The third-year cornerback, who was vociferous while opining on 25 of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks in a GQ magazine interview, talked to reporters Thursday in a session that lasted just 1 minute, 10 seconds.
It was a repeat performance of his locker-room interview following the Jaguars’ loss against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday.
Ramsey’s longest answer Thursday was in response to a query about his thoughts regarding Sunday’s impending matchup with Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins at TIAA Bank Field.
“Same as it’s always been,” Ramsey said. “My past two years, y’all have asked me the same question.”
“Really good,” said Ramsey, who has 21 tackles and two pass breakups this season while also battling knee soreness.
His last two interviews are certainly a departure from his normal behavior. Just last week, he responded to comments by New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore that Ramsey has more time to trash talk because he mostly plays zone coverage.
“I’ve never understood why somebody on the same side of the ball would hate on another guy,” Ramsey said last Thursday. “Usually we’re going against the opponent. Maybe I’m a threat or something. I really don’t know. … It was weird to me. It’s lame, corny. But it’s him, though.”
Two weeks ago, Ramsey was critical of Tyreek Hill after the Kansas City Chiefs‘ receiver said Ramsey is “all right I guess” and wanted press coverage played against him.
“I don’t like how whoever has made it a matchup me against Tyreek,” Ramsey said then. “He’s good for what he does for their team. He made All-Pro as a return specialist — let’s get that right, as a return specialist — his rookie year. He went to two Pro Bowls as a return specialist — return specialist — two years.
“I made All-Pro in my position as a corner. Went to the Pro Bowl as a corner. So it’s not a wide receiver versus corner matchup, so we can get that out of the way off the bat.”
Those comments resulted in a lot of criticism, as did his boast in an ESPN story in August that he could make it in the NHL after six months of training despite never having skated. Some NHL players also were not happy with his comments.
Ramsey’s reluctance to be more talkative may be partly related to the defense’s struggles over the past two weeks. The Jaguars allowed 802 yards, 63 points and 49 first downs in road losses to Kansas City and Dallas.
His thoughts as to how the defense will fare this week against the Texans?
The third-year cornerback, who was vociferous this summer while opining on 25 of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks in a GQ magazine interview, talked to reporters Thursday in a session that lasted just 1 minute, 10 seconds.
It was a repeat performance of his locker room interview following the Jaguars’ loss against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday.
Ramsey’s longest answer Thursday was in response to a query about his thoughts regarding this weekend’s matchup with Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins at TIAA Bank Field.
“Same as it’s always been,” Ramsey said. “My past two years, y’all have asked me the same question.”
“Really good,” said Ramsey, who has 21 tackles and two pass breakups this season while also battling knee soreness.
His past two interviews are certainly a departure from his normal behavior. Just last week, he responded to comments by New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who said Ramsey has more time to talk trash because he mostly plays zone coverage.
“I’ve never understood why somebody on the same side of the ball would hate on another guy,” Ramsey said last Thursday. “Usually we’re going against the opponent. Maybe I’m a threat or something. I really don’t know. … It was weird to me. It’s lame, corny. But it’s him, though.”
Two weeks ago, Ramsey was critical of Tyreek Hill after the Kansas City Chiefs receiver said Ramsey is “all right, I guess” and wanted press coverage played against him.
“I don’t like how whoever has made it a matchup, me against Tyreek,” Ramsey said then. “He’s good for what he does for their team. He made All-Pro as a return specialist — let’s get that right, as a return specialist — his rookie year. He went to two Pro Bowls as a return specialist — return specialist — two years.
“I made All-Pro in my position as a corner. Went to the Pro Bowl as a corner. So it’s not a wide receiver-versus-corner matchup, so we can get that out of the way off the bat.”
Those comments resulted in a lot of criticism, as did his boast in an ESPN story in August that he could make it in the NHL after six months of training, despite never having skated. Some NHL players were not happy with his comments.
Ramsey’s reluctance to be more talkative this week may be partly related to the defense’s struggles over the past two games. The Jaguars defense allowed a combined 802 yards, 63 points and 49 first downs in road losses to Kansas City and Dallas.
His thoughts as to how the defense will fare this week against the Texans?
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Bills rookie QB Josh Allen did not practice Wednesday and will not play Sunday against the Colts. Buffalo will start Derek Anderson instead. Allen, wearing a brace over his right elbow, said Wednesday that there is no timetable for his return but offered some context by mentioning next week (vs. the Patriots) or the week after (vs. the Bears) as possibilities. — Mike Rodak
Quarterback is no longer a question mark after Ryan Tannehill was ruled out this week, and Brock Osweiler will start. The Dolphins have some reinforcements coming on the defensive side of the ball with Cameron Wake (knee) and Bobby McCain (knee) returning to practice on a limited basis. Wake and McCain, two key starters, missed the last two games but have a good chance of playing Sunday vs. Detroit. — Cameron Wolfe
Starting right tackle Marcus Cannon was knocked out of Sunday’s win over the Chiefs with a concussion, which puts his availability in doubt against the Bears. That would thrust LaAdrian Waddle into the starting lineup in what would immediately become one of the top storylines of the game: Can the Patriots protect against Khalil Mack & Co.? Cannon has been in and out of the lineup the last two seasons and Waddle has proven to be a capable replacement. — Mike Reiss
The Jets are beat up, especially at wide receiver and in the secondary. They probably will be without three of their top five DBs against the Vikings — S Marcus Maye, CB Trumaine Johnson and nickel back Buster Skrine. Rookie Parry Nickerson would replace Skrine in the slot, meaning his assignment will be WR Adam Thielan. The Jets also could be without two of their top four WRs, Quincy Enunwa and Terrelle Pryor. Also, Robby Anderson is nursing a hamstring injury. — Rich Cimini
Starting left guard Alex Lewis has a pinched nerve in his neck and didn’t practice Wednesday. The Ravens haven’t officially ruled him out for Sunday’s game against the Saints. “That can heal like that,” coach John Harbaugh said while snapping his finger, “or it could take a little bit of time.” If Lewis is sidelined, Baltimore could opt to move James Hurst from right tackle to left guard and start rookie third-round pick Orlando Brown at right tackle. Lewis and cornerback Brandon Carr (knee) are the only injured players to sit out Wednesday’s practice. — Jamison Hensley
The Browns will be without their leading tackler on Sunday, as linebacker Joe Schobert is out with a hamstring pull. Chris Kirksey moves from weakside to the middle, with Genard Avery taking over primary duties outside, though that could change depending on situations. Schobert will be missed for more than his play. He calls defensive signals, and is very adept at recognizing formations for calls. — Pat McManamon
The bye week gives the already healthy Steelers the chance to heal up. Safety Morgan Burnett (groin) says he’s frustrated to miss four games but is taking the rehab process day-to-day. Linebacker L.J. Fort (ankle) expects to play Week 8 against Cleveland. — Jeremy Fowler
Deshaun Watson said on Wednesday that he feels better than he did a week ago while dealing with a chest injury. “I’m cleared to practice,” Watson said. “I’m cleared to do everything. So I’m good.” Watson said he didn’t play with any extra padding on Sunday against the Bills and that his injury didn’t affect much of his game other than playing “a little conservative as far as running the ball.” When the Texans quarterback was asked whether he felt he’d be healthy enough to play on Sunday in Jacksonville, Watson said, “I’m great.” — Sarah Barshop
Receiver Ryan Grant did not practice Wednesday after leaving Sunday’s loss at the Jets early due to an ankle sprain. Grant has been the most reliable receiver not named T.Y. Hilton on the roster this season, with 26 receptions on 37 targets to go with a touchdown. Not all was bad for the Colts on Wednesday, as Hilton practiced for the first time since injuring his hamstring in Week 4. — Mike Wells
Leonard Fournette did not practice on Wednesday and it’s unlikely he plays against Houston, which means it’s the T.J. Yeldon show again — but he didn’t practice on Wednesday either because of an ankle/foot injury. That’s likely more precautionary than anything because it’s important for Yeldon to be as healthy as possible since he’ll get the bulk of the work again even though Jamaal Charles‘ play time is expected to increase from the 17 snaps he played last week. — Michael DiRocco
Starting inside linebacker Wesley Woodyard missed two games after injuring his shoulder against the Eagles in Week 4. Woodyard was limited in practice all of last week but said he feels he is close to being able to play soon. The Titans’ run defense suffered without Woodyard, which is why Mike Vrabel is hopeful to have him back against Melvin Gordon and the Chargers this week. — Turron Davenport
The Broncos have been forced to adjust in the offensive line and players who started the season as backups will have to be up to the challenge of playing far more. Right tackle Jared Veldheer has missed the last two games with a knee injury and is not expected to play Thursday night against Arizona. That has put backup Billy Turner in the lineup there. Left guard Ron Leary also suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury in the loss to the Rams this past Sunday, and that will put Max Garcia in that spot against the Cardinals. Garcia and Connor McGovern, who will start at right guard Thursday night, had alternated at right guard against the Rams — until Leary was injured — because the Broncos were trying to repair some struggles against the Jets’ interior rushers the week before. It will likely force the Broncos into far more two-tight end, two-back sets as they try to keep quarterback Case Keenum out of harm’s way. — Jeff Legwold
The wait for the Chiefs’ two biggest defensive stars, safety Eric Berry and linebacker Justin Houston, appears destined to wait another week. Neither one practiced on Wednesday as the Chiefs began preparations for the Bengals. The Chiefs are trying to get by without the two but that’s difficult judging by the results last week in New England, the first time they played a full game without both players. — Adam Teicher
For a second straight week, the Chargers could be using recently signed kicker Michael Badgley as Caleb Sturgis works his way back from a strained right quad. Sturgis was a limited participant on Wednesday. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said whether Sturgis plays could be a game-time decision again on Sunday. Badgley made a 44-yard field goal and all five of his extra points in his first action for the Chargers against the Browns last week. — Eric D. Williams
Linebacker Sean Lee was limited in his first practice since suffering a hamstring injury against Seattle on Sept. 23. The Cowboys have their bye week after Sunday’s game at Washington, but if Lee is healthy enough to play, he will play, according to Jason Garrett. The Cowboys have not missed Lee as much as they have in the past, with Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch performing well in his absence. With his return, the Cowboys will have a good ‘problem,’ and work out a rotation between the three of them like they had before Lee was hurt. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence did not work a full practice, as he is working through a shoulder injury that limited his work to mostly passing situations last week and could continue to do the same this week. — Todd Archer
It looks as if tight end Evan Engram will return Monday night against the Falcons. Engram has missed three games with a sprained MCL, but he was moving well at practice on Tuesday and expects to play this week. This should open up the middle of the field a little bit for the struggling Giants offense. — Jordan Raanan
Both offensive tackles are hobbled, but will push to suit up against the Panthers. Left tackle Jason Peters is going to play through a reported torn biceps while Lane Johnson, who missed Wednesday’s practice, is trying to gut through a high ankle sprain. Slot corner Sidney Jones (hamstring) is likely to miss some time, and the secondary is already without S Rodney McLeod. It will be a patchwork group Sunday, with rookie Avonte Maddox a candidate to move into the nickel role for Jones. — Tim McManus
The Redskins, as usual, have key players banged up. Receiver Jamison Crowder is already unlikely to play because of an ankle injury. So the key focus will be on the offensive backfield, where Chris Thompson (ribs/knee) and Adrian Peterson (ankle/knee/shoulder) are hurting. Peterson did not practice Wednesday, but he played through quite a bit of pain last week. Thompson felt better Wednesday and is more optimistic about playing Sunday than he was at any point a week ago. But it still remains uncertain. — John Keim
Bears head coach Matt Nagy told reporters on Wednesday that he planned to play it safe with star pass rusher Khalil Mack, who suffered a right ankle injury in last week’s overtime loss to Miami. “He’s day-to-day right now,” Nagy said of Mack. “We’re just going to continue to keep an eye on it and make sure whatever we do, we’re more cautious than anything. I believe in that and I think it’s important to go that route.” The Bears are still hopeful that Mack will play against the Patriots on Sunday. — Jeff Dickerson
