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Wednesday NFL preview: Giants getting back two important players

NFL Nation reporters look ahead to what Wednesday has in store for each team.

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills: It's possible that the Bills could take a look at Ryan Mallett, who was released Tuesday by the Texans. However, it's unlikely they would sign him. Starting QB Tyrod Taylor is expected back after the bye week, and even if the Bills were looking to replace EJ Manuel as their backup -- and all indications are that they are not -- they have an in-house option in Josh Johnson, who knows Greg Roman's system. Mallett does not. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are feeling confident and believe the short week is to their advantage in facing the undefeated Patriots on Thursday. Miami got a chance to rest key starters in the second half of last week's 44-26 blowout over the Texans, and its only injury concern is starting cornerback Brice McCain, who missed last week's game with a knee injury. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: Wide receiver Brandon LaFell made his season debut and played 48 of 68 offensive snaps in Sunday's win over the Jets, but he struggled with drops. Quarterback Tom Brady said he still has a lot of confidence in LaFell, who once again should be a big part of the plan Thursday against the Dolphins. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: The Jets are perilously thin at safety. They have only two healthy bodies, starter Marcus Gilchrist and backup Dion Bailey. Starter Calvin Pryor is nursing a sprained ankle, so they may have to add a player or create a contingency. Cornerback Darrin Walls played a little safety in the preseason. -- Rich Cimini

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens continue to rely on the oldest wide receiver in the league. Steve Smith Sr. has totaled 588 yards receiving, which is 42 more yards than what the other six Baltimore wide receivers have combined to produce. This is even more impressive considering Smith missed one game this year and has played the past two weeks with four micro fractures in his back. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: How close to full health will the Bengals be when they return to practice Wednesday? There's a chance they could once again have their full 53-man unit at work. In an enviable position from a health standpoint, the Bengals haven't lost a player to significant injury for an extended amount of time since the regular season began. The active roster they had in place for the season opener is the exact same one they are still using in Week 8. Only Wallace Gilberry was out Monday as Cincinnati practiced for the first time since its bye. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: The Browns will see if Josh McCown's sore right shoulder permits him to practice. If he can't, Johnny Manziel gets starter's reps. The team still plans to start McCown, provided he's healthy enough to play. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers want to find a way to get Heath Miller going. The tight end has been non-existent in the passing game, catching one pass for 5 yards the past two weeks. The quarterback flux is part of it, and the Steelers have increased his blocking duties of late. But expect Ben Roethlisberger's return to boost Miller the most. -- Jeremy Fowler

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans: With the drama of the Ryan Mallett situation behind them, the Texans can now move on to their plentiful other problems. They did, after all, go down 41-0 in a half with Mallett simply standing on the sideline. Other than their special teams unit, Texans coach Bill O'Brien didn't have much positive to say about his team's performance, and there really wasn't a lot to like. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: The release of safety Dewey McDonald on Tuesday means fellow safeties Mike Adams and Clayton Geathers are in position to return after missing last week's game against New Orleans with knee and hamstring injuries, respectively. Adams and Geathers are expected to practice Wednesday. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars are bringing in several kickers for a workout on Wednesday, but the team may still stick with rookie Jason Myers. He has missed three field goals and is the only kicker in the NFL to have missed three PATs. It may just be a move to push Myers, whom the team kept instead of veteran Josh Scobee. General manager David Caldwell said before the season started that he knew Myers would have misses and the team would have to grow with him. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: The Titans secondary held up well against Atlanta despite beginning the game without starter Perrish Cox and Michael Griffin and losing Jason McCourty along the way. The Texans have a less threatening passing game, but Tennessee has to sort through who will be able to play in Houston. -- Paul Kuharsky

