Myles Jack (ankle), cornerback C.J. Henderson (shoulder) and defensive end Josh Allen (knee). They all missed practice on Wednesday but coach Doug Marrone said he feels good about their chances of playing on Sunday at Houston. Not having Jack would be perhaps the most serious loss because he has been the defense’s — and arguably overall — best player. The move to weakside linebacker frees him up to make plays and he’s been all over the field, including an end zone interception. The Jaguars have minimal depth at linebacker, so it’s critical they get him on the field ASAP. — Mike DiRocco
The Titans are already without wide receivers Adam Humphries, Cam Batson and Corey Davis who have all been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. They could be in line for some good news since A.J. Brown showed up on their estimated injury report as a limited participant. Brown has not practiced since being a limited participant on Sep. 16. Most importantly, the Titans need consecutive days of negative tests before they can get back into their facility. Players, such as Brown, who are in need of treatment are not able to get into the facility to work with the athletic trainers. — Turron Davenport
Quarterback Drew Lock threw in Wednesday’s practice in some of the team’s individual drills and it was the first time Lock has participated in practice since leaving the Broncos’ Week 2 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers with a right (throwing) shoulder injury. Lock is not 100% unless he improves significantly and gets more work in Thursday’s or Friday’s practice. Brett Rypien is expected to start Sunday against the Patriots. Also, coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday both tight end Noah Fant (ankle) and wide receiver KJ Hamler (hamstring) were “long shots” to play against New England. — Jeff Legwold
Even after not playing in Monday night’s game against the Patriots because of a groin injury, defensive tackle Chris Jones was again a limited participant as the Chiefs began their practice week for Sunday’s home game against the Raiders. Jones leads the Chiefs in sacks with 3.5. He gives the Chiefs a nice 1-2 combination of pass-rushers when paired with Frank Clark, so his loss would be felt if he doesn’t play against Las Vegas. — Adam Teicher
Las Vegas might be getting some much-needed size and speed back for a game at Arrowhead Stadium, where the Raiders have lost seven straight games. Right tackle Trent Brown, who has played three snaps this season because of a calf issue, and rookie receiver Henry Ruggs III, who has missed the past two games with hamstring and knee issues, both returned to practice on Wednesday. “We’ve been working Trent for a long time, so he wouldn’t be out there practicing if he wasn’t close to being ready,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “Ruggs is a rookie who had no spring practice and he’s missed a lot of time. I don’t know if they’re going to play this week or not. It’s good to have them back out on the field.” — Paul Gutierrez
While the Chargers have had a host of injuries in this young season (defense, offensive line, running back Austin Ekeler) the player this week worth watching is Mike Williams. The 6-foot-4 wideout sat out of L.A.’s Week 4 loss to the Buccaneers with a hamstring injury — which he suffered the previous week against Carolina — but there’s a chance he will be back for Monday night’s game with the Saints. His return would help rookie quarterback Justin Herbert even more. — Shelley Smith
Left tackle Tyron Smith appears to be following a similar practice plan from last week that allowed him to return from a two-game absence because of a neck injury. Smith did not practice Wednesday, which was the same as last week before going through two limited workouts the rest of the week. The idea is for Smith to take most of his work on Thursday, the longest practice of the week, and keep him ready for game day. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who had been limited in practice with a knee injury, took part in Wednesday’s session. The Cowboys will need Lawrence, who does not have a sack this season, to get after Giants quarterback Daniel Jones. — Todd Archer
Safety Jabrill Peppers was back on the practice field for the first time Wednesday since suffering an ankle injury 10 days ago against the 49ers. He was listed as a limited participant. It’s a step in the right direction, even if the Giants only had a walk-through. There now seems to be at least a chance Peppers makes it back this week to face the Cowboys. Next week might seem more realistic, but this week is at least possible. — Jordan Raanan
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring) returned to the practice field in a limited capacity after sitting out last week’s game at San Francisco. He was moving well and was engaged — all good signs he is on track to play against the Steelers. Wideout Alshon Jeffery (Lisfranc) was moving better than this time last week, and appears close to a return. — Tim McManus
Rookie defensive end Chase Young missed his fourth consecutive practice because of a groin injury. He worked once more on a side field with trainers, performing agility work. It’s hard to read this situation because Young clearly has progressed. He worked out with more vigor Wednesday. But the team will be smart and cautious with him. Last week, coach Ron Rivera called him day to day and that remains true. They also have to worry about receiver Terry McLaurin, who didn’t practice because of a thigh injury. He was not on the field during the portion open to the media. He hurt the thigh in practice on Oct. 1 and sat out the next day, but played against Baltimore Sunday. — John Keim