The Lions received positive news Wednesday when T.J. Lang returned to practice on a limited basis after missing two weeks with a concussion. Coming off the bye, Detroit looks fairly healthy (Ezekiel Ansah, Kerryon Johnson and Michael Roberts practiced, too). The biggest level of concern is going to be running back Theo Riddick, who surprisingly sat out Wednesday’s practice with a knee injury. His status would be something to watch — and if he were somehow unable to go, then Ameer Abdullah could see an uptick in his workload, which is currently minimal. — Michael Rothstein
Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison were close to returning last week. With the bye this week, there’s a good chance the Packers could have both receivers back from their hamstring injuries for what will be the start of their most difficult stretch of the season — at the Rams, at the Patriots, home against the Dolphins, at the Seahawks (on a short week) and at the Vikings. — Rob Demovsky
What kept Linval Joseph out of practice on Wednesday is described as an ankle, knee and shoulder injury, further pointing to why Minnesota re-signed David Parry this week for depth at nose tackle. Mike Zimmer made it sound like Riley Reiff‘s foot injury isn’t a long-term concern, but the left tackle missed his fourth straight practice along with Andrew Sendejo (groin) and Everson Griffen (not football related). The good news? After being a late scratch against Arizona, Dalvin Cook (hamstring) returned to practice in full, as did Tashawn Bower (ankle), who was also sidelined in Week 6. — Courtney Cronin
Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett‘s status remains somewhat of a mystery coming off an ankle injury that has sidelined him the last two games. Coach Dan Quinn continues to sound optimistic about Jarrett’s possible return, but it probably won’t be certain until Jarrett comes off the injury report. The Falcons sure could use him in the middle up front, with Giants rookie Saquon Barkley sure to challenge the entire defense Monday night. — Vaughn McClure
Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen was listed as a limited participant in practice after his return on Sunday from re-fracturing his right foot. But no need to hit the panic button. Coach Ron Rivera calls that the new norm for Olsen, who will get as much rest on possible during the week so as not to stress the foot. Production-wise, Olsen got off to a good start in his first game back with four catches on seven targets for 48 yards. — David Newton
Top cornerback Marshon Lattimore practiced fully on Wednesday, which is a great sign that he is on track to return from his Week 5 concussion (though he is still awaiting official clearance through the NFL’s concussion protocol). On the flip side, WR Ted Ginn Jr. missed practice Wednesday with the knee injury that also sidelined him in Week 5. That’s not a great sign for Ginn coming off of the bye week, but we’ll learn more about his potential availability on Thursday and Friday. If Ginn can’t play Sunday at Baltimore, that should obviously mean bigger roles for Tre’Quan Smith and Cameron Meredith again after they both stepped up in Ginn’s absence two weeks ago. — Mike Triplett
Six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy left last week’s game against the Falcons with a calf injury and subsequently missed Wednesday’s practice. Defensive end Vinny Curry, who has become one of their best run stoppers up front, also missed Wednesday’s practice with an ankle injury. Cornerback Carlton Davis, who has been dealing with a groin injury, now has a back injury too. On a positive note, cornerback Ryan Smith, who left the Falcons game to be evaluated for a concussion, is not in the protocol. — Jenna Laine
Right guard Justin Pugh is questionable for Thursday night’s game against the Broncos with a broken left hand. He said Wednesday his status for the game will be determined by pain tolerance more than anything. He’ll have it wrapped and hopefully be able to have his fingers free to use against defenders, but the swelling in the hand has gone down significantly from Sunday, when he injured it. — Josh Weinfuss
Receiver Cooper Kupp suffered a knee sprain against the Broncos that will sideline him against the 49ers. Josh Reynolds has proved to be a capable backup and is expected to start in Kupp’s absence. Kicker Greg Zuerlein, who has been sidelined since he suffered a groin injury in pregame warmups in Week 2, is expected to return, which should provide the Rams a reliable safety net for points inside opposing territory. — Lindsey Thiry
The 49ers are again facing multiple injuries, but the cornerback position is the most up in the air this week, which isn’t exactly good timing with the high-powered Rams coming to town. Cornerbacks Jimmie Ward (hamstring), K’Waun Williams (shoulder) and Ahkello Witherspoon (concussion) are considered day-to-day this week. The Niners are hopeful they will have at least some of them back but either way, the Niners will likely enter Sunday’s matchup with concerns at the position. — Nick Wagoner
The Seahawks head into their bye in good shape health-wise after making it out of their last two games without any significant injuries. Furthermore, reinforcements are on the way. Linebacker K.J. Wright and tight end Ed Dickson will likely practice next week, according to Pete Carroll, and will have a chance to make their 2018 debuts on Oct. 28 at Detroit. Carroll sounded confident that Dickson would be available for that game, but stopped short of saying definitively that either will play. He said Wright “has had a couple really good days” in his recovery from a late-August knee score and that “he’ll practice with us and complete to to play next week when we return.” — Brady Henderson
NEW YORK — The NFL is attacking the concussion issue on a team-by-team basis.
At the owners meetings in New York on Tuesday, Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said the league identified seven teams in 2017 that had a higher incidence of preseason concussions than the others and “did a targeted intervention with those clubs.” Sills said that process involved wide-ranging discussions with the football operations staffs of the teams that involved the design of practice drills and which helmets players were wearing.
“In six of those seven clubs, the numbers did go down,” Sills said. “Those seven clubs had 23 practice concussions as a whole in 2017, down to nine in 2018.”
Overall, the league said, preseason concussions were down from 91 in 2017 to 79 this year, and that there were zero on kickoff plays. The NFL modified its kickoff rules this year to make the play safer, as it traditionally has featured a significantly higher rate of concussions than other plays.
“We are cautiously optimistic about that result,” Sills said of the preseason concussion numbers. “We are pleased to see that number go down, but we still have a lot of work to do. We are continuing a more in-depth analysis of the concussions that did happen during the preseason. Doing some of the same work we’ve been doing during the regular season, looking at video and seeing what the practice environment is — seeing who was injured in what role. We are going to be doing more of a deep dive into that.”
Sills and Jeff Miller, the NFL’s vice president of player health and safety, said the league is also pleased about the results of its helmet rating system and is seeing more players change helmets to those the league rates as safest. The league handed out a flyer in the preseason ranking helmets on a green-to-red scale it developed in conjunction with the NFLPA, with green being good and red being bad.
Helmets that fall into the red category are being prohibited starting this year for new players and next year for players who were already in the league, giving them a “grandfather” year to find a helmet that works for them and still falls into the approved category.
Miller said the number of players wearing red-rated helmets was down from 230 last year to 40 as of Week 3 of this season.
The Fantasy 32 analyzes the NFL from a fantasy perspective, with at least one mention of each of the league’s 32 teams. Though efficiency will be discussed plenty, the column will lean heavily on usage data, as volume is king (by far) in fantasy football. Use these tidbits to make the best waiver-wire, trade and lineup decisions for the upcoming week and beyond. Be sure to check back each week of the season for a new version of the Fantasy 32.
Note that data from Monday Night Football may not be reflected in charts in the article until Tuesday afternoon.
Falcons WRs Calvin Ridley (ankle) and Mohamed Sanu (hip) both left Sunday’s game with injuries. Justin Hardy was the biggest benefactor, drawing seven targets on 24 of a possible 42 pass routes in the game. If one of Ridley or Sanu is out this week, Hardy is safe to ignore, but if both are out, Hardy will certainly jump into the flex discussion, especially with Janoris Jenkins likely to shadow Julio Jones.
Jets WR Quincy Enunwa went down with a right ankle injury on Sunday and is expected to miss some time. Enunwa had been handling a hefty target share, but it was starting to dip a bit with Jermaine Kearse healthy and taking over as the team’s primary slot receiver. Kearse led the Jets’ passing attack on Sunday with nine catches and 94 yards on 10 targets (four more than any other Jet). Kearse, fantasy’s No. 26 wideout in 2017, had only registered 71 yards on seven catches during his first four games, but an expanded role — coupled with Enunwa’s absence — puts him in the flex discussion in 12-team leagues. Robby Anderson (five targets on Sunday) and Terrelle Pryor Sr. (six) are too risky to start.
Raiders WR Amari Cooper went down with a concussion after only nine snaps and only hours after trade rumors began to circulate. In Cooper’s absence, Jordy Nelson (36 of 37 possible routes) and Martavis Bryant (29) worked the perimeter with Seth Roberts (31) in the slot. Oakland is headed to its bye, but if Cooper misses time or is traded, Nelson’s stock will rise enough to place him in the WR3 discussion most weeks. Bryant’s playing time would increase significantly and his downfield ability would be enough to land him in the flex discussion. Roberts is only worth a look in deep PPR leagues.
Rams WR Cooper Kupp‘s knee injury doesn’t appear to be serious considering he returned (albeit briefly) to Sunday’s game. However, should he miss time, Josh Reynolds needs to be on your radar in an offense that ranks third in touchdowns per game (3.5) and first in three-plus wide receiver sets when passing (98 percent). Reynolds was held to two targets on Sunday, but was on the field for 20 of the team’s 33 pass plays (Kupp ran 13 routes and was targeted once). Reynolds, a 2017 fourth-round pick, showed flashes as a rookie and Kupp’s absence would bump him into the flex discussion. Gerald Everett — who doubled up Tyler Higbee in pass routes on Sunday — would join the TE2 mix.
Jaguars TE Niles Paul went down with a leg injury on Sunday just one week after Jacksonville lost Austin Seferian-Jenkins for the season. Paul went down on his fourth snap, which led to James O’Shaughnessy running 24 of 29 possible routes. Unless the Jaguars make an impact acquisition, this is a situation to ignore except in the deepest of two tight end leagues.
Throughout this piece, I’ll be referencing “OFP” and “OTD.” OFP stands for opportunity-adjusted fantasy points. Imagine a league in which players are created equal. “OFP” is a statistic that weighs every pass/carry/target and converts the data into one number that indicates a player’s opportunity to score fantasy points, or his “expected” fantasy point total. For example, if a player has an OFP of 14.5, it means that a league average player who saw the same workload in the same area of the field would have scored 14.5 fantasy points. “OTD” works the same way, except instead of fantasy points, it’s touchdowns.
That said, here is the Week 6 OFP Leaderboard:
*Complete positional leaderboards will be posted at ESPN+ this week
Vikings WR Adam Thielen‘s record-setting early-season pace is likely unsustainable, but OFP tells us that he can afford a drop-off in efficiency and still manage elite numbers. Thielen’s full-season FORP sits at 31, meaning his 31 fantasy points above his expected total. Still, his 123 OFP is second highest, behind only DeAndre Hopkins at wide receiver. Thielen is a legitimate top-5 fantasy wide receiver moving forward and you shouldn’t feel the need to try and trade him at his ceiling.
Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston entered his first 2018 start as a solid QB1 play and that’s how you should view him moving forward. Granted it was a light matchup against Atlanta’s injury-plagued defense, but Winston delivered … and then some. He completed 30 of 41 passes for 395 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions, adding 31 yards with his legs. Remember, Winston posted a top-10 fantasy week in 46 percent of his starts last season, which was ninth best at the position. Surrounded by a terrific group of skill position players, Winston should be in lineups against Cleveland on Sunday and most weeks going forward.
Falcons WR Julio Jones has yet to score a touchdown this season, but his 116 fantasy points are actually higher than his 113 OFP. Jones is no longer getting much work near the goal line (one end zone target during his past five games), but he’s still seeing so much volume that he’s fantasy’s No. 5 scoring wide receiver.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco sits 20th at quarterback with 100 fantasy points, but his 111 OFP ranks fifth at the position and suggests better days could be ahead. Flacco hasn’t posted a top-10 fantasy outing since Week 1, but the Ravens’ offense is averaging 75.8 plays per game (most) and 2.8 touchdowns per game (10th). An abnormal number of those scores have been of the rushing variety (47 percent, which is fifth highest), so we should expect more passing touchdowns from Flacco going forward. Flacco is an outstanding streaming option at home against the Saints this week and is a strong QB2 going forward.
