Jadeveon Clowney ... may or may not start. He's only arguably one of the most hyped NFL Draft prospects ever, Bill O'Brien. You don't need to get sassy:
"He'll start? Really? That's news to me. We'll see when the game starts." O'Brien on Clowney starting.— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) August 7, 2014
O'Brien was addressing reports that the defensive end will suit up for the Houston Texans against the Arizona Cardinals. Clowney returned to practice Thursday after sitting with a lower body injury. His debut is certainly one of the most anticipated among this year's rookies, but unfortunately for fans, it appears they may have to wait until Saturday to find out whether he will be in the lineup.
As for other notable Texans, the team will not be taking its chances with veterans Arian Foster and Andre Johnson. Both will sit out against the Cardinals with their own nicks and bruises. Neither has much to prove by participating in a preseason opener.
Tyrann Mathieu was a revelation for the Cardinals before suffering a torn ACL late last season. He worked his way into the starting lineup as a rookie, and became a playmaker in what was already a talented secondary. The Cards are eagerly waiting his return, and thankfully they may not have to wait long. Via the Cardinals' official site:
"I expect to be at practice the next two to three weeks," Mathieu said. "Hopefully we can stick to that timetable."
Head coach Bruce Arians isn't so sure, apparently. Mathieu reportedly told the coach of his timetable, and got a gruff response. "I don't think he takes me too seriously," Mathieu said.
The Panthers are waiting patiently for the word from doctors to allow Cam Newton to play Friday night's preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills. Head coach Ron Rivera explained the situation to reporters during practice Thursday, saying, "We don't know the plan yet."
Newton is still recovering from ankle surgery, and has been limited in practice as a result. Rivera admitted that even if Newton does play, he won't be on the field for more than a series or two.
Losing a prized rookie to injury is always disappointing. Thankfully for the Giants, it appears that first-round wide receiver Odell Beckham is just about ready to return to the practice field after sitting two weeks with a hamstring injury. At least, Tom Coughlin was optimistic. Via the New York Post:
"[The Giants' trainers] have him doing a lot of things, and they're going to push him a little bit more [Wednesday] and then they're going to get a quarterback to throw to him and see how that goes, too," Coughlin said before Wednesday evening's practice. "So he's getting closer."
Tom Brady won't be starting Thursday night against the Washington Redskins, though there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with him. Rather, some are speculating that the New England Patriots want to showcase Ryan Mallett in hopes of enticing a suitor for a trade.
One of those suitors won't be the Baltimore Ravens, according to Ian Rapoport ...
Speaking of backup QBs, I thought #Ravens would be in the market for 1 (unlikely Mallett). But Tyrod Taylor’s impressed. May stick with him— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 7, 2014
... but quarterbacks of any merit are a rare commodity in the NFL. And teams have been known to overreact to an impressive performance (See: Flynn, Matt).
Then there's Jacksonville Jaguars rookie quarterback Blake Bortles, who will not get any work with the first team when they open their preseason against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Jags sticking to the script with Bortles. Team plans to work him only with the second team tomorrow, I'm told. Henne gets the 1st team reps.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 7, 2014
We're already creating excuses for Chad Henne being bad tomorrow.— /r/Alfie (@AlfieBCC) August 7, 2014
Jacksonville has maintained that the plan is for Bortles to sit for the entire season and learn under Chad Henne. It's unclear if he'll see any time with the starters at all during the preseason, or if the Jaguars would make a switch in the event that Henne is playing incredibly poorly.
Washington inside linebacker Keenan Robinson has had a strong training camp thus far. He's slated to be Washington's starter in the middle of the defense, but everyone's essentially had their fingers crossed hoping that he can stay healthy. He's torn two pectorals in as many years, and he put on pads in practice for the first time in over a year on Monday, as noted by the Washington Times. He'll still need to have a strong preseason -- and remain healthy -- to keep the inside linebacker job, but it's definitely his to lose.
Then there's Cincinnati Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron. Obviously, he was always a long, long way off from competing, but that didn't stop folks from asking whether he was potential insurance on the off-chance that the team couldn't get Andy Dalton signed to a new contract. Well, Dalton has signed a new deal and McCarron ... he has yet to practice with the team, as noted by NFL.com. Safe to say there's not much of a position battle going on here.