In stark contrast to the Buccaneers, the Bears have two notable players on the injury report for Thursday night: defensive backs Sherrick McManis (hamstring) and Deon Bush (hamstring). McManis, who missed last week’s game, is one of Chicago’s best all-around players on special teams. The Bears had a special teams breakdown last week when Indianapolis partially blocked a punt early in the game. Chicago can ill afford any special teams miscues versus Tampa Bay, but that becomes harder without McManis, who is likely to be inactive for another week. — Jeff Dickerson
The Lions are off this week, but injuries to cornerback Desmond Trufant (hamstring) and running back Kerryon Johnson (undisclosed) will be worth keeping an eye on entering Week 6. Both left the loss to New Orleans in the second half, and it would be noticeable if they were out for any period of time. Corners Justin Coleman and Mike Ford, along with running back Bo Scarbrough and left guard Joe Dahl would be eligible to come off IR if they are ready following the Lions’ bye. — Michael Rothstein
Davante Adams thought he was ready to play last week against the Falcons, but the Packers either did not or figured they could get by a winless team without their best receiver. By doing so, the Packers gave Adams and his ailing hamstring another two weeks of rest given they’re on the bye this week before they face Tom Brady and the Bucs in Week 6. “[Adams has] worked his tail off ever since this thing occurred and it’s just one of those deals where the long term, potential long-term effects, you just got to take that into consideration,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “And we know that in order for us to be at our best, he needs to be a part of those long-term plans.” — Rob Demovsky
Defensive end Danielle Hunter went to get a second opinion on the herniated disk in his neck that has sidelined him since the middle of August. At this rate, it’s fair to raise two questions: should Hunter return and risk further injury, and will we see him at some point this season? The Vikings’ cornerback unit is still dealing with injuries as Kris Boyd (hamstring) and Holton Hill (foot) were limited on Wednesday, but Mike Hughes (neck) did return to practice in full for the first time in several weeks. Minnesota’s linebacking corps took another hit with a foot injury to Eric Kendricks, which kept him out of practice on Wednesday. Receiver Adam Thielen was limited with a shoulder injury while his position-mate, K.J. Osborn, was held out with a hamstring ailment. — Courtney Cronin
Wide receiver Julio Jones did not practice Wednesday while he continues to deal with the left hamstring injury that caused him to miss one game and limited him to one half of play during Monday’s game in Green Bay. Jones typically fights through injuries, but this latest one seems more concerning. Asked about his concern level for Jones, quarterback Matt Ryan said, “I know one thing about Julio: he works as hard as anybody I know to get himself ready to go week in and week out. If he continues to do that, those kind of things are going to take care of themselves in the long haul.” — Vaughn McClure
For the first time this season, there really isn’t a big injury question for the Panthers. Even if starting left tackle Russell Okung (groin) isn’t able to play for the third straight week, the Panthers have become so confident in Greg Little that they don’t look at this as a big setback. Having said that, Okung is trending toward playing even though he was limited in Wednesday’s practice. — David Newton
It might be easier to list the starters who aren’t injury question marks this week. Receiver Michael Thomas remains the headliner after missing the past three games with an ankle injury. There is a good chance he’ll return, since he returned to practice last week. But it’s still possible the Saints will take a conservative approach with their bye coming in Week 6. Thomas was one of six starters held out of last Sunday’s game at Detroit (along with cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins, tight end Jared Cook, guard Andrus Peat and defensive end Marcus Davenport). Then they had All-Pro right tackle Ryan Ramczyk and All-Pro kick returner Deonte Harris leave early with injuries. The Saints’ first practice report will be Thursday this week since it’s a Monday night game against the Chargers. — Mike Triplett
The Bucs, who play at Chicago on Thursday night, will be without Pro Bowl wide receiver Chris Godwin again this week because of a hamstring injury. They will also be without his backup, Justin Watson, because of a chest injury, and third-down running back LeSean McCoy because of an ankle injury. To make matters worse, running back Leonard Fournette is still healing from his own ankle injury and is doubtful. The team also placed tight end O.J. Howard on injured reserve this week. — Jenna Laine
With Chris Godwin out for Week 5 and Leonard Fournette a game-time decision, Field Yates and Mike Clay break down what this means for fantasy managers.
