NFL Week 18 injuries: News on Trevor Lawrence, Baker Mayfield, more

ByNFL Nation ESPN logo
Saturday, January 6, 2024

While some teams have clinched playoff spots and thus have the luxury of resting their starters, others in win-and-in situations are dealing with injuries at key positions.

The Jacksonville Jaguars can take the AFC South if they win on the road against the Tennessee Titans, but they might have to do it without starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars will wait until game time to see if his sprained right AC joint will allow him to throw well enough to play.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can capture the NFC South if they win on the road against the Carolina Panthers, and things look a little better for them with starting quarterback Baker Mayfield. He practiced in full on Friday despite some discomfort with his ribs.

The Atlanta Falcons can displace the Bucs atop the NFC South if Tampa stumbles, but they have their own issues at quarterback. They've had a revolving door at the position this season, and current starter Taylor Heinicke is questionable with an ankle injury. They'll go back to Desmond Ridder if Heinicke can't play.

Here are more injury updates from our NFL Nation reporters as we head into the final weekend of the regular season.

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Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Injury: Sprained right AC joint

Coach Doug Pederson said Lawrence could be a game-time decision, depending on how his shoulder feels on Saturday and Sunday after he does more throwing Friday. If it doesn't respond well, the Jaguars will go with C.J. Beathard in a game they must win to claim the AFC South.

-- Michael DiRocco

Baker Mayfield, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Injury: Ribs

Coach Todd Bowles said Friday that Mayfield will be "full go" against the Carolina Panthers. Mayfield was limited Thursday and was a full participant in Friday's practice. Additional testing revealed no cracks or fractures. Mayfield said his ribs feel "tender" and that it's just a matter of pain tolerance and needing to stay loose throughout the game.

-- Jenna Laine

Taylor Heinicke, QB, Atlanta Falcons

Injury: Left ankle

Heinicke is officially listed as questionable with an ankle injury sustained two weeks ago against Indianapolis. Heinicke told ESPN he'll need to go through warmups Sunday before the game against the New Orleans Saints and see how it feels. If Heinicke can't go, Desmond Ridder probably will get the start for Atlanta in a game the Falcons have to win (and then have Carolina beat Tampa Bay) to make the postseason.

-- Michael Rothstein

Rashee Rice, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

Injury: Hamstring

Rice, the Chiefs' leading wide receiver by a large margin, didn't practice all week and won't play Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chiefs also will be without wide receiver Kadarius Toney (hip and ankle) and cornerback L'Jarius Sneed (calf). Toney also missed the past two games.

-- Adam Teicher

Lamar Jackson, QB; Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Baltimore Ravens

Injury: Coaching decision

Jackson will miss his first start of the season because coach John Harbaugh has decided to rest him, Beckham and a handful of other starters. The Ravens have already clinched the AFC's No. 1 seed. Tyler Huntley will start in place of Jackson. Over the previous two seasons, the Ravens were 2-8 in December and January without Jackson, averaging 18.6 points per game.

With WR Zay Flowers (calf) listed as doubtful, the Ravens probably will start Rashod Bateman and Nelson Agholor at wide receiver.

-- Jamison Hensley

Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

Injury: Quad

Jacobs has missed three straight games for the first time in his five-year career, and the reigning NFL rushing champion will miss a fourth, it was announced Friday. Jacobs, an All-Pro last season, averaged a career-low 3.5 yards per carry this season. In his absence, second-year running back Zamir White has averaged 4.8 yards per carry in rushing for a combined 285 yards and a TD in those three starts.

-- Paul Gutierrez

Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Injury: Hamstring

Higgins didn't practice all week. While the Bengals will evaluate him throughout the weekend, it looks like a long shot for him to play in the finale.

-- Ben Baby

Hunter Henry, TE, New England Patriots

Injury: Knee

Henry injured a knee in the Week 15 loss to the Chiefs and hasn't played since. He was limited all week in practice and was ruled out Friday. The eight-year veteran is scheduled for unrestricted free agency in the offseason after totaling 42 receptions for 419 yards and six touchdowns this season.

