Packers' overall health in tatters
The last four teams remaining in the NFL’s postseason party find themselves besieged by various physical problems. So who’s in and who’s out entering Championship Sunday?
On the NFC side, Green Bay and Atlanta get things started at 3:05 p.m. ET. While the visiting Packers have fought through maladies throughout the campaign, this afternoon will present their club’s toughest challenge yet. No. 1 wideout Jordy Nelson’s (ribs) an extreme long shot to suit up, and even some of his understudies are laboring. Neither Davante Adams (ankle) nor Geronimo Allison (hamstring) practiced on Wednesday. Jeff Janis (quad) was limited during the same session, too, meaning the club felt it necessary to promote Max McCaffrey from the practice squad mere hours ago. At least quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ illness doesn’t appear to be serious.
Dan Quinn’s squad boasts a decidedly cleaner bill of health. Julio Jones, who paced his conference in receiving yards with 1,409, no longer seems encumbered by the toe problem that cost him two games in December. In fact, not a single Falcon is listed as questionable, doubtful or out. Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (shoulder), safety Keanu Neal (foot) and slot threat Taylor Gabriel (foot) all went full tilt on Friday.
New England can certainly empathize with the Pack’s concerns on the outside. The AFC’s No. 1 seed probably won’t deploy Chris Hogan (thigh) or Malcolm Mitchell (knee) for its 6:40 p.m. ET tussle against Pittsburgh. Danny Amendola (ankle) and Martellus Bennett (knee) are good to go, though, giving the indefatigable Julian Edelman a pair of reliable sidekicks. Defensively, linebacker Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) and D-lineman Jabaal Sheard (knee) should dress.
Ostensibly, the Steelers face a rockier road on that side of the ball. Leading sack man James Harrison sat out Thursday due to persistent shoulder and triceps issues. Among signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger’s weapons, tight end Ladarius Green continues to work his way back from a concussion. Tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint has the same diagnosis, but the Michigan product’s most recent carry came on Jan. 1.