Biggest injury questions for Week 3 in NFL

NFL Nation reporters assess the biggest injuries across the league for Week 3.

AFC East | AFC North| AFC South | AFC West
NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West

AFC EAST


Buffalo Bills

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins remained out of practice Wednesday with a foot injury. He continues to insist he’s not in pain and is simply overcoming mental hurdles following offseason foot surgery, but coach Rex Ryan has yet to definitively say whether Watkins will play Sunday. He’s likely to be listed as questionable again this week. — Mike Rodak


Miami Dolphins

Running back Arian Foster remains a question mark after a groin injury kept him out of practice Wednesday. If Foster can’t play Sunday against Cleveland, the Dolphins will go with a committee of tailbacks led by Jay Ajayi and rookie Kenyan Drake. The pair combined for 26 rushing yards and a touchdown last week after Foster was injured in the second quarter against the Patriots. — James Walker


New England Patriots

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who sprained the AC joint in his throwing shoulder, has been limited in practice and has a chance to be active for Thursday’s game against the Texans. A telling sign is that the Patriots haven’t added another quarterback this week. Meanwhile, tight end Rob Gronkowski remains limited, saying Tuesday that he feels “decent,” but his status for the game was kept under wraps. “We’ll see. It will definitely be a coach’s decision, a trainer’s decision. We’ll all come together,” he said. — Mike Reiss


New York Jets

Wide receivers Brandon Marshall (knee/foot) and Eric Decker (shoulder) didn’t practice Wednesday and could be game-time decisions. Decker already has said he will “definitely” play Sunday against the Chiefs. There’s a good chance Marshall also will play, but the Jets will try to maintain the suspense as long as possible. — Rich Cimini

AFC NORTH


Baltimore Ravens

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil practiced for the first time since suffering a setback with his foot injury on Aug. 29. Dumervil, however, was limited to individual drills and didn’t finish practice. The Ravens will probably use Dumervil as a pass-rush specialist Sunday at the Jaguars. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley sat out Wednesday’s practice with a foot injury. There’s little concern, however. “It’s going to take a lot for me to miss a game,” Stanley said. — Jamison Hensley


Cincinnati Bengals

Tight end Tyler Eifert returned to practice for the first time since injuring his ankle in the Pro Bowl. Eifert said he doesn’t know if he’ll play against the Broncos on Sunday, but it’s the next step in a rehab that has lasted the entire offseason. Quarterback Andy Dalton, who was hobbling after the Steelers game Sunday, was listed with a hip injury but practiced fully as normal. — Katherine Terrell


Cleveland Browns

The Browns hope rookie Cody Kessler will lead them at quarterback. Kessler replaces Josh McCown, who replaced Robert Griffin III. But there are also issues up front. John Greco moves to center to replace Cam Erving (bruised lung), and Alvin Bailey steps in at guard and has a tough draw against Ndamukong Suh, Miami’s rampaging defensive tackle. — Pat McManamon


Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are relatively healthy for once, but wide receiver Markus Wheaton has missed two games with a shoulder injury and must get through a full week of practice without any setbacks in order to play Sunday at Philadelphia. Wheaton was optimistic last week, but coach Mike Tomlin opted to sit him. Wheaton’s presence adds more speed to the lineup. — Jeremy Fowler

AFC SOUTH


Houston Texans

Rookie wide receiver Braxton Miller, who injured his right hamstring in the victory over the Chiefs, will not play Sunday. Miller has been starting as the Texans’ slot receiver, so Houston could move Will Fuller or have Keith Mumphery play in his place. Miller did not practice all week, and he was not expected to play, especially because this is a short week. With the quick turnaround for Thursday’s game against the Patriots, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who missed all of training camp and the preseason while recovering from back surgery, said he is being extra cautious while taking care of his body this week. He said he hopes to continue to knock off the rust that comes from missing an extended period of time, but he said he felt much better after Sunday’s game than he did after Week 1. — Sarah Barshop


Green Bay Packers

The Packers have five key defensive players with injury concerns, led by outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who couldn’t finish last Sunday’s loss at Minnesota. The Packers on Wednesday announced he’s dealing with two injuries, one to his left ankle and the other to his hamstring. Matthews did not practice Wednesday. Neither did cornerback Sam Shields (concussion), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (knee), safety Morgan Burnett (groin) and outside linebacker/defensive end Datone Jones (knee). Shields and Guion aren’t expected to play Sunday against the Lions. The status of the other three is up in the air. — Rob Demovsky