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos: Set to face a defense that has sacked quarterbacks almost as much as their own, the Broncos need a healthy week along the offensive line. Just twice in the previous four weeks has the starting offensive line practiced together, but the group worked together Monday. The Broncos will gauge Ty Sambrailo's readiness to play over the next three days of practice -- he has missed three games with a shoulder injury. Gary Kubiak has said if Sambrailo shows he's ready to play, "he's the starter" at left tackle. But it would help their pass protection, as well as their work in the run game, if the group could simply work together through the week before the Broncos face the Packers on Sunday night. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: Chris Conley and Albert Wilson combined for nine catches for 134 yards and a touchdown in last week's game against the Steelers, and that's significant because the Chiefs were hoping to develop at least one consistent wide receiving threat other than Jeremy Maclin. Their combined numbers likely won't be so high on Sunday against the Lions if Maclin returns after missing last week's game because of a concussion. But the Chiefs need at least one of them to keep contributing. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: Perhaps the most exciting thing about the Raiders' promising 3-3 start is quarterback Derek Carr improving in key areas. One area of Carr's improvement is the deep ball. He was not accurate as a rookie throwing 20 yards or longer last year. This season, he has thrown six touchdown passes of 20 yards or better, which is tied for the NFL lead. Yes, Carr is benefited by better production in yards after the catch, but he is also doing his part. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: Even though it came in garbage time, the Chargers believe they can build on the momentum created by scoring 23 fourth-quarter points in a loss to the Raiders last week. San Diego averages just 3.7 yards a carry, fourth-worst in the league. The Chargers have to create more balance on offense so that NFL passing leader Philip Rivers does not have to make every play on offense. "Unfortunately we lost," guard Orlando Franklin said. "But we scored 23 points in the fourth quarter, and that's phenomenal in this league. So I feel like the sky's the limit for this team, and we've just got to continue to get better." -- Eric D. Williams

NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys: Randy Gregory played only eight snaps in his return against the Giants after a four-game absence due to a high ankle sprain. Coach Jason Garrett put most of that on the lack of defensive work because of how the Cowboys controlled the ball. With Russell Wilson's ability to move around, Gregory's athleticism will be needed in a big way Sunday against Seattle. The Cowboys were able to hem Wilson last year with great success and will have to do that again this year. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: The Giants lost their best offensive lineman and their best defensive lineman to offseason injuries, and neither has played a down for them yet this year. But late Tuesday, they finalized a deal to bring back defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and his damaged right hand. And offensive tackle Will Beatty should practice for the second week in a row as he works his way back from his pectoral muscle injury. It's possible they could have both players back on the field in time for their Week 10 game against the Patriots or right after their Week 11 bye. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have scattered for their bye week, but coach Chip Kelly says a few players will stay in the Philadelphia area to continue rehabbing with the training staff. Several of them -- left tackle Jason Peters (back), linebacker Kiko Alonso (knee) and wide receiver Nelson Agholor (ankle) -- could be back for the Eagles' Nov. 8 game at Dallas. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said he still hopes to play in the Nov. 8 game at New England, despite having surgery to repair a broken bone in his hand Monday. Kerrigan said he'll have to play with some sort of apparatus, though he doubts it would be a club that covers his entire hand. He's one of many players the Redskins have health concerns about as they enter the bye week, but they're at least optimistic about his chances. -- John Keim