FORP is the difference between a player’s actual fantasy point total and his OFP (or expected fantasy point total).
First, here are the players who have fallen short of their OFP by the largest margin and are thus candidates to see a rise in fantasy production moving forward, assuming they see a similar workload:
Browns WR Jarvis Landry is handling a career-high 29.2 percent target share, which is impressive considering he’s cleared 27.5 percent each of the past three seasons. He’s averaging a career-best 12.6 yards per reception, but a 47 percent catch rate and one touchdown have him sitting 27th at wide receiver in fantasy points. Landry ranks eighth at the position in OFP, which tells us better days are likely ahead. Teammate Antonio Callaway‘s inefficiencies seem to have him destined for a demotion, but as long as he’s in his current situation, a big play or three is inevitable.
Texans TE Ryan Griffin has flirted with occasional fantasy value during his career, which makes his brutal 2018 efficiency a bit surprising. Griffin has been targeted 25 times, but has only 10 catches for 140 yards and zero scores to show. He’s 37th at the position in fantasy points, but 10th (seriously) in OFP. The gap between his touchdown total (0) and 3.3 OTD is largest in the league. Houston’s offense has underachieved against some tough defenses the past two weeks, but an upcoming slate including Jacksonville, Miami and Denver means it may be a bit before we see a major rebound. Nonetheless, FORP suggests Griffin and his quarterback are headed for better days. Both Griffin and Broncos TE Jeff Heuerman, who is handling a 15 percent target share over the past three weeks, are TE2 options.
Jaguars WR Donte Moncrief sits 26th at wide receiver in OFP, but is 58th in fantasy points. Moncrief’s 2.5 OTD ranks 18th at the position and he’s seen four end zone targets. He’s too risky to throw into lineups right now, but Moncrief’s role should allow more production going forward, especially in the Jaguars’ pass-heavy offense.
And these players have exceeded their OFP by the largest margin and are thus candidates to see a dip in fantasy production moving forward:
Will Falcons QB Matt Ryan repeat his incredible 2016 season? He’s certainly well on his way. In 2016, Ryan posted a ridiculous 124 FORP (430 fantasy points, 306 OFP). Through Week 6 this season, he’s “on pace” for a 120 FORP (403 points, 283 FORP). Obviously we can’t count on this level of efficiency moving forward, but even with a return to earth statistically, Ryan’s OFP ranks sixth at the position. Fantasy’s No. 2 scoring quarterback can afford some regression to the mean and will still carry QB1 value.
Dolphins WR Albert Wilson is fantasy’s No. 20 scoring wide receiver despite seeing the field on only 61 percent of the Dolphins’ pass plays this season. His OFP ranks 52nd at the position. As boom or bust as they come, Wilson has finished 37th or worse in four of six outings (50th or worse in three), but top-10 in the other two games. He has four touchdowns, but a 0.7 OTD (that 3.3 gap is fourth-largest in the league). Wilson’s receiving touchdowns have required post-catch runs of 24, 43, 72 and 78 yards, which is as hard to believe as it is unsustainable. The total OTD on those three plays was … 0.03. Incredibly, he’s seen one target inside the opponent’s 13-yard line. This is one of the easiest regression-to-the-mean calls in a decade, though Wilson will be on the flex radar if the Dolphins trade DeVante Parker.
Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett is another wide receiver unlikely to come close to sustaining his current production. Lockett sits 56th at wide receiver in OFP, but five touchdowns have him sitting 19th in fantasy points. The 3.4 gap between his touchdown total and OTD (1.6) is third largest in the league. Lockett has hauled in all three of his end zone targets, but has seen only one additional target inside the opponent’s 10-yard line. His other scores required runs of 10 and 25 yards. Lockett entered 2018 with a grand total of 10 offensive touchdowns in three NFL seasons, including four the past two seasons. The No. 2 target in an extremely run-heavy offense who is limited to a 19 percent target share, Lockett is a player to try to trade this week.
Bears WR Taylor Gabriel was discussed in this column prior to Chicago’s Week 5 bye, but this past Sunday is yet further evidence that he’s arguably the most underrated asset in fantasy. Gabriel cleared 100 receiving yards for the second consecutive game and is now handling a 22 percent target share for the season (7.0 per game). Mitchell Trubisky‘s No. 2 target has at least five targets and four receptions in each of Chicago’s five games. Available in nearly two-thirds of ESPN leagues, he should be scooped up and considered a fringe WR3 option against New England.
Colts RB Marlon Mack was finally healthy for a full game on Sunday and that was enough to allow him to easily lead the Indianapolis backfield in carries (and efficiency). Mack carried the rock 12 times for 89 yards and was targeted twice. Mack’s strong effort figures to solidify his role as the top ball carrier in an offense averaging a very strong 3.0 touchdowns per game this season. Note that while Nyheim Hines was limited to three carries and three targets, he did out-snap Mack 29 to 23 and will continue to play a sizable role in passing situations. Mack is available in 74 percent of ESPN leagues. Scoop him up and consider him a flex option against the Bills this week and going forward.
Cowboys WR Cole Beasley broke out for nine catches, 101 yards and two touchdowns on 11 targets against Jacksonville in Week 6. QB Dak Prescott admitted after the game that the team planned to attack Jaguars’ slot CB Tyler Patmon and the plan obviously worked. Despite the strong effort, Beasley shouldn’t be considered a reliable weekly starter just yet. He totaled 17 catches for 193 yards and no scores on 24 targets during Weeks 1-5, which was barely off a 2017 target pace that led to 36 catches on 62 targets for 314 yards and four scores in 15 games.
Needless to say, the Redskins’ passing game has been a disappointment. Alex Smith posted an 11th-place fantasy outing in Week 1, but hasn’t notched a finish better than 16th in four games since. Paul Richardson (best weekly finish is 38th), Jamison Crowder (33rd) and Josh Doctson (67th) have all been busts. Backs Chris Thompson and Adrian Peterson and tight end Jordan Reed are the only players from this offense worth considering for your lineup most weeks.
Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny registered nine carries and two targets on Sunday, but only played 13 snaps. His upside makes him a worthwhile bench stash, but nothing more with Chris Carson (24 snaps) and Mike Davis (23 snaps) more involved.
Panthers TE Greg Olsen was on the field for 58 of the Panthers’ 59 offensive snaps against Washington in Week 6. It was Olsen’s first action since he went down with a leg injury on his 14th snap of the season back in Week 1. Olsen’s massive role and his seven-target effort put him right back in the mix as a midpack TE1.
Browns WR Damion Ratley stepped up with six catches and 82 yards on eight targets on Sunday. Injuries ahead of him on the depth chart helped the 2018 sixth-round pick to a career-high 62 snaps against the Chargers. He was on the field for 45 of the team’s 50 pass plays. With Rashard Higgins expected to miss more time and Rod Streater done for the year, Ratley is expected to work as the team’s No. 3 wide receiver against a struggling Tampa Bay secondary this week. He’s a sneaky play in deep leagues.
Patriots WR Josh Gordon has been unleashed. The former Brown (they could really use him these days) was on the field for 35 of New England’s 37 pass plays on Sunday night, registering nine targets in the game. The production wasn’t great (five catches, 42 yards), but better days are ahead with Gordon now playing a full complement of snaps in one of the league’s best offenses. He’s a WR3 against Chicago this week.
Eagles running backs: Week 6 marked the Eagles first game with Jay Ajayi on injured reserve. Corey Clement was limited but still played 25 snaps, handling 11 carries and three targets. Wendell Smallwood led the unit with 42 snaps and 18 carries, adding a pair of targets. Josh Adams was active but did not play a snap. We should expect a similar dynamic moving forward, though Clement figures to take on more work when healthy and Darren Sproles will chip in significantly in passing situations once he returns from a hamstring injury. Smallwood and Clement are flex options against Carolina this week.
Bengals WR Tyler Boyd has been on the field for 84 percent of the Bengals’ snaps, including 88 percent of the pass plays this season. He’s handling a 23 percent target share and sits 19th at the wide receiver position in OFP (79) and 12th in actual fantasy points (107). Boyd is enjoying a third-year breakout and should be locked into weekly lineups.
Lions RB Kerryon Johnson has been on the field for 40 percent of Detroit’s snaps, has run a route on 29 percent of the team’s pass plays, is handling 45 percent of the carries and has accrued a seven percent target share. Johnson entered the Week 6 bye 35th at the position in OFP. The rookie remains in a rotation in Detroit and is no more than a shaky flex until he takes on a larger role.
Saints WR Cameron Meredith was on the field for a season-high 59 percent of the Saints’ pass plays and also hit a season-best with five targets when the Saints were last on the field against Washington in Week 5. Meredith has emerged as the team’s top slot target, but needs a bit more playing time and target volume to make him a consistent flex option. Nonetheless, he should be on benches.
Can I start either Titans’ running back with confidence right now? No — the Titans’ offense is a mess. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis combined for an atrocious 40 scrimmage yards on 15 touches against Baltimore on Sunday. Henry has yet to produce a top-40 fantasy week and Lewis has two in six tries. Lewis’ 15 percent target share keeps him in the flex discussion, but he’s a shaky play with the Titans’ offense averaging an almost-unbelievable and league-worst 1.0 touchdowns per game. Henry is trailing Lewis in carries and is a non-factor as a receiver, which means he’s barely worth a roster spot in 10-team leagues.
Is 49ers WR Marquise Goodwin a weekly fantasy starter? I’d consider the matchup, but yes. QB C.J. Beathard is an obvious downgrade from Jimmy Garoppolo, but the second-year passer has been better than expected. The Packers’ secondary has struggled, but Goodwin proved healthy on Monday night, seeing the field on 95 percent of the team’s snaps while also using his world-class speed to break loose for several big gains, including a pair of touchdowns. His big-play ability and Beathard’s competent play position Goodwin as a weekly flex option.
Is Falcons TE Austin Hooper now a TE1? If not, he’s close. Hooper has caught nine passes in back-to-back games, handling 22 targets during the span. He’s turned the heavy workload into a pair of 70-plus receiving yard efforts and one touchdown. Granted, both Ridley and Sanu were injured in Sunday’s game, but considering how injury-plagued the tight end position has been, Hooper is on a short list of players you can feel somewhat confident in right now. He’s a fringe top-10 play against the Giants in Week 7.
Has Cardinals WR Christian Kirk worked his way into the WR3 discussion? Despite some strong efforts as of late, I wouldn’t go that far. Kirk has cleared 76 receiving yards during three of his past four games and is fantasy’s No. 31 scoring wideout during the span. The problem is that the Arizona offense is struggling badly and Kirk’s average of 6.0 targets per game isn’t enough to allow consistent fantasy numbers when touchdown opportunities are so far and few between.
Is Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling worth rostering through the bye? Outside of dynasty leagues, no. The fifth-round rookie has been impressive, but Packers NFL Nation reporter Rob Demovsky agrees that he will return to fourth on the depth chart once Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison return from injury (likely in Week 8). Valdes-Scantling has 10 catches for 171 yards and a score on 16 targets over the past two games, but is no more than the rare notable handcuff at the wide receiver position.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants have fined wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for comments he made last week questioning the team’s heart, according to a report by Fox Sports.
Speaking to ESPN’s Josina Anderson last week, the Pro Bowl wide receiver said the 1-4 Giants lacked passion.
“A lot of it has to do with the energy that we don’t have, that we don’t bring every single day,” he said in an interview that aired Sunday. “And you know me. I’m a passionate, energetic person. I always have to have that. If I don’t, it’s gonna be a problem for me. And just playing with some heart. We just need to play with some heart.”
Beckham also said in the interview, conducted alongside rapper Lil Wayne, that the Giants needed to throw the ball downfield more often.
When asked if quarterback Eli Manning was the problem, Beckham said, “Uhh, I don’t know. I feel like … He’s not going to get out of the pocket. We know Eli’s not going to run it. Can he still throw it? Yeah. It’s cool catching it shallow and trying to take it, but I want to go over the top of somebody.”
