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Biggest injuries of NFL preseason: Star receivers on the mend

i staff on 13 August 2018

We’re through Week 1 of the NFL preseason and injuries already are taking their toll across the league. First-round picks for Tennessee and Tampa Bay have been unable to practice. Pro Bowl receivers in Seattle and Pittsburgh have had issues. And Washington lost its projected top running back for the season.

Here are the biggest injuries of training camp and preseason so far, the prognosis for those players and who could replace them (in no particular order):

Washington Redskins

Running back Derrius Guice (torn ACL)

Prognosis: The Redskins anticipated Guice providing big plays, but they will now turn to a running back by committee, with Rob Kelley and Samaje Perineon first and second down and Chris Thompson on third. It’s the same group as last season. Kelley and Perine both have looked quicker in camp, but neither has yet shown he can be a full-time lead back. — John Keim

Pittsburgh Steelers

Wide receiver Antonio Brown (right hip/quad strain)

Prognosis: Brown, who missed four days of practice last week after the team sent him back to Pittsburgh for evaluation, practiced in full Saturday and looked like his explosive self, beating several corners in one-on-ones. Steeler Nation can exhale. Just in case the injury flares up again, though, his backup is Darrius Heyward-Bey. — Jeremy Fowler

Seattle Seahawks

Wide receiver Doug Baldwin (knee)

Prognosis: Coach Pete Carroll has said he has zero concern about Baldwin’s availability for the regular-season opener, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Field Yates have reported that Baldwin could miss most or all of the preseason. His absence will mean more reps for several players, including Brandon Marshall, who is competing for a roster spot. — Brady Henderson

San Francisco 49ers

Tight end George Kittle (separated shoulder)

Running back Matt Breida (separated shoulder)

Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas (concussion)

Linebacker Malcolm Smith (hamstring)

Running back Jerick McKinnon (knee)

Prognosis: Kittle and Breida won’t play the rest of the preseason, but coach Kyle Shanahan expects both to be ready for the regular-season opener. Cole Hikutini and Cole Wickfigure to get more targets and reps in Kittle’s absence. Joe Williams and Raheem Mostert should get more work as the complement to Jerick McKinnon until Breida returns. Thomas is in the concussion protocol, so there’s no definitive timetable for his return. The Niners don’t plan to rush him back. Cassius Marsh and Jeremiah Attaochu will get more playing time while Thomas recovers. Smith is doubtful to play in the second preseason game but isn’t expected to be out long. Rookie Fred Warner, who is coming off a chest injury, Elijah Lee and veteran Korey Toomer should get more work without Smith available.

Other injuries: Defensive lineman Arik Armstead (hamstring) hasn’t practiced this month, and there’s no timetable on his return, other than the Niners referring to him as “week-to-week.” Rookie Jullian Taylor has stepped into Armstead’s spot and played well. Cornerbacks K’Waun Williams (ankle) and Richard Sherman (hamstring) could return for the 49ers’ third preseason game. In the meantime, rookie D.J. Reed and veteran Jimmie Ward will get opportunities in the slot, while Ward, Tyvis Powell and Greg Mabin are rotating in Sherman’s place on the outside. Regardless, the Niners’ primary aim is to have Sherman ready for Week 1 against Minnesota. After limping to the side of practice on Sunday to receive attention from the medical staff and sitting out the rest of practice, McKinnon was slated for an MRI to check for potential structural damage in the afternoon. — Nick Wagoner

Philadelphia Eagles

Quarterback Nick Foles (spasms in neck/trap area)

Tight end Dallas Goedert (undisclosed upper-body injury)

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor (undisclosed)

Running back Donnel Pumphrey (undisclosed lower-body injury)

Prognosis: Foles returned to practice Saturday after missing three training sessions and the exhibition opener against the Steelers. Nate Sudfeld is the No. 3 QB, behind Carson Wentz (knee) and Foles. Goedert left Saturday’s practice with the undisclosed injury. He is in line for playing time alongside Zach Ertz. If sidelined, veteran Richard Rodgers would likely see a bump in playing time. Agholor missed Thursday’s game and sat out the past several practices. With Alshon Jeffery still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, the Eagles have been a little light at receiver, elevating the likes of Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson. There are no indications at this point that Agholor’s injury is a long-term concern. Pumphrey, who is in a fight with players such as Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams and Matt Jones for a roster spot, also missed Thursday’s game. Coach Doug Pederson held Pumphrey out of Saturday’s practice, as well, saying the team won’t rush him back. — Tim McManus