NFC NORTH

Chicago Bears: The Bears' 25th-ranked rushing defense has a tough assignment Sunday. Minnesota boasts the sixth-ranked rushing offense led by Adrian Peterson, who ran for over 200 yards in his last meeting against the Bears in late 2013. The Bears should have a better idea Wednesday about Antrel Rolle's and Shea McClellin's possible availability this weekend. Rolle was present at the open portion of Monday's practice, but the Bears were not required by the NFL to release an injury report. That changes on Wednesday when teams must officially disclose their injuries to the public. The Vikings have not won a game at Soldier Field since 2007 when Peterson rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: The Lions will have their first real practice under new offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter on Wednesday -- and they'll do it in another continent as they are in England prepping for Sunday's game against Kansas City. It'll be intriguing to see how much changes, if anything at all, Sunday against the Chiefs considering Cooter has never called plays before and is essentially learning on the fly in his first week on the job. Tough assignment for the 31-year-old to draw. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: The Packers lead the NFL in scoring defense for the first time since Week 15 of the 2010 NFL season. That means Sunday night's game at Denver is a matchup of the league's top two scoring defenses. The Packers have allowed just 16.8 points per game on their way to their 6-0 start, while the Broncos are tied for second in scoring defense at 17.0 points per game in their 6-0 start. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings have struggled to find consistency the past two weeks in the running game, with Adrian Peterson gaining 75 of his 98 yards on one run last Sunday. But their success beating the Lions' run blitzes with play-action passes -- and Peterson's ability to break big runs -- has the Vikings vowing to stick with the running game. "These teams that keep wanting to load up to stop our running game, they say, 'Hey, we're going to make Teddy [Bridgewater] beat you,'" coach Mike Zimmer said. "But they keep going and then all of a sudden Adrian [Peterson] will have a 15-yard run, then a 20-yard run, then a 75-yard run. If they keep gambling to stop the run, those things are going to happen." -- Ben Goessling

NFC SOUTH

Atlanta Falcons: Rookie receiver Justin Hardy, who has been inactive in all seven games up to this point, could see his first action Sunday with Leonard Hankerson day-to-day with a hamstring strain. Quarterback Matt Ryan said he fully expects Hardy to make an impact at some point. Maybe it will start immediately if he suits up against Tampa Bay. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers will put linebacker Shaq Thompson (knee) and offensive tackle Daryl Williams (knee) through individual drills today. If they return Thursday without any setbacks, both could be available for a Monday night game against Indianapolis. The return of Thompson, after missing Sunday night's game against Philadelphia, would be big for what he can do in terms of coverage and pressuring Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: The Saints have won the turnover battle 6-to-1 during their two-game win streak, which brings them back to even on the year for the first time since Week 1 (11 takeaways, 11 giveaways). The Saints never broke even in the turnover margin last year. Obviously it's easier said than done to try and win the turnover battle. But it's something coach Sean Payton put a huge emphasis on last week, pointing out to his team that they are 34-1 since he took over in 2006 when they don't turn the ball over. And it's a great sign that their young defense/special teams units have been so opportunistic lately with eight takeaways in the past three games. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: With wide receiver Louis Murphy (torn ACL) placed on injured reserve Tuesday, it will be interesting to see who the Bucs promote in a corresponding move. No matter the answer, it will be worth following tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins' progress as Tampa Bay returns to practice Wednesday. On Monday, coach Lovie Smith said he looked forward to having Seferian-Jenkins back from a shoulder injury that has sidelined the second-year player for the past four games. Will Seferian-Jenkins be back Sunday against the Falcons? We'll see. If he practices Wednesday, consider that a good sign. -- Andrew Astleford

NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals will be without cornerback Jerraud Powers for up to two weeks because of a Grade 2 hamstring strain, coach Bruce Arians announced Tuesday. Justin Bethel will take his place, and Arians is comfortable with that move, he added. But Arians warned the Cardinals are another injury at cornerback away from being in trouble. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: On Tuesday, the Rams officially placed linebacker Alec Ogletree on injured reserve with the designation to return, which means he could theoretically return in time for the last two regular-season games and any postseason contests the Rams might earn. But the Rams believe they've found a strong replacement in converted safety Mark Barron. He has been solid in Gregg Williams' defense and finished with 16 tackles last week against Cleveland, despite playing linebacker at a listed weight of just 213 pounds. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: As the 49ers begin to close ranks with rumors of Colin Kaepernick losing the locker room, Reggie Bush was asked what kind of leader the quarterback is for the Niners. "He's a hard worker," Bush said. "He works really hard." So there. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks have been known for using a lot of zone read, but last week they tweaked their run game. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, 24 of Marshawn Lynch's 27 carries came with Russell Wilson under center. Lynch ran effectively out of that look, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Will the Seahawks lean less on the zone read going forward, or was that simply a game-plan decision? It's something to keep an eye on going into Sunday's matchup against Dallas. -- Sheil Kapadia