Thursday camp preview: Manziel looks to build on positive preseason

AP Photo/Ron Schwane

NFL Nation reporters look ahead to Thursday practices and preseason games.


Buffalo Bills: The Bills will limp into Cleveland without their top five running backs, receiver Percy Harvin and others for Thursday's preseason game against the Browns. Asked Tuesday if the Bills will have to curtail their offensive playbook in the game because of the run of injuries, coach Rex Ryan said, "We're absolutely going to be limited." The Bills just need to get through this one; they won't play again until Aug. 29. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins will continue their second day of joint practices Thursday with the Carolina Panthers. The focus will be on backup safeties Walt Aikens and Michael Thomas, as they compete to fill the void left by injured starter Louis Delmas. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: It is the second day of joint practices with the Saints in West Virginia, following Wednesday's session when Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo were sharp in the two-minute offense. Brady is getting a lot of work, as he catches up a bit after missing practice time Tuesday. So we should see a lot more Brady on Thursday. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: The Jets have an off day before facing the Falcons on Friday night, but it won't be a day of rest for new quarterback Matt Flynn. He's in a race against the calendar, trying to absorb the Jets' playbook before the regular season. Flynn, still recovering from a hamstring injury, needs to get healthy and convince the coaches he's worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: The most interesting battle of the Ravens-Eagles joint practices has become wide receiver Steve Smith versus cornerback Eric Rowe. After Wednesday's practice, Smith was starting to get irritated by the line of questioning from the Philadelphia reporters, who pointed out how Rowe broke up a pass to Smith in the end zone. "He made a play," Smith said. "You can write whatever you want. You're going to find out Saturday [in the preseason game]." -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: There have been some good battles between receivers and corners in the Bengals' training camp. They've been so good it hasn't been uncommon to see quarterbacks throw head-scratching interceptions, or wideouts occasionally make head-turning, one-handed grabs. Who will win Thursday? The offense? The defense? Cornerbacks Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick look to build on their strong preseasons, while receivers Mohamed Sanu and A.J. Green try to do the same as the Bengals officially close out training camp. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: The Browns play their second preseason game on Thursday night against the Buffalo Bills at FirstEnergy Stadium. It's no surprise, but the game is important to quarterbacks Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel. McCown looks to solidify his already solid position as the team's starter, and Manziel looks to build on what he's done in a generally positive training camp. Numerous Browns will not play due to injury, including WR Terrelle Pryor, RB Duke Johnson and CB Joe Haden. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: Trick play! With two days left in camp, the Steelers are in experimental mode on offense. Let's see what else they cook up in the red zone, where quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a lob to 6-foot-9 reserve left tackle Alejandro Villanueva on Wednesday for an incompletion. The Steelers had never practiced the play before. Pittsburgh takes "seven shots" in the red zone every practice, and that's where Todd Haley can throw some fun stuff the defense's way. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: Texans safety Rahim Moore didn't like his debut with his new team. "I felt like I let the team down, so I'm looking forward to me getting better this week. I approach practice ... as if I could get cut. Seriously, that's how bad I felt." This weekend Moore will face his former team, the Denver Broncos. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts will wrap up their second day of joint practices with the Bears. Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler said the Colts' defense, which has been inconsistent during Chuck Pagano's three years as coach, won the day in Wednesday's session. The two teams got through the first practice without any fights because, as linebacker Jerrell Freeman put it, "This is a class organization, so we understand and know how to practice." -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars' coaching staff met Wednesday night to determine which players will sit out Saturday's preseason game at the New York Giants. It's unlikely that DE Chris Clemons, who came off the active/non-football injury list on Monday, or safety James Sample, who came off the PUP list the same day, will play. The question will be whether rookie running back T.J. Yeldon (sprained hand) will make his debut against the Giants. He has been wearing a noncontact vest all week. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: The Titans have changed their offensive line this week, and the group with two new starters is likely to be the one that's on the field at the start of Sunday's game against St. Louis. We'll see if center Brian Schwenke (foot) is back in action and playing with the first team on Thursday. If he's out -- because of the injury or because coaches want a change -- against the Rams' premium front, the Titans could start only two of the same linemen from last week (left tackle Taylor Lewan and right guard Chance Warmack). -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: The Broncos have their final practice of training camp on Thursday morning, a noncontact workout in shorts and shells. That will be followed in the afternoon by a special-teams walk-through. After a brief walk-through on Friday, the team will depart around midday for its exhibition game Saturday against the Texans. -- Dennis Georgatos