Baltimore Ravens

Tight end Maxx Williams (ankle)

Prognosis: Williams is day-to-day, but his injury isn’t considered serious — which has been the trend this year for Baltimore. The Ravens are among the healthiest teams in the NFL. Every projected starter is currently practicing. Asked about the Ravens’ good run of health, coach John Harbaugh said, “You kind of just leave some things alone sometimes. Not that we’re superstitious. How does the old saying with Michael Scott [from ‘The Office’] go? ‘I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.'” — Jamison Hensley

Minnesota Vikings

Guard Nick Easton (neck)

Center Pat Elflein (shoulder, ankle)

Guard Mike Remmers (ankle)

Prognosis: Easton will be moved to injured reserved, and while he is expected to miss the 2018 season, the injury is not considered to be career-ending. Tom Compton is filling the void for now, and the Vikings will continue to look at players such as Danny Isidora and Aviante Collins as potential fits at left guard throughout training camp. Minnesota also might choose to sign a free-agent guard. Remmers tweaked his ankle during the team’s fourth practice of training camp, and he is being held out on a precautionary basis. A source told ESPN the seventh-year offensive lineman is not in jeopardy of missing Week 1, no matter how many training camp practices he misses.

Other injuries: Elflein (shoulder, ankle) started camp on the physically unable to perform list because of offseason surgery, and he could be activated at any time. While Minnesota hasn’t detailed a timetable for the second-year center’s return, Mike Zimmer did say that he didn’t think it would be too long before Elflein was back practicing. Cornelius Edison, a member of the practice squad last year, is filling in at center in training camp. — Courtney Cronin

Indianapolis Colts

Left tackle Anthony Castonzo (hamstring)

Running back Marlon Mack (hamstring)

Prognosis: There’s no timetable on Castonzo’s return after he hurt the same right hamstring he injured prior to the start of training camp on Aug. 3. The Colts don’t want to rush him back. Their main goal is to have him ready for the start of the regular season. Joe Haeg started at left tackle in the preseason opener against Seattle. Mack left the game against Seattle and is day-to-day. Indianapolis is thin at running back because Robert Turbin is suspended the first four games for using performance-enhancing drugs. Veteran Christine Michael and rookie Jordan Wilkins will compete for first-team snaps.

Other injuries: Rookie receiver Deon Cain is out for the season after tearing his ACL in Thursday’s preseason opener. He had stood out during training camp by showing his athletic ability to go up and get the ball. K.J. Brent is a primary candidate to be the fourth receiver, behind T.Y. Hilton, Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers. — Mike Wells

Oakland Raiders

Cornerback Gareon Conley (hip strain)

Defensive end Arden Key (ankle)

Prognosis: Conley, who missed all but two games of his rookie season with a shin ailment that required surgery, hurt his hip in Oakland’s first training camp practice on July 27 and has not practiced since. The Raiders’ first-round draft pick from 2017 was dressed and working out before the Raiders’ exhibition opener against the Lions on Friday. “Gareon’s got a chance to be back with us on the practice field Monday,” coach Jon Gruden said. “And close to full go too. He’s really close. He’s really healed quickly, and my prayers have been answered.” Daryl Worley has been starting at right cornerback in Conley’s absence. Key has flashed in training camp, looking like a young Aldon Smith in his No. 99 jersey. But he went down with the injured ankle early last week. He was held out of Friday’s exhibition opener against the Lions, but Gruden said he hoped to have Key back for Saturday’s game at the Rams.

Other injuries: Offensive tackle Donald Penn (Lisfranc surgery on right foot) opened training camp on the PUP list as he continued his recovery from the injury suffered in Week 15 last season. Adding to the noise is Oakland wanting Penn, who signed a two-year, $21 million extension after holding out for 26 days last season, to take a pay cut. Gruden said he hoped to work out Penn this weekend to assess the three-time Pro Bowl left tackle’s condition. First-round pick Kolton Miller has been starting in his place, with the expected rookie flashes and hiccups thus far. — Paul Gutierrez

Los Angeles Chargers

Cornerback Jason Verrett (torn Achilles)

Defensive end Joey Bosa (foot)

Prognosis: Healthy after missing last season due to a second surgery required to repair his left knee, Verrett suffered a torn Achilles tendon on his right leg during a conditioning test the day before training camp. His injury will require surgery, bringing his 2018 campaign to a close; Verrett will spend the season on injured reserve for a third straight year. Bosa, who led the Chargers in sacks last season with 12.5, sustained an injured left foot in practice Tuesday and limped off the field. Coach Anthony Lynn described the injury as sore, but Bosa appeared OK walking along the sidelines at practice on Thursday. He should return to the field during exhibition play, potentially as early as next week.

