This year has been interesting in the NFL, to say the least. The league instituted two new “injury” designations this year, one of which to account for the global pandemic and the other to allow teams to bring back injured players earlier while not chewing up a roster spot. Thus, we have the Reserve/Covid-19 list and the short-term IR. If a player is put on the latter, they are eligible to return in three weeks, where in years past, being placed on the IR spelled the end of their season entirely.
Let’s take a look at a few notable players getting activated ahead of Sunday or Monday’s action around the NFL.
Matthew Stafford, Lions Quarterback
The Lions had coronavirus issues for four straight days, which included their starting quarterback this past week. Backup Chase Daniel led the first-team offense for the entire week of practice while Stafford participated virtually from his home. Still, Stafford was activated from the reserve/Covid-19 list Saturday with a negative test coming back Sunday, and he’ll be good to go against the Vikings.
Keenan Allen, Chargers Wide Reciever
Keenan Allen, the Chargers top wideout, had strep throat on Saturday and was sent home from the team facility. He then needed two consecutive negative Covid tests in order to be eligible to play. The second test came back Sunday morning negative, so he will play against the Raiders. Allen’s 53 receptions are good for 6th in the NFL, and his 548 receiving yards lead the team.
Dez Bryant, Ravens Wide Reciever
Neither a reserve/Covid-19 or IR activation, but Dez Bryant’s promotion from the Ravens’ practice squad is notable in that Sunday will be his first NFL game since 2017. He’ll become just the second former Pro Bowl wide receiver to miss two full seasons and then play in a game, joining Josh Gordon. The Ravens' wide receivers rank last in the NFL in catches (117) and receiving yards (1,367) through eight weeks of the regular season, so the team is hopeful he’ll provide a boost.
Michael Thomas, Saints Wide Reciever
Thomas played the team’s season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it appears his second game of the season will come against them as well. Thomas injured his ankle in that Week 1 affair, and he’s followed that up with a hamstring injury and an absence due to disciplinary reasons. He’ll finally get a chance to get back on the field in front of a national tv audience as the Saints are in Tampa on Sunday night, which will also mark the debut of Antonio Brown in a Bucs uniform.
Other Returns and Those Still Sidelined
Notable players expected to be active Sunday after missing time due to injury include Josh Jacobs, Chris Godwin, Phillip Lindsay, and Christian McCaffrey.
Some notable players who aren’t as fortunate as those detailed above include Jadeveon Clowney (knee), Sam Darnold (shoulder), Golden Tate (disciplinary), Kenny Golladay (hip), and Calvin Ridley (foot).