Week 1's biggest injury questions for all 32 NFL teams

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NFL Nation reporters assess the biggest injuries across the league for Week 1.

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

NFC EAST

Linebacker Sean Lee was held out of practice last week because of soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, but the time off was designed to have him ready for this week. He played just 29 snaps in the preseason but he said he feels ready to go, and the Cowboys will need Lee to be at his best. He is their best playmaker defensively and knows how to get the rest of the defense in the right spots, which is a must against a veteran quarterback like Eli Manning. In two games against New York last season, Lee had 18 tackles. — Todd Archer

Rookie free safety Darian Thompson missed the previous two weeks with a shoulder injury, but he practiced Wednesday in a limited capacity. Thompson is wearing a harness and is expected to play — and likely start — Sunday against the Cowboys. The key is to see how he does in Thursday’s fully padded practice. If Thompson can’t play, Nat Berhe has been taking first-team reps in his place. Overall, the Giants are relatively healthy. All 53 players on their active roster practiced Wednesday and are expected to play in the opener. The Giants also didn’t lose a projected starter to injury this spring or summer. — Jordan Raanan

Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has been cleared for action after sitting out most of the preseason with a hairline rib fracture. Coach Doug Pederson announced that every Eagles player practiced Wednesday, including defensive end Vinny Curry, who was eased in after missing some time with a knee injury. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews missed the preseason with a knee injury of his own, but he is expected to be full go. The Eagles are in good health overall heading into Week 1. — Tim McManus

Running back Matt Jones was full go in practice Wednesday and didn’t need to wear a yellow no-contact jersey like he had to on Monday. The expectation remains that Jones will play Monday vs. Pittsburgh after missing two weeks of practice with a sprained left shoulder. Rookie wide receiver Josh Doctson practiced Monday, but he was limited Wednesday and it’s uncertain if he’ll play against the Steelers as he returns from Achilles tendonitis. — John Keim

NFC NORTH

The primary concern is guard Kyle Long‘s (shoulder) health, but he practiced on Monday and Wednesday and looks on track to play against the Texans. Of course, the great unknown is how Long’s shoulder reacts when faced with live contact. Cornerback Tracy Porter passed the NFL’s concussion protocol and pronounced himself good to go for Week 1, but Kyle Fuller‘s status is more difficult to predict. Fuller is doing some work at practice, but is only a couple weeks removed from arthroscopic knee surgery. — Jeff Dickerson

The Lions are almost fully healthy heading into their season opener against Indianapolis. While tight end Eric Ebron (ankle) has been a question mark over the past few weeks, he took part in practice Monday and Wednesday. This is a good sign he’ll be available after not playing at all in the preseason. The Lions need him, too, because their tight end depth after him is questionable. — Michael Rothstein

Wide receiver Jordy Nelson isn’t even on the injury report this week, so how can he be an injury question? Well, it has been nearly 13 months since he has been on a game field, and that was when he tore the ACL in his right knee at Pittsburgh. Will the 31-year-old be able to return to his Pro Bowl form from 2014? He says there are no limitations on his knee, and coach Mike McCarthy said Nelson will be “full bore” for the opener in Jacksonville. But considering Nelson didn’t play a single snap in a preseason game this year, it’s hard to know what impact the injury will have on him. — Rob Demovsky

As they break in a new starting quarterback on Sunday, the Vikings will be monitoring several ailments to players who could help Shaun Hill or Sam Bradford produce on Sunday. Wide receiver Charles Johnson, who didn’t practice Monday, was a limited participant on Wednesday with a quadriceps injury, though Johnson said he expects to play Sunday. Running back Jerick McKinnon was also limited with a foot injury; if he’s healthy Sunday, he’d give the Vikings another option on high-percentage passes for their new quarterback. — Ben Goessling

NFC SOUTH

Wide receiver Julio Jones (ankle) was supposed to return to full participation in practice Wednesday, but he was instead limited once again. Falcons coach Dan Quinn still has expressed little concern about Jones’ availability for Sunday’s season opener against Tampa Bay. In fact, Quinn said Jones should return to full practice Thursday. Jones looked better running routes and making cuts during the first part of Wednesday’s practice. We’ll see if he has his full explosion come Sunday. — Vaughn McClure

The only player in question is backup safety Dean Marlowe, still coming back from a bad hamstring injury that sidelined him for three weeks. The Panthers will carry Marcus Ball to Denver as an emergency safety, but they’re happy with the three-man rotation they have in Kurt Coleman, Tre Boston and Colin Jones. Tight end Greg Olsen dealt with back spasms in the preseason, but he is good to go. — David Newton

