Rivers' back injury was quietly added to San Diego's injury report last week, to go along with the rib injury he has been battling for weeks. By now, Rivers' rib injuries are improved, making his back injury the significant issue, a league source said.
The injury has contributed to Rivers' pedestrian performances the past two weeks, against New England and Denver.
Through the first eight weeks of the season, Rivers completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 2,213 yards, 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions, posting a 109.9 passer rating. The Chargers were 5-3 in those games.
In the past six games, Rivers has completed 66.8 percent of his passes for 1,426 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions, posting an 81.2 passer rating. The Chargers are 3-3 over that stretch.
His back still will be an issue Saturday night, when San Diego plays at San Francisco, but Rivers is still expected to play.
He also did not practice on Tuesday, but said he fully expects to play against the 49ers.
"At this point in the week I think there's no doubt," he said Wednesday.
Mathews has not practiced since suffering the ankle injury Dec. 7 against the New England Patriots.
"He's fighting through what he has right now," McCoy said. "He's working hard. As soon as he's ready to get back out there and take some snaps, he'll be out there practicing with us."
McCoy also said that receiver Keenan Allen will not play against the San Francisco 49ers. Allen suffered a broken collarbone against the Denver Broncos last week and did not practice for the second straight day Wednesday.
Along with Mathews and Allen, quarterback Philip Rivers (chest/back), defensive lineman Corey Liuget (ankle), tight end Ladarius Green (concussion/ankle) and punter Mike Scifres (shoulder) did not practice.
Defensive tackle Ryan Carrethers (elbow) was a full participant at practice.
Interim Raiders coach Tony Sparano, however, declined to discuss details about Moore's situation and would not confirm or deny if the linebacker was headed for surgery.
"That's not something were going to talk about right now," Sparano said. "He's on IR."
Several other players might not be far behind.
The Raiders' injury report is filling up faster than a water bucket in the Bay Area, with seven players unable to practice and two others limited during Wednesday's workout.
Defensive lineman C.J. Wilson is the latest to go down. Wilson injured his knee after recovering a fumble in the third quarter of last Sunday's loss to the Chiefs. He was tackled by Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith following a 21-yard return that led to a Sebastian Janikowski field goal for Oakland.
Wilson was among the seven who did not practice on Wednesday. The rest of the injury report is below.
Did not practice: CB Tarell Brown (foot), WR Vincent Brown (groin), CB Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring), TE Brian Leonhardt (concussion), WR Denarius Moore (knee/ankle), RT Menelik Watson (foot/ankle).
Limited: QB Derek Carr (right thumb), CB TJ Carrie (ankle).
Carr injured the hand when he hit his hand on a helmet or opposing player at some point late in the fourth quarter of last week's 31-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Raiders' second-round pick stayed in and finished the game but was limited in practice on Wednesday.
"I don't know if it was a helmet or a hand or something but I hurt it on that last drive," Carr said.
Although he was restricted in practice, Carr was able to throw the ball without being hindered and interim Oakland coach Tony Sparano didn't sound too concerned when discussing the injury with reporters.
"Not from what I just watched," Sparano said.
Of more concern is Carr's left ankle, which he injured early in the second half after getting hit by Kansas City linebacker Tamba Hali. Carr jumped up after the play and immediately began limping noticeably before joining the huddle and continuing the series.
It's the same type of injury Carr suffered earlier in the season during a Week 4 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Carr was knocked out of that game midway through the third quarter and replaced by backup Matt McGloin, who played the rest of the way.
Carr has taken every offensive snap since then, save for 19 plays against St. Louis in Week 13 when he was pulled late in the blowout loss and replaced by Matt Schaub.
The Raiders only listed Carr's thumb on their injury report and the young quarterback didn't seem to think it was too serious either.
"I think Tamba rolled up behind me and it just folded up underneath," Carr said." The same direction that I hurt it in London, but I was able to go today so it was good."
Starting center Max Unger, left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy all were out.
Sweezy was the surprise on the injury report with what was listed as ankle injury. Okung has a bruised lung from the game last Sunday against San Francisco.