Outside linebacker Devon Kennard, who sat out Sunday’s game in Carolina, missed another practice on Wednesday with a calf injury. Not having Kennard on the field against the Jets on Sunday will add more pressure to Chandler Jones to get to the quarterback. If Kennard can’t play this week, Haason Reddick will get more reps, but the Jets will be able to key in on Jones more, putting more resources into slowing down one of the league’s best pass-rushers. — Josh Weinfuss
The Rams are dealing with two injuries at the inside linebacker spot. Micah Kiser, the team’s leading tackler, has a strained groin and a strained pectoral muscle suffered in a Week 4 win against the Giants and Kenny Young, who has rotated in at the position, is dealing with knee inflammation. Troy Reeder, who started eight games last season, is capable of filling a role if Kiser or Young are unable to play Sunday. — Lindsey Thiry
Will Jimmy Garoppolo return from his high right ankle sprain or not? The Niners are a bit more optimistic about it as Garoppolo returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday. That doesn’t guarantee anything, but it’s Garoppolo’s first practice since suffering the injury in Week 2. “We’ll see how he goes,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We’re going to throw him in there today and that will give me more of an opinion at least.” The Niners would be more than happy to get Garoppolo back after a rough outing from Nick Mullens and the offense in last week’s loss to the Eagles. — Nick Wagoner
Pete Carroll said right cornerback Quinton Dunbar participated in Wednesday’s walk-through and will practice Thursday with the hope of playing Sunday night against Minnesota. He missed the past two games with a knee injury, pressing Tre Flowers into the starting lineup. If Dunbar isn’t ready, Seattle’s bye following the Minnesota game will give him four weeks of rest, which is something the Seahawks will surely take into account when determining his status. However, his possible absence would also mean missing another starter on defense with strong safety Jamal Adams not expected to play against Minnesota and linebacker Jordyn Brooks unlikely to play, as well. — Brady Henderson
Joe Thornton spoke to Joe Montana about leaving Bay Area
He spoke with family and friends. He spoke with Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau, former San Jose teammates who left the team via free agency. But Thornton said the most memorable guidance he received was from another Bay Area sports legend.
“I actually talked to Joe Montana. I think Joe gave me some good advice. He just talked about leaving San Francisco and going to Kansas City,” said Thornton, who signed a one-year deal with the Leafs on Friday.
“I had so many people I talked to over the last week. I’m just blessed I had a chance to talk to some great people. He was one guy who offered me some good advice,” Thornton said.
Thornton, 41, is skating with HC Davos in the Swiss National League in preparation for the upcoming NHL season. His contract with the Leafs is for $700,000.
The decision to join Toronto ended Thornton’s 15-season run with the Sharks. In 1,636 games with San Jose and the Boston Bruins, he amassed 1,509 points — most among active players. He’s 14th all time in career points and seventh in career assists (1,089). He won the NHL scoring title and MVP honors in 2005-06.
“The emotions I feel are appreciation and reflection. It’s hard to put into words what Joe meant for this franchise over 15 seasons,” San Jose general manager Doug Wilson said. “I think there are very few players in pro sports that can alter a franchise the way he did.”
Thornton praised the organization and the fans in San Jose.
“They loved me and I loved them right back,” he said. “The Shark Tank was one of the best buildings to play in, and we had a lot of memories there.”
But after he and Wilson were unable to find a landing spot for Thornton on a contender at the most recent trade deadline, the veteran center found one through free agency.
“It was probably the hardest hockey decision I ever had to make. But with the roster [the Maple Leafs] have, the guys that they picked up this offseason, they’re ready to win now and I’m ready to win,” Thornton said.
Zeke on Dallas loss: ‘I’m sorry; this one is on me’
“I don’t think we can use that as an excuse,” Elliott said of not having Prescott because of a compound fracture and dislocated right ankle. “I’m just going to keep saying it over and over — I started the game out with two fumbles, gave the ball away and gave them all the momentum they need to go take off. I want to say I’m sorry and this one is on me. I need to be better.”
Elliott finished with 49 yards on 12 carries and caught a team-high eight passes but for just 31 yards. However, it was fumbles on back-to-back drives in the first and second quarters that changed the complexion of the game.
