Wednesday NFL preview: Broncos significantly change RB depth chart

NFL Nation reporters look ahead to Wednesday practices at their team's training camp.


Buffalo Bills: Tuesday's practice was a step forward for Bills receiver Percy Harvin, who did on-field rehab work for the first time since getting a platelet-rich plasma injection for his right hip earlier this month. But injury concerns cropped up at another position when tight end Charles Clay didn't finish practice because of a "nagging" problem with his right knee. "I'm fine," he said afterward -- but it's a red flag for Clay, who dealt with a lingering right knee issue all of last season. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins must continue to monitor the health of their left tackles on Wednesday. Starter Branden Albert is working his way back from last season's knee injury and top backup Jason Fox suffered a concussion during the second preseason game, which could leave Miami scrambling to fill the position for Saturday's game against the Falcons. Coach Joe Philbin said Jeff Linkenbach and Dallas Thomas are two options to protect Ryan Tannehill's blind side. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: The Patriots practice for the second day in a row in preparation for Saturday's preseason game against the Panthers in Charlotte, and Bill Belichick said this is as close to a regular-season week as possible, with film work and scouting reports. Along those lines, quarterback Tom Brady is a top storyline. He has played 16 snaps over the first two preseason games and a larger workload awaits him this week. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: The Jets appear to have settled on a starting offensive line -- Willie Colon has all but secured right guard -- but there's still plenty of competition for backup roles, with eight legitimate candidates for four, maybe five spots. Former draft picks Brian Winters and Oday Aboushi, both of whom have starting experience, aren't locks. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens practiced Tuesday without two of their top four cornerbacks: Lardarius Webb (hamstring) and Rashaan Melvin (undisclosed). That underscores the importance of the Ravens adding Kyle Arrington in free agency and Tray Walker in the draft. Walker could benefit the most because he got some snaps with the first-team defense in the second preseason game. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: Arguably their busiest day this week, the Bengals will spend Wedneday meeting with reporters, going through position meetings and participating in their only true practice until next Tuesday. It could be an important day for linebacker Emmanuel Lamur and safety George Iloka, two players who left Monday night's game with injuries. Iloka had been declared probable to return from an in-game knee injury before trainers and coaches ultimately decided to end his night after 25 snaps. In addition to him and Lamur, we'll be keeping an eye on several others who didn't play due to a series of minor ailments. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: All eyes will be on Johnny Manziel to see if he returns to practice as planned. Manziel missed Sunday with a sore elbow and the Browns are hopeful he'll return Wednesday and play Saturday against Tampa Bay. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers' signing of Michael Vick deepened the backup quarterback intrigue in Pittsburgh. With Bruce Gradkowski out, watch how Landry Jones responds to the pressure. He has got a few more weeks to change his uneven preseason performance and earn a solidified spot on the team. Also, the team still has Tyler Murphy, who has worked at quarterback and running back for the team. The Steelers like his versatile skill set. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: Former Texans center Chris Myers' retirement yesterday was greeted with shows of respect from coach Bill O'Brien and new Texans center Ben Jones. Myers was the team's longtime center when Jones was drafted in 2012, and Jones played behind him until he was cut in March. "Just a wonderful guy," Jones said. "Anything on the field and off the field, you can always count on him." -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts plan to ease linebacker Robert Mathis (Achilles) into practice. Mathis, who came off the physically unable to perform list Tuesday, will take part in the walk-through portion of practice and individual drills early on. His workload will slowly increase as time goes on. There's no timetable on when Mathis will play in a game. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: RB T.J. Yeldon is scheduled to make his preseason debut on Friday against Detroit, but the Jaguars could be down a running back anyway. Toby Gerhart has been dealing with an abdominal strain and hasn't practiced the past two days. The Jaguars are treating Wednesday as a game-week Friday so if Gerhart is unable to do much, he's unlikely to play against the Lions. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: Ken Whisenhunt said he expects the Chiefs to be a big challenge Friday night, as Kansas City will likely play the game more like a regular-season run through than the Titans will. At least Tennessee saw the Chiefs last year at Arrowhead Stadium, one of two Ws on the year. The Chiefs also run a 3-4 defense, and the Titans work against their own version of that every day. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: In what is a significant flip of the depth chart, Ronnie Hillman again worked as the No. 2 back, behind C.J. Anderson, in Tuesday's practice and looks poised to keep that slot if he maintains his current momentum. The Broncos will practice against the San Francisco 49ers for two days this week before the two teams face each other Saturday night in Denver. Hillman leads the NFL in rushing this preseason, with 120 yards and a 7.5 yards-per-carry average. Those totals have gotten the Broncos' attention, who have moved him past Montee Ball on the depth chart, and with another quality week and quality outing Saturday, Hillman will enter the regular season as the No. 2 back. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs might like to see the Titans test cornerback Marcus Peters in Friday night's game. The rookie corner hasn't really been thrown at much in the preseason. Peters had three interceptions again in Tuesday's practice and dropped a fourth. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: On Wednesday, the Raiders will have their first full practice, and their first post-training camp practice, since their sloppy loss in Minnesota on Saturday. It will be interesting to see if there are any changes at cornerback. D.J. Hayden struggled badly against the Vikings and it may have opened the door for Neiko Thorpe as the Raiders try to find answers at the position. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: Manti Te'o's status for Saturday's game against the Seattle Seahawks is something to watch for this week. The third-year pro did not play after the first quarter in San Diego's second preseason game against Arizona, and did not practice on Tuesday. Chargers coach Mike McCoy did not provide any information on the Notre Dame product's health status, other than to say he sat out practice. Te'o has missed nine regular-season games in his first two NFL seasons due to foot injuries. -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: With Orlando Scandrick out for the year with a torn ACL and MCL, the Cowboys will look to Morris Claiborne as the starter with Tyler Patmon moving into the slot. With two preseason games left, the Cowboys have time to get both players up to speed. For now, however, they will not look for help outside the building. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: Osi Umenyiora's retirement news conference will take place before Wednesday's practice. Umenyiora was a key contributor to the Giants' two most recent Super Bowl championship teams, and the franchise is pleased to see he wanted to retire as a Giant after two years in Atlanta. "He's one of my favorite Giants," general manager Jerry Reese said on The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN FM on Tuesday. "He's one of the great Giants in my eyes." -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: All three of the Eagles' top inside linebackers -- Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans -- are practicing this week. That means there's a good chance of seeing how the rotation will work when the Eagles play the Green Bay Packers Saturday night. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: The Redskins are still awaiting word on linebacker Junior Galette's possible suspension, though they're hopeful they might learn his fate this week. They're anticipating a suspension of two games or less for off-field incidents. The good news for Washington is that Galette expects to play Saturday vs. Baltimore, his first action of the preseason. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: The Bears cannot afford more issues at offensive tackle. Charles Leno is competing against Jordan Mills at right tackle, and both have underwhelmed through two preseason games. But Chicago may have more serious issues. Veteran left tackle Jermon Bushrod left Tuesday's practice with a back injury, and will be monitored closely on Wednesday. A two-time Pro Bowler, Bushrod is the roster's most experienced offensive tackle and quarterback Jay Cutler's blind-side protector. Bushrod also missed the majority of the offseason program due to back problems. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: The Lions will have their final pre-Jacksonville practice Wednesday. DeAndre Levy missed practice Tuesday. It'll be worth keeping an eye the star linebacker's health; the more practice he misses, the less likely he is to play in Friday's preseason game against the Jaguars. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers will talk with reporters for the first time since the news was confirmed that his star receiver, Jordy Nelson, was lost for the season to a torn ACL in his right knee. Rodgers was outspoken immediately after Sunday's preseason game, saying it was disappointing Nelson got hurt in "a meaningless game." We'll see if his stance has changed. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: The team's offensive line could go through another change this week, with center John Sullivan missing time because of back spasms. Coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings are "just being cautious" with Sullivan, but it could put Joe Berger in line to start this week. It bears watching whether Sullivan will return to practice on Wednesday or Thursday before the Vikings head down to Dallas. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: As the Falcons return to practice Wednesday afternoon, strong safety William Moore bears watching as he continues his recovery from a left calf injury. Moore did some light running Tuesday but did not practice. The Falcons need a healthy starting secondary going into the season opener. Meanwhile, top cornerback Desmond Trufant returned to the practice field off a shoulder injury, which was a positive for the defensive backfield. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: Keep an eye on left defensive end Charles Johnson, who has missed the first two preseason games with a calf injury. He worked out on a limited basis Tuesday, but if he gets into any team drills on Wednesday, he'll likely play a few snaps Friday against New England. The Panthers have been without three members of their defensive front-four for much of camp. The return of Johnson -- along with defensive tackle Kawann Short, who has practiced the past two days -- should provide a better idea of how good this unit is. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: Sacks aren't everything. But the Saints are well aware they don't have a single one this preseason. They're one of only two teams being shut out, along with the Rams. It will be an emphasis this week as New Orleans prepares to host the Texans. The Saints feel pretty good about their defensive effort against the Patriots last week, when they forced three straight three-and-outs against Tom Brady to start the game. DE Cameron Jordan and OLB Hau'oli Kikaha both played well and got some pressure. But Jordan doesn't hesitate to admit that hitting the quarterback is one thing, while finishing is another. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: With wide receiver Mike Evans expected to miss the rest of the preseason with a hamstring injury, Louis Murphy and Russell Shepard are likely to get more reps in practice and the remaining exhibition games. The Bucs already know Murphy, their third receiver last year, can contribute to the passing game. But this is a chance for Shepard to show he can be more than a special teams player. -- Pat Yasinskas


Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals return to practice Wednesday with hopes of getting tight end Jermaine Gresham, guard Earl Watford and wide receiver Brittan Golden back after they missed Monday's practice. Watford will begin getting more snaps at right tackle, which will allow him to compete with Bradley Sowell for the starting job for the first three weeks of the season. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: Halfway through the preseason, the Rams still haven't settled on a starting center -- and they're beginning to run out of time. Tim Barnes started against Oakland with Demetrius Rhaney getting the nod against Tennessee. Barrett Jones, who is listed as the starter on the team's unofficial depth chart, is expected to start this week against Indianapolis. It's the third preseason game, which is often considered the most important. It's also Jones' best chance to stake his claim to the job and make his position on the depth chart more official. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: As the 49ers begin two days of joint practices with the Broncos on Wednesday, they have a familiar face working his way back into the lineup. Inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite, who started 16 games last season, practiced for the first time in camp on Tuesday and ran with the first-team defense, ahead of Nick Moody. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: There's still no end in sight to strong safety Kam Chancellor's holdout, which will have reached its 27th day by Wednesday. Given that Chancellor has already missed nearly a month of work, one would think his contract situation would have to be resolved by this week at the latest if there's any chance of him playing in Seattle's regular-season opener at St. Louis on Sept. 13. If not, Dion Bailey appears to be the likeliest candidate to start at strong safety. -- Brady Henderson