As we head into the third week of preseason games, when most teams will actually use their starters for more than a handful of snaps, some job battles are beginning to clear up while other situations are just getting messier — including the ongoing holdouts in Dallas and Los Angeles. Here’s the recap of the news from Sunday:
- Jets fans hoping to get a glimpse of the team’s new star in action may have to wait until Week 1, as it doesn’t look like Le’Veon Bell will see any preseason action at all. It’s a bold strategy for a player who sat out all of 2018, but Adam Gase says he likes what he’s seeing from Bell in practice and doesn’t seem concerned about any rust. For his part, Bell just told the world “I’ll see y’all in September” on social media, but you aren’t going to get too many complaints from a player about less work in the preseason. The former Steeler remains one of the biggest wild cards in fantasy drafts among first-round RBs.
- Bell’s ex-teammate, Antonio Brown, is having a much more chaotic start to his tenure with the Raiders. The issue with his frostbitten feet may be nearly behind him, but his helmet issue remains, and Brown remains away from camp while, presumably, trying to find a make of headgear he likes. Oakland GM Mike Mayock, and man is it still weird to type that after seeing him doing draft coverage all those years, said Sunday “it’s time for him to be all-in or all-out” after Brown no-showed practice, and presumably that’s not a suggestion he’ll be a surprise participant in a certain wrestling show at the end of the month. He’s still probably going to join the team at some point and be ready to go for Week 1, though. Maybe. Probably.
- another high-profile wide receiver whose status seems up in the air is Josh Gordon. He got reinstated by the league. That’s good! Then we got that extremely Belichickian statement about the team needing to “evaluate the entire situation”, the upshot of which seems to have been the decision to place Gordon on the NFI list Sunday. That’s less good. The move is likely just intended to ease his transition back into the program, and depending on how close to playing shape he’s in, the placement wouldn’t necessarily put his availability for Week 1 in doubt. It’s also worth noting that the Patriots parted ways with Dontrelle Inman on Sunday, indicating they aren’t as concerned about the state of their WR corps as their lengthy list of injured wideouts (you have to go down to the No. 7 spot on the depth chart, some guy named Jakobi Meyers, to find someone that doesn’t have some kind of injury designation) would suggest.
- the Washington QB competition seems to be down to two, as Colt McCoy — inexplicably still listed in the No. 1 spot on the team’s “official” depth chart — still can’t plant and fully push off on his right leg when throwing a pass. That likely leaves Case Keenum as the Week 1 starter, with first-round pick Dwayne Haskins forced to wait his turn. The team doesn’t have much in the way of reliable targets to throw to, so who’s under center only matters in 2-QB or really, really deep fantasy leagues.
- sticking in the NFC East, the Giants’ receiving group isn’t much healthier than the Patriots’. Sterling Shepard is still dealing with a thumb injury, although he at least wasn’t spotted wearing a non-contact jersey at Sunday’s practice, while Golden Tate — who was already facing a suspension to begin the season — is now dealing with a concussion. That probably just means more targets for Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley, but it does give Cody Latimer a chance to prove his 4-72-1 line in Week 17 last year was no fluke.
- the Seahawks also got some bad WR news when it was announced second-round pick DK Metcalf would need knee surgery. Pete Carroll said the issue was minor and didn’t rule out Metcalf being back for Week 1, but it’s still not a positive for a young player who needs all the reps, and time to improve his route-running, that he can get. Former Cardinal Jaron Brown, who got the start in Sunday’s preseason game against the Vikings and hauled in catches of 33 and 19 yards from Russell Wilson, might be the biggest beneficiary of Metcalf’s absence.