Ryan Mathews (knee), Rashad Jennings (knee), Donald Brown (concussion), Robert Griffin III (ankle) and Shonn Greene (hamstring) are all at least one week away from returning. Mathews and Jennings haven't been cleared for football-related activity yet. Brown is still early in the exercise phase of the concussion protocol. And, while Griffin is progressing well and has begun re-conditioning with agility drills and individual football-related work, he still has work to do to get ready for Week 8.
There are a number of players limited on Wednesday who are fully expected to play this week. Most notable are Julio Jones (ankle), Carson Palmer (shoulder), Greg Olsen (ankle), and Michael Floyd (groin). Mark Ingram II (hand) and Jonathan Stewart (knee) are fully practicing already and will return this week. Early reports also sound promising for Reggie Bush (ankle) and Zac Stacy (ankle) but both backs bear close monitoring as the week progresses.
Onto this week's primary injury concerns...
calvin johnson | ankle | dnp
A.J. Green | toe | dnp
Johnson and Green are not expected to play this week.
Johnson told reporters today he'd not return until he can do everything at a "high level." This isn't unusual for stud players. They'll do anything and everything to play through an injury early in the process. But once they've missed a game, they often recognize the improvement they've made without risking a gameday setback and it's much easier for them to accept another week (or more) of rest. Jim Caldwell left the door open for the Lions to rest Johnson for a four weeks -- through their Week 9 bye -- to fully heal. We'll have a clear sense of where Johnson stands next Wednesday.
The Bengals haven't formally ruled Green out, but he's scheduled to see his foot specialist again on Friday and called himself week to week. It's very unlikely the Bengals and Green will risk another setback by bringing Green back too soon. I don't expect Green to be out indefinitely, but neither is it likely he'll return for Week 8 just yet.
jimmy graham | shoulder | dnp
The Saints did not update Graham's condition today. All evidence continues to point to Graham missing at least this week's game to rest his painful shoulder injury. There's a small chance we'll hear Graham progress to a game time decision for this week, but I think Week 8 is his earliest return expectation. Like Johnson, we'll have a much clearer understanding of where Graham stands next Wednesday. It also won't surprise me if there's more news leaked to the media about Graham's injury for a Sunday pregame report.
kelvin benjamin | concussion | dnp
The Panthers called Benjamin's concussion "mild" today. If you've read anything I've written or tweeted about concussions over the years, you know that medical personnel do not grade concussions any more. You either have symptoms or you don't.
Unfortunately, Benjamin came into the Panthers' training room on Monday with a headache and was diagnosed with a concussion. Players generally go through a five day return to play protocol before they're cleared for contact. Some teams combine more than one stage in a 24 hour period, so a return to play in Week 7 isn't impossible for Benjamin. But teams will not clear a player to start the protocol until they are symptom free.
Benjamin wasn't symptom free 24 hours after his injury. That may make it difficult for him to get through the stages quickly enough to gain clearance this week. Most teams send players to the independent neurologist for clearance on Friday. We may not see Benjamin hit that stage until Saturday. And if he's not doing any practice work by Friday, he may miss this week's game. Watch this one closely.
lamar miller | knee | limited
Miller's limited practice may not be more meaningful than the early week rest given to Zac Stacy or Greg Olsen this week. But the Dolphins are a logistical mess right now, with one hand seemingly clueless about what the other hand is doing. Until we see Miller's practice participation increase by the end of the week, I won't feel fully confident he'll be on the field this week.
Follow on Twitter @JeneBramel for breaking injury news, updates and analysis. Check back Sunday morning for my expectations on all of this week's game-time injury decisions.