October 18, 2017

Broncos 24, Chargers 17

The final game on the schedule was a battle between AFC West rivals as the San Diego Chargers headed to Denver to take on the Broncos.  The Chargers were coming off a 27-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals and the Broncos were coming off a bye week.  Denver kicker Matt Prater sent the opening kickoff through the end zone and the Chargers started at their 20.  Running back Ryan Mathews got things off to a decent start with a five-yard carry.  Short passes from quarterback Philip Rivers to running back Ronnie Brown and tight end Ladarius Green got the Chargers a first down at the 33.  After a short run by Mathews, Rivers was sacked for a loss of nine on the next play.  On third and 17, running back Danny Woodhead ran up the middle for eight yards.  But they got a break as the Broncos were flagged for a facemask penalty.  The drive stalled at the 43 and punter Matt Scifres got off a 51-yard punt that was fielded at the Denver six by return man/wide receiver Eric Decker.  Decker returned the punt six yards and the Broncos went to work from their 14-yard line.

The Broncos brought out the no huddle offense and passes to tight end Julius Thomas, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and Decker already had the Chargers looking baffled.  Another completion to wide receiver Andre Caldwell set up a first down at the San Diego 29.  On third and one from the 21, running back Montee Ball ran off right tackle for a gain of five yards.  A seven-yard pass to D. Thomas and a four-yard run by Ball made it first and goal from the three.  Two plays later, Manning looked to his left and hooked up with D. Thomas for a touchdown.  Prater made the point after and the Broncos led 7-0 with 2:25 to go in the first quarter.

The Chargers ended up getting a grand total of minus two yards on their next possession.  Scifres punted again and the Broncos took over at their 42.  On third and two from the 50, Manning completed a short pass to J. Thomas who fumbled at the 45.  The ball was recovered at the 43 by cornerback Richard Marshall.  That was a good break for the Chargers and on the strength of some good running by Mathews and Woodhead, they moved down to the Denver 30.  On third down, Rivers was sacked for a loss of five by defensive end Malik Jackson.  That brought kicker Nick Novak into the game for a 53-yard field goal attempt.  On the attempt, his plant foot slipped and the kick sailed wide left.

The Broncos had dodged a bullet and started with good field position from their 43.  A holding call moved them back ten yards, but they got 12 of it back as Manning hit running back Knowshon Moreno out of the backfield.  This is when the offside penalties started occurring.  As usual, Manning would do his usual long counts and yell “Omaha” over and over again.  On second and eight from the 45, the Chargers jumped offside and that gave the Broncos five free yards.  On second and three, Moreno burst up the middle for a gain of 11 and a first down at the San Diego 39.  Two more carries by Ball got them another first down at the 22.  From the 22, Ball got the call again and gained four yards.  From the 18, the Chargers fell for the Omaha call again and jumped offside.  From the 13, Moreno ran up the middle for five more yards and a first and goal from the eight.  Moreno got yet another carry and gained five more yards.  Two plays later, Manning fired a pass to wide receiver Wes Welker on the left side and he took it in for the score.  Prater made the point after and the Broncos led 14-0 with six minutes to go in the first half.

The Chargers gained 14 yards on their next “drive” and Scifres punted again.  Decker fielded the punt at the Denver 23 and returned it straight up the middle for a gain of 47 yards.  If he hadn’t tripped over his own feet at the 30, he would have scored.  On first down, Manning hooked up with D. Thomas for nine yards.  On second and one, Moreno was stuffed for no gain.  The Broncos really needed to keep this drive going.  A 21-0 lead just might be insurmountable for the hapless Charger offense.  That’s when Manning used the magic word.  He screamed “Omaha!” again and sure enough, the Chargers jumped offside.  That made it first down at the 16.  Moreno got the call two more times and gained 12 yards for a first and goal at the four.  Moreno was stopped for no gain on first down and a pass to Decker fell incomplete.  On third down, Manning looked for Decker again, but the pass was intercepted by linebacker Donald Butler in the end zone.  The Chargers took a knee and the first half ended with the Broncos leading 14-0.

A decent kickoff return by return man Trindon Holliday gave the Broncos the ball at their 36.  A nine-yard pass to D. Thomas, two carries by Moreno and yet another nine-yard pass to D. Thomas netted a first down at the San Diego 41.  From the 41, Manning fired a strike to J. Thomas for eight yards.  On third and one from the 32, Manning found Welker at the 26 for another first down.  After that, they went nowhere and Prater came on for a 45-yard field goal attempt.  It was good and the Broncos were now up 17-0 with 9:35 to go in the third quarter.

With Mathews out with an injured ankle, Woodhead and Brown would get the carries for the rest of the game.  Of course, if you’re down by 17 midway through the third quarter, the running game probably won’t be of much value.  On third and three from the 27, we finally had a Keenan Allen sighting.  The rookie wide receiver hauled in a pass from Rivers for a gain of 19 and a first down at the 46.  Denver cornerback Chris Harris was injured on this play and would not return.  He was later diagnosed with a torn ACL.  But they wouldn’t get much farther and they were forced to punt again.  Scifres had the heavy wind at his back and he hit a 62-yard punt through the end zone.

From the 20, Manning found Decker on the right side for a gain of 19.  He used that magic word again and the Chargers jumped offside.  That moved the ball to the 44.  Ball ran up the middle for eight and Manning completed an eight-yard pass to Welker.  Ball carried again up the middle for four more yards and a first down at the 36.  Then the Chargers jumped offside again.  This is a recording.  Despite the lack of discipline, the Chargers tightened up and the drive stalled at the 29.  The normally automatic Prater had some trouble with the windy conditions and his kick sailed wide left.  With one minute to go in the third quarter, the Chargers got the ball back at their 37.

On second and ten, Rivers “scrambled” for six yards.  That’s something you don’t see every day.   That set up a third and four from the 43.  Rivers had time and found wide receiver Eddie Royal across the middle for a gain of 30 yards.  With Harris out, he was replaced by former Charger Quentin Jammer.  On the pass to Royal, Jammer looked totally lost.  An illegal use of hands penalty on Denver moved the Chargers five yards closer to the goal line.  Woodhead ran up the middle for six yards, but a completion to Woodhead was quickly snuffed out by the Denver defense.  On third and four from the 16, Rivers floated one up the right side and Allen came down with it in the end zone for a touchdown.  Novak made the point after and the Broncos led 17-7 with 13 minutes to go in the game.

Holliday had another good kick return, but it was brought back to the 19 because of an illegal block in the back penalty.  On third and seven, Manning went deep down the middle for Welker and the pass was incomplete.  But the Chargers were flagged for pass interference.  That gave the Broncos a first down at their 45.  From the San Diego 47 on third and two, Manning completed a 17-yard pass to J. Thomas.  This was a recurring theme in the game.  Whenever third down came up, Manning always seemed to look for J. Thomas.  The Chargers were unable to address that problem.  Manning found Welker again for six yards and Moreno ran up the left side and was pushed out of bounds at the ten.  Two plays later, Moreno took it up the middle for a score.  Prater made the point after and the Broncos led 24-7 with 8:12 remaining in the game.

