It's late December, and in the NFL, that doesn't mean holiday break -- it means managing injuries.
The Washington Football Team will play the Carolina Panthers on Sunday with an opportunity to clinch an unlikely division title, but to do it, Washington could be missing a number of important players.
Let's run through what we know and what we don't:
- Alex Smith - The veteran QB missed last week's loss to Seattle. Dwayne Haskins stepped in and played decent. He was quite bad for a half and then pretty good for a half. After the game, he stepped out and made a mess. Regardless, Haskins is fully healthy and practiced all week. Smith isn't 100% but gutted out some practices and is listed as questionable for the Panthers game. Ron Rivera summed up Washington's QB situation quite well when he described it as "jumbled up." Will Smith go? Maybe. But if his calf injury forces him to play like he did two weeks ago against San Francisco, he won't be helping much. This will be a true game-time decision. 50/50 chance to play
- Antonio Gibson - Washington's rookie running back scored 11 touchdowns and seemed prime to break Alfred Morris' rookie rushing TD record before a toe injury in a Monday night win over Pittsburgh a few weeks back. He hasn't played since, but there's some level of optimism he could go this week. While he was limited each day in practice, Gibson at least took part in practice every day this week. He's questionable on the injury report, but Washington did not add any practice squad running backs to its active roster this week, which is a slightly good sign. Keep in mind, however, that veteran RB Lamar Miller will be on Washington's active roster this week in case Gibson can't play. 53/47 chance to play
- Terry McLaurin - This is big, bad news for Washington. McLaurin is doubtful for Sunday and didn't practice all week. The one day the media got to watch practice, McLaurin didn't even walk down to the practice fields. Washington's first 1,000-yard receiver since 2016, not having McLaurin is a huge blow to the Washington offense. It seems highly unlikely he plays, and especially if Haskins is at QB, not having Terry on the field is a dagger. Smith spreads the ball around more, Haskins almost always looks to his former college teammate first. 2 percent chance to play
- Morgan Moses & Wes Schweitzer - Offensive linemen are always beat up this time of year, and both of these guys are beat up too. Both will play. After a week of rest and treatment, Moses should be much better off than we saw late in the loss to Seattle. 95 percent chance to play
There is some good news on the defensive side:
- Cole Holcomb - Ron Rivera said the second-year linebacker is back and will be ready to roll. Good news for a position group that looked rough against the Seahawks. 100 percent chance to play
- Kevin Pierre-Louis - Not as confident as Holcomb, but KPL practiced in a limited capacity each day this week. He's questionable but indications are he will be out there Sunday, and if he can't go, Washington added veteran LB Mychal Kendricks from the Seahawks practice squad. Rivera said Kendricks will be ready to go against Carolina if needed. 70 percent chance to play.
The injuries on the offensive side of the ball are brutal, but the strength of the Washington team is its defensive line. Those guys are healthy, and Panthers tackle Russell Okung isn't expected to play.