Coach Pat Shurmur expressed his public disapproval of Beckham’s actions over the weekend.
“All right, listen, I’m going to answer all the drama questions right now and I’m going to go back to what I said. I addressed it with Odell. I addressed it with our team,” Shurmur said in an animated tone after Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers. “I publicly declared that I didn’t agree with his comments and I asked anybody that was interested if they wanted clarification [to] go to Odell because he’s a big man.
“Now, I’m not going to give the public a pound of flesh on this, all right. … These are the kind of things, in my opinion, when we have the locker room that we have that will help galvanize them because the locker room took care of it, and that is all I’m saying on it. Finito. Done.”
Beckham didn’t apologize or take back his comments, and said he thought it had a positive effect on the team.
“I don’t regret anything,” he said. “I don’t regret anything that I said. If it took that for us to come together as a team like we did [Sunday]. I can take that every single time.”
Manning brushed off the comments, saying he and Beckham “have a great relationship.”
Beckham led the Giants with 39 catches for 462 yards and a touchdown entering Thursday night’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
But his frustration was visible in that game. With two seconds left in the first half and the Giants trailing 24-6, Beckham was seen walking off the field and into the locker room before the final play. He did not return until after the opening kickoff of the second half.
They ran one final play before halftime with their offense on the field. Beckham was nowhere to be seen.
Beckham also left early two weeks earlier in a loss to the Saints to receive an IV.
Beckham had two catches on four targets for 12 yards in the first half, when the Giants were a discombobulated mess. Manning was 10-of-23 passing for 163 yards with an interception as they managed only two field goals in the opening 30 minutes.
Shurmur was even caught on camera in the second quarter appearing to say, “Throw the ball!” after Manning dumped a second-and-long pass to Cody Latimer in the flat. He then dumped a third-and-long pass well short of the first-down marker before the Giants punted.
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Top cornerback Tre’Davious White was limited in Wednesday’s practice with an ankle injury he apparently suffered during practice. White was seen walking off the field after practice with his shoes off, accompanied by a trainer. White being limited or not playing Sunday against Texans WR De’Andre Hopkins would be a huge blow for Buffalo’s defense, which has struggled to find a consistent No. 2 cornerback between Phillip Gaines, Ryan Lewis and the now-retired Vontae Davis. — Mike Rodak
Dolphins DE Cameron Wake (knee) didn’t practice Wednesday, but Adam Gase said he isn’t “too far off track” from returning to action. Bobby McCain (knee) and Andre Branch (knee) also returned to practice on a limited basis. Getting all three players back will be a big boost to the Dolphins’ already effective defense. Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker (quad) was a limited practice participant and is expected to return Sunday. — Cameron Wolfe
Starting DT Malcom Brown (knee) has been limited in practice after leaving last Thursday’s game with a knee injury, and he’s the top player on the Patriots’ injury list this week. If he doesn’t play, the Patriots would turn to either Danny Shelton or Adam Butler alongside starter Lawrence Guy at the heart of the line of scrimmage. Defending the Chiefs’ run-pass option plays has been a point of emphasis for the Patriots, so losing Brown would be a notable hit. — Mike Reiss
Michael Pierce, one of the more underrated defensive tackles in the NFL, didn’t practice Wednesday with a foot injury after not playing Sunday. One good sign: Pierce was out of his protective boot. Asked if Pierce will play in Tennessee, coach John Harbaugh said, “That’s a firm ‘maybe.’ I’m very hopeful, and I say that in all sincerity. We’ll find out, but we could use him. He’s a factor inside.” — Jamison Hensley
Bengals wide receiver John Ross returned to practice this week after missing last week, while Giovani Bernard and guard Clint Boling missed practice. Marvin Lewis declined to say if Ross or Bernard would return after missing last week’s game against the Falcons. The Bengals’ offense could certainly use Ross after sputtering somewhat against Miami, while Joe Mixon and Mark Walton combined to take Bernard’s place. — Katherine Terrell
Wide receiver Rashard Higgins has a sprained MCL in his knee and likely will not play Sunday. Higgins had a strong preaseason and had 66 yards and a touchdown against Baltimore before the injury. With Higgins out, rookie Antonio Callaway‘s snaps will increase — after they had decreased with more time given to Higgins. Callaway has talent, but he will have to be more consistently reliable to help the offense. — Pat McManamon
The Steelers hope to have inside linebacker Vince Williams (hamstring) back for the physical matchup with the Bengals. He practiced in full Wednesday and did not experience any setbacks. Inside linebacker L.J. Fort (ankle) proved valuable in passing downs last week against Atlanta but is sidelined with an ankle issue. The Steelers will monitor his progress. — Jeremy Fowler
Quarterback Deshaun Watson was listed as a limited participant in practice with a chest injury on Wednesday, after he took several hard hits on the run in Week 5. But the young quarterback said he will “for sure” play against the Bills on Sunday, and that taking those hits is just “part of the game.” — Sarah Barshop
Coach Frank Reich seems to have already ruled out receiver T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) and tight end Jack Doyle (hip) for Sunday’s game at the Jets because he continues to refer to them as “week to week.” The Colts had nine other starters or key players who did not practice Wednesday. Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard, who leads the NFL in tackles (54) — despite missing a game this season — was the most notable player on the injury list. Leonard should play against the Jets barring any kind of setback between now and Sunday. — Mike Wells
The Jaguars have a bunch of injuries, but the most critical is, believe it or not, backup LT Josh Wells (groin) because it means they have to start a player who hasn’t started a game there: Josh Walker. Or the Jaguars could opt to shuffle their line and move C Brandon Linder or RG A.J. Cann outside. The team is bringing in Ereck Flowers (a first-round bust with the Giants) on Thursday for a visit. The position is a mess, and the Jaguars have to do the best they can to survive there until Wells is able to return. — Michael DiRocco
The Titans may have an issue with left tackle Taylor Lewan being healthy on Sunday. He left Week 5 against the Bills due to a right foot injury. Lewan said he couldn’t push off the foot and it was a similar injury to one that he encountered in the 2017 season opener. Mike Vrabel said Lewan met with doctors on Monday, but he was not cleared to practice on Wednesday. If he is not able to go, expect reserve tackle Tyler Marz to start in his place. — Turron Davenport
Set to face the Rams’ defensive front, which features three former first-round picks and defending Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, the Broncos have injury questions at both tackle spots. Right tackle Jared Veldheer did not practice Wednesday and is not expected to play Sunday — that would be the second consecutive game he has missed — while left tackle Garett Bolles was limited with an ankle injury he suffered in the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Jets. If Bolles plays this Sunday, he’s expected to be tested early and often by Wade Phillips’ defensive plan. Bolles has been flagged for five holding penalties already this season, including two in the Broncos’ Week 3 loss to the Ravens. — Jeff Legwold
The Chiefs could be dangerously thin at safety against the Patriots. Eric Berry (heel) and Eric Murray (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday, leaving Ron Parker and Jordan Lucas as the starters. Both joined the Chiefs right before the start of the season, though Parker has been a regular ever since. The third safety for now is Josh Shaw, who was signed just last week. Two other safeties, Daniel Sorensen and Armani Watts, are on IR. — Adam Teicher
Kicker Caleb Sturgis, who has missed four extra points and three field goals already this year, was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday due to a quad injury. Sturgis missed all but one game last year due to a hip injury, so his leg injury is worth monitoring this week. — Eric D. Williams
While strong safety Karl Joseph returned to practice Wednesday in a limited fashion, left guard Kelechi Osemele, who missed last week’s game with a knee injury, sat out. He will be questionable Sunday in London against the Seahawks. And if Osemele has to sit out, Jon Feliciano will again start in his place, Jon Gruden said. — Paul Gutierrez
Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith was limited in Wednesday’s practice because of an ankle injury, but it is not expected to keep him out of action Sunday against Jacksonville. If Smith suffers a setback, the Cowboys would go to Cameron Fleming at left tackle. Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie was also limited because of an ankle injury. He was pulled in the second half of last week’s loss to Houston with Anthony Brown working outside and Jourdan Lewis working the slot. If Awuzie does not show confidence in his ability in practice, the Cowboys won’t hesitate to make a similar move this week. — Todd Archer
Outside linebacker Olivier Vernon (high ankle sprain) is set to play in his first game of the season on Thursday night. That’s huge for a defense tied for the fewest sacks in the NFL. But the offense still won’t have TE Evan Engram (knee). He’s likely a week away from a return. — Jordan Raanan
The Eagles are getting RB Corey Clement (quad) back after a two-week absence. That’s good news with Jay Ajayi (ACL) lost for the year and Darren Sproles (hamstring) still sidelined. Safety Corey Graham (hamstring) and DT Haloti Ngata (calf) are out for Thursday’s game against the Giants. — Tim McManus
Running back Adrian Peterson (shoulder) should be available for Sunday’s game at Carolina after an MRI on Tuesday morning showed no further damage. Meanwhile, their receivers are banged up as receiver Josh Doctson (heel), Jamison Crowder (ankle) and Paul Richardson (knee/shoulder) all would have been unable to practice Wednesday had the Redskins held one (they had a walk-through instead). Doctson was close to playing in the Monday night game, so he should be ready for Sunday, and Richardson’s knee swelled up after the game, but there’s optimism about him too. It’s uncertain how bad Crowder’s ankle is at this point. — John Keim
The Bears are hopeful to have rookie wide receiver Anthony Miller available for Sunday’s game at Miami. Miller, who the Bears drafted in the second round out of Memphis, suffered a dislocated shoulder in Week 3 that forced him to sit out Chicago’s victory over Tampa on Sept. 30. Bears coach Matt Nagy sounded optimistic on Wednesday that Miller will be able to have a full week of practice. The rookie has eight catches for 60 yards and one touchdown on the season. — Jeff Dickerson
The Lions are off this week and are hoping that means DE Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder), RG T.J. Lang (concussion) and TE Michael Roberts (knee) can all get back to health for next week against Miami. The bigger concern is All-Pro returner Jamal Agnew (left knee), who was carted off during the Week 5 win against Green Bay. Special teams coordinator Joe Marciano said Tuesday the club hadn’t decided on a new returner yet, but that it’ll likely come from within the organization. That said, it’s a bad sign for Agnew’s immediate future that Detroit is trying to figure out how to replace him. — Michael Rothstein
Cornerback Jaire Alexander was a bit of a surprise scratch last Sunday at Detroit. He practiced on a limited basis leading up to the game but did not play because of a groin injury he suffered the previous week. However, with an extra day before Monday night’s game against the 49ers, coach Mike McCarthy said “there’s hope he may be ready this week.” The Packers haven’t had their top two picks the past two years — Alexander (first round, 2018) and Kevin King (second round, 2017) — together on the field since Week 2. King missed Weeks 3 and 4 because of a groin injury but returned against the Lions. — Rob Demovsky
After missing his second game of the season while nursing the hamstring injury he sustained in overtime at Green Bay, running back Dalvin Cook practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, which featured him taking handoffs from Kirk Cousins during individual drills. Cornerback Trae Waynes is out of the concussion protocol and said he expects to play on Sunday against Arizona. While second-year pass rusher Tashawn Bower continues to be held out of practice with an ankle injury, the Vikings had rookie Jalyn Holmes working a bit with the defensive ends. That’s necessary for Minnesota’s depth factor along the defensive line, given the amount of snaps shouldered by Danielle Hunter and Stephen Weatherly in Philadelphia. — Courtney Cronin
Running back Devonta Freeman, who returned to the lineup last week after missing three games with a right knee injury, popped up on the injury report Tuesday with a foot injury and didn’t practice. It’s unclear when Freeman injured his foot in the Pittsburgh game, but his status is worth monitoring in preparation for the Buccaneers. If Freeman doesn’t recover, then Tevin Coleman and rookie Ito Smith will have to carry the load against Gerald McCoy and Tampa Bay’s tough front, which is solid against the run. — Vaughan McClure
Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil avoided a scare after leaving Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter with a neck injury, something that sidelined him for much of last season. He practice on full on Wednesday. Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen was listed as limited, but he remains on track to return from a fractured foot after missing only four games, five less than he missed a year ago with the same injury. — David Newton
Fortunately the Saints are on a bye, because they lost top cornerback Marshon Lattimore to a concussion in the first quarter of Monday night’s game against Washington, and the position is uncomfortably thin behind him. Lattimore also missed a game with a concussion last year, but it’s too early to predict what his status will be for Week 7 at Baltimore. The good news is that backup cornerback P.J. Williams has stepped up big the past two weeks. Furthermore, seldom-used backup Justin Hardee (normally a special teams ace) had a big-time interception and 77-yard return vs. the Redskins. — Mike Triplett
The Bucs are actually looking a lot better on the injury front, with defensive tackle Beau Allen returning to practice for the first time since suffering a foot injury in Week 2. Tight end O.J. Howard returned to practice after suffering a sprained MCL in Week 4. Starting cornerback Carlton Davis, who aggravated a groin injury against the Bears, was also back practicing. All were limited though, so expectations should be tempered. — Jenna Laine
Seven Cardinals missed practice on Wednesday, including three of their five offensive linemen. Right tackle Andre Smith is dealing with a hamstring issue, his second injury of the season, and Arizona now has to worry about left guard Mike Iupati, who has an elbow injury. Add in left tackle D.J. Humphries, who missed practice with a knee ailment, and Arizona’s offensive line is banged up six games into the season. If Smith can’t go Sunday, John Wetzel will get another start. The Cardinals will re-evaluate Mike Iupati on Thursday, coach Steve Wilks said, and then decide how to proceed the rest of the week. If he’s out Sunday, then Jeremy Vujnovich would likely see the field. — Josh Weinfuss
Receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp are in concussion protocol, but coach Sean McVay is hopeful both will recover in time to play the Denver Broncos. “Making positive steps in the right direction,” McVay said. “We feel good about those guys being ready to go.” Kicker Greg Zuerlein, who is recovering from a groin injury, is expected to be out another week. — Lindsey Thiry
Receiver Dante Pettis (knee) has already been ruled out for Monday night, and running back Matt Breida (ankle) is considered doubtful. But the Niners still have multiple key players they will monitor this week, including tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey and center Weston Richburg, all of whom are dealing with knee issues. Linebacker Reuben Foster is also battling a shoulder injury. The good news? With the game on Monday night, the Niners were able to take an extra day to rest and heal up this week. — Nick Wagoner
The Seahawks are in decent shape health-wise heading into Sunday’s game in London against the Raiders, but they’ll again be without linebacker K.J. Wright. With Mychal Kendricks suspended and no longer available to replace Wright, the Seahawks instead moved Barkevious Mingo from strong-side linebacker to the weak-side spot last week against the Rams. That may be the plan for another week as Wright works his way back from arthroscopic knee surgery. Pete Carroll said there’s no sense in rushing him back for this game with Seattle on a bye next week. — Brady Henderson
Let’s run through some trade possibilities that might make sense for both sides. Mostly, we’re seeing promising high draft picks who haven’t developed in their current locale move to new cities, and veterans on rebuilding teams heading to playoff contenders, which are generally the sort of moves you’ll see around the trade deadline. Oh, and by law, there’s a Le’Veon Bell trade in the mix.