The Chargers started out at their 20 and three plays gained five yards.  On fourth down, they had no choice but to go for it.  Rivers took the snap and fired a pass to Allen that was good for a gain of 49 yards.  On first down from the Denver 26, Rivers ran for a gain of five yards.  A short pass to Brown got them another first down at the 16.  From the 16, Rivers hooked up with Allen again and this time it was good for another touchdown.  Novak made the point after and we had the makings of a close game.  With 5:43 to go, the Broncos led 24-14.

The Chargers tried an onside kick and Marshall came up with the ball.  Rivers and the offense went to work from their 40-yard line.  On second and 14 from the 36, Rivers tossed a 17-yard completion to Allen for a first down at the Denver 47.  Allen wasn’t done and on second and five, he caught another pass for 25 yards and a first down at the 17.  The drive stalled at the 12 and Novak was brought into the game for a 30-yard field goal attempt.  He split the uprights and that made the score 24-17 with just under four minutes remaining in the game.

There would be no onside kick this time as Novak kicked the ball deep in hopes that the defense could stop the Broncos.  From the 27, things didn’t get off to a good start for the Broncos as they were flagged for a false start.  Then Moreno was thrown for a loss of two yards.  On second and 17, Manning looked for D. Thomas and the pass fell incomplete.  That brought up third down.  Who do you think Manning will look for?  Welker?  Decker?  Moreno?  Shannon Sharpe?  None of those choices are correct.  The answer is Julius Thomas.  Out of the shotgun, Manning threw a deep ball to the right and sure enough Thomas grabbed it for a gain on 21 and a first down at the 41.  That was a damaging blow to the hopes of Charger fans.  Moreno ran up the middle for a short gain and the Chargers called their second timeout.  Moreno got the call on second down and was held to a minimal gain.  The Chargers called their final timeout.  Uh-oh.  It’s third down again.  You don’t think that evil #80 is going to get the ball again do you?  It was third and six and Manning knew a first down would get them a win and a ticket to the AFC championship game.  He calmly took the snap out of the shotgun and completed a nine-yard pass to J. Thomas yet again.  That did it.  The Chargers couldn’t stop the clock and a couple more runs by Moreno and a kneel down by Manning ended the game.  Final score: Broncos 24 Chargers 17.

For the Chargers, Philip Rivers completed 18 of 27 for 217 yards and two touchdowns.  Keenan Allen led all receivers in receptions with six and receiving yards with 142 and two touchdowns.  As a team, the Chargers rushed for just 65 yards on 18 carries.  Danny Woodhead was the leading rusher with 29 yards on nine carries.  Their longest gain on the ground was a 16-yard carry by Ryan Mathews.  Defensively, cornerback Marcus Gilchrist led the team in solo tackles with seven.

For the Broncos, Peyton Manning completed 25 of 36 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  Demaryius Thomas had the most receptions with eight and Julius Thomas had the most receiving yards with 76.  The Broncos had a good day on the ground as they totaled 133 yards on 34 carries.  Knowshon Moreno was the leading rusher with 82 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown.  Defensively, cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Champ Bailey tied for the lead in solo tackles with four apiece.  The Broncos sacked Rivers four times and defensive end Shaun Phillips led the team with two.

Well, the road to the Super Bowl goes through Denver.  Tom Brady and the Patriots will be in Denver on Sunday and I look forward to what should be a high scoring game.

 

All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: QB Kevin Kolb returned last week and the Cardinals won, but Kolb still didn’t play all that well. He was constantly throwing passes into the ground…..RB Beanie Wells is battling knee, thumb and hamstring injuries which has limited his practice time this week, but he still should play versus the 49ers on Sunday.

Atlanta Falcons: QB Matt Ryan has just not been able to take that next step this season. For the Falcons to advance deep into the playoffs, they will need him to do so or they will have no chance of beating the Packers or Saints…..RB Michael Turner is dealing with a groin injury that certainly seemed to slow him down last week, but the Texans’ defense may also have had something to do with his performance. This week he gets the Panthers, a much better matchup.

Baltimore Ravens: Some consider the Ravens to be the best team in the AFC, but I’m just not feeling it. I’m not sure I trust QB Joe Flacco to raise his game to an elite level when it matters. Even though the Ravens beat the Steelers twice, I still think the Steelers may be the best overall team…..LB Ray Lewis still isn’t practicing due to turf toe and is unlikely to play once again on Sunday.

Buffalo Bills: The injuries just keep coming for Buffalo as TE Scott Chandler won’t play this week due to an ankle injury and K Rian Lindell was officially placed on IR, ending his season…..LB Nick Barnett has had a very good first season for the Bills, already racking up 97 tackles. He would seem to be a must play in IDP leagues.

Carolina Panthers: WR Steve Smith’s production has been down of late even though the Panthers running game has picked up. Smith could certainly use some help to take the defense’s attention off of him. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to give QB Cam Newton another target to throw to, not to mention Smith is getting up there in age and could see a drop off in his numbers at any time.

Chicago Bears: Things just keep getting worse and worse for the Bears. First they lose QB Jay Cutler with a thumb injury, now they may have lost RB Matt Forte with a knee injury…..What makes the Forte injury even more interesting is that this is the last year of his contract as he and the Bears have been at odds all season long on an extension. It would seem business wise that it would be a good decision for Forte not to rush himself back, making sure he’s 100% healthy next season.

Cincinnati Bengals: It seems the sand may be running out in the hourglass for the Bengals as they were wrecked last week by Pittsburgh. They’re going to be a good team, but they still need time…..RB Cedric Benson is dealing with a foot injury that caused him to miss practice Thursday. He could still play though as he missed practice last Thursday as well.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns are going to have to make a decision this off-season. Do they believe in QB Colt McCoy, or do they draft a QB in the first round of April’s draft? They should have a top ten pick and could select one of the more highly rated quarterbacks that will be available. Of course they still need WRs and may need a RB also if Peyton Hillis leaves. Yeah, they don’t have many playmakers on this team.

Dallas Cowboys: Head coach Jason Garrett has been lit up this week for “icing” his own kicker. That isn’t actually what happened. You can clearly see special teams coach Joe DeCamillis and kicker coach Chris Boniol ask Garrett to call timeout…..What Garrett should be taking criticism for was not calling a timeout after WR Dez Bryant caught the pass at the Cardinals 32-yard line with 26 seconds left. Dallas had two TOs left and should have used one there so they could run a couple more plays to get in better FG range. It wasn’t like K Dan Bailey was having a great day. He missed a FG earlier in the game from 50+ and banked another one off the goalpost, not to mention the league percentage on 50+ yard FGs is 50.2. This is the reason why it’s extremely bewildering that Garrett keeps insisting that he didn’t make an error. Garrett has cost the Cowboys two games this season with conservative play calling (New England). If they miss the playoffs, the blame should fall squarely on him…..The good news is that WR Miles Austin should return this week as should FB Tony Fiammetta.

Denver Broncos: It is hard not to be a believer in QB Tim Tebow after last week’s performance. I know it came against a terrible secondary in Minnesota, but still this was the first game that Tebow had to win with his arm and not his legs…..The Broncos have to be considered the favorite to win the AFC West. Scary I know, but I still think they are one-and-done as they will most likely play Pittsburgh or Baltimore in the 1st round.