Left tackle Terron Armstead was limited in practice Wednesday with knee and quad injuries — which is a good sign that he will play Sunday against the Raiders. That’s huge for the Saints, considering Armstead is one of the best young tackles in the NFL and is vital to helping them fix the O-line issues that plagued them this preseason. It’s also huge since the Saints are about to face one of the NFL’s most dynamic pass-rushers in Khalil Mack. Mack normally lines up against the right tackle, but he moves around some. And when Armstead isn’t facing Mack, the Saints would like to be able to leave him one-on-one against Raiders outside linebacker Bruce Irvin. — Mike Triplett

The biggest injury question mark in training camp was, “When will J.R. Sweezy and Louis Murphy be back?” Both start the season on the physically unable to perform list, so those questions have been answered. After that, the only player with real concerns for Sunday is tight end Luke Stocker, who happens to be the team’s best run blocker. He missed practice Wednesday with a back injury. He also missed the final two preseason games. Thankfully for the Bucs, they’re carrying five tight ends on the active roster (but no fullbacks) so if Stocker misses this week, it wouldn’t be a crushing blow. — Jenna Laine

NFC WEST

The two players most in question of playing Sunday night are running back Stepfan Taylor (bruised knee) and outside linebacker Kareem Martin (MCL), who both missed practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. Linebacker Lamar Louis joined them on the sideline Wednesday after tweaking his knee in Tuesday’s practice. If all three miss Sunday’s game, Arizona’s special teams will be affected as they all have significant roles. Safety Tyrann Mathieu, who tore his ACL in Week 15 last season, was not on the injury report and is expected to play Sunday night. — Josh Weinfuss

The injuries to wide receiver Pharoh Cooper and cornerback E.J. Gaines could have a major impact on the Rams’ season. Cooper (shoulder) and Gaines (quad) each hurt themselves in Week 3 of the preseason and both could miss the Week 1 opener. How much longer they’re gone will be key. Cooper, drafted in the fourth round, had already cemented himself as the No. 3 receiver. Gaines had a solid rookie season in 2014 but spent all of 2015 recovering from foot surgery. Now he is the No. 2 cornerback opposite Trumaine Johnson. The Rams’ secondary already lost enough over the offseason, with Rodney McLeod now with the Eagles and Janoris Jenkins joining the Giants. Gaines needs to stay healthy. — Alden Gonzalez

49ers running back Carlos Hyde is still working his way back from a concussion, but he took the next step Wednesday when he participated in practice while wearing a blue no-contact jersey. He still has to pass a simulated contact test in order to be cleared to play, but coach Chip Kelly and offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins have expressed confidence that Hyde will be ready to play Monday night against the Rams. — Nick Wagoner

The key player to keep an eye on is Thomas Rawls (ankle). The running back played two snaps in the preseason, and coach Pete Carroll has indicated that the team will ease him in. Asked if Rawls faces any limitations, Carroll said, “Just in the amount of plays. It’s the second preseason game for him if you look at it that way, and we’re trying to take care of him as we’ve said all along in every way that we can. So we’re just going to watch and see how he does and how he handles it. That’s all. It’s just to see how he handles it. That will be the only restriction is how he’s taking the rigors of the game.” Meanwhile, tight end Jimmy Graham (ruptured patellar tendon) could be a game-time decision. He’s practicing fully but did not see any snaps in the preseason. — Sheil Kapadia

AFC EAST

How’s this for something different? The Bills are nearly fully healthy entering Sunday’s game in Baltimore. Reserve safety Colt Anderson (foot) and cornerback Kevon Seymour (hamstring) are likely to be questionable for the game, but otherwise coach Rex Ryan’s decision to sit most of his starters in the final two preseason games has paid off. A year ago, running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring) and wide receiver Sammy Watkins (hamstring) were dealing with injuries entering the opening weekend. — Mike Rodak

Center Mike Pouncey injured his left hip in the second preseason game, and his status is up in the air for Sunday’s opener against the Seahawks. Coach Adam Gase said Pouncey’s status will be evaluated up until the weekend, but Pouncey has been out during practices so far this week. His potential absence greatly impacts Miami’s rushing attack against Seattle’s talented front seven. — James Walker

Tight end Rob Gronkowski is not yet 100 percent, as he has been limited in practice with a hamstring injury. How that affects Gronkowski in the season opener bears watching. Meanwhile, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is preparing to see a heavy dose of Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett regardless, as he said Wednesday that he expects the Patriots to be in their two-tight end package about 70 percent of the time — Mike Reiss

Middle linebacker David Harris, who has returned to practice on a limited basis after bruising his right shoulder in the third preseason game, remains a question mark for Week 1, according to coach Todd Bowles. Still, it would be an upset if Harris doesn’t play. He hasn’t missed a game since 2008. Harris is vital because he’s an every-down linebacker who essentially is the quarterback of the defense. The Jets would be out of sorts without him, but bet on him being in the lineup. — Rich Cimini

