Friday, March 1, 2024

NFL playoff injuries for conference title games: Ravens’ Mark Andrews, 49ers’ Deebo Samuel in wait, see mode

Only four teams remain in the NFL postseason with three games left to play — including Sunday’s AFC and NFC championship games — and per usual this time of the year given the physical grind playing an NFL season, there are some key injuries. 

Pro Bowlers like Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews, Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey and San Francisco 49ers do-it-all wide receiver Deebo Samuel respective availabilities are up in the air. 

Below is an update on the league’s final four who are fighting for a spot in Super LVIII out in Las Vegas. 

Odds courtesy of SportsLine consensus.   

Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)

Sunday, 3 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)

Ravens Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews underwent ankle surgery on Nov. 21 following an injury he suffered in a Baltimore’s 34-20 win against the Cincinnati Bengals back in Week 11. He hasn’t played since, but he did practice every day last week: limited on Tuesday and fully on Wednesday and Thursday. Andrews entered the divisional round as questionable, but he did not play. He is still on injured reserve, but the Ravens think there’s a chance he could play this week. 

“We’ll just see how it goes,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “We’re looking forward to it, he practiced last week and I’m sure he’ll practice again this week,” Harbaugh said. “If he’s ready to play, he’ll play.”

Baltimore Pro Bowl safety Marlon Humphrey hasn’t played since suffering a calf injury against the Miami Dolphins in Week 17, and he didn’t practice at all last week. However, Harbaugh categorized the team’s thoughts on Humphrey’s status for Sunday as “hopeful.”

“I promise you, if Marlon can go, he will. If he can practice, he will,” Harbaugh said. “I think you’ll see it as the week goes on based on how much he practices. You’ll probably get a pretty good feel for it. I’m very hopeful and we’ll just have to see what happens.”  

Chiefs 2023 First-Team All-Pro left guard Joe Thuney suffered a strained pectoral muscle in Kansas City’s AFC divisional round win at the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, per NFL Media. That is an injury that can be played through and given that the Chiefs are playing for a return trip to the Super Bowl, Thuney is fighting to play. ESPN reported on Wednesday that Thuney is unlikely to play on Sunday, but that he is “going to work like crazy to play.” 

Kansas City defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi likely won’t play again this season after he posted on Instagram what appears to be a photo of himself post-surgery on Saturday. Wide receiver Skyy Moore practiced in a limited fashion on Wednesday and Thursday last week before not participating on Friday and not playing Sunday. His status is up in the air at this point in the week. Fellow receiver Kadarius Toney was limited participant all week last week, but he was ruled out on a game day. He may have a better chance to play than Moore. 

Linebacker Willie Gay Jr. reaggravated a neck injury he was dealing with in the lead-up to the game against the Bills on Sunday night. He left the game and didn’t return. His status is unclear at this point, but he is a critical component in terms of spying on Ravens 2023 First-Team All-Pro quarterback Lamar Jackson and limiting the damage he can do to them with his legs. Safety Mike Edwards has suffered a concussion and will need to go through the league’s protocol in order to play again.

Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers (-7)

Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET (Fox, fubo)

The top-seeded San Francisco 49ers currently have one notable injury, and it’s to Pro Bowl wide receiver Deebo Samuel. He suffered a shoulder injury on Saturday night against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional round, and he did not return to the game after being further examined. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said his status will be determined later in the week. 

His presence is critical to the 49ers’ Super Bowl hopes as the team is 8-9 when he doesn’t play since drafting in 2019. That includes being 0-2 this season when he can’t suit up. San Francisco averaged 7.1 yards per play with Samuel on the field in 2023 and 5.6 yards per play with him on the sideline. Samuel’s 8.8 yards after catch per reception led all NFL wide receivers this season. 

“It wasn’t broken, so that was a really good sign,” Shanahan said Monday. “It’s still hurting too much for us to have any idea on how it’s going to heal up this week. We have to be patient, see how he feels on Wednesday and based on his improvement it will give us a better idea whether he has a chance for the game or not.”    

Lions Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow suffered a sprained knee and a sprained ankle against the Buccaneers in the NFC divisional round, according to NFL Media. However, he played through them last week and is likely to do so again on Sunday against the 49ers with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. His presence is critical to everything the Lions do as Pro Football Focus rates him as the best center in the NFL with an 88.9 offensive grade. 

“I might get a little emotional talking about him (Ragnow),” Detroit Lions left tackle Taylor Decker said postgame on Sunday, via Fox Sports. “The dude is just a warrior man. He has been through it. He has been through it personally. He has been through it with us as a team. The guys is a warrior, and there was never a doubt when he got banged up today that he was going to keep playing. It seems like he is always fighting through pain all the time. I don’t want to speak for him, but I feel like a little bit of him is paranoid to not be out there with us because we have been through so much together. If he can be out there, we know he’s going to be out there. Not only that, he’s the best center in football. He’s huge for us.”

Lions head coach Dan Campbell said on Monday that left guard Jonah Jackson (knee) could have a chance to play in the Super Bowl if the team advances past the San Francisco 49ers. He suffered a knee injury in the second quarter against Tampa Bay on Sunday. He will not suit up on Sunday. 

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