“But he’s still in the mix,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Okung’s status for Sunday. “He’s going to have some stuff done [Thursday] that will let us know where he sits and all that. He’s not out of the plan yet.”
Unger has missed the last four games with knee and ankle injuries. He practiced last Friday, which was believed to be an encouraging sign about his chances of playing this week.
“Max had a tough recovery from last Friday’s practice, so we’ll see how he is [Thursday],” Carroll said. “We’re taking it one day at a time now. It’s close enough where we have a chance.”
The game Sunday comes against an Arizona team that sacked Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson seven times in Seattle’s 19-3 victory over the Cardinals on Nov. 23 at CenturyLink Field. Unger is the only one of the three who did not play that day, but starting left guard James Carpenter was out with an ankle injury.
Also not practicing Friday were defensive end Demarcus Dobbs, who missed last Sunday's game with ankle sprain, tight end Tony Moeaki, who injured his shoulder against San Francisco, and running back Marshawn Lynch, who always takes Wednesdays off to rest his back.
Tight end Cooper Helfet, who missed the last three games with an ankle injury, was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice.
And with their top two tailbacks, starter Frank Gore and rookie backup Carlos Hyde, among the observers, it is easy to see why the Niners signed running back Phillip Tanner earlier in the day. Tanner spent the first three years of his NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Tight end Garrett Celek (ankle) was placed on season-ending injured reserve in the corresponding roster move, giving the Niners 15 players on IR. Per ESPN Stats & Info, the Niners had just five players in IR in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and nine players on the list last season.
Following is the 49ers' injury report for Wednesday:
Did not participate: LB Chris Borland (ankle), CB Tramaine Brock (hamstring), LB Ahmad Brooks (thumb), WR Michael Crabtree (knee), RB Frank Gore (concussion), RB Carlos Hyde (ankle), WR Stevie Johnson (knee), DE Justin Smith (back), LB Michael Wilhoite (hip)
Limited participation: CB Perrish Cox (ankle), CB Chris Culliver (knee), RT Anthony Davis (concussion), DT Quinton Dial (knee), DE Tony Jerod-Eddie (foot), S Raymond Ventrone (groin)
Full participation: C Marcus Martin (knee), LS Kyle Nelson (back)
It gave coach Bruce Arians a better look at how left Jonathan Cooper was playing with a cast on his left wrist and how right guard Paul Fanaika played while still recovering from a sprained ankle.
Both players were limited in practice Wednesday, according to Arizona’s injury report.
Quarterback Drew Stanton (knee) and wide receiver Jaron Brown (toe) did not practice.
Joining Cooper and Fanaika as limited were linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (knee), defensive end Calais Campbell (hip), wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (knee), linebacker Larry Foote (knee), safety Tyrann Mathieu (thumb) and running back Kerwynn Williams (knee).
Left tackle Jared Veldheer (ankle) practiced in full.
Three of Seattle's starting offensive linemen did not practice Wednesday: tackle Russell Okung (tackle), guard J.R. Sweezy (ankle) and center Max Unger (ankle/knee).
The Colts had seven other players listed on their injury report who didn’t practice. Return specialist Joshua Cribbs (rest), cornerback Vontae Davis (groin), offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus (groin), linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (rest), offensive guard Joe Reitz (ankle), offensive guard Hugh Thornton (knee) and linebacker Erik Walden (knee).
"Sunday," the coach answered.
While Arians' answer may have had some jest behind it, Stanton, who suffered a right knee injury on Thursday night in St. Louis, was serious when he said it's still too early to tell if he could play Sunday night against Seattle.
With a playoff berth already clinched, the Cardinals can afford to keep Stanton off the field as he continues to recover despite home-field advantage on the line against the Seahawks. Stanton said he hasn't suffered any setbacks during his rehab, which was six days old Wednesday. He said he has started jogging with a brace on his right knee to get acclimated to wearing it during games.
"I've never had an injury like this before," Stanton said. "So (I'm) dealing with it, trying to just trust the rehab that they have in place for me every day."
He was at Wednesday's practice, watching the quarterbacks warm up during the portion open to the media. The last time Stanton threw a football, he said, was "the other day" when he played catch with his son and his Mickey Mouse football at home.
