The Lions are playing the Vikings Sunday, so luckily they’ll be faced with a hobbled (or possibly sidelined) Adrian Peterson, and either a rookie quarterback, or Joe Webb as he makes only his fourth-career start. That’s good, because Detroit could be absolutely decimated defensively by key injuries.
We’ll get to that in a second. But first, let’s start with your obligatory Andre Johnson update.
1. Johnson won’t play this week. This is depressing news for both Texans fans and fantasy owners pushing for the playoffs, but it shouldn’t be surprising news. Johnson was expected to miss at least one game when he went down last week, so his ability/inability to practice next week will be the true test of this injury’s longevity.
2. We could get a Joe Webb sighting when the Vikings travel to Detroit this weekend. As Gagnon wrote in his picks column earlier today, there isn’t a vast gap between Webb and the injured Christian Ponder at this point in their respective careers, although Ponder clearly has far more upside.
3. Being able to cut is kind of important for running backs. A running back who can’t cut is about as useless as a blogger who can’t sit in a chair for a long period of time, so Lions running back Kevin Smith could be quite useless on Sunday.
4. Ndamukong Suh‘s ongoing suspension is only the beginning of Detroit”s massive defensive depletion. Rookie Nick Fairley will likely be confined to the bench due to his reoccurring foot injury, while defensive backs Chris Houston and Louis Delmas will also likely be watching from the sidelines, and defensive end Lawrence Jackson could be placed on the injured reserve with his thigh injury. That’s a lot of black and blue there.
5. The Packers’ decision regarding James Starks is another rather unsurprising ruling, as the leader of Green Bay’s backfield platoon has been declared out. What will be more interesting, though, is the direction Mike McCarthy takes beyond this week with his workhorse running back who’s been hobbled for a month. Making history is nice, but another championship is better.
6. Linebacker Desmond Bishop has also been ruled out for Green Bay, while A.J. Hawk practiced Friday for the first time since a Thanksgiving Day calf injury. Hawk is officially listed as questionable, but he wasn’t moving gingerly today in practice, making it likely that he’ll play against the Raiders.
7. While Adrian Peterson‘s competitive fire is admirable, the Vikings need to show some common sense and snuff it. Peterson is listed as questionable, but he says that he’s currently running at about 80 percent, which is more than enough to suit up for a team that’s in playoff contention. The Vikings are 2-10, and they’re not even remotely in contention, so there’s no need for a Boobie Miles moment.
8. Look, more injured running backs! We’ll see more of Darren Sproles since Mark Ingram will miss his third game this year. Meanwhile, Willis McGahee is questionable, but he’s expected to play and assume his usual position as Tim Tebow‘s wingman.
9. Carson Palmer is still missing some key targets who can cover great distances in a short period of time by running fast. Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore are out, which will again shift the passing game focus almost solely to the hands and legs of Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.