The start of the regular season is now just days away and with time running out before kickoff, a few injured players returned to practice on Monday. Two quarterback situations were resolved with a couple of others looking clearer by the day. All of that and more from Monday's NFL headlines.
In news everyone expected. Mike Shanahan officially named Griffin the Week 1 starting quarterback. Griffin's recovery from knee surgery has gone well and he recently proclaimed himself to be 100 percent. He didn't play in the preseason, but did return to practice recently and has been getting reps with the first-team offense. Shanahan said Griffin won't be limited against Philadelphia.
"If we didn't feel like Robert was full-go and able do all the things he can be asked to do, he wouldn't be in this game," Shannahan said, via Ian Rapoport.
While he throws ducks that even Billy Kilmer would make fun of, he has tremendous speed and when he runs, he can beat almost every defender to the corner. Maybe Kyle has dreamed up a scheme where he can use the strengths of both Griffin and White in certain short yardage and goal line situations.
Dennis Allen said he may not officially name a starting quarterback until Sunday, but a report from Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle said Pryor has indeed won the job.
Neither Pyror or Matt Flynn played especially well during the preseason. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, although Pryor does offer some long-term upside. Flynn has missed time recently due to a sore arm, making it even more likely Pyror would be the starter to open the season.
Jeff Spiegel of Silver and Black Pride argued Pyror isn't the better quarterback, but he is the best quarterback for the Raiders right now.
So is Pryor the better quarterback? You might be surprised to hear me say this, but I still believe the answer is no. If we rephrase the question, to say, "Is Pryor the better quarterback for the Raiders right now?" - then my answer changes.
My reasoning is simple: For starters, this team is a mess.
The offensive line is a mess, the receivers are a mess and the defense is a mess. In a situation like that, the need for a quarterback who can run and create offense all by himself is all the more important. This team no longer needs a quarterback to limit mistakes - at the rate the defense is giving up points it won't really matter - they need a quarterback who can keep them in games.
Blaine Gabbert missed the final two preseason games due to injury, but remains on track to return in time to start Week 1. Gabbert is "progressing as planned" according to Gus Bradley. He fractured his thumb during a preseason game.
As Big Cat Country detailed, Gabbert threw passes during practice on Monday, wearing a light wrap around his thumb. He didn't take any snaps from under center, so there is still progress needed. Assuming things continue on schedule, Gabbert will start against Kansas City. If there is a setback, Chad Henne will get the call for Jacksonville.
Despite being in a walking boot last week, Cruz is fully expected to be ready for the season opener. Conor Orr of the Star-Ledger said you couldn't tell Cruz was coming off an injury based on the way he looked in practice on Monday.
Victor Cruz was running a route during individuals, planted hard on the left heel and cut inside. For a guy that was in a walking boot a week ago -- even if it was just precautionary -- you couldn't tell he was injured at all.
Big Blue View has much more on the situation, including some quotes from Cruz on playing with the injury. Cruz said he can't think about it, and ran the routes in practice the same way he would in a game.
After missing most of the preseason due to a knee injury, Manuel returned to practice and the rookie quarterback could still start the season opener. Manuel is coming back from minor knee surgery, if he is unable to start, Buffalo will turn to undrafted rookie free agent Jeff Tuel.
As Buffalo Rumblings noted, the decision of who starts against New England could come soon. The team is off on Tuesday before returning to practice on Wednesday. Following that practice, Marrone could name a starter for Sunday.
With players off on Tuesday, Manuel's health will likely be monitored closely over the next two days, before practices resume in earnest on Wednesday. Marrone said last week (and has repeated it since) that a starter will be named on Wednesday.
There was some non-injury news on Monday with Cincinnati locking up Atkins to a five-year contract extension. Arguably the best defensive tackle in football, Atkins agreed to a five-year, $55 million deal. The 25-year-old is coming off a dominant season in which he racked up 12.5 sacks.
Cincinnati has been aggressive in re-signing its core players, locking up Carlos Dunlap to a five-year deal earlier this offseason. Josh Kirkendall of Cincy Jungle detailed Atkins' extension, including a timeline of how it came together. The deal has been in the works for months, even though Atkins and the team were reportedly "miles apart" on a deal earlier in the offseason.