Detroit Lions: Head coach Jim Schwartz has done a great job of turning around the Lions, but he needs to get control of his team. They make way too many personal foul penalties and are playing way out of control which may be costing them games as well as yardage…..RB Kevin Smith is still being hampered by an ankle injury and is having a difficult time finishing games. He also hasn’t practiced this week which could lead to RB Maurice Morris having a bigger role this week.

Green Bay Packers: That’s 18 straight wins now for the Packers if you count the playoffs. The only team that I believe can beat them would be the Saints in a shootout. It might just come down to which team had the ball last or who had to kick a FG instead of a TD in a cold weather playoff game in Green Bay that hindered the passing attack (think Brett Favre versus the Giants when the G-Men last won the Super Bowl – it was close to zero degrees that night).

Houston Texans: The Texans just keep finding ways to win even without their best players. WR Andre Johnson’s return to the lineup was short-lived as his hamstring acted up once again and he had to leave the game last week. He has already been labeled as out for this week’s game. The Texans may want to keep him out multiple weeks to get him as healthy as they possibly can for the playoffs…..Another player who is really banged up is LB Brian Cushing who is dealing with injuries to various parts of his body. He’s not going to miss any game time, but certainly won’t be anywhere near full strength either.

Indianapolis Colts: I know the final numbers for QB Dan Orlovsky looked good, but keep in mind a good percentage of those numbers came when the game was out of hand and basically over…..The Colts have finally admitted that it is unlikely QB Peyton Manning returns this season. It seems we have known that for months, yet they still haven’t placed him on IR. It should be very interesting in early March when Manning is due a $28 million bonus. It will be decision time!

Jacksonville Jaguars: It is hard to believe that RB Maurice Jones-Drew leads the league in rushing on a team with virtually no passing game. QB Blaine Gabbert had what may be his best game of the season Monday night versus the Chargers yet was only 19 of 33 for 195 yards and two scores. That is hardly lighting up the scoreboard, but every journey starts with a first step. Hopefully, that’s what this is for the Jaguars and Gabbert.

Kansas City Chiefs: So much for QB Kyle Orton. He comes in for one play, a flea flicker, gets hit and dislocates a finger on his throwing hand. Now he is questionable at best to play this week…..My first question would be if Orton was mentally prepared enough to come in the game in the first half, why didn’t he start? Were the Chiefs really thinking Tyler Palko was going to improve?

Miami Dolphins: RB Daniel Thomas has played better of late, but RB Reggie Bush has so far proven that he can be an every down back. He’s not posting out of this world numbers, but they are solid numbers week in and week out…..LB Kevin Burnett is starting to justify his contract of late as his play has really picked up the past couple of weeks…..The Dolphins are playing great and are certainly one of the hottest teams in the NFL, but this still may not be enough to save Tony Sparano’s head coaching job.

Minnesota Vikings: RB Adrian Peterson is questionable to play Sunday versus Detroit, but Peterson came out Friday and said he is still having a difficult time cutting on that ankle. Assuming that’s true, I wouldn’t let Peterson play. He is your franchise player and you don’t need to be risking his health in a meaningless game…..WR Percy Harvin has picked up the offense with the absence of Peterson, showing why many people believe he is a threat to score anywhere on the field when he has his hands on the ball. He did however tear a ligament in his finger. He’ll play Sunday but could have a problem catching the ball.

New England Patriots: With the Patriots’ schedule for the remainder of the season, I still believe they end up with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs…..We’ve heard a lot of news this week concerning the health of WR Wes Welker as he is dealing with knee and wrist issues. He may be banged up, but it won’t keep him from any game action.

New Orleans Saints: You have to be rooting right now for a Saints-Packers NFC Championship game. If the weather was decent in Green Bay (big if), that could be a game for the ages. It would remind me of the Cowboys versus 49ers in the 90s…..RB Mark Ingram will miss this week’s game with turf toe. This guy just can’t stay healthy. What is even more annoying is that he comes off of two productive weeks where he was finally starting to show why the Saints drafted him so early.

New York Giants: You have to admire the bravado of S Antrel Rolle. After the Giants have lost four straight games, given up close to 80 points and 1,000 yards in the past two games, he still comes out and states the Giants have a great defense.  Yeah, not so much Antrel…..RB Ahmad Bradshaw returned last week. Although his numbers were not great, he should force defenses to respect the run again and not go all out to stop QB Eli Manning and the passing game…..The Giants seemed to have every call go against them last week, including a couple that maybe shouldn’t have. Even if that’s so, it just makes up for the Arizona game where a terrible call gave them the game.

New York Jets: I’m not a big Mark Sanchez fan, but you actually hear some of the talk shows in New York mention that the Jets should sign Peyton Manning (if he becomes available) in the off-season and trade Sanchez. It seems they forget that Sanchez is coming off back-to-back championship game appearances. He must have done something right and no one will know if Manning can truly come back from his neck surgery until he gets into a game, plus it’s not like he’s going to come cheap.

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders look like they are in the middle of a late season collapse. They barely showed up last week, getting crushed by Miami, and now they get the Packers. Sure they have injuries, maybe even more than most, but you still have to play the game…..Speaking of injuries, RB Darren MacFadden is out once again this week. This is longest day-to-day injury I’ve ever seen.

Philadelphia Eagles: QB Michael Vick and WR Jeremy Maclin are both expected to return this week. This should give the Eagles’ offense a boost, and it will certainly be interesting to see if Vick does play with more caution as he stated he will earlier this week…..How much money has WR DeSean Jackson cost himself with his play and attitude so far this season?  Jackson is still signed for another season, but the Eagles can’t go through this again. They either need to sign him to a long-term deal and make him happy or ship him to a team that will.

Pittsburgh Steelers: I wrote earlier in this column that Pittsburgh may be the best overall team in the AFC. Well that was before QB Ben Roethlisberger suffered a high ankle sprain in Thursday’s win over Cleveland. Ben probably won’t miss any game time as the Steelers don’t play again until a week from Monday, but Ben’s mobility will certainly be hampered…..Another concern for the Steelers is the health of C Maurkice Pouncey who also suffered a high ankle sprain in the same game.

San Diego Chargers: QB Philip Rivers looked real good Monday night. Granted it came against a Jaguars team that lacks a pass rush or a solid secondary, but it also shows what Rivers can do when all of his receivers are healthy…..Speaking of healthy, RB Ryan Mathews also looked good and could be a future star in San Diego…..I have a feeling the Chargers offense lights it up again this week against Buffalo, everyone else has of late.

San Francisco 49ers: Because of their record, the 49ers are listed as #2 in most power rankings. I just don’t see that and have a very strong feeling they are one-and-done in the playoffs. I think their record is more because of a terrible division and nice schedule. I love their defense, but in the playoffs you need to score points and I just don’t see QB Alex Smith being able to beat Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, their most probable playoff opponent.

Seattle Seahawks: You have to love the way RB Marshawn Lynch is playing of late. He’s actually making the Hawks offense somewhat interesting…..OT Russell Okung was placed on IR this week after tearing his pectoral muscle, a tough blow for Lynch and that running game…..QB Tarvaris Jackson reported this week that his arm strength is back to 100% after his pectoral injury earlier this year.

