To start with, let’s address one of the remaining games of this week. It appears that the Chiefs’ route to an eighth consecutive AFC West title will be a bit easier today as the Raiders will be playing without leading running back Josh Jacobs, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. After starting the first 13 games of the season with Las Vegas, Jacobs is now set to miss a second straight game.
Jacobs was held out of last week’s contest after suffering a quad injury in the previous week. He hadn’t been able to practice during a short week and the team had decided it better to act out of an abundance of caution so as to not risk further damage. The Raiders had been holding out hope that Jacobs would be able to find his way back to the field this week, but an illness combined with the healing quad to ensure that Jacobs would not be able to make an appearance in Week 16. If his absence last week, backup Zamir White earned his first career start, rushing for 69 yards and a touchdown in place of Jacobs.
After a promising start to his career, the last few years have been a bit inconsistent for Jacobs. He followed up two seasons in which he rushed for a combined 2,215 yards and 19 touchdowns with only an 872-yard campaign, though he was still breaching the endzone often with nine touchdowns. After a down year that led to the Raiders choosing not to pick up his fifth-year option, Jacobs exploding into a rushing title with 1,653 yards and 12 touchdowns. This year, Jacobs is at 805 rushing yards on a career-worst 3.5 yards per attempt and six touchdowns.
Jacobs had avoided playing out this season on the franchise tag, after coming to a one-year agreement with the Raiders, but a long-term deal remained elusive. Missing time due to injury at the tail end of disappointing season is unfortunately not going to help matters much when Jacobs enters the offseason at the end of the year.
Here are a few other injury updates from around the NFL:
- In addition to Jacobs, while Las Vegas will reportedly have left tackle Kolton Miller return today as an active player, it appears that he may only be available as an emergency option on the offensive line, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Miller has missed four of the team’s last five contests. In his absence the Raiders have experimented with moving usual starting right tackle Thayer Munford to the left side while having backup lineman Jermaine Eluemunor start on the opposite side of wherever they line up Munford. That trend should continue into Week 16.
- We already reported on the situation with Vikings pass rusher D.J. Wonnum, but the team lost three other significant contributors to injury during yesterday’s game. Budding tight end T.J. Hockenson, rookie first-round wide receiver Jordan Addison, and cornerback Mekhi Blackmon were all forced out of Sunday’s game early. Fowler of ESPN reported this morning that the outlook for Hockenson is “not good.” While Minnesota is still holding out hope that his MRI will tell a different story, the team is bracing for bad news on the subject. As for Addison, an ankle sprain is projected to have him on a week-to-week status, and the Vikings will hope to glean a bit more information after further testing today, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
- Lastly, the Broncos played much of yesterday’s loss to the Patriots without their leading receiver after Courtland Sutton left the game with a concussion, according to Parker Gabriel of The Denver Post. Sutton has struggled over the years to find the yardage success he had in 2019 but has rediscovered his redzone proficiency in 2023. The big-bodied receiver leads the team in receptions (58), receiving yards (770), and receiving touchdowns (10) this season. Sutton will have to pass through concussion protocol to return next week in time to help his team in what has become a bit more difficult race for a Wild Card spot.