To the delight of fantasy players everywhere, EJ Manuel will open the preseason as the Bills' starting quarterback Sunday night against the Colts. Kevin Kolb dealt with both a death in the family and a knee injury this week, so he will only dress for the game as an emergency third quarterback. We wouldn't bury Kolb quite yet, but this is a nice opportunity for Manuel, and Sunday's Bills-Colts game instantly becomes the most intriguing matchup on this weekend's preseason slate.
Darrius Heyward-Bey returned to the field Friday, after leaving Thursday's practice with soreness in his troublesome left knee. An MRI on the knee came back negative earlier in the week, and the injury isn't thought to be serious, so Heyward-Bey may be able to suit up for the Colts' preseason opener Sunday. He is competing with T.Y. Hilton for the No. 2 receiver spot, although many believe that Hilton will be the superior fantasy option, regardless of which player wins the position battle in name.
The knee injury that Bernard Pierce suffered during Thursday's preseason game is not believed to be serious. Pierce limped off the field after running for a 20-yard touchdown and did not return to the game. He has generated quite a bit of buzz this preseason, both because of his strong rookie campaign and the expectation that a lack of receiving options will force Baltimore to run the ball frequently. A modest decrease in Joe Flacco's pass attempts is perhaps a fair expectation, but the Ravens aren't going to deploy the kind of run-heavy offense that we often see from teams with struggling young quarterbacks.
Dwayne Allen missed Thursday's practice with a foot injury and went to get a second opinion on the foot Friday. If Allen's injury turns out to be serious, Coby Fleener could be asked to carry more of the receiving load. Both tight ends are expected to have important roles in the Indianapolis offense this season.
Plaxico Burress has been diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff and is likely done for the season. This could mean the end of a memorable career, but the implications for Pittsburgh's offense are minimal.
The Steelers lost another marginal receiving option Friday, as TE Matt Spaeth is expected to be out for eight-to-ten weeks with a Lisfranc foot sprain. Spaeth only has 49 receptions in 91 career games, but he was potentially set to take on a bigger role with Heath Miller (knee) looking highly questionable for Week 1. Spaeth's absence will affect the Pittsburgh running game more than the passing game, and the Steelers could use more three-wide and four-wide formations to compensate for the lack of a reliable tight end. David Paulson is next up on the depth chart, while Jamie McCoy and David Johnson could also get a look. The three aforementioned players have a combined 25 career receptions