NFC Injury Analysis For Week 14

<u><b>Bears</b></u> <br> <b>Injury:</b> OT John Tait (knee) <br> <b>Analysis: </b> He missed last week's game and missed his first in 61 games but was replaced admirably by veteran lineman Aaron Gibson.

While the team expects Tait back before the season ends, they don't have an exact return for him to return to the field.

Cardinals

Injury: QB John Navarre (finger), RB Emmitt Smith (toe)

Analysis: Navarre, who started his first NFL game at Detroit last week, suffered a broken right ring finger (throwing hand) and could miss two to three weeks. Head coach Dennis Green said QB Josh McCown would start for him this week against San Francisco.

Smith, who suffered a sprained toe two weeks ago, is considered questionable to play. Rookie RB Larry Croom started last week's game for Smith. Smith was hopeful to play last week but was downgraded to questionable on Friday after missing his third straight practice.

Eagles

Injuries: G Artis Hicks (knee), G Jermane Mayberry (calf), DE Derrick Burgess (sternum)

Analysis: Hicks has missed the last two games due to an MCL sprain with backup lineman Steve Sciullo filling in. Sciullo played quite well in Hicks' absence and his play should help him earn a roster spot next year as one of their top linemen off the bench.

Mayberry suffered a calf injury in their week eight game and has been dealing with the injury ever since. Alonzo Ephraim who started the first game of his career replaced him last week and he performed well. Mayberry's condition has improved but he's considered questionable to play.

49ers

Injuries: QB Tim Rattay (foot), RB Kevan Barlow (concussion)

Analysis: Rattay, who has been dealing with a sore forearm all season, suffered a partially torn planar fascia in last week's game and could miss this week's game. It's a very painful injury and Rattay will have to prove he can move around in practice in order for him to play against Arizona on Sunday. If he cannot play, QB Ken Dorsey would start.

Barlow, who has been a big disappointment for the team this season, suffered a concussion in last week's game and is considered questionable to play. RB Maurice Hicks would start if Barlow cannot play. Hicks was signed off of the practice squad earlier this season when the team decided to let RB Jamal Robertson go. They believe Hicks is a good chance of pace to Barlow's power running style.

Lions

Injury: CB Fernando Bryant (ankle)

Analysis: Bryant has been nursing several injuries this season including an ankle injury for several weeks. He's considered questionable to play against Green Bay this week. If he can't play, CB Chris Cash would likely start for him. Cash is a big downgrade from Bryant and the Lions really could use Bryant in this week's matchup against the solid Packer passing game.

Packers

Injury: WLB Na'il Diggs (bruised kidney)

Analysis: Diggs, who is perhaps having his best season as a professional, suffered a bruised kidney in last week's game and spent Sunday evening in a Green Bay area hospital. Since he's considered doubtful to play this week, backup LB Paris Lenon will likely start for him. Lenon is considered one of their best special teams players but he has only started one game in his three-year career.

Panthers

Injury: MLB Dan Morgan (concussion)

Analysis: The oft-injured fourth-year pro has been dealing with concussion issues again for the past few weeks. Morgan has yet to play in more than 11 games in any of the past three seasons and already has missed four games in 2004. Although reserve LB Vinny Ciurciu has played well in his absence, he's a big downgrade from Morgan who is a great run stopper when healthy.

The Panthers will have to make a tough decision after the season. Either bring Morgan back knowing he's injury prone but is a terrific player when he's in the lineup or jettison him with one year remaining on his contract ($818, 750).

Rams

Injuries: QB Marc Bulger (shoulder), RB Marshall Faulk (knee)

Bulger suffered a bruise shoulder in last week's game. It's a similar injury which he suffered earlier in the season. While the team doesn't think the injury is serious, veteran signal caller Chris Chandler will replace Bulger on Sunday against Seattle. They'll re-evaluate Bulger early next week to see if he can play in their week 15 game.

Faulk has been dealing with a bruised left knee for a few weeks and didn't play in last week's game. Rookie RB Steven Jackson started last week's game but suffered a bruised right knee late in the fourth quarter. The team will get a better idea about both players status later in the week. Of the two, Jackson is more likely to play. If neither back can play, RB Arlen Harris would start.

Vikings

Injury: CB Antoine Winfield (ankle)

Analysis: He suffered what is believed to be a high ankle sprain in last week's game and is considered doubtful to play. This type of injury can be troublesome for several weeks and Winfield is considered doubtful to play. Journeyman CB Terrence Shaw would start if Winfield cannot play.

Winfield's potential absence would be a huge loss for their secondary since he's clearly their best defensive back and has not only been solid in coverage, but he's been solid against the run.

Shaw, who played for five teams in his ten-year career, has plenty of starting experience but at this point in his career, he's best used in a reserve role.

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