AFC NORTH

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil said he will not play in the season opener against the Bills. Dumervil acknowledged he had a minor setback in his recovery from an offseason procedure on his foot. He was the only Ravens starter who was not practicing Wednesday. Albert McClellan is expected to replace Dumervil and start in his first game since 2012. Za’Darius Smith and Matt Judon will fill in for Dumervil as the other edge rusher opposite Terrell Suggs. “It’s a little disappointing,” Dumervil said, “but sometimes you’ve just got to wait your turn and when the opportunity presents itself, take full advantage.” He’s unsure about his status for the Week 2 game at Cleveland. — Jamison Hensley

Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert hasn’t practiced the entire offseason, and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. Eifert is still recovering from an ankle injury and his timetable to return is unknown. “I don’t anticipate him taking any team reps this week,” coach Marvin Lewis said Monday. — Katherine Terrell

The Browns are an extremely healthy team. The only player not working was defensive back Marcus Burley, who was picked up on waivers on Sunday. The Browns have zero questions about the health of their top players. — Pat McManamon

The Steelers have several key linemen fighting through injuries with hopes of playing Week 1. Defensive end Cam Heyward (high ankle sprain) says he will be ready, and after multiple ankle sprains in his career, he’s accustomed to the pain management. Expect him to play, assuming the bruising subsides. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert (hyperextended elbow) practiced Wednesday, which is a good sign. The biggest question mark is new starting nose tackle Javon Hargrave, who hurt his leg in Monday’s practice session. He’s considered day-to-day and isn’t sure when he’ll be ready. — Jeremy Fowler

AFC SOUTH

Defensive end J.J. Watt has practiced twice this week, and he is expected to play in the season opener against the Bears. Watt said he feels like he can do “anything and everything” that he is asked to do, and he feels “no limitations whatsoever” despite missing all of training camp after having back surgery in late July. Left tackle Duane Brown will not play against the Bears, but right tackle Derek Newton appears to have recovered from a hamstring injury and was a full participant in practice on Wednesday. Rookie wide receiver Will Fuller was a surprise addition to the injury report as a limited participant with a hamstring injury. — Sarah Barshop

The Colts caused warning flags to go up when they listed quarterback Andrew Luck as being limited in practice on their injury report Wednesday. The decision to list Luck was nothing more than making sure he’s fresh for Sunday’s game against the Lions, according to a source. But concern will likely arise every week Luck is put on the injury list because he missed nine games last season with an assortment of injuries, and because the Colts gave him a $140 million contract during the offseason. — Mike Wells

The Jaguars are remarkably healthy heading into the season. The only minor concern is nose tackle Roy Miller, who has dealt with chronic knee soreness over the past several seasons, but the Jaguars have been careful in terms of giving him a day off each week to manage it. He’s the key to the Jaguars’ run defense because he occupies blockers to keep middle linebacker Paul Posluszny clean. — Mike DiRocco

The Titans have only one injury concern heading into their opener against Minnesota. Kendall Wright, their top slot receiver, is out with a hamstring injury. That means Harry Douglas will operate as the team’s third receiver. Coach Mike Mularkey said they’d also have Marc Mariani, Andre Johnson and Rishard Matthews ready to work inside if needed. There is no timetable for Wright, though he’s scheduled for another MRI. — Paul Kuharsky

AFC WEST

Wide receiver Bennie Fowler will miss Thursday night’s game because of an elbow injury he suffered in the preseason opener in Chicago. Fowler had been the No. 3 receiver in camp, so his absence means more work for Cody Latimer. It will also likely mean Emmanuel Sanders works out of the slot at times since Fowler is the guy who had worked the slot the most before his injury. Fowler had hoped to be ready for the opener, but he didn’t practice this week. — Jeff Legwold

The Chiefs are preparing to play without running back Jamaal Charles on Sunday. That’s nothing new, as they played most of 2015 without him as well. Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West and perhaps Knile Davis will share the featured back role. The Chiefs are expecting outside linebacker Tamba Hali to play, though he will probably have less than a full-time role. When he’s in the lineup, it’s important that Hali play well. With Justin Houston out with his own rehab from knee surgery, Hali is the Chiefs’ most accomplished pass-rusher. — Adam Teicher

The Raiders are ridiculously healthy coming out of the preseason. Only backup offensive lineman Austin Howard, who was competing for the starting right tackle position with Menelik Watson, missed practice on Wednesday. Howard rolled his right ankle in the Raiders’ exhibition finale last Thursday. And while he is a second-stringer, he does bring quality depth to both tackle positions. It’s early, but if he is unable to suit up Sunday at New Orleans, Matt McCants would likely be his replacement. — Paul Gutierrez

Defensive end Joey Bosa participated in just one practice in a helmet, jersey and shorts since he signed a four-year rookie contract last week. Sidelined with an apparent left leg injury, the Ohio State product likely will remain on the NFL’s exempt list through the weekend. He is doubtful to play in San Diego’s season opener on the road against the Chiefs. — Eric D. Williams

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