St. Louis Rams: As if the Rams offense isn’t bad enough, there is a pretty good chance that Tom Brandstater is going to start against Seattle on Monday Night Football. I’m sure ESPN is just thrilled with this game, not to mention RB Steven Jackson can’t be very happy with seeing what is sure to be an overloaded front to stop him…..WR Brandon Lloyd should probably be benched in fantasy leagues.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Here’s a stat I didn’t see coming–the Bucs have trailed for longer this season in term of minutes than any other team in the NFL, including the winless Colts…..QB Josh Freeman missed last week’s game with a shoulder injury. His replacement, Josh Johnson, suffered a dislocated shoulder on his non-throwing arm. Ouch! Now Freeman looks like he will start this week but how long he goes is anyone’s guess, not that it matters much right now.

Tennessee Titans: Tough game for the Titans this week as they host the Saints. I doubt the Titans would have a chance if this game were being played indoors, but in Tennessee in the elements and with RB Chris Johnson looking like he has returned to his normal self, stranger things have happened. Not to mention the Titans need the game much more than the Saints. Yeah, I’m not buying that either.

Washington Redskins: As if this wasn’t a dismal enough season for the Redskins, now they lose TE Fred Davis and OL Trent Williams for violating the league’s drug policy. Apparently they were supposed to be suspended for a year but were able to get it down to four games because of a technicality (the players thought there was a grace period after the lockout–like it’s even legal to do these drugs)…..Because of their dismal finish, the Skins should be in good shape to draft a franchise QB next year.

All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: Even with the addition of RB Chester Taylor, Beanie Wells is still expected to handle the bulk of the rushing load for the Cardinals…..SS Adrian Wilson has a torn biceps but looks to be a go for Sunday.  It is still anyone’s guess as to how long he will last…..Andre Roberts will line up opposite WR Larry Fitzgerald on opening day.

Atlanta Falcons: Former WR Andre Rison was indicted for failure to pay child support. Well at least his house didn’t get burned down this time…..The Falcons have had an extremely quiet preseason for a team this good…..There doesn’t seem to be a question as to whether or not the Falcons will make the playoffs this season. Instead, the question is how deep they will go into the playoffs.

Baltimore Ravens: David Garrard would be a perfect backup for the Ravens in their quest for a Super Bowl run…..WR Torrey Smith will get his shot at returning kicks in Week 1 with David Reed suspended…..Have to like the signing of OL Andre Gurode. The guy has made quite a few Pro Bowls and will provide valuable experience along the line.

Buffalo Bills: The Bills may want to get the ball in the hands of RB C.J. Spiller more often, but it will not be on kick or punt returns; where he will be the backup, not the starter…..Spiller will also be the backup to Fred Jackson at running back, who is the number one guy for Buffalo right now…..I’m still having a hard time seeing the Bills finish anywhere but last this season in the AFC East. Unfortunately for them, they probably won’t be bad enough to be in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.

Carolina Panthers: LB Jon Beason is still battling an Achilles injury but is expected to be ready to play Sunday…..How the mighty have fallen! Not only has QB Jimmy Claussen lost the starting job to Cam Newton, but he may have also lost the backup gig to Derek Anderson…..I have the over/under on Panther wins this season at four.

Chicago Bears: Not sure why, but WR Roy Williams is still listed ahead of Johnny Knox on the depth chart. This may actually be nothing more than a matter of semantics in a Mike Martz offense–rarely there are only two receivers on the field…..Contract negotiations between the team and RB Matt Forte have broken down and will not resume again until after the season…..RB Marion Barber will be the goal line guy assuming he can remain healthy.

Cincinnati Bengals: There are rumors being circulated now that the Bengals let the cat out of the bag about QB Carson Palmer visiting ownership in order to light a fire under Andy Dalton…..RB Cedric Benson has been released from prison and should be good to go Sunday, but it’s really hard to see him having any kind of value this season…..The Bengals claimed WR Ben Tate off waivers. He has some upside, but it won’t be easy breaking into the Bengals receiver rotation.

Cleveland Browns: RB Montario Hardesty is healthy and should be able to give Peyton Hillis enough rest to keep him from wearing down as the season moves along…..WR Greg Little won’t open the season as a starter, but impressed the Browns coaching staff enough where he might get there by season’s end…..The new kickoff rule should definitely hurt the value of WR Josh Cribbs. You have to wonder though, if he will feel the pressure to return kicks even if he is eight yards deep into his own end zone.

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys may be traveling to New York on a Red Cross bus. CB Terrance Newman is out with a groin injury, CB Mike Jenkins injured his knee in practice Wednesday and is questionable at best, and 1st round pick OG Tyron Smith hyperextended his knee in practice and is unlikely to play–ouch…..The good news is that WR Miles Austin returned to practice, granted on a limited basis, but should be good to go.

Denver Broncos: Although it has yet to be stated officially, QB Brady Quinn is the number two behind Kyle Orton. Still have to believe though that if the Broncos get off to a bad start, they are going to have to see what they have in Tim Tebow…..WR Demaryius Thomas is well ahead of schedule in his recuperation of an Achilles injury, and could possibly be ready to play in Week 1.

Detroit Lions: Quick, who is the Lions number two WR? That’s right, Nate Burleson, who could have a big season with everyone worrying about Calvin Johnson. If only QB Matthew Stafford can stay healthy…..DT Nick Fairley is not expected to be ready for Week One after undergoing foot surgery earlier in camp…..RB Maurice Morris is out for Sunday, leaving the backup job in the hands of Jerome Harrison.

Green Bay Packers: Looks like RB James Starks and Ryan Grant are going to split the carries somewhat to begin the season, but it shouldn’t shock anyone if Starks gets a bigger and bigger share as the season goes along…..With TE JerMichael Finley back, WR Greg Jennings could see fewer balls thrown his way…..I’m going to say the Packers will get their title defense off to a good start on Thursday with a 31-23 win.

Houston Texans: If ever the Texans were going to get over the hump and win the AFC South, this season is it…..There is a rumor going around that with QB Peyton Manning not playing in Week 1, the Texans may choose to sit RB Arian Foster and give him another week to rest his injured hamstring. The thinking being that without Manning, they can beat the Colts without Foster…..If Foster were to miss the game, look for Derrick Ward to lead the Texans in carries, not Ben Tate.

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts season may be teetering on the brink of disaster. If QB Peyton Manning misses anything more than a game or two, the season for the Colts and their fans will be a long one. No team that I can remember has ever been so dependent on one person. Without Manning, the Colts ground game isn’t good enough to scare anyone. Kerry Collins has never been anything more than an average QB. Even the defense is built to rush the passer to protect a lead and leads may be rare…..It’s a shame that Manning’s streak of consecutive starts has to come to an end, but what a great ride it’s been. Here’s hoping he starts another streak shortly.

Jacksonville Jaguars: The release of QB David Garrard this late into camp came as a shock to just about everyone in the NFL. The team will start the season with Luke McCown under center but one has to believe that Blaine Gabbert could take over that role after their bye in Week 8…..The Jags have tried to sell this move by telling everyone that McCown outplayed Garrard, but the truth is it was all about money as the team saves about $8 million if he is not on the roster come Week 1.

