The Redskins released their injury report yesterday, and the news is not great, particularly along the defensive line where Stephen Bowen and Kedric Golston are listed as questionable and Barry Cofield is probable. Safety Brandon Meriweather, wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and kicker Kai Forbath are all listed as questionable as well. Here is what each of these injuries mean to the team:
*Note: TE Fred Davis is now listed as Questionable now as well. He is probably unlikely to play, and this will mean an even further expanded role for rookie Jordan Reed.
-This is the most troubling, because the alternative is so scary. Forbath was unable to participate in practice at all this week, and they will be trying him out on Saturday to see if he can kick at all in the game. Originally he would going to test it out on Friday, so the fact they had to push that back is a problem. If he can’t go the team will be forced to go with John Potter once again. Potter missed wide right on his lone FG attempt last Sunday, but his being there also impacted other decisions. The team went for 4th and 5 as opposed to kicking a 46 yard field goal (they turned the ball over), and instead of trying a 50 yarder the Redskins were forced to punt. There is some thought that Forbath could maybe be healthy enough to kick, but John Potter would have to handle kick-off duties. The problems with that, is you would be relying on a kicker who is dealing with a groin injury so his effective range would be pretty limited. Also, it would force the Redskins to use two game day roster spots on kickers which will hurt depth at another position.
-Cofield is fully expected to play and for the first time it sounds like he’ll be playing without the club cast on his hand. It’s still apparently bothering some, so his effectiveness could be compromised and chances for re-injury are there. Individually these aren’t big worries, but with the other two starting defensive linemen on this list there has to be a little concern.
-Bowen is dealing with a knee issue that he tweaked in practice this week. He was a full participant on Friday, but it is still 50/50 if he plays. If he can suit up the Redskins may have to limit his snaps this week. Also, it could mean he’s not as quick and effective in the game, which is problematic given how much he’s struggled already. Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett wants to improve versus the run, but that will be tough with these issues along the defensive line. Bowen is one of the key cogs in their run defense, so if he can’t go or is less effective, that is a big win for the Lions.
-Golston finally was a full participant on Friday after being limited the rest of the week. He’s dealing with an Abdomen issue, and it wouldn’t be too shocking to see him inactive this week. With Cofield and Bowen dealing with injury issues, the Redskins probably don’t want to have all three starters and three of their likely five active defensive linemen limited. It could end up being Bowen who is inactive, but I would lean to Golston since he was dealing with his injury issue for longer. These injuries are going to make it very tough for the Redskins defense to step it up this week. This should lead to Chris Baker starting and Chris Neild being active for the first time this season.
-Meriweather was cleared for practice on Friday, but he remains questionable for Sunday. While the Redskins are desperate for safety help and want to get some return on the investment of Meriweather, they might decide to be cautious this week. In part the Redskins would be protecting Meriweather given his style of play and the fact that he’s coming off a concussion. The Redskins would also be protecting themselves though, as Meriweather is going to have a target on his back as officials are going to key in on him this week. Any borderline helmet to helmet hits or defenseless receiver hits are going to be flagged, and those could be killer for the Redskins. Also given that he missed most of the week of practice the team might not want to install him in the line-up at game time. This will likely mean a week of Doughty and Jordan Pugh platooning at the position, and could mean that E.J. Biggers is once again in the backup safety mix.
-Hankerson popped up on the injury report on Friday after not having any previous issues. While it is just a groin and hamstring tweak, the fact that it happened on Friday could make it tough for him to play. He’ll test on Sunday, but if either are still bothering him even slightly, he will probably sit. Hankerson’s speed and explosiveness would be compromised, which makes it pretty tough for him to be active. This will lead to Josh Morgan getting the vast majority of snaps on Sunday. They will mix in Aldrick Robinson some, though he’s not really worked at the Z wide receiver position.
It’s tough to really know what to expect when players are listed as questionable. With so many guys listed as questionable it is a safe bet that at least one won’t be able to play on Sunday. If any of these five guys can’t go it will be a blow to this team, and if it’s two or three it could be pretty devastating. Hopefully these guys can go on Sunday and also retain their effectiveness, which is key as well.