Let’s start with a logical move. The Cowboys are absolutely bereft of wide receiver weapons for Dak Prescott. During Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans, Prescott’s three top wideouts — Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup and Allen Hurns — caught three passes on nine targets for 17 yards. His fourth option, Tavon Austin, caught one pass for 44 yards on a play in which Prescott scrambled and made a desperate off-schedule throw. Prescott is struggling. His receivers are struggling. The Cowboys need to work on fixing both of these problems.
No team is dealing a star wideout at midseason unless they have Josh Gordon-sized red flags, so let’s get the Cowboys a wide receiver with upside who has been held back by injuries. Parker was a breakout candidate before the 2016 and 2017 seasons, but things never quite launched for a variety of reasons. In 2016, the Dolphins threw the ball only 477 times, fewer than any team besides the Buffalo Bills. Prorate Parker’s 56-744-4 line to a league-average number of pass attempts and you get something more like 67 catches for 891 yards and five scores, which seems more promising.
In 2017 and again in 2018, the issue has been injuries. Parker racked up 230 receiving yards in the first three weeks of 2017, admittedly mostly in garbage time, but then an ankle sprain cost him the better part of four games. He has missed time with a broken finger and a quadriceps injury this season, and while he seems close to returning, the Dolphins have run out of patience for their former first-round pick.
Miami is going to go forward with its expensive trio of wideouts, Danny Amendola, Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson, which makes sense. The Dolphins picked up Parker’s fifth-year option before the season, which isn’t surprising given their financial ineptitude, so the Cowboys would be acquiring Parker for a late-round pick in the hopes that he flourishes over the next year-plus. They could get out of Parker’s $9.4 million salary in 2019 without penalty if Parker doesn’t get hurt, which is the only reason they shouldn’t take a flier on a wideout who has the sort of athletic traits the current group can’t touch.
OK, let’s get weirder. The Eagles restructured Fletcher Cox‘s contract this week to free up $6.5 million in cap space, which is a curious tactic for a team to pursue during the season unless it’s planning on acquiring some salary. Philadelphia has a need at running back with Jay Ajayi shelved by a torn ACL and both Corey Clement and Darren Sproles struggling to stay on the field. General manager Howie Roseman is certainly familiar with McCoy, who was traded to the Bills for Kiko Alonso during the Chip Kelly era. McCoy also played under Andy Reid, whose scheme at the time shares similarities with Doug Pederson’s now.
The Bills are rebuilding, and while McCoy offers Josh Allen a safety valve, the 30-year-old back is not going to be part of the next Bills team to make the playoffs. He has $4.3 million in base salary remaining in 2018 and a $6.2 million base salary next year, and while I suspect the Eagles probably wouldn’t be interested in paying Shady that much in 2019, they could certainly use him for the remainder of this campaign.
To make the case more palatable for the Bills, they’re going to get a player who might help Allen develop. The 29-year-old Wisniewski started 11 games for the Eagles last season and helped them win a Super Bowl, but as the Philadelphia offensive line has struggled in 2018, Wisniewski has been benched for Isaac Seumalo. Wisniewski has suggested that the benching wasn’t performance-based, and while the Eagles might be willing to tolerate his griping, they could also trade Wisniewski and activate Chance Warmack as their backup guard. Wisniewski is under contract until 2019 and could represent an upgrade on guard John Miller or center Russell Bodine.
One big-name running back deserves another. The Steelers reportedly shopped Bell before he announced his intentions to return to the team during the bye, and while they are likely a better team with Bell in the fold, do they want to upset what’s already seemingly a difficult locker room? James Conner just had a monster game against the Atlanta Falcons; if he follows things up with another impressive performance against the Cincinnati Bengals, are you going to want to disturb your breakout running back by adding Bell to that mix?
The answer to those questions might very well be yes. If the Steelers think otherwise, though, they’re probably not going to have many suitors for Bell. We can do this “Guess Who?” style. Since Bell can’t be signed to an extension until next year, any team that doesn’t expect to contend for a playoff berth this season is out. Let’s throw out every team with less than a 15 percent chance of making the playoffs, per ESPN’s Football Power Index. Throw out the teams with less than $5 million in cap space, who would have to do too much to absorb Bell’s prorated salary of $10.3 million. Next, remove the teams who have healthy star backs. Finally, let’s take out the teams the Steelers would be likely to face in the AFC postseason, since I can’t imagine that they want to see Bell in January.
John Fox and Tedy Bruschi detail two of the more recent trade rumors in the NFL and pick teams that both running backs would be best suited for.
We’re left with only four teams: the Buccaneers, Eagles, Texans and Redskins. The Eagles already have suggested they’re not interested in trading for Bell, and I doubt the Steelers would want to trade him to another team in Pennsylvania. The Texans have $20 million in cap room but probably want to roll over that room to re-sign Jadeveon Clowney. They also aren’t in a position to trade away draft picks for rentals after dealing away their first two 2018 picks to the Browns.
So now, we’re down to Tampa Bay and Washington. Both of these teams are viable landing spots. Tampa is struggling in the running game, with Peyton Barber averaging 3.0 yards per attempt and second-round pick Ronald Jones making it onto the active roster for the first time in Week 4. Tampa already has benched Ryan Fitzpatrick after his hot start, but if Jameis Winston plays the way he did during the final five games of 2017, the Bucs could still be in the thick of the playoff picture in the NFC.
Washington seems like a slightly better fit for a few reasons. One is that its owner is irrational and shortsighted, which isn’t news. Trading for Bell would win Daniel Snyder positive short-term headlines in D.C. as Kirk Cousins plays well in Minnesota. Washington already has injury issues at running back with Derrius Guice done for the season and both Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson leaving the game against the Saints for stretches. Peterson has a dislocated shoulder, while Thompson injured his ribs. Bell would be a massive upgrade on Peterson.
In addition, even with the brutal loss in New Orleans, Washington is better positioned to compete for a playoff berth in a wide-open NFC East. FPI gives Jay Gruden’s team a 29 percent chance of making the postseason and a 22.8 percent shot of winning the division. The Buccaneers also are 2-2, but they have only an 18.4 percent shot of making it into January, with a 7.5 percent chance to win the NFC South.
Gruden could still go back to Guice after the season if the Bell experiment doesn’t work out. In addition to its own third-round pick, Washington has the top compensatory pick in the 2019 draft, the 97th overall selection, after losing Cousins in free agency. Washington could trade that comp pick and likely pocket the top compensatory pick again in 2020 when Bell leaves in free agency. You can imagine it might make Snyder feel better to be able to tell people that Washington got a year of Bell and a comp pick for letting Cousins leave.
For Pittsburgh, moving on from Bell would end the circus surrounding the team. The Steelers would be guaranteed to get the best possible compensatory pick and would pick up that selection in the 2019 draft as opposed to waiting until 2020. The Steelers also could flip that pick for help in the secondary, where Artie Burns & Co. have been a mess. My guess is that the Steelers hold onto Bell, but if they do decide they want to cut ties now, Washington makes the most sense.
While the Lions are still giving Tate plenty of targets, the 30-year-old former Seahawks standout is in the final year of his deal and seems unlikely to return to Detroit after the breakout of Kenny Golladay. Tate is averaging 86.2 yards per game this season, so he’s still an effective weapon, but the Notre Dame product is playing less than 80 percent of the snaps on offense, leaving him well behind Marvin Jones (93.5 percent) and Golladay (89.9 percent). With the Lions 2-3 and their playoff chances already below 10 percent, per FPI, Tate could represent a valuable trade chit.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn and Titans general manager Jon Robinson worked together in New England, and while just about every organization in the league has someone in the building with Foxborough experience, they seem like a natural fit for a deal here. The Titans are thin at receiver after Rishard Matthews left town and Delanie Walker went down for the year, and while Taywan Taylor has flashed at times, Titans pass-catchers have dropped two long would-be touchdowns in consecutive weeks. They could sorely use another passing weapon for Marcus Mariota. The Lions will take a flier in return on Sharpe, who started 10 games as a rookie in 2016 before missing all of last year.
The Browns don’t need Taylor after benching him for Baker Mayfield, and while Taylor would presumably return to the lineup if Mayfield were to get injured, he didn’t really seem like a good fit in Hue Jackson’s offense, which also has No. 3 QB Drew Stanton. Taylor is likely looking at backup work in free agency in 2019, and the Browns are essentially going to eat the $7 million or so remaining in base salary on his deal.
One place that might make sense for Taylor, though, is Jacksonville. While Blake Bortles struggled badly against the Chiefs in Week 5, I don’t think the Jags would be pursuing Taylor as a replacement for their hot-and-cold starter. Bortles is basically priced in as the leader of this offense until 2019. Taylor would fit in as a likely upgrade at backup ahead of Cody Kessler by virtue of his ability to avoid giveaways, although he struggled with the Browns. He also could feature for a few snaps per game as a read-option quarterback to help spring the Jacksonville running game. It’s not much for $7 million, but if Bortles gets hurt and the Jaguars are stuck without a viable quarterback, they’ll be happy they turned to Taylor.