Green Bay Packers

Linebacker Jake Ryan (torn ACL)

Left tackle David Bakhtiari (ankle)

Prognosis: Fourth-year linebacker Ryan, projected to be a starter on the inside, is out for the season. The injury will accelerate the need for rookie third-round pick Oren Burks to play a bigger role on defense. Bakhtiari, the starting left tackle, might miss the entire preseason but is expected to be ready for the opener.

Other injuries: Wide receiver Randall Cobb (ankle) and outside linebacker Nick Perry (ankle) had offseason surgeries. Cobb has been in and out of practice, saying the Packers are playing it safe because he has experienced some soreness. Perry has not yet passed his physical and remains on PUP; coach Mike McCarthy, however, insisted his Week 1 availability is not in jeopardy. Running back Aaron Jones (hamstring) and cornerbacks Jaire Alexander (groin) and Kevin King (shoulder) also have missed time during camp. — Rob Demovsky

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Defensive tackle Vita Vea (strained calf)

Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (pulled groin)

Prognosis: A source told ESPN that Vea, the Bucs’ first-round pick, will be out for a few weeks but “is not expected to miss any regular-season games.” He is now putting full weight on his injury leg and is out of the walking boot. Veteran Beau Allen will be getting more reps in Vea’s spot. Hargreaves suffered a pulled groin in the first preseason game. “I don’t think that will keep him out of any real games,” coach Dirk Koetter said. The Bucs have several options as his replacement — Ryan Smith, Javien Elliott and rookies M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis. — Jenna Laine

New England Patriots

Running back Sony Michel (knee)

Prognosis: Michel was expected to be out at least 10 days. While he could miss more time, those close to him don’t think he’ll miss much, if any, of the regular season. Rex Burkhead, James White and Jeremy Hill are the top three RBs on the depth chart. — Mike Reiss

Tennessee Titans

Safety Johnathan Cyprien (torn ACL)

Linebacker Rashaan Evans (undisclosed)

Prognosis: Cyprien went down during a team period in practice last week when he was rushing the quarterback, and he will miss the season. Tennessee signed former Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro after Cyprien went down. Evans left practice on July 28 with what coach Mike Vrabel said were heat issues. The rookie first-round pick has not returned or been seen on the sideline during practice, and Vrabel said Evans is simply not ready to practice.

Other injuries: Rookie safety Dane Cruikshank (shoulder) was injured on kickoff coverage during the preseason opener against the Packers. The Titans recently signed safety Steve Terrell, which could be a sign that Cruikshank will be out for an extended time. Wide receiver Rishard Matthews has not practiced since the start of training camp because of an undisclosed injury. He has been seen running routes and catching the ball before practice with quarterbacks coach Pat O’Hara, but Vrabel said Matthews isn’t ready to practice. — Turron Davenport

Carolina Panthers

Right tackle Daryl Williams (torn right MCL, dislocated patella)

Right guard Amini Silatolu (torn meniscus in left knee)

Prognosis: Look for the Panthers to place Williams on injured reserve when the season begins with the hope he can return the second half of the season. Taylor Moton has played well since taking over at right tackle. Silatolu, meanwhile, will be evaluated week to week, and the hope is he can be ready for the opener. If not, the Panthers are looking at Greg Van Roten, undrafted rookie Brendan Mahon and possibly Tyler Larsen to fill right guard.

Other injuries: Cornerback Ross Cockrell went down with a fractured left tibia and fibula during practice late last month. The Panthers will wait until after Cockrell undergoes surgery before establishing a timetable for his return. — David Newton

Buffalo Bills

Defensive end Trent Murphy (groin)

Prognosis: Murphy has not practiced since Aug. 2 because of a groin injury. However, the starting DE was in uniform and participated in pregame warm-ups for the Bills’ preseason opener Thursday, suggesting he is close to a return. — Mike Rodak

Jacksonville Jaguars

Guard Andrew Norwell (calf)

Offensive tackle Jermey Parnell (knee)

Prognosis: Norwell, who felt some tightness during pregame warm-ups on Thursday, is expected to be limited for the next several days. The team will be careful with the All-Pro, who signed a five-year, $66.5 million contract in March. Tyler Shatley will get first-team reps while Norwell is out. Parnell missed the preseason opener, and he is expected to be limited for the next several days. He battled a knee injury late last season and missed three games before returning to play well in the postseason. Josh Wells started in Parnell’s place, and Wells will get first-team work.

