The New Orleans Saints final injury report of the weeks suggests they are still anticipating the return of star offensive players Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, and Deonte Harris in time for Sunday’s wild-card playoff game against the visiting Chicago Bears.
But the Saints’ sack leader, Trey Hendrickson, has been ruled out of the game with a neck injury.
For the Bears, the most significant update is that standout inside linebacker Roquan Smith (elbow) is listed as questionable. The team’s leading tackler, Smith injured the elbow in the first quarter last week in the loss to Green Bay and has missed practice all week.
The Saints have bounced through a succession of injuries through the season, but by the time they start what they hope to be a long playoff run Sunday, only Hendrickson and guard Nick Easton (concussion) are listed as out of the game, with no other players even listed as doubtful or questionable.
Significantly, Thomas and Harris appear to be ready after returning to limited practice this week. Thomas missed the last three regular-season games because of an ankle injury, and return specialist Harris participated fully this week for the first time in more than a month.
The Saints have missed Thomas and Harris in recent weeks, as quarterback Drew Brees returned from his own broken ribs only to have a depleted cast of his receivers at his disposal. The Saints are expected to activate Thomas from the injured reserve list on Saturday.
Kamara, meanhile, remains on the COVID-19/Reserve list until Sunday. He tested positive for the coronavirus after scoring six touchdowns on Christmas Day in leading a 52-33 victory over Minnesota. He missed the regular-season finale at Carolina and has joined the team only via video conferencing since then.
On Thursday, Kamara said on social media he would be playing on Sunday.
“See y’all Sunday” Kamara posted on Twitter.
Had the Saints been scheduled to play on Saturday, Kamara would not have been eligible to return. As it is, he would have to play against the Bears without having practiced all week, and coach Sean Payton had declined to say early in the week whether Kamara would start Sunday.
In the Saints’ 26-23 overtime victory against the host Bears on Nov. 1, Kamara had 163 yards from scrimmage, including a 20-yard run to set up Wil Lutz’s winning field goal.
The loss of Hendrickson, however, is a setback for the Saints. He missed Week 16 because of his neck injury, but returned to play last weekend and had a sack, finishing the season with 13.5 sacks and 25 quarterback hits.
Easton’s concussion sustained Sunday is of particular concern because it was his second concussion in three weeks.
For the Bears, only cornerback Buster Skrine (concussion) is listed as out. Four players were listed as questionable Friday: Smith, wide receiver Darnell Mooney (ankle), cornerback Jaylon Johnson (shoulder), and inside linebacker Josh Woods (toe/glute).
Like Smith, Mooney missed practiced all week, while Johnson was limited in workouts.
–Field Level Media