-- Mike Reiss

Jonathan Allen, DT, Washington Commanders

Injury: Knee

Allen, who missed the Pro Bowl this season after earning a berth each of the previous two years, was ruled out of Sunday's finale. Allen started the first 16 games and has missed only three games in the past six years. He finishes the year with 5.5 sacks, the most by any current Commander, though end Montez Sweat, traded in October, had 6.5 with Washington.

-- John Keim

Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers

Injury: Hamstring

Watson took Friday off after practicing Wednesday and Thursday -- his first on-field work since the Dec. 3 injury. Both Watson and coach Matt LaFleur said that was by design. "I went kind of hard the first two days," Watson said Friday. "So just to kind of give me the best chance to go on Sunday was to rest a little bit today and make sure that I do everything to take care of my body and put myself in the best position to hopefully play on Sunday."

-- Rob Demovsky

Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Pittsburgh Steelers

Injury: Knee

For the first time since injuring a knee in the Week 15 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Fitzpatrick is questionable to play. He has been ruled out the past two weeks but has a real chance to play in a crucial game. Inside linebacker Elandon Roberts is also listed as questionable with a pec injury, but he was emphatic that he will play against the Baltimore Ravens.

-- Brooke Pryor

Darnell Mooney, WR; Jaylon Johnson, CB, Chicago Bears

Injury: Concussion; shoulder

Mooney will miss his second consecutive game with a concussion, which could mean we've seen the last of the receiver in a Bears uniform. The fourth-year wideout is headed toward free agency after a disappointing season marked by career lows in receptions (31), receiving yards (414) and touchdowns (1).

Johnson left the Falcons game after 20 snaps with a shoulder injury and did not practice this week. The cornerback, who is listed as doubtful, said the day after receiving his first Pro Bowl honor that his plan is to try to play against the Green Bay Packers.

-- Courtney Cronin

Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

Injury: Heel

Allen will miss his fourth straight game with a heel injury that has kept him from adding to an already record-breaking season. Allen finishes the year with a 108 receptions -- a single-season franchise record -- and 1,243 yards.

-- Kris Rhim

Jameson Williams, WR, Detroit Lions

Injury: Ankle

Williams was held out of practice all week and was ruled out for Sunday's regular-season finale against the Minnesota Vikings. He appeared to roll both ankles after catching a 63-yard bomb from QB Jared Goff in the fourth quarter of Detroit's 20-19 loss at Dallas on Dec. 30 and was spotted limping out of the locker room after the game.

-- Eric Woodyard

DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Injury: Ankle

Smith exited Lincoln Financial Field in a walking boot and crutches and has been ruled out. His recovery appears to be going well, however. He has since ditched the walking boot and crutches and was walking in the locker room without a limp throughout the week. Smith and corner Darius Slay (knee) appear on track to return for the playoffs.

-- Tim McManus

Deonte Banks, CB, New York Giants

Injury: Shoulder

The Giants' first-round pick was a limited participant at practice this week after missing the Week 17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. But he's doubtful for Sunday vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. You're not going to see the rookie in the finale. It just doesn't make sense.

-- Jordan Raanan

Eddy Pineiro, K, Carolina Panthers

Injury: Hamstring

Although Pineiro said he would kick if possible Sunday, he's listed as doubtful, which puts Matthew Wright in the spotlight. Interim coach Chris Tabor wouldn't say what Wright's range is, but Wright has connected from 59 yards, so the Panthers at least have a good option that they didn't last week when Pineiro began feeling discomfort in warmups.

-- David Newton

Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

Injury: Ankle

Kamara sprained an ankle against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday and did not practice all week. Saints coach Dennis Allen said Kamara will be a game-time decision against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. He is officially listed as questionable.

-- Katherine Terrell

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