Kansas City Chiefs: QB Matt Cassel may or may not have a cracked rib depending upon whom you believe, but either way it looks like he will start Sunday…..TE Tony Moeaki wasn’t so lucky however as he will miss the entire season with a torn ACL…..As I’m writing this, it has started to thunder and lightning outside–not sure what that means for the Chiefs chances this season.

Miami Dolphins: QB Chad Henne has had a good preseason and looks to be in sync with WR Brandon Marshall. If Henne can’t get it done this season, he won’t get another shot in south Florida…..The Dolphins were toying with the idea of starting Marshall and Davone Bess at WR, but in the end they decided to keep Bess in the slot and return Brian Hartline to his starting role.

Minnesota Vikings:  The Vikings are trying to figure out a way to get QB Joe Webb on the field to take advantage of his athleticism…..WR Bernard Berrian had to agree to restructure his contract in order to stay on the team…..TE Visanthe Shiancoe didn’t play at all this preseason, but looks to be ready to start Week 1…..RB Adrian Peterson is going to have a monster season.

New England Patriots: QB Tom Brady stated this week that he would welcome WR Randy Moss back. One has to wonder if this is Brady’s way of saying that he is not all that happy with his current stable of wideouts. Of course, the only opinion that matters is that of HC Bill Belichick’s, and he may not want the headache that is Moss on his team again. Could you imagine Moss, Chad Ochocinco, and Albert Haynesworth all on the same team?

New Orleans Saints: WR Lance Moore won’t play Thursday versus Green Bay…..This week may not be an optimal situation, but WR Robert Meacham could have a solid season. At the very least, he should be more of a target with the injury to Moore and Marques Colston playing on cranky knees…..Speaking of more targets, TE Jimmy Graham is going to be a household name by the end of the season.

New York Giants: The Giants lost yet another player when LB Jonathan Goff went down for the count with a torn ACL…..WR Domenik Hixon will open the season as the punt returner…..DE Osi Umenyiora is out for at least the first two games–at least it’s not for the entire season…..You have to love that the agent for former Giants RB Tiki Barber said he was shocked that no one signed his client. Really? Shocked that no one would sign a player who hasn’t played football in a couple of seasons and torched his former team in the media when he left.

New York Jets: I know the Jets aren’t a passing offense, but you have to think they will come out throwing Sunday night against Dallas if the Cowboys don’t have their top two CBs playing…..David Garrard could also be a good backup QB for the Jets who only have Mark Brunnell behind Mark Sanchez…..CB Darrelle Revis has been dealing with a hip flexor, but he will be good to go Sunday.

Oakland Raiders: TE Kevin Boss is still not practicing and he is questionable at best to play Sunday…..QB Terrelle Pryor has changed his mind once again and now will appeal his suspension. Seems to me he was probably pressured by the team and the NFLPA into appealing. He might be better off just serving the suspension and getting it over with.

Philadelphia Eagles: WR Jeremy Maclin is taking all of his usual snaps in practice and should be good to go for Sunday, but don’t be surprised if it takes him a week or two to get into the flow of things…..WR Steve Smith practiced Wednesday and may actually be available to play Sunday after all…..Sticking with WRs, DeSean Jackson will once again be the punt returner for Philly.

Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Emmanuel Sanders is indeed ready to go for Sunday…..LB James Harrison still does not believe he is 100% recovered from off-season back surgery…..The Steelers and S Troy Polamalu have been in contract negotiations. If Pittsburgh is unable to sign him, they will franchise the All-Pro after the season.

San Diego Chargers: Deciding which RB to take in your fantasy league, Mike Tolbert or Ryan Matthews, can drive an owner crazy. Matthews will probably get more carries, catch more passes, and be the main guy between the 20s, but Tolbert is the goal line guy and he’s going to get his fair share of carries also…..WR Patrick Crayton didn’t practice Wednesday, but still has a good chance to play Sunday.

San Francisco 49ers: WR Michael Crabtree finally practiced in pads and might actually be able to play Sunday, although it would likely be at less than 100%…..Not only did RB Kendall Hunter win the backup job behind Frank Gore, but he also won the kickoff return job…..WR Braylon Edwards was fined $50K this week for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, but once again won’t be suspended.

Seattle Seahawks: The Hawks said they are not interested in QB David Garrard. You would think with Tavares Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst on your roster that you would be interested in any QB that comes around…..WR Sidney Rice is still not practicing with a shoulder injury and may not play Sunday…..After the release of Jeff Reed, it looks like Steven Hauschka will start the season as the placekicker for Seattle.

St. Louis Rams: After placing WR Mark Clayton on the PUP list, he won’t be available until Week 7…..Former Rams WR Donnie Avery made it through waivers, so he’s free for anyone to claim…..I still think it’s a crime that the Rams haven’t found a true number one WR to play with QB Sam Bradford.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Aqib Talib will play for Tampa this week, not so long ago it looked he might be released or even in jail…..RB LaGarrette Blount will not play on 3rd downs, but will still be the main ball carrier on 1st and 2nd downs…..Not only will Arrelious Benn play this week, but he will be the starter–nice to see as he had to battle back from injury.

Tennessee Titans: Now that RB Chris Johnson is signed, we will see if he suffers some kind of leg injury like it seems many players suffer who don’t attend training camp…..WR Kenny Britt will be good to go Sunday. He could be in for another excellent season if QB Matt Hasselback can remain upright…..Have to feel a little bad that WR Kevin Curtis couldn’t make the team.

Washington Redskins: So Rex Grossman will once again be the Skins starting QB. Makes you wonder how long until his turnovers drive the Shanahans crazy and force them to turn to John Beck…..S Oshiomogho Atogwe has been battling a hamstring injury all preseason but will play Sunday if he can practice later this week…..Roy Helu will be the backup RB behind Tim Hightower to start the season.

All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: Safety Adrian Wilson has started practicing on a limited basis and will continue to try and play through a torn biceps. I have a hard time seeing that last all season…..Great news for the Cardinals and their fans that WR Larry Fitzgerald signed an eight-year, $120 million contract…..RB Beanie Wells will once again get another shot at proving to Arizona that he deserves the full-time gig with the season ending injury to RB Ryan Williams.

Atlanta Falcons: DE Ray Edwards has been battling knee problems this training camp but will play this weekend…..RB Michael Turner revealed this week that he played last season with a special wrap to protect his groin. The injury has healed now and Turner is expected to get back that burst he didn’t have last season…..Some scouts believe WR Julio Jones may be ready to play a major part in the Falcons offense this season, not just take away coverage from WR Roddy White.

Baltimore Ravens: WR Lee Evans has made his presence known for Baltimore. Perhaps, he can be that deep threat the team has been looking for…..OT Bryant McKinnie was signed to provide depth along the offensive line. It’s a gamble, but if McKinnie is in shape and wants to play, he can still help a team…..Big things are expected of RB Ray Rice this season with FB Vonta Leach leading the way.

Buffalo Bills: While LB Shawn Merriman has looked like his old sack machine self at times, he is still getting nicked up more than one would like…..LB Kirk Morrison signed with the Bills this week. It is hard to see where he fits in with this defense, but he does have experience playing both the inside and outside…..RB Fred Jackson is getting frustrated with his role in the Buffalo offense, as he is not sure why he isn’t the starting back.

Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton may have been the first overall pick in the draft this past April, but anyone who watches him play can clearly see that he is not yet ready to play in the NFL as a starting QB. Problem is though, the Panthers don’t have anyone else on the roster who is…..WR Steve Smith hasn’t come out publicly and stated anything, but you have to wonder if he is a powder keg ready to explode and would prefer to get out of Carolina and play for a contending team.

Chicago Bears: I’m still bewildered that the Bears somehow think they will be okay at WR with Devin Hester and Roy Williams. They need an upgrade there…..LB Lance Briggs is out for the remainder of the preseason with a knee injury. As of right now, he is not expected to miss any regular season time…..Have a feeling the Bears won’t be in the playoff hunt this season.

Cincinnati Bengals: Speaking of a feeling, one of the two Ohio teams should be in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes come the end of the season…..The Bengals offense showed some signs of life this week as RB Cedric Benson and rookie WR AJ Green looked good during their preseason game versus Carolina. Problem will be during the regular season.  Weeks like this may be few and far between…..The Bengals traded for S Taylor Mays from the 49ers. Well someone had to trade for him! It shows that Mays was literally one and done for San Francisco.

Cleveland Browns: QB Colt McCoy continues to impress for the Browns. He’s never going to be a gunslinger in the pocket, but rather someone you can count on to lead the team and find a way to win…..Smart move by Cleveland in locking up OT Joe Thomas. He’s one of the best and they don’t want to lose him…..RB Brandon Jackson is out about six weeks with turf toe.

Dallas Cowboys: If the Cowboys offensive line can hold up and give QB Tony Romo time, Dallas is going to score quite a few points this season…..Problem though, unless their secondary improves an awful lot, they are going to give up quite a few points as well…..RB Felix Jones is having a monster preseason. If he can just stay healthy, he could have a monster regular season, as defenses will more than likely be  more worried about the Dallas passing game.

Denver Broncos: The Broncos finally made it official that Kyle Orton will start at QB. Not really a shock considering how poorly Tim Tebow has played. He might be lucky to be the backup and not third string…..WR Brandon Lloyd has missed some practice time this week with some swelling in his knee…..RB Knowshon Moreno looks to be the starting back, but remember, coach John Fox likes to use more than one back and Willis McGahee was a touchdown vulture last year with Baltimore.

Detroit Lions: The Lions are playing it cautious and smart with RB Javhid Best and his concussion, holding him out of this weekend’s game. One has to wonder if this will hinder him as the season rolls along, not like a RB can avoid contact to his head…..WR Calvin Johnson is also dealing with an injured shoulder, although his injury shouldn’t be of any concern once the season starts.

Green Bay Packers: There are rumblings that RB Ryan Grant could lose his starting job to James Starks. Neither one had a great game Friday, although neither one touched the ball all that much. It doesn’t seem like the coaching staff is all that concerned, and who could blame them with QB Aaron Rodgers and the plethora of targets he has to throw to each week. I wouldn’t want to take it out of his hands either.

Houston Texans: The Texans are looking more and more like the team to beat in the AFC South…..RB Steve Slaton is still battling a hamstring injury and is unlikely to make the final roster. This is not a surprise, but his injury has made it highly unlikely that the Texans could trade Slaton for a draft pick…..LB DeMeco Ryans could miss the remainder of the preseason with an elbow injury.

Indianapolis Colts: The signing of QB Kerry Collins tells you two things; first, there is a pretty good chance that Peyton Manning is going to miss a game or two, and second, Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky aren’t the answer…..The Colts are built to win with Manning at QB. I’m not sure it would matter who was behind center, without Manning, they are a considerable underdog.

Jacksonville Jaguars: As if there was any doubt, David Garrard was named the starting QB. Blane Gabbert is going to be a good one, but it’s best that he learn behind a veteran for now…..The Jags coaching staff believes Rashard Jennings is ready for a bigger role in the offense this season. This is also not a surprise, as we started to see that last season.

Kansas City Chiefs: Kind of surprised that the Chiefs announced that Dexter McCluster will only be used as a running back this season. I’m not sure you want to feed any mouths other than Jamaal Charles in that backfield…..LB Derrick Johnson looks like he might be ready to take that next step this season…..TE Tony Moeaki still hasn’t fully recovered from off-season surgery. It might be time to get a little worried with the season just two weeks away.

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are growing more and more concerned with RB Daniel Thomas’ unwillingness to hit the line of scrimmage hard in practice, so much so, that Reggie Bush may become a bigger part of the offense than first thought…..The Dolphins haven’t named a starter opposite WR Brandon Marshall. In other words, they aren’t very happy with Brian Hartline and have even given Davone Bess reps on the outside in practice even though he excelled last season in the slot.

Minnesota Vikings:  QB Joe Webb, who is listed 2nd on the depth chart, has also been taking reps at wide receiver…..It looks like DT Kevin Williams will only be suspended two games instead of four in the StarCaps case…..WR Percy Harvin returned to practice this week. He still has bruised ribs, but that shouldn’t hinder him in the regular season, and at least it’s not migraines.

New England Patriots: The Patriots have come out this season like they are on fire, dismantling teams in the 1st quarter. They are already regular season ready…..Rookie RB Stevan Ridley missed practice this week with an undisclosed illness and won’t play this weekend….DT Albert Haynesworth returned to practice this week. One still has to wonder if he has the will to play football at the level he is capable of, even for Bill Belichick.

New Orleans Saints: Saints are dealing with some injury issues; RB Mark Ingram has a knee problem, WR Lance Moore a groin, and WR Marques Colston has knee issues of his own…..Like Kevin Williams of Minnesota, there is a chance that Will Smith’s suspension will be reduced to two games…..I would love to grab TE Jimmy Graham late in my fantasy drafts.

New York Giants: The Giants are being crushed with injuries to their secondary, suffering four season ending injuries so far. They did sign Brian Williams for depth purposes this week…..RB Ahmad Bradshaw is dealing with a back injury that is starting to worry the team. They believe it might linger into the regular season…..Speaking of RBs, Brandon Jacobs stated this week that he would like to play another 3-4 seasons; good news for the G-men who can always use a battering ram in the backfield.

New York Jets: WR Plaxico Burress made his presence felt in his first game for the team with a touchdown reception. If he is actually back to the player he used to be before ending up in jail, the Jets could have a dangerous offense…..With Hurricane Irene threatening the east coast this weekend, the Jets and Giants moved their game to Monday night, which means these two teams will play their final two preseason games in four days.

Oakland Raiders: Someone has to explain to me the Raiders philosophy of running a football team. You let your two best players leave in free agency (Nnamdi Asomugha and Zack Miller) but then spend a 3rd round pick in the supplemental draft on Terrelle Pryor, a player who may be a great athlete, but who no one believes will be a top NFL QB. They don’t have a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th round pick in next year’s draft. Exactly how is this team going to get better?

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles may have defeated the Browns in their preseason game Thursday and put 24 points up on the scoreboard, but they are going to get QB Michael Vick killed if they don’t fix that offensive line. I believe last week I put the over/under of Vick’s games played at 13.5. I’m starting to think double digits might be a more accurate line. I can’t see how anyone in fantasy leagues can take Vick as the number one QB, more or less the 1st player taken overall.