Stanton said he's tried to maintain his range of motion since going down in the third quarter against the Rams with what's been reported to be a Grade 2 ACL and MCL sprain by keeping the strength built up in his quads and keep them firing.
"It's felt good," Stanton said. "It's one of those things you just go to kinda take time and the healing process is different for everybody.
"That timetable that everybody wants to put on it, I can't put one on it nor do I want to."
Stanton is keeping his goals simple for now: progress every day. While Sunday may not be realistic for his return, Stanton agreed with Arians.
It's the best-case scenario.
"I think as a competitor and as a guy that wants to help this team win, I want to get back as soon as possible now," Stanton said. "What that means? I don't know.
"I would like to be out there as soon as I can and I'm going to do everything within my power to do that."
The New York Jets are being curiously non-committal on Wilkerson's status. He has missed three games with a turf-toe injury and, although he practiced again Wednesday on a limited basis, it's an up-in-the-air situation.
Rex Ryan objected to the notion that Wilkerson might "shut it down," claiming that phrase suggests his star defensive end might not want to play hurt. But the coach acknowledged, "Is there a chance he might not play (for the rest of the season)? I guess there's a chance, but he's not shutting it down. I don't like the way that sounds."
Wilkerson said he suffered a minor setback last week when a teammate stepped on his foot in practice. He acknowledged he's still "a little iffy about people being around me," meaning other players in the trenches. He's on his second specially designed shoe, hoping it provides enough comfort to allow him to play. With only two games left, they're proceeding with caution.
In other injury news, wide receiver Percy Harvin didn't practice because of his sprained ankle, but all signs point to him remaining in the lineup to face the New England Patriots.
That he's able to run is a minor miracle, based on the diagnosis. Ryan revealed that Harvin suffered a third-degree sprain two weeks ago. By definition, a third-degree sprain is a completely torn ligament.
Harvin earned toughness points for playing 37 snaps in last Sunday's win over the Tennessee Titans. Clearly, he wasn't 100 percent (he had no catches), but he reported the ankle feels "a lot better" than it did last week.
The official injury reports:
New York Jets
Did not practice: Harvin.
Limited: Wilkerson, G Willie Colon (knee), S Jaiquawn Jarrett (shoulder).
Full: S Antonio Allen (hand), K Nick Folk (right hip), RB Chris Johnson (knee), C Nick Mangold (finger), S Calvin Pryor (shoulder).
New England Patriots
Out: DE Dominique Easley
Limited: LS Danny Aiken (finger), CB Kyle Arrington (hamstring), RB LeGarrette Blount (shoulder), G Dan Connolly (ankle), WR Julian Edelman (thigh, concussion), T Cameron Fleming (ankle), LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder), DE Chandler Jones (hip), WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder), DE Rob Ninkovich (heel), RB Shane Vereen (ankle), LB Chris White (ankle).
Full: QB Tom Brady (ankle).
They listed left tackle Terron Armstead (neck), defensive end Akiem Hicks (ankle) and safety Jamarca Sanford (hamstring) as not practicing.
Armstead left Monday night’s 31-15 victory over the Chicago Bears early and did not return -- the second straight week he left early with the neck injury. Last week he only missed one day of practice, so it remains to be seen if it’s the same drill this week.
Sanford left Monday’s game briefly with an injury but returned. Hicks did not appear to leave the game early.
It’s a good sign that Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette didn’t appear on the injury report after being limited by a knee injury last week. But we’ll get a better feel for everyone’s status Thursday.
The Falcons’ injury report is a lot more dramatic since receivers Julio Jones, Roddy White and Harry Douglas and safety William Moore all missed Wednesday’s practice. The Saints will definitely prepare for the possibility of Jones playing after he sat out last week with a hip injury, since he’s one of the NFL’s most dangerous playmakers.
“Yeah, he’s definitely gonna play,” Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis said. “Why not? There’s just as much at stake for them as there is for us.”
Even right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who remains in the concussion protocol after he dropped out of Sunday's loss at the Buffalo Bills, appears to have a good chance to play this Sunday at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Although Bulaga did not practice Wednesday, he was able to work out and attend meetings, which is a sign he has passed through the early stages of the concussion program.
