There are only a few days until the first Sunday of the regular season and with the days dwindling, there isn't much time left for key players to make their way back from injury. This could lead to some interesting situations as players previously expected back are forced to sit out. It's possible one team will be without its starting quarterback, despite reports he was expected back for the opener.
That and more in the latest headlines from around the NFL.
The Jaguars' quarterback is practicing in a limited role as he attempts to come back from a fractured thumb, but if he's going to play in Week 1, he may have to play through some pain. Gabbert threw short routes on Monday and said the injury was "uncomfortable" and playing was about pain tolerance.
While he returned to practice, he's been limited and hasn't taken snaps from the shotgun. Gabbert inured his thumb in Jacksonville's second preseason game and will be three weeks removed from the injury by Sunday's game. He'll likely need to do more as the week continues if he's going to start and even then, he'll likely have to play through some pain.
Houston locked up a key piece of its defense, agreeing to a six-year extension with linebacker Brian Cushing. Cushing was entering the final year of his rookie contract and the Texans have a policy against contract negotiations during the season.
Terms of the deal have not been released, but the 26-year-old Cushing is likely to be paid like one of the top inside linebackers in the NFL. Battle Red Blog has framework of where they hope the deal lands.
I've been on record saying that his deal totals should fall, ideally, between San Francisco's dynamic duo of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Anything more may be too rich, due to Willis' impeccable resume, and anything less would be a great deal on general manager Rick Smith's part.
After fracturing his leg, there were some reports Andre Brown could return as soon as Week 4. Brown could still return this season, but will be out at least the first eight games of the season after New York placed the running back on injured reserve with the designation to return.
By rule, Brown can begin practicing after six games and is eligible to be activated after eight games. The timeline is longer than initially expected, although it should give Brown plenty of time to return to full strength. In the meantime, New York could be in the market for a running back. Ed Valentine of Big Blue View tossed around a few potential replacements:
Former Giants' running back Brandon Jacobs is available, and Giants' fans on Twitter consistently bring up his name. There have, however, been no indications the Giants are interested in a reunion with the volatile Jacobs.
Vacchiano also tweeted names like Ryan Grant and Kevin Smith "among others." Conor Orr of the Star-Ledger tweeted that the Giants may have interest in Ronnie Wingo, a 6-foot-3, 231-pound power back currently on the Buffalo Bills practice squad.
Following one year away, Robert Meachem appears on his way back to New Orleans. The 28-year-old wide receiver is reportedly on the verge of signing with the Saints after being released by San Diego. Meachem spent the first four years of his career in New Orleans. He signed a lucrative free agent deal with San Diego last year, but was a disappointment.
The Chargers released Meachem during final cuts, paving his return to the Saints. The potential move hasn't been well received by all Saints fans, including Dave Cariello of Canal Street Chronicles. Cariello didn't mince words, calling the potential signing a "terrible" move.
If true, I think this is a terrible, terrible, terrible move. Did I mention how terrible this move would be?
First of all, if Meachem wasn't good enough to cut it with the Chargers, how could he possible be good enough to join the Saints' deeply talented crop of wide receivers.
Hopkins missed the final two preseason games after suffering a concussion, but passed his concussion test and was cleared to play in the season opener. The rookie first-round pick is expected to start at wide receiver for the Texans against San Diego.
Battle Red Blog has more on Hopkins' path to gaining clearance, including a detailed look at the NFL's concussion protocol. Ten days ago, Hopkins was still in the first of five phases to gain clearance. In order to be cleared by team doctors then an independent neurologist, Hopkins had to go through a series of workouts that ensure concussion symptoms do not return.
Although he's been out of practice for two weeks, the Texans have the benefit of playing on Monday night and will have one extra day to get him back up to speed.
With rookie Le'Veon Bell still nursing a foot injury, Mike Tomlin said Isaac Redman will start at running back for Pittsburgh against Tennessee. The 28-year-old started five games last season, finishing the year with 410 yards on 110 attempts.
Tomlin said Redman has "answered the bell" for the Steelers in the past and Tomlin expects him to do so again "in a big way" moving forward. Like Bell, Redman missed time during training camp due to injury, but as Behind the Steel Curtain wrote, Tomlin gave Bell a "clean bill of health" on Tuesday.
The book on Trueblood: Quality run blocker, poor in pass protection. Good depth signing, but I'm not thrilled about the idea of him starting— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) September 3, 2013
Signing of Trueblood, workout of Bell tells you there's concern in Flowery Branch about tackle. Hopefully concern is more about depth.— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) September 3, 2013