Pittsburgh Steelers: I’m a big Cowboys fan, but the game I am looking forward to seeing most on the first Sunday of football is definitely Pittsburgh-Baltimore. The hatred these two teams have for each other is for real, and a joy to watch…..The Steelers would like to see a big game out of QB Dennis Dixon on Saturday, possibly to showcase him for a trade as they have plenty of backup QBs on the roster…..The Steelers have also let it be known to teams not to salivate over the possibility of S Troy Polamalu becoming a free agent next season. They will franchise him if they can’t come to an agreement on a new contract.

San Diego Chargers: WR Malcolm Floyd, who did suffer a concussion last week, returned to practice this week, so all seems to be well there…..RB Ryan Matthews has redeemed himself in his coach’s eyes but may still share the spotlight with Mike Tolbert…..Fantasy wise, I think I’d rather have Tolbert. Sure, Matthews will catch more passes out of the backfield, but Tolbert is more than likely to be the man at the goal line.

San Francisco 49ers: RB Frank Gore is getting more and more frustrated with his contract situation and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if this comes to a head before the season starts…..WR Michael Crabtree seems more and more unlikely to play in Week One as he is not running yet. However, he is out of the walking boot…..The back to watch if Gore were to miss any time is Kendall Hunter. Even if Gore plays, Hunter should have a few plays designed just for him.

Seattle Seahawks: Kicking news, it looks like Jeff Reed has won the starting job for the Hawks…..LB Aaron Curry agreed to restructure his contract this week. So far Curry has looked like a pretty big bust in the NFL…..Still no word on the severity of TE John Carlson’s shoulder injury, although initial word is that the injury could be pretty severe.

St. Louis Rams: It seems TE Lance Kendricks has quickly become a favorite target of QB Sam Bradford, so much so, that he could be Bradford’s favorite target on 3rd downs and in the red zone…..RB Steven Jackson no longer looks like a top NFL back as he no longer possesses the elusiveness he once had. Oh he can still be productive, but it’s more of a hit the hole and then run over someone type.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Aqib Talib met with the commissioner this week to discuss his run in with the law this past offseason. Depending on whom you believe, the commissioner may have his rulings challenged by the union once he doles out what he considers is the proper punishment…..WR Arrelious Benn is scheduled to play this week. It seems he will likely open the season as the number three WR as Dezmon Briscoe has looked awfully good in camp.

Tennessee Titans: WR Kenny Britt is in the same situation as Aqib Talib and could face a suspension. He is also dealing with a hamstring injury that has cost him most of the preseason so far…..RB Chris Johnson met with Titans officials this week to discuss a new contract. No dice! Both sides still seem to be pretty far apart on what his next contract should be worth. If this heads into the regular season, Tennessee is in deep trouble.

Washington Redskins: John Beck and Rex Grossman are still battling for the number one job. The Skins know what they have in Grossman, a gambler who will either hit big or miss big. Beck may be the one that requires less Pepto Bismol on a regular basis…..RB Tim Hightower has looked nothing short of awesome so far this preseason leaving some to predict that a huge season is on its way.

All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: Adrian Wilson has a partial tear in his right bicep muscle that will limit what he can do this pre-season, and may even eliminate how many games he will play in during the regular season. Matt Ware is likely to take his place at SS…..As of now, it looks like Beanie Wells will be the primary ball carrier at the beginning of the season, but Ryan Williams is catching up fast.

Atlanta Falcons: The re-signing of Jason Snelling might have caught some off guard but you can never have too many backs. Jacquizz Rodgers still may touch the ball more than Snelling though. Rodgers will be the 3rd down back and the player who catches the ball out of the backfield; whereas Snelling would only play when Michael Turner needs a breather or if he were to get injured.

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens let it be known this week that even with the signing of RB Ricky Williams, Ray Rice will still be the short yardage and goal-line back. That’s all fine and good, but I still have my doubts…..Losing WR Derrick Mason to the Jets has to hurt, as once again, the Ravens look a bit short in the receiver department.

Buffalo Bills: Looks like the Bills would trade WR Lee Evans if they could find the right deal. Problem is the receiver market has dried up and it may be too late to get the kind of value they are looking for (apparently the right price is a 4th round pick)…..Living on Long Island in Jets territory, the fans down here are not happy about the team not re-signing QB/KR/RB/WR Brad Smith and letting him go to a division rival. Smith sometimes gets a bad rap as just a return guy, but he can fill quite a few roles whether it be on special teams or on offense.

Carolina Panthers: Word is the Panthers are doing everything they can to get QB Cam Newton ready to start the 1st game of the season…..The Panthers did a great job in free agency this season, apparently signing everyone they wanted to, but still these are players that finished last season with one win.

Chicago Bears: Does it seem as strange to you as it does to me that WR Johnny Knox is not listed as a starter right now? He had a pretty good season last year and seems to have a good rapport with QB Jay Cutler. Seems even stranger that Devin Hester would be listed above him…..RB Matt Forte had initially stated that he wouldn’t play in any exhibition games as he wasn’t pleased with his contract, but he has softened on that stance.

Cincinnati Bengals: I know the Bengals just drafted QB Andy Dalton, but with the way this team is structured, would it surprise anyone if they ended up in the hunt for the first overall draft pick and QB Andrew Luck…..The Bengals are still receiving calls about the availability of QB Carson Palmer, but they are still being told that he won’t be traded.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns had hoped that RB Montario Hardesty would be 100% recovered from ACL surgery and could take some carries away from Peyton Hillis; thus allowing Hillis to be fresher as the year goes on. However, Hardesty has yet to practice and may not be able to take that much of a load off of Hillis, at least in the early part of the season…..With Hardesty having trouble with his knee once again, Brandon Jackson could be the backup to Hillis to begin the season.

Dallas Cowboys: Lots of rumors coming out of camp that Tashard Choice could find himself released. I fine that highly unlikely, but head coach Jason Garrett has never seemed to taken a shine to Choice…..One player to keep an eye on in camp is TE John Phillips. He was extremely impressive in camp last season before tearing his ACL. He has picked up right where he left off in camp this season and already seems to be ahead of Martellus Bennett.

Denver Broncos: Anyone listening to head coach John Fox after the Broncos pre-season game Thursday on how he thought QB Tim Tebow played? Knowing where Tebow is on the depth chart, he used the phrase “work in progress.” Kyle Orton will definitely start the season under center for the Broncos. That’s no guarantee he will finish there, but Tebow still needs a ton of work…..The bigger question is will Tebow be the 2nd or 3rd QB, as Brady Quinn could be the backup behind Orton.

Detroit Lions: Rookie RB Mikel Leshoure tore his Achilles on Monday and will miss the season. This would seem to be good news for Javhid Best fantasy owners as he looks to get the lion’s share of the carries. But the Lions don’t want to put to much on the second year player, especially after dealing with turf toe last year, so they have signed RBs Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell. Plus they still have Maurice Morris…..Leshoure’s injury is the second to hit the Detroit rookie class as DT Nick Fairley is also out after having surgery on his foot.

