Through the first two rounds of the 2015 NFL playoffs, injuries have been a major storyline. Most of the top players should be ready to play in the NFC Championship and AFC Championship, but injuries could still play a big role in the outcomes.
On Wild Card Weekend, the 11-win Arizona Cardinals lost to the 7-win Carolina Panthers, in large part because multiple injuries forced the team to start their third different quarterback of the season. Aaron Rodgers helped the Packers win their second-round playoff game, but his injury continues to be a topic of conversation.
Below is a look at the injury report for each team playing on Championship Weekend.
Green Bay Packers
Three of the team’s players were limited in practice, but all of the focus is on Aaron Rodgers. The quarterback strained his calf in Week 17, and the injury won’t get better until the offseason. Rodgers was very effective against the Dallas Cowboys, throwing for 316 yards and three touchdowns, but he was clearly affected by the injury, which limited in his mobility. On his ESPN Milwaukee radio show, Rodgers said the injury is the same as it was last week, and he’ll definitely be on the field in the NFC Championship game.
Two of Seattle’s best players didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice, but they’ll be good to go for Sunday’s game. Defensive end Michael Bennett was given a day of rest, after recording four tackles against the Carolina Panthers. Running back Marshawn Lynch also got the day off, following a 59-yard performance in the divisional playoff round. Neither player missed a game in the regular season, and they should be fine against the Packers, though tackle Justin Britt and defensive tackle Tony McDaniel were held out of practice with injuries.
Both of the Colts’ starting cornerbacks were key in their victory over the Denver Broncos, as they helped limit Peyton Manning to just 211 yards on 46 pass attempts. Head coach Chuck Pagano doesn’t expect Vontae Davis or Greg Toler to miss Sunday’s game, but both missed Wednesday’s practice with injuries. Davis might have been the team’s most important defender against the Broncos, with five passes defensed and eight tackles. Toler recorded six tackles of his own. Linebacker Erik Walden sat out with a knee injury.
New England Patriots
Center Bryan Stork and cornerback Brandon Browner left New England’s game against the Baltimore Ravens with injuries and did not return. After both players sat out Wednesday’s practice, the Patriots might have to prepare for the possibility of being without at least one of the two players in the AFC Championship Game. Stork’s status appears to be more tentative than Browner’s, since the cornerback said he was “feeling great,” after the Patriots’ first playoff win of 2015. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, defensive tackle Chris Jones and wide receiver Brando LaFell were also limited in practice.