Jacksonville also might be in the market to add a tackle with Cam Robinson out for the year and Josh Wells struggling with a hamstring injury, but there aren’t exactly many teams with extra left tackles laying around. The Eagles would ask for a fortune to deal Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who will likely take over as their eventual replacement for Jason Peters. The Bengals would happily trade Cedric Ogbuehi, who has been inactive all season, but it’s not clear whether he’s actually anything more than a replacement-level tackle.
Bucannon was once a breakout star and a model for the way defenses would evolve as a safety turned into a linebacker. At his best, Bucannon was capable of covering athletic tight ends and terrifying opposing quarterbacks as a pass-rusher.
Since undergoing ankle surgery in May 2017, though, Bucannon seemingly hasn’t been the same player. He struggled in 2017 and hasn’t taken to the scheme of new coach Steve Wilks, who has promptly benched the former first-round pick. Bucannon played 100 percent of the defensive snaps in the opener and 73 percent in Week 4, but he fielded just one defensive snap in Week 3 and four during last week’s win over the San Francisco 49ers.
Complicating matters is Bucannon’s salary. The Cardinals are paying Bucannon $8.7 million as part of the fifth-year option in his rookie deal, which is an astronomical sum for a player who isn’t seeing the field and clearly won’t be back in the desert after the year. The Cardinals would love to shed the $6.1 million remaining on Bucannon’s deal for both cap and cash purposes, but no team is going to trade for that deal as is.
The best-case scenario is that the Cardinals make an Osweiler Trade and package a draft pick to make Bucannon’s contract more palatable. There’s a logical landing point with the Jets, where former Cardinals coordinator Todd Bowles is now the coach and should be able to find a way to incorporate Bucannon’s unique skill set into one of the league’s more modern defenses. Oft-frustrating 2016 first-rounder Darron Lee has played better this season, but a healthy Bucannon would give the Jets a weapon in coverage and as a blitzer. It could be a chance to buy low on a player who succeeds in the right scheme, as the Rams did when they traded for Mark Barron at the end of a frustrating tenure with the Buccaneers.
Speaking of linebackers on unsustainable contracts, Collins’ four-year, $50 million pact with the Browns hasn’t worked out. He missed 11 games in 2017 with a concussion and a torn MCL, and his role in the defense has been marginalized with Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey emerging as every-down linebackers. When Schobert and Kirksey are healthy, Collins is the guy usually coming off the field when the Browns go into their sub packages.
The Browns can cut Collins after the year and free up more than $9 million in cap space, which seems likely. In the meantime, they could convert some of the $7.5 million in prorated base salary remaining on Collins’ deal into a signing bonus to make his contract more tradable. Let’s say they convert $5 million into a bonus to save $2.5 million as part of a trade.
Collins’ time in New England didn’t end well, but the Patriots need help in their front seven after losing Ja’Whaun Bentley to a torn biceps. A healthy, motivated Collins would be an upgrade on the likes of Kyle Van Noy and free up Dont’a Hightower to take the occasional snap as an edge rusher, a tactic the Patriots used to try to create pressure before Hightower got injured last season. The Patriots wouldn’t owe Collins any guaranteed money after the season and would surely ask Collins to renegotiate his deal to stay with the team. Would a one-year reunion make sense for both parties?
Another former first-round pick who has fallen out of favor under a new regime, Joseph was counting his defensive snaps in the single digits before going down with a hamstring injury. Jon Gruden most recently blamed Joseph and departed safety Obi Melifonwu for the Raiders’ passing on Chargers first-round pick Derwin James, which should tell you how highly he thinks of the West Virginia standout.
Joseph looked like a game-changing playmaker before struggling to find his way in Oakland, and at 25, he still should have time to develop. Any team acquiring him would get to see how he performs over the next few months before deciding whether they want to pick up his fifth-year option. The Falcons have a desperate need at safety after losing Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen to season-ending injuries, and while Joseph is not going to be the plug-and-play solution Earl Thomas would have been, his athleticism would make the former 14th overall pick a high-upside solution in the second half of the season for a flailing Falcons defense.
The Steelers have a problem at inside linebacker. Jon Bostic has been a mess in coverage while taking regular snaps, and while L.J. Fort flashed in the absence of Vince Williams, the Steelers need to add someone with more meaningful NFL experience capable of covering tight ends. They are allowing 83 yards per game to tight ends, the third-highest rate in football.
Robertson isn’t exactly Lavonte David or Luke Kuechly, but he’s a competent inside linebacker who has been buried on the Saints’ depth chart. The former Browns starter didn’t take any defensive snaps over the first three weeks of the season before racking up 31 snaps over the past two weeks in Manti Te’o‘s absence. When Te’o returns, Robertson will likely end up limited to special teams duty.
Of course, Steelers fans might argue that they’re not exactly in a position to be trading away cornerbacks, but you have to give something to get something. The Steelers have to hope that 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns improves, because if he can’t beat out Sensabaugh, Pittsburgh is doomed anyway. Sensabaugh isn’t a starting-caliber NFL cornerback, but for a Saints team that already has benched Ken Crawley and just lost Marshon Lattimore to a concussion in advance of the bye, competent backups capable of playing 20 snaps per game would be a welcome addition.
It might be a surprise to some Bears fans that Cooper remains on the team, given that the 28-year-old hasn’t played much since infamously fumbling away a blocked field goal return on the 1-yard line against the Steelers last season. Cooper was benched shortly thereafter and cut from his four-year, $16 million contract after the season, although he re-signed with the Bears on a one-year, $1.5 million deal in March.
Chicago doesn’t have much use for Cooper barring a rash of injuries at cornerback, and while he has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, he was in on just three defensive snaps before going down. Cooper started 11 games for Kansas City between 2013-15, and the Chiefs are the thinnest contender in football at cornerback.
Let’s finish by trying to solve an unsolvable problem. The Chargers haven’t been able to find a reliable kicker since the days of Nate Kaeding, and even Kaeding was brutally bad during the postseason. Sturgis is Los Angeles’ most recent attempt to solve its kicking woes, but the former Dolphins and Eagles kicker doesn’t have a track record of success and is off to a brutal start, missing three field goals and four extra points on his first 12 attempts in each category.
If anyone can deal with the pressure of kicking in the apparently brutal conditions of Los Angeles, it’s Vinatieri, who has now spent 23 years in the league for the Patriots and Colts. The Chargers have had 13 kickers make a field goal wearing their uniform since Vinatieri entered the league in 1996. They are a playoff-caliber team and don’t have a kicker they can trust. Vinatieri might have one last shot at winning another ring and would get to kick in the best non-dome weather in football.
The Colts probably aren’t going to the postseason, so here’s a chance for them to get Vinatieri into the playoffs. In return, they’ll get a meaningful selection as they rebuild their roster and Sturgis, who will fill in as their kicker for the remainder of the campaign.
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Safety Micah Hyde (groin) did not practice Wednesday and is considered week-to-week. His expected replacement, Rafael Bush, also did not practice Wednesday because of a shoulder injury and is considered day-to-day. If neither can play Sunday vs. Tennessee, expect the Bills to start fifth-round rookie safety Siran Neal opposite Jordan Poyer. — Mike Rodak
Reshad Jones (shoulder) practiced in a full capacity Wednesday. Jones said he would “ready to go” on Sunday after missing the last two weeks. As for DeVante Parker, he was a limited participant in practice Wednesday with a quad injury, and it’s tough to predict his availability for Sunday given that he’s been a surprise scratch in previous weeks. Adam Gase and Ryan Tannehill said they were surprised by Parker’s injury and it affected their game plan. Gase said it came “out of nowhere.” The Dolphins have lost their starting left guard Josh Sitton and starting center Daniel Kilgore for the season, which has put a significant dent in their run game and overall offense. — Cameron Wolfe
Rob Gronkowski (ankle) is racing against the clock as the Patriots host the Colts on Thursday night, with the short week of preparation not helping his hopes of playing. This is similar to last year when the Patriots visited the Buccaneers on a Thursday night and Gronkowski ultimately wasn’t active, and later said if the game was played on a Sunday, he probably would have played. “When Gronk does come back, we’re going to be hard to deal with,” receiver Phillip Dorsett said Tuesday, which might have been a hint that Gronkowski won’t be playing this week. — Mike Reiss
Tight end Neal Sterling (concussion), who missed the last two games, has a chance to play Sunday against the Broncos. The unheralded Sterling had a small role in the passing game in Weeks 1 and 2. His return would provide another target to Sam Darnold in the short and intermediate zones. — Rich Cimini
Tight end Hayden Hurst, the Ravens’ top draft pick this year, was limited in practice after he expected to be a full participant. Coach John Harbaugh said earlier in the week that he would like to see Hurst complete an entire practice. It’s still likely that Hurst will make his NFL debut Sunday in Cleveland. “I feel really good with where I’m at,” Hurst said. He’s been sidelined all regular season after having foot surgery at the end of August. Hurst was starting for the Ravens in the preseason before the injury. — Jamison Hensley
Will Joe Mixon be able to return this week? All signs point to yes after Mixon was in pads for the first time since his knee procedure. Mixon certainly looked like his knee felt OK when he was sprinting down the sidelines to celebrate a win against the Falcons. Mixon might be needed even more this week since Giovani Bernard did not practice Wednesday with a knee injury that he likely sustained on the final drive of Sunday’s game. — Katherine Terrell
Both of the starting receivers missed practice on Wednesday to knee issues, but coach Hue Jackson said he’s very optimistic that Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway will play against the Ravens. Callaway, though, may lose some playing time to Rashard Higgins to lessen the burden the offense has placed on him. — Pat McManamon
The Steelers could be without their top inside linebacker, Vince Williams (hamstring), at the worst possible time. Pittsburgh has given up 400-plus yards in three straight games for the first time since 1954, according to ESPN Stats and Info, and Williams is responsible for making the on-field calls for the defense. The hamstring injury is considered mild, but since these injuries can linger, the Steelers likely won’t push him early in the week. Undrafted rookie Matthew Thomas would replace him. At least defensive backs Mike Hilton (elbow) and Morgan Burnett (hamstring) are trending toward playing. — Jeremy Fowler
The Texans’ Wednesday injury report had a long list of names, including running back Lamar Miller (chest) and receiver Will Fuller V (hamstring), who were limited participants in practice. Bill O’Brien said Miller “should be OK” for Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, but that the Texans will have to “see how it goes this week” with Fuller. Cornerback Aaron Colvin, who left the Texans’ Week 3 game with an ankle injury, is out indefinitely, but cornerback Kayvon Webster (Achilles tendon) will likely make his Texans debut against the Cowboys. — Sarah Barshop
The Colts have ruled out seven players for Thursday’s game at New England. The biggest name on the list is receiver T.Y. Hilton (hamstring). The receiver leads the Colts in receiving yards (294) and receptions (21). So quarterback Andrew Luck will now not have his top receiver, tight end (Jack Doyle) and running back (Marlon Mack) while facing a Patriots team against which he’s 0-5 in his career. — Mike Wells
With running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) already ruled out, the biggest concern is the offensive line. Four of the five starters are on the injury report and two — C Brandon Linder (knee/back) and LG Andrew Norwell (foot) — did not practice Wednesday. Linder normally gets Wednesdays off to rest his knee, but he’s also dealing with back spasms, and that’s an injury that can linger, especially for a big guy. RT Jermey Parnell (knee) and RG A.J. Cann (triceps) have been dealing with their issues for several weeks. The Jaguars are already on their backup left tackle, too. Expect Parnell and Cann to play, but whether Linder is available depends on how his back responds. Coach Doug Marrone said the team would know more about Linder and Norwell on Thursday. — Michael DiRocco
Who plays safety next to Kevin Byard? Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro is expected to be out for a few weeks after suffering a dislocated elbow in the second quarter against the Eagles. Tennessee will stay in house to replace Vaccaro temporarily. “I don’t think we’ll go outside the building to look for a safety. I think that we’ll look at who we have here and look at the practice squad,” Mike Vrabel said on Monday. Veteran safety Kendrick Lewis came in to replace Vaccaro but went down with a left leg injury. Rookie safety Dane Cruikshank came in after Lewis went down. Whether or not Lewis is able to go will depend on how he feels in practice this week. Practice squad safety Damon Webb may be an option. He and defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs spent last year together at Ohio State. — Turron Davenport
