Jan 3, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive ends Cameron Jordan (94) and Trey Hendrickson (91) in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Injury update favors Saints’ offense vs. Bears

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

Dec 13, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks strong safety Jamal Adams (33) talks with New York Jets players and staff following a 40-3 Seattle victory at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Seahawks S Jamal Adams: ‘Full go’ for wild-card game

Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams plans to be on the field Saturday when the NFL playoffs begin.

The Los Angeles Rams visit the Seahawks in the middle game of a wild-card tripleheader on Saturday.

Adams left Seattle’s Week 17 victory with a shoulder injury. He has also missed time this season with shoulder and groin issues.

“I’m playing man. Hey, look. As long as these legs are moving, man,” Adams said. “There was never no doubt in my mind that I wasn’t playing. I’m full go.”

Head coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday that he would likely need all week to determine Adams’ status. Adams was limited in Tuesday’s practice along with defensive tackle Jarran Reed.

“I’m not limited to anything. I’m full go,” Adams said.

Acquired from the New York Jets for two first-round draft picks before the 2020 season, the 25-year-old Adams played in 12 games and had 83 tackles and a career-high 9.5 sacks in his first season with Seattle.

Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said he expects to see Adams in the defensive huddle this weekend.

“Jamal is a very high-energy person,” Wagner told KJR radio, “a person who is going to do everything he can to get out there on the field so we kind of just got to wait and see and understand whatever happens at the end of the week to be ready for.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 13, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) works out prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs’ Evans sets receiving record, then leaves with injury

Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans became the first player in NFL history to top 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first seven seasons when he exceeded the mark in the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Evans set the record when he caught a 20-yard pass from Tom Brady with approximately one minute remaining in the quarter. He had shared the record of six at the start of a career with Hall of Famer Randy Moss.

Evans needed 40 yards entering the contest. He caught three passes for 46 in the quarter.

One play after the record-setting catch, Evans was wide open in the end zone but dropped the pass. Replays show he injured his left leg just before the ball arrived and he was down on the turf before being helped off and taken to the locker room.

The team ruled him out for the rest of the game with a knee injury.

Evans has 70 receptions for 1,066 yards and a franchise-record 13 touchdown catches this season.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins (85) attempts to make a reception against the Houston Texans during the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals WR Higgins aggravates hamstring, leaves game

Cincinnati rookie receiver Tee Higgins aggravated a hamstring injury on the Bengals’ first possession Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens and is questionable to return, which would cost him the opportunity to set a franchise rookie record for receptions.

Higgins, who was questionable entering the game because of the injury he sustained during a Week 13 loss at Miami, aggravated his hamstring during his 41-yard catch-and-run that was negated because of a penalty.

Higgins, who has played through the injury and made six receptions for 99 yards in a Week 16 win in Houston, needed one reception to break Cris Collinsworth’s team record for most catches in by a rookie receiver. The yardage also would’ve given Higgins the third-most yards by a Bengals rookie in team history, too.

If he doesn’t return, Higgins will end his rookie season with 67 catches for 908 yards and six touchdowns. Collinsworth had 67 catches for 1,009 yards and eight touchdowns in 1981.

The Bengals selected Higgins in the secound round, No. 33 overall, in the 2020 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Dec 13, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) reacts after an injury during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Lions’ Stafford misses practice, could play Sunday

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford won’t practice Friday as he continues to recover from a rib injury, but he will travel to Tennessee for Sunday’s game against the Titans, interim head coach Darrell Bevell said.

It is the third straight missed practice for Stafford. If he can’t go for the Lions (5-8) against the Titans (9-4), Chase Daniel will start.

Stafford, 32, was injured in the fourth quarter of the Lions’ loss on Sunday to the Green Bay Packers.

The veteran QB said on Wednesday that he wasn’t counting himself out against the Titans.

“I think it kind of boils down to being able to operate, you know?” Stafford said. “Don’t want it to be one of those things where you go out there and do something weird early, and you’re out after the first series of the game or something.

“I’m gonna have to rest, but I’m not counting myself out. Just trying to see how it progresses throughout the week.”