Minnesota Vikings

Running back Adrian Peterson and left tackle Matt Kalil are likely to miss all or most of the season. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who missed the team’s first two games, was limited in practice Wednesday with a knee injury. The fact Rhodes practiced would seem to be a good sign as he tries to return for Sunday’s game against the league’s top-scoring offense in Carolina. — Ben Goessling

NFC SOUTH


Atlanta Falcons

Wide receiver Julio Jones is supposed to be fine coming off his latest injury, a calf strain, but the status of rookie defenders Keanu Neal and De’Vondre Campbell is a little unclear. Neal, the first-round pick from Florida, is expected to return to practice Thursday for the first time since having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in the preseason. Once he fully returns, he’ll be the starting strong safety. Meanwhile, Campbell, the starting weakside linebacker, missed the last game with an ankle injury but is expected back sooner rather than later. — Vaughn McClure


Carolina Panthers

Two days after saying running back Jonathan Stewart might miss a week or two, coach Ron Rivera said it could be as many as three or four weeks. Carolina will go with a mix of Fozzy Whittaker, Cameron Artis-Payne and Mike Tolbert to replace Stewart. Not all the news is bad for Carolina, though. Defensive tackle Kawann Short (shoulder) and starting right guard Trai Turner (ankle) are expected to return to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday. — David Newton


New Orleans Saints

We will find out Thursday how healthy the Saints’ offensive tackles are. The Saints re-signed veteran tackle Tony Hills on Wednesday in case they need an extra body. Right tackle Zach Strief left last Sunday’s game early with an unspecified injury. His replacement, Senio Kelemete, is solid but has more experience at guard than tackle. Left tackle Terron Armstead has also been fighting through knee and quad injuries this year. — Mike Triplett


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

How long will two-time Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin be out? It’s looking like three weeks, but hamstring injuries are tricky and unpredictable. The Bucs’ top defensive end Robert Ayers also missed practice Wednesday after suffering an ankle injury against the Cardinals. If he can’t go, second-round pick Noah Spence, speed rusher Howard Jones and DaVonte Lambert, a 2016 undrafted free agent out of Auburn, will split the reps. — Jenna Laine

NFC WEST


Arizona Cardinals

Right guard Evan Mathis did not practice Wednesday, giving his left foot a rest. He played in Sunday’s win with the foot taped more than usual, and his status for this weekend in Buffalo is still undetermined. Arizona’s biggest injury concern could change this week if left tackle Jared Veldheer‘s fibula injury gets any more serious. He was added to the injury report Wednesday and was listed as limited. — Josh Weinfuss


Los Angeles Rams

This would be a nice week for the Rams to get back third-year cornerback E.J. Gaines. He spent all of last season recovering from foot surgery, then was bothered by a hamstring ailment throughout training camp and has yet to play in a regular-season game because of a thigh injury. If healthy, Gaines would line up on the outside, opposite Trumaine Johnson, and look to shut down a pass-heavy Bucs offense led by former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston. Said Gaines: “The coaches have a lot of respect for me, and they can’t wait for me to get back, just like I can’t wait to get back.” — Alden Gonzalez

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers lost linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong to a season-ending pectoral injury against Carolina, leaving the Niners to turn to the other two inside linebackers he competed with for the job in training camp. Gerald Hodges figures to get the first chance to replace him, and Hodges needs to be on his game Sunday against Seattle and running back Christine Michael. Michael is averaging 5.0 yards per carry and is fourth in the NFL in yards after contact, putting the pressure on Hodges and Co. to wrap him up and get him to the ground. — Nick Wagoner


Seattle Seahawks

Running back Thomas Rawls is dealing with a leg injury that sidelined him for the second half of last week’s game against the Rams. He was limited at practice Wednesday but is expected to play this weekend against the 49ers. Rawls had offseason ankle surgery and has struggled to get going so far this season, with just 25 yards on 19 carries. “I think Thomas has been a little overexcited about hitting the line of scrimmage,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I think his patience is coming, and if we can get him back out this week, I think it will be really important for him to get more carries.” — Sheil Kapadia



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