As we pointed out on Thursday's "Around The League Podcast" Divisional Round Weekend preview, Ryan Mathews' inability to take the field in the third and fourth quarters of a close game at Cincinnati bodes poorly for his odds of playing a major role this weekend.
Coach Mike McCoy said early in the week that Mathews' ankle sprain would be on the same practice regiment as previous weeks. As we discovered Friday, that's not the case.
Mathews went the entire week without practicing. He's officially listed as "questionable" for Sunday's game at Denver.
"My mindset is still the same," Mathews said, via U-T San Diego. "I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help this team. The more rest you get, the better everything gets. But it's only a week (of rest). So, I'm just trying to do what I can."
Mathews led the NFL in carries over the final five weeks of the regular season. Only LeSean McCoy rushed for more yards over that span. Without a hint of irony, I placed him on my Pro Bowl ballot as one of the league's premier early-down hammers.
If Mathews can't stay on the field and run at a sustained high level, it's a severe blow to the Bolts' obsessive, clock-chewingground attack.
Here are the rest of the divisional round injury updates:
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- Defensive end Derek Wolfe has been ruled out for the Broncos. He hasn't played since experiencing seizure-like symptoms in late November. The rest of the Denver defense is healthy.
- Wes Welker (concussion) and Champ Bailey (shoulder) are probable. Welker missed the Broncos' 27-20 upset loss to the Chargers in Week 15. Bailey has been relegated to nickelback since returning to the lineup late in the season.
- Chargers center Nick Hardwick is questionable after sustaining a concussion in last week's victory at Cincinnati. Tackle D.J. Fluker and guard Jeromey Clary are also questionable.
- Steve Smith proclaimed that there's an "89 percent" chance he will play through his knee sprain. Coach Ron Rivera confirmed that Smith was "moving around well" before the rain hit Friday's walkthrough. Smith is officially listed as "questionable."
- Sidelined since suffering a knee sprain of his own in Week 14, running back Jonathan Stewart is also questionable. "He didn't have a really big workload this week," Rivera said, "so we'll see how he is." Don't expect a big role for Stewart with DeAngelo Williams excelling of late.
- 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said cornerback Carlos Rogers (hamstring) would have to practice at some point this week to play in Sunday's game. Rogers is questionable to play after missing practice again Friday. "I don't know what the percentage would be," coach Jim Harbaugh said Friday, "but suppose there's a chance."
- Pierre Thomas (chest) has finally returned to practice. The NFL's receptions leader among tailbacks is questionable for Saturday's game after a limited practice Friday. We would expect him to play in a limited role behind Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles if he gets the green light.
- Defensive end Akiem Hicks (ankle) is also questionable while cornerback Keenan Lewis (head/neck) is probable. Losing Hicks will be a huge blow to the Saints' run defense.
- Wide receiver Percy Harvin (hip), tight end Luke Willson (ankle) and strong safety Kam Chancellor (hip) are all listed as "probable" for the Seahawks. Harvin has passed all tests in practice and could be a game-changing presence Saturday.
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- Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson (foot) has been ruled out. Fellow rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (knee, shoulder) are questionable. Without Dobson and Thompkins, New England wouldn't have a deep threat to take advantage of the Colts' propensity to surrender big plays down the field.
- Colts wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring) has also been ruled out. It's not a big loss for Indy, as DHB had fallen behind Da'Rick Rogers, Griff Whalen and LaVon Brazill in the pecking order.
- Every other injured Colts player is listed as "probable," including safety LaRon Landry, who sustained a concussion in last week's game.