Broncos coach Vance Joseph has consistently praised the work of backup tackle Billy Turner throughout the team’s offseason program, into training camp, and now in the regular season. And the Broncos may need Turner’s best Sunday against the Jets given that right tackle Jared Veldheer left this past Monday night’s loss against the Chiefs with a bone bruise on his knee. Veldheer played just 16 snaps on offense and Turner went the rest of the way as the Broncos rushed for 159 yards with a 7.2 yards-per-carry average. Veldheer was held out of Wednesday’s practice and is a significant question mark on a short week before the Jets game. “We’ll see how the week progresses,” is how Joseph put it after Wednesday’s practice. “(Veldheer) is getting better slowly. … I’m confident if (Veldheer) is not playing Billy will do a good job for us.” — Jeff Legwold
The Chiefs feel good about having both wide receiver Sammy Watkins (hamstring) and linebacker Dee Ford (groin) available for Sunday’s game. Each practiced on Wednesday, though in a limited manner. The Chiefs could survive without Watkins over the short term. His replacement, Demarcus Robinson, had a big catch on the game-winning drive last week against the Broncos. Ford, who is tied for team lead in sacks, with three, would be much more difficult for the Chiefs to replace. — Adam Teicher
The Chargers could be without the services of left tackle Russell Okung when they face their AFC West rivals, the Raiders. Okung suffered a groin injury that forced him to miss the second half of last week’s 29-27 win over the 49ers. he did not practice on Wednesday, and head coach Anthony Lynn said the Oklahoma State product likely will be a game-time decision as to whether he plays on Sunday. — Eric D. Williams
Marshawn Lynch seemingly willed the Raiders to a 45-42 comeback victory in overtime against the Browns, and appears to have paid a price with his hard-charging running style steep enough to keep him out of practice on Wednesday. The punishing Lynch, who was in Oakland’s locker room and did not appear to be favoring an injury, is not one to miss practice, so it is unknown whether he was merely given a vet’s day off or if his availability against the Chargers is in jeopardy. If Lynch cannot go, expect Doug Martin, who coach Jon Gruden likes a lot, to be the featured back, with Jalen Richard the change-of-pace back. Elsewhere, DeAndre Washington is getting closer to coming back from arthroscopic knee surgery that occurred during training camp. — Paul Gutierrez
Ezekiel Elliott went through a full practice on Wednesday and said he felt as fresh as he has felt all season after carrying a season-high 25 times last week against Detroit. The Cowboys will monitor Elliott during the week to make sure he is ready to go, but the running back said he has “fresh legs.” On defense, DeMarcus Lawrence was listed as limited because of a shoulder injury but it will not keep him out of any game action Sunday at Houston either. The Cowboys don’t want to expose Lawrence to more work during Wednesday’s practices that generally focus on the running game. — Todd Archer
The Giants are again hoping this is the week OLB Olivier Vernon (ankle) and CB Eli Apple (groin) return. Vernon hasn’t played yet this season, and Apple has missed the past two games. Both practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday, so there is some optimism. — Jordan Raanan
Running back is the position to watch. Darren Sproles (hamstring) and Corey Clement (quad) were sidelined at practice once again to start the week, and are considered day-to-day. Their absence against the Titans hurt the Eagles, especially on third down. Those are the top pass-protecting backs on the roster. When they are out of the lineup, QB Carson Wentz is all the more susceptible to hits. — Tim McManus
Three key Redskins did not practice Wednesday: corner Josh Norman (hamstring), tackle Trent Williams (knee) and running back Adrian Peterson (ankle). The Redskins have maintained optimism about the latter two in particular. But the one new concern might be receiver Josh Doctson. He had his foot stepped on Wednesday and left early to see a doctor. He was later seen at the facility and in good spirits; an update will be provided Thursday. — John Keim
Almost every team claims their bye week came at a good time. The Bears shouldn’t. They’re relatively healthy and are rolling, winning three straight games after losing their opener by a point. They will have to figure out how to replace outside linebacker Sam Acho, who sustained a season-ending pectoral muscle tear in Sunday’s win over Tampa Bay, but having Khalil Mack should more than make up for the loss of a rotational pass rusher. –Rob Demovsky
The Lions were without starting RG T.J. Lang (concussion) at practice Wednesday — not surprising considering he is in the league’s concussion protocol and is dealing with at least the fifth concussion of his career. That the Lions re-signed Andrew Donnal on Wednesday might be another sign Lang isn’t going to be ready to face his former team. Running back LeGarrette Blount also didn’t practice Wednesday, so that’ll be something to pay attention to as the week goes on. It could mean a bigger week for Kerryon Johnson if Blount is injured at all. In better news for the Lions, S Quandre Diggs (hand) practiced Wednesday with a black cast on his left hand. It’s not clear if he’ll play against the Packers, but the fact that he was practicing is a pretty good sign. — Michael Rothstein
The Packers are facing the possibility of playing the Lions without two of their top three receivers. Randall Cobb (hamstring) worked in the rehab group on Wednesday, while Geronimo Allison remains in the concussion protocol. So it could be Davante Adams and a combination of rookie receivers, who have previously played sparingly. Fifth-round pick Marquez Valdes-Scantling has played 74 snaps in four games (including 54 last week). Fourth-rounder J’Mon Moore has played 11 snaps (all last week) and sixth-rounder Equanimeous St. Brown hasn’t played on offense yet. Combined, the trio of rookies has two catches for 41 yards — both by MVS. — Rob Demovsky
The Vikings had Dalvin Cook on a pitch count against the Rams so he wouldn’t aggravate his left hamstring, but the running back said this week he’s still not at “100 percent.” Cook did not practice on Wednesday, and engaged in rehab work during the beginning of practice. It’d be ideal for the Vikings to have Cook available when they go up against the No. 1 rush defense (63.8 yards per game) in Philadelphia, and they’re hoping the extra days of rest following their mini-bye week (since they played on Thursday of Week 4) will help him return to full health. Cornerback Trae Waynes sustained a concussion before halftime in Los Angeles and was also held out on Wednesday. — Courtney Cronin
Running back Devonta Freeman, who missed the last three games with a right knee contusion, remains a question mark despite saying he is well enough to play. Coach Dan Quinn anticipated Freeman being a full participant in practice barring any setbacks. Well, Freeman was limited on Wednesday. Stay tuned. — Vaughan McClure
Tight end Greg Olsen, who fractured his foot in the opener, won’t play Sunday against the Giants, but coach Ron Rivera wouldn’t rule out the next week at Washington. Carolina will get back right guard Trai Turner (concussion) and likely wide receiver Curtis Samuel (irregular heartbeat). Both practiced in full pads on Wednesday and are on target to face the Giants. Turner’s return will solidify the injury-plagued offensive line and Samuel will add more speed to the receiving corps. He led the team in receptions during the preseason. — David Newton
The Saints will hold their first practice of the week and release their first injury report on Thursday since they’re on a Monday night schedule. But there aren’t expected to be any significant injury concerns outside of losing nickel cornerback Patrick Robinson to a season-ending broken ankle last week. And veteran P.J. Williams gave a solid performance in his place last week at the Giants, so even that is a little less concerning now than it was a week ago. — Mike Triplett
The Bucs have several key players who need to get healthy during the bye week. Tight end O.J. Howard has a sprained MCL and could be out 2-4 weeks — missing one game would be a heck of a lot better than missing a whole month. Safety Jordan Whitehead, who would have started against the Bears, suffered a hamstring injury last week and is also dealing with a shoulder injury. Cornerback Carlton Davis suffered a groin injury against the Bears. Defensive tackle Beau Allen has been dealing with a foot injury that’s kept him out of the last two games. — Jenna Laine
Cornerback Bene Benwikere (spine) was among the four Cardinals who didn’t practice Wednesday, but he’s expected to play Sunday against San Francisco, coach Steve Wilks said. Benwikere sufferd a spinal injury early in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks, but played the rest of the game. The other three players who didn’t practice Wednesday — Larry Fitzgerald, Markus Golden and Corey Peters — are all also expected to play against the Niners. — Josh Weinfuss
After linebacker Mark Barron sat out the first four games because of a nagging Achilles tendon injury, the Rams are hopeful that he will return to his starting role against the Seahawks. “We’ve kind of got a plan in place where we anticipate him being able to go,” coach Sean McVay said. “That’s subject to change based on how he responds but he’s feeling good up to this point.” Barron’s potential return could provide a boost to a linebacking corps that lost Dominique Easley to a season-ending knee injury. — Lindsey Thiry
Once again, the 49ers have a number of players questionable entering the week, but the biggest area of concern is on the offensive line. Left tackle Joe Staley, right tackle Mike McGlinchey and center Weston Richburg are all dealing with knee injuries and didn’t practice on Wednesday. Coach Kyle Shanahan has said all three starting linemen would likely be questionable for Sunday’s game against Arizona. Richburg and McGlinchey were able to play through pain and finish last week’s game and Staley has rarely missed time in his career so there’s hope for all three to be ready to go. Cornerback Richard Sherman (calf) and receiver Marquise Goodwin (hamstring/quad) also will need monitoring this week. — Nick Wagoner
The Seahawks will get running back Chris Carson back for Sunday’s game against the unbeaten Rams, but linebacker K.J. Wright still isn’t ready to make his 2018 debut. And with Mychal Kendricks now suspended indefinitely, Seattle will need a new replacement for Wright at weakside linebacker. Austin Calitro sounds like the likeliest of Seattle’s options based on how well he’s played this season and what Pete Carroll said about him Wednesday, calling this a “crucial opportunity” for the second-year pro. — Brady Henderson
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Running back LeSean McCoy said he will play Sunday against the Packers after missing an upset win over Minnesota with cracked rib cartilage. McCoy was able to run full speed Wednesday for the first time since the injury, although he said he had a “minor little setback” in trying to cut. McCoy continued to wear a noncontact jersey to practice and was limited. — Mike Rodak
The Dolphins will be without their two top rotational defensive ends in William Hayes (ACL, out for season) and Andre Branch (knee, “highly unlikely” to play, per Adam Gase) vs. the Patriots. A third defensive end, Cameron Wake, missed practice Wednesday with a knee injury. Miami is getting really thin on the edge and it could increase the amount of time Tom Brady has in the pocket on Sunday. Tight end A.J. Derby (foot) also didn’t practice Wednesday and it seems likely that rookie Mike Gesicki will see his most significant role yet vs. the Patriots. The possible return of safety Reshad Jones (shoulder) should help the Dolphins’ secondary. — Cameron Wolfe
Without running back Rex Burkhead (neck), the Patriots will rely more on first-round pick Sony Michel, passing back James White and newly signed Kenjon Barner. One area in which that hurts offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ planning is with the “pony” grouping of two RBs on the field at the same time — Burkhead and White — as McDaniels has used that as a way to counter a shortage at the wide receiver position. The debut of receiver Josh Gordon would go a long way toward providing some more flexibility, and it all comes down to how Gordon’s hamstring responds this week in practice after he was limited all of last week. — Mike Reiss
Two injuries in the secondary bear watching: safety Marcus Maye (foot) and nickelback Buster Skrine (knee). After missing the first three games, Maye finally has a legitimate chance to play. The Jets really need him because fill-in Doug Middleton is now dealing with a knee injury. If Skrine can’t play, the slot corner will be rookie Parry Nickerson, who would probably be targeted by the Jaguars if he is in that role.— Rich Cimini
Left tackle Ronnie Stanley is dealing with multiple injuries, and he missed Wednesday’s practice with a foot injury. This comes a week after he injured his right elbow, which led him to wear a brace for last Sunday’s game. If Stanley can’t play, James Hurst moves from right to left tackle and rookie Orlando Brown Jr. starts at right tackle. This would be a challenge in facing the Steelers, who are tied for second in the NFL with 11 sacks. — Jamison Hensley — Jamison Hensley
Wide receiver A.J. Green didn’t play in the second half of Sunday’s game against the Panthers after landing hard on his hip, but he said he would be ready to go for the following game. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said Green is fine, and it bodes well for his status that Green practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday. Barring a setback, it looks likely he’ll play against the Falcons. — Katherine Terrell
