The NFL regular season is now two weeks away, but there has been big preseason Week 3 news such as the torn ACL for Jordy Nelson and the suspension of Martavis Bryant.
The NFL regular season is set to kick off on two weeks on Thursday night, September 10th and NFL odds for Kickoff Weekend have already been up at many sportsbooks for quite some time. But there are still many starting positions to be determined between now and then however, not to mention recent injury and suspension news that can directly affect some starting spots.
In an attempt to try and make sense of all this, we will be here each week for the rest of the preseason with relevant weekly team notes for all of the NFL teams. He is our Preseason Week 3 edition as of Friday, August 28th.
Baltimore Ravens: Many were very high on Baltimore rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman coming into this year, but he is having a much slower recovery than expected though and Coach Jim Harbaugh has now announced that there is no timetable for his return. This, Steve Smith, Sr. must know shoulder the receiving load after announcing he is retiring at the end of this season.
Buffalo Bills: It was widely believed that Tyrod Taylor had won the competition for the Buffalo starting quarterback job with his performance in Preseason Week 2 with the Bills incredibly playing without their top five running backs and top two receivers, but Coach Rex Ryan remained non-committal and now all three quarterbacks (Taylor, Matt Cassel, E.J. Manuel) will see action with the first unit in Week 3, with Manuel, who was believed to be out of the running to be the starter, getting the actual start.
Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton did not look good in the second preseason game completing only 6-of-13 passes for 46 yards and throwing two interceptions, and that was vs. a Tampa Bay defense that played poorly in its first game. The Bengals do not appear worried though as they have now released one of their backup quarterbacks Josh Johnson.
Cleveland Browns: There could have been a quarterback controversy in Cleveland with Johnny Manziel clearly outplaying Josh McCown through two games, but the Browns remain adamant that McCown is “firmly” their starter and now Manziel has suffered an elbow injury that is not deemed serious but that will probably keep him out of the third preseason game Saturday, practically locking up the starting job for McCown…for now!
Denver Broncos: There is finally some positive news regarding Emmanuel Sanders, as the speedy receiver in the Denver offense is expected to return to practice next week and appears on course to return to the lineup for the regular season opener after injuring his hamstring back on August 8th. The Denver defense should also get a boost with the expected return of linebacker Danny Trevathan from his knee injury in the third preseason game.
Houston Texans: The news on Arian Forster just keeps getting better and better as what was first believed to be a torn groin that would force him to miss at least eight weeks of the season turned out to be a far less severe sports hernia, and he may now be back performing team activities in Week 2 of the regular season and could even return to game action as soon as Week 4!
Indianapolis Colts: In a surprising move, the Colts took defensive end Robert Mathis off of the PUP list and he publicly stated that he will be all set to play in the regular season opener. That seems far fetched for an older player coming off of an Achilles injury, but just coming back anytime during the quarter or so of the season would be a boon the defense did not expect. Also, tight end Coby Fleener should return to practice soon coming back from his knee injury, although when he will be able to play in a game again remains unclear.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The future of the Jacksonville Jaguars may be now as running back T.J. Yeldon out of Alabama is set to make his professional debut in the third preseason game. The rookie could be the bellcow of the Jacksonville running game right from the outset, but we should know after this contest. Also, it looks like Rashad Greene has emerged as the number three receiver after Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, although tight end Julius Thomas should also factor heavily in the passing game.
Kansas City Chiefs: On the one hand, the Chiefs’ big free agent signing Jeremy Maclin already has more receiving touchdowns this preseason (one) than all the Kansas City receivers has all year combined during the regular season last year. On the other hand, all the other receivers have been very quiet with nobody stepping up for the number two receiver, which huts Maclin because it could mean facing a lot of double coverage this season.
Miami Dolphins: Rookie wide receiver DeVante Parker could be back to practice soon following his foot injury, and while he will be way behind in preparation, his natural raw ability and speed could make him worth the wait. And on the other end of the field, Jarvis Landry could be in line for a breakthrough season, even meriting more looks in the red zone than last year with his good hands, precise route running and the trust that Ryan Tannehill has in him.
