It’s definite that “probable” no longer will be part of the NFL injury lexicon.
As first noted (as best we can tell) by Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald and as the league office confirms, the widely-misconstrued P-word has been dumped from the injury reporting procedures.
“The ‘Probable’ category was eliminated from the Game Status Report because approximately 95 percent of the players who were listed as ‘Probable’ in prior years did in fact play in the game,” the league explained.
There was a reason for that high percentage of participation. Although many believed that “probable” suggested a 75-percent likelihood of playing, it actually meant that the player was virtually certain to be available for normal duty. After the Falcons scratched quarterback Mike Vick, who had been listed as probable with a knee injury, from a 2005 game against New England, the league reminded teams of the true meaning of “probable,” and it began routinely investigating situations in which a player listed as “probable” did not actually play.
The NFL also has changed the meaning of “questionable” and “doubtful”; previously, the “questionable” category reflected a 50-50 likelihood of playing, and “doubtful” meant a 75-percent chance the player wouldn’t play. Now, “questionable” simply means that “it is uncertain as to whether the player will play in the game,” and “doubtful” means that “it is unlikely the player will participate.”
So, basically, any player whose chances of playing are less than 100 percent is “questionable,” and any player whose chances of playing are 49.9999 percent of less is “doubtful.” While these changes streamline the process, they create a much broader range for “questionable,” allowing visiting teams to keep the truly injured players under wraps until they head to the site of the game and leave the injured players behind. For home teams, the question of whether a “questionable” player will play won’t be finally resolved until the list of inactive players is filed 90 minutes prior to kickoff.