The first fumble came after catching a short pass from Andy Dalton on second down, but safety Budda Baker stripped the ball free and Jordan Phillips recovered. Eleven plays later Kyler Murray and Christian Kirk hooked up for a 6-yard flip for a touchdown.
Two plays into the next possession, Elliott fumbled again with Phillips poking the ball free at the Dallas 30. Five plays later, Kenyon Drake scored the Cardinals’ second touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
“I mean, when you’re fumbling every game obviously teams are going to lock in on it and go for it even more,” Elliott said. “That’s even more of a reason I need to figure it out, man. I don’t want to keep talking about it, but I’ve got to figure out a way to figure it out.”
When the Cowboys took the field after Elliott’s second fumble, Tony Pollard was the running back. When Elliott returned to the field after eight snaps, there was a murmur among the crowd.
“Every player that plays in this league, no different on our football team, if you don’t take care of the football, it does affect your opportunities,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Tony got an opportunity and I thought he did some really good things with his opportunities.”
Elliott has lost a career-high four fumbles in six games and the opponents have turned every takeaway into a touchdown. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the other top-10 rushers have combined for three lost fumbles in nearly 900 fewer touches this season. Elliott has 133 touches, while the nine other backs have 1,014 touches.
“I’m giving the ball away,” Elliott said. “I wasn’t helping my team. I think they did the right thing and gave some of those reps to TP, but I can’t do that. I have to be a guy this team can lean on, especially at times like right now with so many of our starters hurt and not playing. So it’s not acceptable and I need to figure it out.”
Elliott said he focuses on keeping the ball tight in practice. The Cowboys do ball-handling drills every day in practice.
“I just got to have a short memory,” Elliott said. “I’ve got to get that behind me and play some good ball and get on a roll.”
Elliott has gone a career-long six games without a 100-yard outing. He had a five-game drought in Weeks 10-14 last season. He had not gone more than two games to open a season without a 100-yard game to his credit.
Some of that can be pinned on a defense that has struggled, but 84 of the 218 points the Cowboys have allowed this season have come off turnovers.
“He understands that. He knows that,” Dalton said. “Zeke’s going to get this thing fixed.”
He also knows he needs to get it fixed quickly.
“At the end of the day, Zeke is our bell cow, and we need to get it right,” McCarthy said. “He’s part of the plan. He’s going to be part of the success. We have to get it right. We have to take care of the football and that’s for everybody that touches the football on our team.”
Allen says Bills ‘can’t afford’ his recent struggles
After a 4-0 start to the season during which Josh Allen resembled a possible MVP candidate, the Buffalo Bills have now dropped two games in a row, with their struggling quarterback acknowledging, “This team can’t afford to have me play poorly.”
Playing in his second consecutive prime-time game Monday night, Allen completed just 14 of 27 passes for 122 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs in a performance reminiscent of his 2018 and 2019 seasons. Although he threw two touchdown passes, he also recorded his fourth interception of the season and missed receivers throughout the game, culminating in a 26-17 loss in Orchard Park, New York.
The third-year quarterback took responsibility for his performance, directly tying his team’s success — or lack thereof — to his play.
“We weren’t good enough — I was not good enough. I got to do a better job, it’s plain and simple,” Allen said. “I didn’t play very good tonight. I know that. I understand that. This team can’t afford to have me play poorly.
“Early on just not being as accurate with the ball as I should have been. Making the right reads, making the right throws, and we turned it on a little too late there.”
Through the first four weeks of the season, only Dallas‘ Dak Prescott threw for more yards than Allen’s 1,326, and only Seattle‘s Russell Wilson and Green Bay‘s Aaron Rodgers threw for more touchdowns than Allen’s 12. After failing to eclipse 300 passing yards in a game during his first two professional seasons, Allen did so in three consecutive outings to open 2020, including a career-high 415 yards against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2.
However, he looked far from an MVP candidate during a 42-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 5; he completed 26 of 41 passes for a then-season-low 263 yards, two touchdowns and season-high two interceptions.
Against the Chiefs, Allen’s 122 passing yards marked his lowest total since Week 6 of his rookie season, excluding a Week 17 game against the New York Jets last season when he played only one series.
Allen and the Bills get a bounce-back game against the winless Jets in Week 7 before hosting the New England Patriots in Week 8.
Buffalo has publicly stated its goal of winning the AFC East for the first time since 1995, and in order for the Bills to do so, Allen must return to a level of play comparable to what he showed during the first four weeks of the season.
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