Thursday NFL preview: How the Steelers plan to get Brown going

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NFL Nation reporters look ahead to what Thursday has in store for each team.

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills: While Sammy Watkins (calf) expects to play in Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the status of quarterback Tyrod Taylor (knee) and running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring) is more uncertain. Both players practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, with Taylor telling reporters afterward that he felt comfortable enough with his condition to play, even if it meant taking more of a pocket-passing role. The next two days of practice will decide whether Taylor will be effective enough to start, or if EJ Manuel will get the nod. — Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are healthy coming off the bye week. Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes returned to practice from a knee injury on Wednesday, and Miami is close to full strength heading into Sunday’s game against the Titans. — James Walker

New England Patriots Jerseys: With starting left tackle Nate Solder placed on season-ending IR Wednesday (torn biceps), it shines a brighter spotlight on top backup Marcus Cannon, the fifth-year veteran from TCU. The Patriots thought enough of Cannon to give him a two-year, $9 million extension last year, so their confidence level is high that he is a starting-caliber-level player. — Mike Reiss

New York Jets: The Jets are auditioning a few different players this week for their two gunner positions on the punt team. The one constant over the first four games, Marcus Williams, may not play because of a hamstring injury. But Darrin Walls, one of the gunners in Week 1, could return from a hamstring injury. — Rich Cimini

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens: Steve Smith Sr. (back) and Crockett Gillmore (calf) were limited participants in practice on Wednesday after missing Sunday’s game. Smith, the Ravens’ top receiver, and Gillmore, the starting tight end, have accounted for 41 percent of Joe Flacco’s passing yards and have caught four of his six touchdown passes. It would be a big boost for Baltimore to get both weapons back against the 49ers, who have the 30th-ranked pass defense. — Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: A couple minutes before the end of the open portion of the Bengals’ practice Wednesday, running back Jeremy Hill ripped off a long run between the tackles that showcased a glimpse of the hard-running style that has been missing this season. It was a faster carry than what you might normally see from an NFL back during a mundane mid-week practice. Apparently the knee injury that had bugged Hill last week has cleared. He wasn’t listed on the Bengals’ injury report Wednesday. Cincinnati hopes he strings together multiple long runs when it visits Buffalo on Sunday. — Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns Jerseys: Joe Haden was in the NFL’s concussion protocol on Wednesday, so it looks unlikely he will play against Denver on Sunday. Free safety Tashaun Gipson did not practice with an ankle issue but was in the locker room and moving well when the media was present. — Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: It’s clear the Steelers need to get Antonio Brown more involved in a Michael Vick-led offense. He has got 15 targets in two games compared to 35 targets the previous three weeks. Vick believes those big plays are going to come, and Brown has pleaded to Vick — throw it up to me, let me make plays. This week, the Steelers will try to bolster the chemistry between the two. — Jeremy Fowler

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans: The Texans’ turnover problem has not improved. At this time last year, Houston had forced and recovered seven fumbles and intercepted five passes. So far this season they have two picks and are one of only two NFL teams with no fumble recoveries. The Texans’ negative-8 turnover margin is the worst in the NFL. — Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: Thursday will be another test for quarterback Andrew Luck Jerseys and his right shoulder. He was limited in practice Wednesday, but he still threw deep balls during the portion open to the media. The key for Luck will be for him to continue to progress with his shoulder and not have any setbacks so that he can play against the Patriots on Sunday — Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: It’s looking more and more as if DT Sen’Derrick Marks will make his season debut on Sunday. Marks said he was treating Wednesday as if it was a game day to test his surgically repaired right knee. If it responds well the rest of the week, coach Gus Bradley said Marks should be able to play against Houston. — Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: Titans RG Chance Warmack Jerseys said he’s not concerned about any chippiness or extracurriculars from Ndamukong Suh. “He’s a 3-technique, I’m a guard and that’s football,” said Warmack, who will return from two games out with a sprained knee. — Paul Kuharsky