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs will not practice Thursday as they prepare for Friday night's preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs have concluded the St. Joseph, Missouri, portion of training camp, and when they return to the practice field next week, it will be at their facility in Kansas City. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: When the Raiders drafted Miami offensive lineman Jon Feliciano in the fourth round, the early hope was he'd be able to start at right guard. He has to work on his quickness, but Feliciano continues to get plenty of work. He practiced at right guard with the second unit this week and has also seen time on the left side and at center. He is versatile, but he still needs work. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: Coach Mike McCoy will shut things down a day early, with the final day of training camp moved up to Thursday. The Chargers will have short walk-through on Friday before boarding a plane to Phoenix for the team's second preseason game against the Cardinals. Expect rookie running back Melvin Gordon to get a few more touches than the six carries he received in the exhibition opener against the Cowboys last week. -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: Jason Garrett likes to say injuries present opportunities. Rookie receiver David Porter worked out Sunday, signed later that day and had three touchdown catches in his first practice. By Tuesday he was working with the first-team punt return squad. The younger receivers haven't seized the moment in camp, and Porter has a chance to claim a roster spot if he can continue to improve and play well in preseason games. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: The Giants will have another evening practice Thursday, and after their top three wide receivers sat out Wednesday, they'll hope to get their first-team offense on the field together one more time before Saturday's preseason game against Jacksonville. Odell Beckham Jr. should be fine; he sat out because of dental work done Tuesday. But Rueben Randle (knee) and Victor Cruz (calf) are unlikely to play Saturday even if they do return to the practice field Thursday night. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: Baltimore wide receiver Steve Smith and Eagles rookie cornerback Eric Rowe got into a competitive tussle Wednesday. It will be fun to see how they bounce back -- and if Rowe is able to hold his own against the veteran Smith. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: The Redskins play their second preseason game Thursday night, and one battle to watch involves Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy for the No. 2 quarterback job. Cousins stood out versus Cleveland's second stringers last week; now McCoy gets his chance as the second man in after Robert Griffin III. Cousins has looked sharper this summer as McCoy's arm strength limits the throws he can make -- or when he has to make them. It's an important battle because the Redskins might keep only two quarterbacks this season. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: The Bears want to fare better on Day 2 of joint practices at the Colts' facility. This is especially true on offense after Jay Cutler said Wednesday the Colts "won the day." A key player to monitor is cornerback Tracy Porter, who left Wednesday's workout with a strained hamstring. The Bears will remain in Indianapolis following Thursday's joint practice, but will hold a closed practice instead of scrimmaging the Colts for a third straight day. Head coach John Fox feels most training camp brawls occur on the third day because teams have grown tired of each other. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: The Lions play their second preseason game Thursday night against Washington at FedEx Field. The main thing to look at is how players such as Taylor Boggs, Jermelle Cudjo and the outside cornerbacks fare as they try to build on good initial training camp performances in their fight for roster spots. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: Even though there are still three preseason games remaining, the Packers have shifted almost completely to regular-season mode. In fact, the players moved out of their dorms at St. Norbert College and now can stay at home, or -- in the case of rookies without a place -- a hotel. Unlike in the regular season, however, practices are still open to fans. Thursday's workout is the final one before the team leaves for Pittsburgh on Saturday. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: In their final day of practice before their third preseason game against the Raiders, the Vikings will continue to sort out their middle linebacker situation. Audie Cole, Gerald Hodges and Eric Kendricks have all gotten first-team work this week, and coach Mike Zimmer said the three will likely rotate on Saturday night. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: The new Falcons staff will get a more extensive look at a couple players on defense leading into Friday's preseason matchup with the Jets. Injuries to starting strong safety William Moore (calf) and starting defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman (concussion) mean Kemal Ishmael and Jonathan Babineaux move into starting roles. Babineaux is an experienced veteran who is accustomed to such a spot, while Ishmael shouldn't be a forgotten man as one of the best tacklers on the team. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers wrap up training camp Thursday morning at Wofford College with a second joint practice against the Dolphins. They also will be looking for a replacement for No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Wednesday. Rookie Devin Funchess might be the top candidate, but he's expected to be out with a hamstring injury suffered late in Wednesday's practice. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: Another day of Saints-Patriots practices, which means more Drew Brees and Tom Brady. The two all-time greats matched each other touchdown-for-touchdown on Wednesday, and their competitive juices will no doubt flow again Thursday. As Brees said, the chance to go against another opponent -- especially the defending Super Bowl champs -- kicks things up a notch. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs will hold their next-to-last practice of camp on Thursday, and it will be closed to the public. One player the coaching staff will be watching closely is rookie return man Kaelin Clay. He was drafted to handle kickoff and punt returns, but he played poorly in the preseason opener. If Clay doesn't show improvement, the Bucs will have to start looking at alternatives. -- Pat Yasinskas


Arizona Cardinals: Heading into their last day of practice this week before their second preseason game against San Diego, the Cardinals await the short-term fate of DL Corey Peters. He was carted off the field Wednesday with a lower-leg injury. With the news that LG Mike Iupati will miss six to eight weeks after knee surgery, Thursday will be the offensive line's first chance to practice knowing Iupati is for sure out. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: The Rams will practice in St. Louis for the first time in more than a week after spending the past six days in California. The actual training camp portion of this preseason is over, with no more practices open to fans. Coach Jeff Fisher canceled Wednesday's workout in Oxnard because of what he called a "tired" team. After traveling back to St. Louis, we'll see if that fatigue remains or if the Rams have fresh legs in their final practice before heading back on the road to Tennessee for the second preseason game. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: Aaron Lynch has returned to 11-on-11 drills after dealing with an undisclosed injury this offseason, and once he gets in game shape, the second-year outside linebacker is expected to lead the race to replace Aldon Smith on the right side. The Niners practice Thursday and Friday before Sunday's preseason game against the Cowboys, which gives Lynch more time to get used to the right side after spending 2014 on the left side. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks will hold a light practice before traveling to Kansas City, where they'll face the Chiefs on Friday in their second preseason game. Coach Pete Carroll's post-practice media availability should provide some updates on the statuses of a few injured players, as well as others in the secondary -- including free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman -- who recently returned to practice. -- Brady Henderson