"Looks great," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday of Bulaga. "Saw him in the weight room, in the meetings this morning. Making progress."
Outside linebacker Clay Matthews was added to the injury report with a biceps injury and running back Eddie Lacy, who last week had a hip injury, was listed this week with an eye issue.
"Eddie's just a situation he has going on with his eye that's not game-related," McCarthy said. "I think we'll be fine there. I don't think Clay's is of serious nature. I think we'll be OK there."
Both Lacy and Matthews finished Sunday's game against the Bills. Lacy rushed for 97 yards and Matthews had one of his best games of the season with two sacks.
Here's the full injury report:
- T Bryan Bulaga (concussion, did not practice)
- CB Davon House (shoulder, did not practice)
- RB Eddie Lacy (eye, limited participant)
- G T.J. Lang (ankle, limited participant)
- LB Clay Matthews (biceps, limited participant)
- OLB Mike Neal (abdomen, limited participant)
- OLB Nick Perry (shoulder, limited participant)
- G Josh Sitton (toe, did not practice)
Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera was adamant on Wednesday he wasn't ready to name his starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.
He said how Newton looks on Thursday after a successful return to practice on Wednesday will be big.
So Rivera is playing his options close to the vest, knowing Derek Anderson is more than capable as the starter if called upon for a second straight week.
When asked if Newton will start if he looks ready to go, he gave one of his patented "we'll sees."
The hint might have come when Rivera said this felt like Week 2 when the Panthers were preparing for Detroit.
Newton sat out the opener against Tampa Bay, recovering from fractured ribs suffered during the preseason. He returned to practice full the following Wednesday and started against the Lions.
He was effective, too, despite not being allowed to run at will. He completed 22 of 34 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown for a passer rating of 100.2. He handled being sacked four times.
He also ran four times for 19 yards.
If this feels like Week 2, Newton will start.
The difference is, Rivera said on the Monday of the Detroit game that Newton was ready to roll, barring a setback. He hasn't been quite that bold this week.
But Newton showed no signs on Wednesday of a player who'd been through the trauma of a car accident. He sprinted arguably faster than he has all season from the field where the team stretched to the adjacent field where the first drill took place.
He made moves running the read option that looked more like a player trying to convince those watching he was ready than one showing off.
He showed no signs of being in pain.
Anderson might be the safe play at this point, but the Panthers (5-8-1) aren't in a position of needing to be safe with two games remaining and the NFC South title hanging in the balance.
Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin said Newton's passes were "coming out with a lot of fire." Tight end Greg Olsen said Newton looked normal throwing the ball.
Rivera was impressed that Newton had a lot of zip on a couple of 60-yard passes that weren't completed.
It's been a tough season for the Panthers on and off the field. Their record isn't nearly what they had hoped.
That they have a chance to make the playoffs if they can win their final two games and New Orleans loses once is amazing.
Newton, unless he suffers a setback over the next two days, should play because he gives Carolina the best chance to turn a tough season potentially into a memorable one.
Hatcher (knee) did not play Sunday against the New York Giants.
"It's given him some problems and we're trying to do everything to speed up the process," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "He can only do what he can do. We're just trying to get him right for this week or maybe next week."
Williams was not expected to practice until later in the week, if at all.
Linebacker Gabe Miller (ankle) did not participate while safety Brandon Meriweather (toe) and linebacker Keenan Robinson (knee) were limited. Both went through individual drills, though it was apparent that Meriweather was favoring his toe. Robinson said after practice that he's still not sure about playing Saturday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Running back Roy Helu (toe) was a full participant and looked good performing agility drills.
He also did not practice on Tuesday. However, Rivers said he fully expects to play against the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday.
"At this point in the week I think there's no doubt," he said.
San Diego's 33-year-old quarterback has been dealing with what teammate Antonio Gates termed a "very severe rib injury" in mid-November.
Rivers is known for his toughness. He's started 142 straight games, the NFL's second-longest active streak behind Eli Manning (166). He played despite a torn ACL against the New England Patriots in the 2007 AFC Championship Game.
Rivers said he doesn't like to miss practice but believes limiting his practice reps could help ensure that he can play this weekend.