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos: The Broncos continue to search for some continuity in the play of their offensive line, but injuries and built-in rest days in recent weeks have meant the starting line has not worked together much in the days leading up to games. On Wednesday, guards Evan Mathis Jerseys (hamstring injury) and Louis Vasquez (rest day) were held out of practice, and left tackle Ty Sambrailo was limited as he returns from a shoulder injury that has kept him out of the past two games. The Broncos are hopeful, with a bye next week, that the starting offensive line will work together more in practice in the weeks to come and that the benefits will show up in games. — Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs will likely be without nose tackle Dontari Poe (high ankle sprain) on Sunday — and for a few weeks beyond. Jaye Howard has filled in well for Poe, who has been a part-time player this year after having back surgery in July. Howard has been particularly strong against the run. — Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: There are some signs of the Raiders’ offense playing at a higher level than at this time last year. Oakland is on pace for 67 punts in 2015. Last year, it punted a whopping 109 times. Also, last year, the Raiders went three-and-out on 35 percent of their drives. In 2015, that has fallen to 19.9 percent. So, yes, the unit is becoming more efficient, and that is a source of pride for the 2-3 Raiders at their bye week. — Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: Guard Orlando Franklin practiced for the first time since being carted off the field with an ankle injury on Sept. 27 against the Minnesota Vikings. San Diego’s offense has dealt with a rash of injuries, so it would be big for the Chargers to get the team’s top free-agent addition from this offseason back to better protect Philip Rivers against a potent Green Bay pass rush. — Eric D. Williams

NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys: While the quarterback change has garnered most of the attention, the Cowboys have also swapped their left guards with La’el Collins replacing Ronald Leary. Collins started one game during Leary’s absence with a groin strain, so the Cowboys won’t be starting anew up front. But center Travis Frederick said the veterans up front will have to help the rookie a little bit through some of the growing pains. Collins might not have Leary’s strength, but he can move better and the Cowboys have to get better movement up front to open up things in the running game. — Todd Archer

New York Giants: The Giants will get some sense Thursday whether they can expect to have Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle for Monday night’s game in Philadelphia. Tom Coughlin said Wednesday that Beckham would not have practiced if it had been a normal week. The team hopes Beckham and Randle can at least work on a limited basis Thursday or Friday. The extra day before the Monday night game gives them an increased opportunity to let the players heal and evaluate how much they’ll be able to use them. — Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: Thursday is a big practice day for a Monday night game. The Eagles will get a better idea of ILB Mychal Kendricks‘ availability, while also keeping an eye on whether Giants receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle practice. Obviously, those are three difference-making players in a key divisional showdown. — Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: Thursday will be a key day for Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson to see how his hamstring responds after practicing Wednesday — and to see if he can increase his workload. The Redskins have missed Jackson’s deep skills: Starting quarterback Kirk Cousins has completed only 2 of 15 passes that traveled 21 yards or more in the air. Last year, with Jackson, Cousins completed 9 of 22 such throws. — John Keim

Chicago Bears: The key players to watch Thursday are receivers Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal. Barring another setback, Jeffery is expected to return soon from a hamstring injury that has kept him out four games. Royal is more of an unknown. The veteran has missed four consecutive practices because of a bad ankle, even though he finished the Raiders game in Week 4. Outside of a touchdown reception in the win over Oakland, Royal hasn’t made much of an impact yet in Chicago. The Bears have been mum about inside linebacker Shea McClellin‘s knee injury, but McClellin is not expected to be active Sunday at Ford Field. — Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: The Lions’ defense is starting to get beat up. After the team announced Wednesday that linebacker DeAndre Levy will be undergoing hip surgery, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (calf) and safety James Ihedigbo (quad) didn’t practice. That’s a bad sign for a unit that had started to show signs of improvement prior to Sunday’s loss to Arizona. Watch whether Ngata or Ihedigbo practice Thursday, because if they don’t, there’s a chance they won’t be playing Sunday as the Lions try to win their first game of the season against the Bears. — Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: Some teams need the bye week to get healthy. The Packers appear to be doing that before the bye. Receiver Davante Adams (ankle) and safety Morgan Burnett (calf) both returned to practice on Wednesday, which is a good sign they could be available for Sunday against the Chargers, the final game before the bye. — Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings will be the first team to take on Kansas City without running back Jamaal Charles on Sunday. Coach Mike Zimmer said he expects the Chiefs to do much of what they did with Charles, but admitted “part of it is the uncertainty” when a team loses its best offensive player. “When you’ve got all of their guys, you kind of know what they’re going to do,” Zimmer said. “You have to figure out and adjust during the course of the ballgame.” — Ben Goessling