The Browns have good news on the injury front, as defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah said he will be able to play in Oakland. Ogbah, who missed two games with a sprained ankle, should help a pass rush that includes Myles Garrett (four sacks) and Larry Ogunjobi (three sacks). Tyrod Taylor remained in concussion protocol on Wednesday; he will be the backup to Baker Mayfield if he’s cleared. — Pat McManamon
Corner Mike Hilton (elbow) was wearing an arm sling inside the locker room Wednesday but wants to try to practice later in the week. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was a surprise addition to the injury report with an abdominal injury. It’s not believed to be serious. The Steelers’ offensive line hopes to get David DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert back this week. — Jeremy Fowler
The Texans put wide receiver Bruce Ellington (hamstring) on injured reserve. Houston doesn’t have much depth at the position, as receivers Keke Coutee and Sammie Coates were inactive in Week 3. Coutee did say Monday that he’s “close” to playing in his first NFL game. When he plays, he should see most of Ellington’s snaps in the slot. — Sarah Barshop
Starting safeties Malik Hooker (hip/groin) and Clayton Geathers (knee) and top two tight ends Jack Doyle (hip) and Eric Ebron (shoulder/knee) all missed practice Wednesday. Doyle is expected to miss a couple of weeks, but the Colts can’t afford to be without Hooker and Geathers on what’s been a surprisingly impressive defensive unit (16th overall) this season. Geathers didn’t practice much last week but still started in Week 3 at Philadelphia. — Mike Wells
There’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the status of running backs Leonard Fournette (hamstring) and T.J. Yeldon (ankle) for Sunday’s game against the Jets. Fournette practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday and has yet to practice fully or play since he was hurt in the season opener. Yeldon did not practice Wednesday after aggravating his injury last Sunday against the Titans. Fournette moved around very well in the period of practice that the media observed, so that’s a good sign, but he did the same last Friday and did not play. Corey Grant and Brandon Wilds, who has nine yards on four carries since being called up from the practice squad, would be the team’s main options if Fournette and Yeldon are out. That means the Jaguars would put the game on Blake Bortles, the way they did against New England. — Michael DiRocco
Backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert suffered a concussion last week against the Jaguars and is under concussion protocol. Marcus Mariota came on in relief and led the Titans to the win. Mariota will get the start this week as he continues to work around a pinched nerve that has kept him from being able to grip the ball firmly. Because of that, there will be some parts of the playbook that are off limits, but offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur has shown he can put together a game plan to overcome limitations. Tennessee signed veteran Austin Davis to be the backup in case Gabbert is unable to play on Sunday, and Gabbert sitting out seems likely given how delicately head coach Mike Vrabel treats concussions. Right tackle Jack Conklin, who suffered a torn ACL in last season’s playoff loss against New England, has a good chance of returning to the lineup Sunday. — Turron Davenport
Linebacker Brandon Marshall, who has missed some practice time this season with a knee injury, played 33 snaps against the Ravens this past Sunday. But he was the only player who did not participate in the team’s practice Wednesday — an extra day of work since the Broncos play on Monday night. Marshall missed practice last week and rookie Josey Jewell played in his spot against the Ravens in the Broncos’ base defense as Marshall largely played in the Broncos’ specialty packages. The Broncos are hopeful Marshall can practice some this week, with the Chiefs next on the docket, and at least be available for some work in the nickel and dime. If he isn’t, Jewell will continue to get more work. Cornerback Adam Jones, who missed the game against the Ravens with a thigh injury, and cornerback Tramaine Brock, who left Sunday’s game with a groin injury, both practiced Wednesday and coach Vance Joseph said he expected both players to be available to play against the Chiefs. — Jeff Legwold
Outside linebacker Dee Ford was playing as well as ever before he had to leave last week’s game with a groin injury. His status for Monday night’s game against the Broncos will come into better focus on Thursday, when the Chiefs begin their practice week. But they would feel his loss if he doesn’t play. The Chiefs would choose from rookie Breeland Speaks and Tanoh Kpassagnon to replace Ford. Neither has shown he can produce as consistently as Ford, particularly as pass-rushers. — Adam Teicher
Go-to receiver Keenan Allen did not participate in practice on Wednesday for the Chargers due to a knee issue, according to the team’s injury report. Allen appeared dinged up during the second half of his team’s loss last week against the Rams, but stayed in the game. Considered one of the front-line players who serves as an engine for the Chargers’ offense, Allen’s health status is worth monitoring this week. — Eric D. Williams
Right tackle Donald Penn, who left Sunday’s loss at Miami early in the second quarter with concussion-like symptoms, and rookie defensive tackle P.J. Hall, who has not played since suffering a left ankle injury in the season opener against the Rams, were both participating in Wednesday’s nonpadded practice. Both being good to go Sunday against the Browns would go a long way toward the Raiders’ getting their first win of the season, what with Cleveland’s intimidating pass rush and the Browns’ somewhat leaky offensive line. — Paul Gutierrez
Linebacker Sean Lee will miss some time with a hamstring injury. Life without Lee has not been good, but the Cowboys feel they are covered better at the spot with the play of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch than they have been the past few years. Still, the Cowboys have to show they can win without him. Dating back to 2015, they are 1-7 in games in which Lee does not play. — Todd Archer
All eyes remain on outside linebacker Olivier Vernon (high ankle) and cornerback Eli Apple (groin). Vernon practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday for the first time in a month, while Apple worked on the side with a trainer. It’s a step in the right direction for Vernon, who finally has a real shot to be back on the field Sunday afternoon against the Saints. And boy do the Giants need him. They’re tied for 31st in the NFL with four sacks. — Jordan Raanan
WR Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) has gotten the medical green light and has a good chance of playing Sunday against the Titans. The position to watch is running back. Jay Ajayi (back) and Darren Sproles (hamstring) both sat out practice Wednesday after missing last week’s action. Coach Doug Pederson said he does expect both back on the practice field at some point this week, but both injuries appear to be day-to-day. — Tim McManus
Left tackle Trent Williams had a minor knee procedure to clean up the bursa in his knee. Coach Jay Gruden said the procedure had been scheduled and he should be fine for the Oct. 8 game at New Orleans. The Redskins have a bye this week.— John Keim
Cornerback Prince Amukamara did not practice Wednesday because of the hamstring injury he sustained in the second half on Sunday at Arizona. Nor did fellow cornerback Marcus Cooper Sr. (hamstring), meaning the Bears could be short-handed in the secondary for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers’ potent passing attack. –Jeff Dickerson
Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) missed practice Wednesday — a concern after he’s missed the past two games with said shoulder injury. Matt Patricia was evasive when asked if there was concern Ansah could be out for a long period of time, saying “whoever is out there ready to go, we’re ready to go.” He later added that Ansah is trying to work as hard as he can to return every day. Tight end Michael Roberts (knee) also missed Sunday’s game and practice Wednesday. He’ll be worth monitoring because he’s a potential red zone option — but Detroit can make up for his loss with a combination of Luke Willson and Hakeem Valles at tight end and more usage of three-receiver sets as well. If Ansah’s absence is prolonged, though, that’s a blow for Detroit’s defense in the long term — and for his potential contract talks this offseason. — Michael Rothstein
Tight end Jimmy Graham was a surprise on the Packers’ injury report. He was listed with a knee injury, although he finished Sunday’s loss at Washington, playing all but five offensive snaps. He did not practice. Neither did Aaron Rodgers, but he hasn’t worked on a Wednesday since his Week 1 knee injury. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (back) returned to practice on a limited basis after dropping out last Sunday after 28 snaps. — Rob Demovsky
Running back Dalvin Cook is still nursing the hamstring injury that kept him out of the Bills game, but he said this week there’s a “good chance” he plays. Cook is officially listed as “questionable” for Thursday’s game in Los Angeles, as are left tackle Riley Reiff (foot), safety Anthony Harris (hamstring) and defensive tackle Tom Johnson (ankle). If Reiff is unable to play in Los Angeles, the Vikings could elect to move Rashod Hill to left tackle and start rookie Brian O’Neill at right tackle. — Courtney Cronin
Running back Devonta Freeman was expected to be sidelined at least a couple of games with a right knee contusion. It would be three games if he doesn’t make it back this week, although he did participate in a walk-through Wednesday. Meanwhile, Julio Jones sat out like he did last week at this time with a calf injury, but he should be ready for game day. — Vaughan McClure
Tight end Greg Olsen (fractured foot) has missed two games and has a bye week to continue his rehab. He’ll be re-evaluated next week on whether he can return for the Giants on Oct. 7 or soon thereafter. But, he told ESPN that because he didn’t have surgery (as he did a year ago on the same foot) he is “way ahead of schedule.” He is walking without a boot or a limp. — David Newton
The Saints’ biggest injury news of the week was losing nickel CB Patrick Robinson to injured reserve, which will make for a dicey matchup against Giants wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard on Sunday. The Saints’ pass defense has already been struggling mightily this year, and Robinson was one of their most reliable defensive backs. Meanwhile, Wednesday’s injury report was loaded with big names who were limited in practice (including running back Alvin Kamara, defensive end Cameron Jordan, starting offensive linemen Terron Armstead and Andrus Peat, wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Cameron Meredith, and starting nose tackle Tyeler Davison). It’s too early in the week to tell how many guys are just getting rest after an overtime slugfest at Atlanta and how many are in actual danger of missing Sunday’s game at New York. — Mike Triplett
The Bucs lost starting strong safety Chris Conte to a torn PCL on “Monday Night Football,” with rookie Jordan Whitehead replacing him. That now makes three rookies in the Bucs’ defensive backfield. The Bucs’ interior line continues to get banged up. In addition to Beau Allen still being out with a foot injury, Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy is now limited with a biceps injury. Rookie Vita Vea continues to try to work his way back into playing shape from a strained calf, but has not practiced in full yet. That’s the next step for him before playing. — Jenna Laine
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is still dealing with a lingering hamstring injury. He went through drills and routes during the open portion of Wednesday’s practice, but coach Steve Wilks said Fitzgerald was held out of the rest of practice as a precaution. Fitzgerald is expected to play again Sunday, as he did while dealing with the injury last weekend against Chicago, when he was targeted just twice, tying for the fewest of his career. — Josh Weinfuss
Uncertainty looms at cornerback for the Rams this week as they prepare to face a top receiving duo in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Aqib Talib was placed on injured reserve because of an ankle injury and Marcus Peters was listed as questionable on the injury report due to a calf strain. Expect backups Sam Shields and Troy Hill to start, or see a significant amount of time, at the position moving forward. — Lindsey Thiry
The 49ers are dealing with a variety of injuries beyond the loss of starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Cornerback Richard Sherman will miss this week with a calf injury, but the rest of the secondary is also dealing with issues, in particular starting safeties Adrian Colbert (hip) and Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder). Neither practiced on Wednesday and their status is in doubt for Sunday against the high-powered Chargers offense. Running back Matt Breida (knee/calf) also did not practice Wednesday, but said he believes he will be ready to go this weekend. The Niners could use Breida, who remains tied for the NFL rushing lead through three weeks. — Nick Wagoner
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin is back at practice for the first time since suffering an MCL injury in the opener. Pete Carroll is hopeful that he’ll be available Sunday at Arizona, and said Baldwin is “very confident that he can have a chance to play,” but the coach stopped well short of guaranteeing it. This seems like a case where the Seahawks may be tempted to wait one more week to make sure they don’t bring Baldwin back too early and risk his knee injury lingering. Considering that he missed a month of training camp because of an injury to his other knee, which he said would require management throughout the season, caution could be warranted. — Brady Henderson