In 13 games this season, Stafford has completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 3,522 yards with 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Bevell also said Friday that center Frank Ragnow would miss practice and visit a specialist. He sustained a fractured throat against the Packers but played every offensive snap. He has not been ruled out against the Titans.

–Field Level Media

Nov 8, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) catches a touchdown pass against the Denver Broncos  during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons WR Jones (hamstring) ruled out for Sunday

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones will miss his second straight game Sunday with a hamstring injury, interim head coach Raheem Morris confirmed Friday.

The seven-time Pro Bowl selection has missed four games, scattered through the season, with the nagging injury. The Falcons (4-9) are 1-3 with Jones on the sideline, including last Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Jones, 31, has 51 receptions for 771 yards in nine starts this season, his lowest totals since a foot injury limited him to five games in 2013.

He is the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions (848) and receiving yards (12,896) and ranks No. 2 in touchdown catches with 60, three behind Roddy White.

In Jones’ absence, Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage will be Matt Ryan’s go-to targets Sunday against the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5). Ridley was a limited participant in practice Thursday with a foot injury.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (24) warms before the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Football Team at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Washington RB Gibson injures toe vs. Steelers

Washington Football Team rookie running back Antonio Gibson sustained a toe injury during the first quarter of Monday’s game against the host Pittsburgh Steelers.

Gibson was considered doubtful to return after injuring his big toe on his right foot.

He carried the ball twice for 14 yards before leaving the game.

Gibson entered the game leading the team in carries (139), rushing yards (645) and rushing touchdowns (11).

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2020; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Baylor Bears linebacker Terrel Bernard (2) leads his team onto the field prior to their game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor LB Bernard (shoulder) out for season

Baylor linebacker Terrel Bernard will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, Bears coach Dave Aranda confirmed Monday.

Bernard, the team’s leading tackler with 55 stops through five games, will undergo surgery to repair the injury that occurred during Saturday’s 38-31 loss at Iowa State. He also has 3.5 sacks and one interception.

The 6-foot-1, 222-pound redshirt junior from La Porte, Texas, tweeted details of his injury, including a torn labrum, and said he was “disappointed I won’t be able to finish the year with my guys. I’d do anything to be out there with them.”

A preseason All-Big 12 first-team selection, Bernard led Baylor with 112 tackles in 14 games in 2019 and added 4.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries and one interception.

The Bears (1-4, 1-4 Big 12) have lost four consecutive games heading into Saturday’s game at Texas Tech (2-5, 1-5).

Baylor will also be without redshirt freshman running back Craig Williams, who is out for the season after injuring his ACL and MCL in the loss to the Cyclones. Williams has rushed 26 times for 197 yards and two touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Aug 24, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end Taco Charlton wears a 'Hot Boys' hat prior to the game against the Houston Texans at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs DE Charlton (broken leg) heading to IR

Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Taco Charlton is headed to injured reserve after sustaining a fractured lower leg in Sunday’s 33-31 win against Carolina, according to head coach Andy Reid.

Charlton appeared to injure his ankle early in the first quarter on the Panthers’ opening drive. He is likely done for the season.

The former first-round draft pick began the day with seven tackles, four quarterback hits, two sacks and a forced fumble in six games.

Charlton, who turned 26 on Saturday, has 74 tackles and 11 sacks in 43 games (12 starts) with the Dallas Cowboys (2017-18), Miami Dolphins (2019) and Chiefs. Dallas made him the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

The Chiefs signed Charlton to a one-year, $825,000 contract in May.

–Field Level Media

Aug 8, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Houston Texans linebacker Brennan Scarlett (57) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Texans LB Scarlett fractures forearm

Houston Texans linebacker Brennan Scarlett sustained a fractured forearm in Sunday’s 27-25 win in Jacksonville, NFL Network reported.

Scarlett left the game in the first half and did not return, finishing with three tackles.

Scarlett, 27, has 25 tackles through eight games (four starts) this season, his fifth with the Texans.

Undrafted out of Stanford in 2016, he has 136 tackles, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and one interception in 53 career games (22 starts) with Houston.

–Field Level Media