Julio Jones was limited during the Falcons’ practice Monday due to an undisclosed injury. When speaking about his star receiver, head coach Mike Smith said, “It was mainly precautionary in terms of watching his load.” While it sounds like Jones’ injury is nothing to worry about, if he is not 100 percent healthy come Thursday, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him sit out Atlanta’s preseason opener.
Ed Dickson left Sunday’s practice early with a slight hamstring tear and will now be sidelined for a couple of weeks. At first glance, Dickson’s ailment was considered to be just a strain, but after further evaluation, it appears to be a bit more serious. The injury’s timing compounds the fact that the Ravens will be without Dennis Pitta (hip) for the season. Dickson, when he returns, will assume starting duties at tight end for Baltimore, who surely will hope the hamstring issue does not linger into the regular season.
It was revealed Monday that Patrick Willis will have surgery on his broken right hand. The Pro-Bowl linebacker has experienced injuries to the same hand in the past and played with a protective cast, so he is not expected to miss any regular season action as a result of this latest procedure. His IDP value should remain similarly high, but don’t expect to see him much in the preseason.
Le’Veon Bell returned to practice Sunday after sitting out Saturday with a minor knee problem. The rookie is currently competing with Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer to be Pittsburgh’s starting running back this season; a decision offensive coordinator Todd Haley suggested won’t be made soon. Nonetheless, Bell is considered to have a leg up on the competition given his power and versatility, which gives him nice fantasy upside.
Browns running back Trent Richardson was suited up in practice Monday after missing some work over the weekend with a bruised right shin. The second-year back merely sat out as a precautionary decision, but with his history of lower extremity injuries, it seems Cleveland plans to be cautious with their first-round pick of a year ago in order to keep him fresh. Don’t be surprised if Richardson sits out Thursday’s preseason opener.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was sacked more than any other signal-caller in the league last season, will be without projected starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga for the entirety of the 2013 season. Bulaga suffered a torn ACL during Green Bay’s scrimmage Saturday and will be replaced by either Marshall Newhouse or rookie David Bakhtiari. Rodgers owners should not be overly worried about this news, given the wide success he has experienced with lackluster protection in years past, but it is something to note anyway. On the bright side, the injury gives the Packers virtually the entire preseason to sure up their line before facing a dangerous 49ers defensive front in Week 1.