Ronnie Brown is the favorite to begin the season as the Chargers' primary tailback. He had five carries for 25 yards in the team's final preseason game, and has been getting most of the first team reps. It's been a few years since Brown has looked like a starting back, but with Ryan Mathews sidelined with a broken collarbone, Brown could be a sleeper option for the first bulk of the season.
Andre Roberts (neck) has shaken off his injury, and is in line to start opposite Larry Fitzgerald for the Cardinals in Week 1. Roberts only had two receptions for 14 yards in the final preseason game, but his neck injury was the only obstacle in his path to win the #2 receiver gig, beating out Early Doucet and Michael Floyd. Still, Arizona receivers can be risky options, due to how unstable and unimpressive their quarterbacks are.
Jonathan Dwyer impressed the Steelers in camp, and has a chance to get a lot of touches when the season begins. Dwyer wrapped up the preseason with 147 yards on 28 carries, leading Mike Tomlin to say, "What he showed us tonight is kind of a snapshot of what he's done for us here in the last month or so." With Rashard Mendenhall (ACL) out, and Isaac Redman battling ankle woes, Dwyer could see plenty of time lining up behind Ben Roethlisberger.
Tim Hightower (knee) will reportedly be released by the Redskins. Hightower ran solid for Washington last year before tearing his ACL, and the only explanation is the Redskins didn't feel like he was back to full strength. For the Redskins, their backfield still remains muddled, although look for Roy Helu and Evan Royster to get most of the carries to begin the season. As for Hightower, he should get scooped up somewhere, but clearly there are still knee concerns, which will obviously determine whether he has any value down the road (if he finds a job).
Brandon Jacobs (knee) is still a question mark at this point for Week 1, but has made tremendous progress since spraining his knee early in camp. The team is optimistic, and if Jacobs is healthy he could be a sleeper candidate, considering Frank Gore's injury history and the likelihood that Jacobs is the team's goal-line runner.
Deion Branch has been released by the Patriots. The 33-year old had a bit of a career rebirth when he was traded back to the Patriots in 2010, but couldn't find a role behind Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, and the rest of the Patriots receiving corps. Branch has never been a stud, especially when someone other than Tom Brady is throwing him the ball, so it's unlikely the veteran will be a major contributor to a team, if he does find employment.