Other injuries: Defensive end Calais Campbell (calf) returned to practice Saturday after being limited last week and missing the team’s preseason opener. Rookie defensive tackle Taven Bryan (abdominal strain) returned to practice on a limited basis Saturday, and coach Doug Marrone said he hopes Bryan will be fully cleared when the Jaguars travel to Minnesota on Tuesday for two days of joint practices with the Vikings. Bryan had been working behind Campbell throughout camp. Wide receiver Keelan Cole (foot) missed the preseason opener but practiced fully Saturday. — Mike DiRocco

Kansas City Chiefs

Safety Daniel Sorensen (torn meniscus, MCL damage, broken left tibia)

Linebacker Anthony Hitchens (hamstring)

Prognosis: Sorensen was injured in a special-teams drill in practice and won’t return for several weeks, at a minimum. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by Eric Murray, a fourth-round draft pick in 2016 who played in 14 games last season. Hitchens is day-to-day. He didn’t play in the preseason opener, mostly as a precaution, but he has returned to practice on a limited basis.

Other injuries: Running back Charcandrick West (concussion) only recently returned to practice on a limited basis after missing most of training camp. His injury left an opening for free-agent addition Damien Williams, who played well during camp and the first preseason game. — Adam Teicher

New York Jets

Left tackle Kelvin Beachum (foot)

Running back Isaiah Crowell (likely concussion)

Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa (thumb)

Prognosis: Beachum, spotted in a walking boot, was hurt during the first week of camp, and this could be the most significant injury of Jets camp. The Jets said he is week-to-week, which means he could miss a big chunk of the preseason. Brent Qvale started the preseason opener, making his debut at left tackle. Crowell probably won’t play in the second preseason game. This will mean more opportunities for rookie Trenton Cannon, a raw, former Division II player who needs all the reps he can get. Enunwa was injured early in camp and sat out the first preseason game, but the wrap has been removed, and he should return to practice within a week. A couple of well-traveled vets, Charles Johnsonand Tre McBride, have been getting extra time. They’re both bubble players.

Other injuries: Tight ends Jordan Leggett (knee) and Chris Herndon (undisclosed) also have missed time. Leggett, projected as a possible starter, has been sidelined since early in camp. He missed his rookie season because of knee surgery and could be experiencing residual effects. Herndon suffered “a couple of bruises” in practice, causing him to miss the preseason opener. Coach Todd Bowles refused to provide any specifics, but the injury is likely more significant than the day-to-day variety. Neal Sterling (ankle) got banged up in the first game, so the Jets are down to two healthy tight ends — Eric Tomlinson and Clive Walford. Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (surgically repaired ankle) was held out of the opener as a precaution, but he has been practicing and should make his debut against his previous team, the Redskins, this week. Nose tackle Steve McLendon (leg) was hurt early in camp, causing him to miss the opener. He has had hamstring issues in the past and usually needs a few weeks. The Jets have a competent backup in Mike Pennel. Kicker Cairo Santos experienced leg tightness from the start of camp and hasn’t done any kicking, creating a chance for Taylor Bertolet. — Rich Cimini

Arizona Cardinals

Center A.Q. Shipley (torn ACL)

Linebacker Deone Bucannon (hyperextended knee)

Prognosis: Shipley tore his ACL in practice last week, and he is done for the season. The six-year NFL veteran started all 16 games in each of the past two seasons, and he has been a stalwart for the Cardinals. Rookie Mason Cole, a third-round draft pick, replaced Shipley with the first unit after the injury. Bucannon has been out more than a week after suffering his injury in a team drill. The backup on the current depth chart had been Jeremy Cash, who has played in nine NFL games over the past two seasons. Cash returned a fumble for a touchdown in Saturday night’s win over the Chargers, but he left on a cart with a knee injury in the third quarter after landing awkwardly trying to make a tackle on a running play. Coach Steve Wilks had no update on Cash after the game. Bucannon could return to practice as soon as this coming week; until that happens it isn’t clear who will fill in for Bucannon and Cash as the money linebacker. — Jose Romero


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