Almost a year after we saw Adrian Peterson return to the field sooner than many expected following an ACL tear, it appears Robert Griffin (knee) is now poised to do the same, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the quarterback has been announced as the team’s Week 1 starter. Griffin will still meet with Dr. James Andrews on Thursday night to get to get final medical clearance, but it’s considered nothing more than a formality at this point. Griffin suggested that he hasn’t lost a step from the injury, but expect coach Mike Shanahan to nonetheless take a more conservative approach and limit Griffin’s involvement in the run game this season. Even so, he should still be a more-than-capable starting quarterback option across nearly any fantasy format.
Thought to be cast aside after the Broncos drafted Montee Ball in the second round this April, Knowshon Moreno has been getting increased reps with the first-team offense due to his much more superior pass-blocking to Ball and Ronnie Hillman. Ball’s toughness between the tackles and Hillman’s quickness in space would seem to offer more offensive intrigue than Moreno’s more modest skill set, but the Broncos are clearly putting a premium on their backs’ abilities to keep quarterback Peyton Manning from getting hit. If both of his young challengers continue to struggle with the Broncos’ blocking schemes, Moreno could certainly grab some early-down touches from the other two, although don’t expect any sort of spectacular production from him.
Brandon Marshall missed Wednesday’s practice for personal reasons, an absence coach Marc Trestman indicated was premeditated. “We wanted to get him through practice and I let him go for personal reasons, but it’s something that’s been part of the offseason plan since we started training camp,” Trestman said. Marshall’s absence doesn’t really send out any major red flags, but following his comments Tuesday indicating that he’s not quite where he wants to be in the wake of hip surgery in January, it’s a situation worth monitoring. Marshall will miss Thursday’s preseason contest but should be good to go for Week 1 once he rejoins the team over the weekend.
Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said Wednesday that the Falcons are hoping Roddy White (ankle) will be available for the team’s regular season opener despite being plagued by the ankle sprain for the last two weeks. It’s safe to assume that he’ll sit out Thursday’s preseason finale against the Jaguars, but continue to await confirmation that White is indeed on track to suit up for Week 1, news that may not come forth until next week’s practices.
The Panthers took a hit to their considerable depth at running back after Jonathan Stewart was placed on the PUP list Tuesday and ruled out for the first five games of the season, but that may not be the end of their concerns at the position. Mike Tolbert has been slow to recover from a hamstring injury, to the extent that coach Ron Rivera could only say that he has his “fingers crossed” that Tolbert will be ready to suit up in Week 1. Furthermore, rookie Kenjon Barner remains hobbled by a sprained ankle and is still wearing a walking boot. DeAngelo Williams was already set to see a bulk of the team’s carries out of the gate in light of Stewart’s injury, but the potential absence of Tolbert and Barner could increase his value even more since it would likely mean more goal line carries and more activity in the receiving game for him.
Darrius Heyward-Bey remains ahead of T.Y. Hilton as the No. 2 receiver on the Colts’ depth chart, but head coach Chuck Pagano plans to use both in different formations early on. “You’re never going to just zero in and say, ‘This guy’s going to play outside. This guy’s going to play in the slot.’ I think we can move people around,” Pagano noted. In other words, even though Heyward-Bey will begin the season as the nominal starter opposite Reggie Wayne in two-receiver sets, expect both Heyward-Bey and Hilton to see a roughly equal distribution of snaps early in the season. The competition for targets could continue until one receiver clearly separates himself from the other.
The Seahawks are tending to some injuries in their receiving corps heading into the final preseason game, with tight end Zach Miller (foot) getting clearance to play in Thursday’s preseason finale while Sidney Rice (knee) will be held out. Coach Pete Carroll said the latter is just being held out for precautionary reasons and is ready to go for Week 1, while Miller appears set to do the same, assuming he escapes Thursday’s contest without doing further damage to his foot. The health of both players heading into the regular season is vital for a team that will be without Percy Harvin until at least late-November.
After Geno Smith stunk up the joint and Mark Sanchez sustained a shoulder injury in Saturday’s preseason game, Matt Simms is in line to start Thursday’s finale against the Eagles. Simms has been viewed as the team?s No. 4 quarterback through much of camp and will more than likely be waived at final cuts, but with third-stringer Greg McElroy banged up and newcomer Graham Harrell only with the team for a few days, he’ll get his chances to make an impression, however fleeting it may be. The Jets’ quarterback situation remains extremely muddled, but if Sanchez is healthy heading into Week 1 as he believes he will be, there’s a good chance he would get the starting nod over Smith in the opener.
Finally, the Browns announced that some key players would be rested in the preseason finale, with quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson perhaps the most noteworthy names. Both are fully healthy and will be ready to go for the season opener Sept. 8 against the Dolphins.