NFC SOUTH

Atlanta Falcons: Julio Jones is set to go against the Saints on Thursday night. How much he plays is still yet to be determined as Jones tries to overcome hamstring and toe injuries. The plan was to limit his reps last week against the Redskins, but the offense sputtered and Jones ended up playing 73 of 80 snaps. At least this time around Jones will have extra time to recover after the Thursday night game before a Week 7 matchup with Tennessee. — Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers are preparing for Seattle as though DE Jared Allen Jerseys (pinched nerve) may not play. Coach Ron Rivera already has said Wes Horton and Kony Ealy will start at end. This is the only major injury Carolina (4-0) has as it faces its toughest test of the season. OT Amini Silatolu returned from a high ankle sprain on Wednesday and is set to return. — David Newton

New Orleans Saints: It will be interesting to see how the Saints choose to cover Falcons WR Julio Jones, who still demands a special coverage plan even though he is hampered by injuries. New Orleans’ top cornerback is Keenan Lewis Jerseys, but he has played limited snaps in recent weeks while recovering from hip surgery. Delvin Breaux has played the best of any Saints corner this year, and he’s a big, physical cover guy who could disrupt Jones. But Breaux is a first-year import from the Canadian Football League who has been struggling with penalties. Finally there is veteran Wholesale NFL Jerseys Brandon Browner, who is even bigger and more physical and more prone to penalties. Browner has struggled at times this year and has given up too many deep balls, but the Saints could use him to jam Jones with help waiting over the top. — Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: There are mixed opinions in the Bucs’ locker room about whether the bye week is coming at a good time. Some, such as offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, would rather see Tampa Bay try to build on momentum gained from a victory over the Jaguars in Week 5. Others, such as defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, think the timing for the break is right. Players have off starting Friday. — Andrew Astleford

NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals: Even though he was on the field for Wednesday’s practice, recently signed linebacker Dwight Freeney will show the Cardinals where he’s at physically when the team puts on pads for the only time this week on Thursday. His role has been set. He’ll be backing up rookie Markus Golden, who’s now the starter after Alex Okafor went down with a right calf injury for an undisclosed amount of time. — Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: The Rams are having their final practice of the bye week Thursday before parting ways until Tuesday. Although the schedule looks to lighten up after the bye wholesale nfl jerseys, Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis said Wednesday that the Rams are in no position to take any team lightly wholesale jerseys. Knowing that, the Rams are attempting to get a head start on studying their next opponent, the Cleveland Browns. — Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: Carlos Hyde was a surprise add to the 49ers’ injury report on Wednesday as he sat out practice with what was described as a previously undisclosed foot injury. And with Reggie Bush still nursing a strained left calf, Australian rugby league convert Jarryd Hayne got first-team reps at RB. — Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: This will be a big day for RB Marshawn Lynch, who is expected to practice fully after having missed the past two games with a hamstring injury cheap jerseys. Pete Carroll said the team is expecting Lynch to play Sunday, and he will be asked to handle his usual workload. But don’t be surprised if rookie Thomas Rawls (5.6 yards per carry) gets in the mix with 8-10 touches. — Sheil Kapadia





  
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