12/15 Early Player News

Giants wideout Steve Smith is done for the season with a knee injury. We reported yesterday that it was a hammy issue but that was obviously incorrect but those were original reports. Mario Manningham (hip) is expected to return to practice by Thursday and hopes to play Sunday against the Eagles. The Giants need him back in this huge divisional game.

Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw, who suffered a wrist injury Monday night against the Vikings says it is of no concern and he will be out their Sunday against the Eagles. I tend to believe what he says and he is a must start.

Browns QB Colt McCoy (ankle) is expected to start Sunday according to coach Mangini saying he will get a “decent amount of first team snaps today” in practice. Expect him to return this week.

Chiefs QB Matt Cassel (appendectomy) returned to practice Wednesday and looks on target to start Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers (concussion) missed Wednesday’s practice and Sunday’s status is still uncertain.  UPDATE: Head Coach Mike McCarthy said during Wednesday’s press conference that he doesn’t think Aaron Rodgers will be able to play Sunday vs. the Patriots. This is a big blow to the Packs playoff hopes if he does indeed sit. Matt Flynn would take the reigns in that scenario.

Cowboys RB Marion Barber practiced Wednesday after missing two weeks with a calf injury. His return obviously hurts Tashard Choice’s value going forward.

Colts wideout Austin Collie (concussion) is expected to practice Wednesday and should be on track to return for Sunday’s big matchup with the Jaguars.

Chargers TE Antonio Gates (foot) missed Wednesday’s practice and his status for week 15 is uncertain.It is now looking like he’ll sit out tomorrow night’s game vs. the 49ers since he was unable to go today. Act like he’s not going to go and make other arrangements.

Lions WR Shaun Hill (finger) has a very realistic chance to start Sunday against the Bucs. Hill is definitely an upgrade over Drew Stanton, however Stanton has proven he can hold his own out their.

Eagles receiver Desean Jackson is listed as day to day with a sprained foot according to coach Andy Reid. If Jackson is unable to go Sunday that would be a big blow to the Eagles going against the Giants in a big game that could ultimately decide the division. If he can’t go Jason Avant would step into the starting lineup and would have some flex value this week.

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