New England Patriots: The Patriots came to terms with veteran wide receiver Reggie Wane this week, which can also be seen as a sign that the foot injury to Brandon LaFell could be more serious than anyone is letting on. The other injured New England receiver Julian Edelman has also hardly practiced during training camp while nursing an ankle injury and his availability for the regular season opener is questionable.
New York Jets: The Jets signed quarterback Josh Johnson after he was released by the Bengals, although the reason why is unclear with Ryan Fitzpatrick starting and Bryce Petty backing him up until Geno Smith returns from his broken jaw. Meanwhile, running back Chris Ivory has had a great camp and could be primed for a big year.
Oakland Raiders: Word out of Oakland is that running back Latavius Murray has been working on his hands in order to improve as a pass catcher and turn himself into a three-down back. That would be awesome given his great running ability, buy Roy Helu is still way more polished as a receiver and will remain the third down and change-of-pace back for now.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Martavis Bryant really emerged as a big play receiving threat for the Steelers over the second half of last season and he was expected to be a big part of the passing offense this year as a complimentary piece to Antonio Brown. However, he is now facing a four-game for reportedly failing a drug test for marijuana, meaning that the likes of Darrius Heyward-Bey could now see action as the third receiver with Markus Wheaton starting on the opposite side of Brown. Also, it was announced that center Maurkice Pouncey could conceivably come back this season after breaking his ankle in Preseason Week 2.
San Diego Chargers: Rookie running back Melvin Gordon will play in the third preseason game after missing last week with an ankle issue, and he could be very special, i.e., Rookie of the Year special, this year if he can improve his pass blocking skills. Of course, that is not a given and Danny Woodhead would remain the third down back if the Chargers are not confident that Gordon can keep the newly extended Philip Rivers upright.
Tennessee Titans: It looks like there is no longer a running back competition in Tennessee as Bishop Sankey, who disappointed as a rookie last season, looked much better in the second preseason game than the first and his challenger David Cobb did not travel with the team for its third game due to a calf injury. It then did not help that running backs coach Sylvester Croom brought Cobb’s work ethic into question.
Arizona Cardinals: Veteran Chris Johnson has yet to be on the field much since signing with the Cardinals as he suffered a hamstring injury on his first day (naturally), although he did surprisingly return to practice on Friday and he now may actually try to play in the third preseason game after it had been assumed that he would definitely be out earlier on. It is also expected that Johnson will make the final 53-man roster whether he plays the rest of preseason or not.
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons placed running back Evan Royster on waivers just one week after signing him, but the good news is that Tevin Coleman will play in the third preseason game and probably see extensive action. Coleman was supposed to compete with Devonta Freeman for the starting job, but not making his NFL debut until this week and missing so much practice time should solidify Freeman as the starter…unless Coleman knocks the Falcons’ socks off this week.
Carolina Panthers: After the devastating loss of Kelvin Benjamin to a torn ACL last week, his expected replacement, rookie Devin Funchess, will now miss the third preseason game with a hamstring injury. The good news is that this injury should heal in time for Funchess to start the regular season opener, and he might even see some action in the preseason finale next week in a game where the starters are usually rested or limited.
Chicago Bears: As if Jay Cutler was not already in the hot seat in what may be his final season as the Bears’ quarterback, he may not have any wide receivers to throw to in the near future! After Chicago possibly lost rookie Kevin White for the season last week, Alshon Jeffery has not practiced in over two weeks with a calf injury that may be more serious than the Bears are letting on, Eddie Royal has missed two straight days of practice with a hip injury and now Marquess Wilson injured a hamstring and will miss the third preseason game!
Dallas Cowboys: Another week, another torn ACL. Unfortunately, cornerback Orlando Scandrick is the latest to suffer what is becoming too common an injury, as it happened during practice on Tuesday. In other news, Darren McFadden has practiced fully this week for the first time as a Cowboy, although the odds seem slim at this point that he could usurp the starting running back job away from Joseph Randle.
