NFL Week 5 injury analysis

This Given Sunday is examining the biggest injury questions before each week of the NFL season. Here are the top-five health-related storylines entering Week 5.

Hakeem Nicks

When Nicks has been on the field this season, he's been lights out. Unfortunately, he hasn't been on the field a lot. The New York Giants receiver went directly from foot injury to knee injury and missed his second straight game after he suffered a setback heading into the weekend. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has expressed some concern about the progress Nicks has been making, admitting earlier in the week that the balky knee hasn't improved much. 

Nicks might be a game-time decision Sunday against Cleveland, but fantasy owners shouldn't count on him unless absolutely necessary. On the bright side, you'll know his status with plenty of time to spare because that game kicks off at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Aaron Hernandez

The star tight end should probably be considered doubtful for New England's Week 5 matchup with Denver, but the Boston media was on high alert Wednesday when Hernandez reportedly walked "briskly" through the team's locker room. The problem is that there's almost no way you'll get a clue if Hernandez is going to make an early return until Sunday afternoon.

Still, it's something to keep a close eye on, because it's been reported on several occasions and in more than a few spots that Hernandez's rehab has been ahead of schedule.

Kenny Britt

Britt's quite the wild card right now. He missed last week's game against Houston with an ankle injury that also caused him to miss Wednesday's practice. Head coach Mike Munchak says Britt will have to make quite a lot of progress in order to take on the Vikings Sunday, so there's a decent chance he misses his second straight game. 

If you own Britt in your fantasy league, there's a good chance you already have an insurance policy or two based on the fact he was suspended to start the season. But if you're in a jam and can grab rookie Kendall Wright, do so.

Rashard Mendenhall

Mendenhall might finally be ready to make his season debut coming out of Pittsburgh's bye. He was a full participant in practice Wednesday, but we've been tricked by that in past weeks, so wait to see what his official status is on Friday.

The Steelers don't have a lot of quality options at running back right now, meaning Mendenhall might get a large load right off the bat. So if he's given the green light this week and you have DeMarco Murray, David Wilson or Darren McFadden on a bye, it might be a worthwhile risk to start him against the Eagles.

James Harrison & Troy Polamalu

The Steelers dominate this week's column with the inclusion of this defensive duo, too. Life would be a little easier on Michael Vick and Co. if Harrison and Polamalu were to sit one more week, but it's beginning to look as though both will be good to suit up.

Both are practicing this week, but they've both been out a while so there's no telling how healthy either will be Sunday against Philadelphia. Still, it's hard to imagine the struggling Pittsburgh defense won't receive a boost with the two All-Pros back in the lineup. 

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at, Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.