Green Bay Packers: LB Clay Matthews apparently played the last half of the 2010 season with a stress fracture in his lower leg. Imagine what he can do with two healthy wheels…..I know the Eagles made a bunch of high profile moves, but the Packers are still the best team in the NFC in my opinion…..RB James Starks has looked good in camp and put on some weight, he could be a serious threat to Ryan Grant’s playing time.

Houston Texans: WR Andre Roberts has recovered from his finger injury and looks to be completely healthy. If TE Owen Daniels plays as well this season as he did the end of last season, than the Texans offense could be tough to stop…..RB Arian Foster would like a new contract but owner Bob McNair has stated that he won’t get one off a single good season…..The Texans would like to trade RB Steve Slaton but Ben Tate continues to miss practice with a hamstring injury; thus the Texans have to hold onto Slaton.

Indianapolis Colts: TE Dallas Clark let it be known Thursday that he will have to wear a brace all season on his surgically repaired wrist. You have to wonder if this might affect him as the season goes on…..One of the new rules this season regarding game day rosters is that they have been expanded to 46 on game days. But there is no such thing as an emergency 3rd QB anymore. If you think you might need an emergency QB, than you have to activate him as part of your 46. Why do I bring this up? With the surgery to Peyton Manning’s neck this off-season, the Colts have already made it known that they will carry three QBs on game day.

Jacksonville Jaguars: LB Matt Roth stated earlier this week that he would sign with any team that offered him a $3 million deal. Well the Jags stepped up and gave him that contact. Roth has his issues, but he’s a solid LB in a 4-3 defense…..The Jags might need LB help after Clint Session suffered what is a probable concussion in the pre-season opener Thursday.

Kansas City Chiefs: TE Tony Moeaki is back practicing with the team. I still think he’s a sneaky play in fantasy leagues with defenses paying most of their attention to RB Jamaal Charles and WR Dwayne Bowe…..Speaking of Charles, you have to love coach Todd Haley who continues to play games with Charles’ head and fantasy owners draft picks by listing him 2nd on the depth chart…..For those of you wondering if Le’Ron McClain would take away any carries from Charles or Thomas Jones, hmmm, no.

Miami Dolphins: With all of the things that have gone on around WR Brandon Marshall, you have to wonder if the Dolphins are suffering from buyer’s remorse…..The Dolphins stated this week that RB Reggie Bush will not return punts this season. Why not? Shouldn’t your best playmakers be put in a position to do the most damage?…..LB Kevin Burnett will start with the 1st team defense Friday despite only having six practices with the Fish; shows you what the Dolphins think of him.

Minnesota Vikings:  Not sure how the Vikings could have let WR Sidney Rice leave via free agency when their starting wideout opposite Percy Harvin is Bernard Berrian…..Perhaps the lack of receiving talent is why the Vikings plan on getting RB Adrian Peterson more involved in the passing game…..Apparently one of the reasons the Vikings waived OT Bryant McKinnie was that his cholesterol was so high they were worried he wouldn’t be able to make it through practice.

New England Patriots: G Logan Mankins, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the NFL during the lockout, signed a new long term deal with the club…..TE Rob Gronkowski has looked unstoppable during camp and could be a highly sought after TE in fantasy drafts, but remember, Aaron Hernandez is still there, and he’s not so bad himself.

New Orleans Saints: WR Marques Colston still isn’t practicing much and it’s time to start wondering how healthy he will remain this season…..I like rookie RB Mark Ingram, but there are so many offensive players on this team that need to get their hands on the ball. It’s difficult to see Ingram having a huge season.

New York Giants: You have to wonder if the Giants would’ve made a stronger effort to sign WR Plaxico Burress had they known that Steve Smith would sign elsewhere. It has to hurt even more that he went to the division rival Eagles…..Mario Manningham however could be a sleeper in fantasy leagues as he is now the clear cut #2 option for QB Eli Manning.

New York Jets: Speaking of Burress, his ankle is still bothering him and is unlikely to play in the Jets first pre-season game. Missing the game is no big deal, but after not playing football for two seasons, he needs to get on the field and get in a rhythm with QB Mark Sanchez…..I know Jet fans are upset with the loss of WR Jericho Cotchery, but Derrick Mason would seem to be a nice solid upgrade.

Oakland Raiders: Memo to general manager Al Davis, signing TE Kevin Boss does not make up for losing Zach Miller…..Boss may not be the talent that Miller is, but he’s likely to have the best season of his career this year as QB Jason Campbell still doesn’t have a true number one receiver to throw to and may look for his big TE quite often.

Philadelphia Eagles: What is wrong with WR Jeremy Maclin? It doesn’t seem like the Eagles or Maclin have any idea. They both keep insisting that the illness won’t cause him to miss any regular season playing time, but I’m starting to have my doubts and you have to wonder if the signing of WR Steve Smith is an insurance policy against Maclin not being ready to go…..Word out of Eagles camp is that QB Vince Young is being outplayed for the backup job by Mike Kafka.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Jericho Cotchery, who signed with the Steelers this week, is slated to be their 5th receiver…..The Steelers biggest weakness could be along their offensive line which could force TE to stay in and block more often than he usually does…..WR Emmanuel Sanders has already recovered from foot surgery and should be back this week. He will once again be the teams #3 wideout.

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers are trying to send a message to RB Ryan Mathews by sitting him out of the pre-season opener. Apparently he’s not doing all that well in practice…..It’s looking more and more like Mike Tolbert will get his fair share of carries this season, and if Mathews doesn’t pick up his play, maybe even more than his fair share…..LT Marcus McNeil had foot surgery this week, but is expected back in the lineup before the regular season begins.

San Francisco 49ers: Anyone who saw the 49ers first pre-season game witnessed QB Alex Smith take a beating as the offensive line couldn’t block anyone…..WR Michael Crabtree is expected to be back on the practice field before the last pre-season game…..So far there are no takers for SS Taylor Mays and the 49ers are still trying to figure out how to use him.

Seattle Seahawks: If there is a true quarterback competition in Seattle, than after the first pre-season game, Charlie Whitehurst is well ahead of Tarvares Jackson…..OT Russell Okung had to be helped off the field with an ankle injury. This is the same injury that cost him six games last season. Not what the Hawks needed.

St. Louis Rams: WR Donnie Avery is still not practicing due to a hamstring injury and could be in danger of not making the team if he doesn’t get on the field…..Danny Amendola and Mike Sims-Walker would seem to be the Rams starters at WR.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Arrelious Benn seems unlikely to play this pre-season as he is still recovering from knee surgery. The best case scenario looks like a return for the regular season opener…..If you’re looking for a rookie to take in your IDP league, you may need to look no further than LB Mason Foster who should start the season for the recently departed Barrett Rudd…..RB Earnest Graham looks to be the favorite for the third down back.

Tennessee Titans: Due to the depth of the Tennessee secondary, Cortland Finnegan has spent the majority of his time at nickelback…..The Titans would like RB Chris Johnson to report to camp before they start talks on a new contract…..TE Jared Cook could be the teams 2nd receiving option outside of WR Kenny Britt.

Washington Redskins: TE Chris Cooley is likely to miss at least the next two weeks with a knee injury…..Tim Hightower had an impressive first preseason game for the Skins and could be the lead running back come Week One…..The injury to QB John Beck may give Rex Grossman a leg up on the QB competition, not that it really matters.