Detroit Lions: It is no news that Calvin Johnson is sitting out the third preseason game as he has earned the right to rest up during preseason and he will be just fine for the regular season opener. More concerning is that the Lions will be without three defensive starters this week in defensive ends Ziggy Ansah and Jason Jones and linebacker DeAndre Levy, and a defense that ranked second in the NFL in total defense last year would be hurt if any of those players are out for a prolonged period.
Green Bay Packers: One of the bigger injuries sustained this preseason was the torn ACL by Green Bay wide receiver Jordy Nelson in Week 2, taking away the favorite target of Aaron Rodgers and truly one of the best receivers in the game. Surprisingly though, Packers’ Futures have not really changed noticeably! Nonetheless, while this upcoming Week 3 is usually the regular season dress rehearsal for most teams with the starters playing the most minutes, the Packers announced that they will sit their starters entirely in response to the devastating injury to Nelson.
Minnesota Vikings: Just about the biggest news for the Vikings this past week is that their usually automatic kicker Blair Walsh missed three field goals and an extra point in the second preseason game, and this is after he received a new contract this off-season that guaranteed him $5.25 million. Kickers are a rare breed, so it will be interesting to see how Walsh bounces back from some adversity.
New Orleans Saints: With C.J. Spiller out until the regular season opener at the earliest, Khiry Robinson is currently listed second on the running back chart behind Mark Ingram. However, Robinson missed practiced with an undisclosed injury on Thursday, which would not be a concern if not for the fact that he has a history of minor ailments that have held him back from moving up the depth chart in the past.
New York Giants: The news regarding Victor Cruz has been all positive until now as he recovers from his torn Achilles suffered last season, but now he has had a setback with swelling in the calf area, and it now looks like he will not play at all this preseason after originally saying that he could have played last week in Week 2. And there are whispers circulating that even if he does return for the regular season opener, he still may not be what he was before the injury.
Philadelphia Eagles: There has been quite a bit of news around Chip Kelly’s offense in recent days. First, it is still unclear just how many carries Demarco Murray will get this year. It certainly will be nowhere close to his workload with Dallas last year, but by the same token, it is not as if he will alternate series with Ryan Matthews either. Also, wide receiver Jordon Matthews will remain in the slot this year with rookie Nelson Agholor lining up outside. Next, quarterback Sam Bradford showed no ill effects from his first game action in Preseason Week 2 and he will play again in Week 3. And finally, tight end Zach Ertz could be back in time from his groin injury to play on opening week.
Seattle Seahawks: There is legitimate concern in regards to the Seattle offensive line, as the Seahawks traded away one of the best centers in football in Max Unger to acquire Jimmy Graham and the revamped line has looked overwhelmed the first two preseason games. And the great defense is still missing a key piece as safety Kam Chancellor continues his contract holdout.
San Francisco 49ers: Although it is too late to challenge Carlos Hyde or Reggie Bush, running back Kendall Hunter will make is preseason debut this week after suffering a serious knee injury last year. And with Bush having a history of injuries himself, Hunter could become a very valuable third running back, as indications are that his rehab this off-season was excellent.
St. Louis Rams: Welcome to the future as rookie Todd Gurley had his first practice with the Rams this week, and part of that practice was with the first team! The rookie has the ability to be a future elite running back in the NFL, but we may not see that until the second half of the season as St. Louis is bringing him along slowly after he tore his ACL in college last year. Luckily the Rams have a nice back to keep Gurley’s spot warm in Tre Mason.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Buccaneers; number one overall draft pick Jameis Winston played much better in his second preseason game vs. the Bengals than in his debut, but he then gave the team a scare when his ankle was rolled on in the second quarter. Luckily the ankle was only sprained and he should start this week in Week 3. Tampa Bay also signed kicker Connor Barth just hours after he was released by the Denver Broncos.
Washington Redskins: Contradicting an earlier report, the latest word is that Robert Griffin III has not been cleared following the concussion he suffered last week and he will miss the final two preseason games. He will be re-evaluated in one to two weeks to determine his status for the regular season opener.