Friday NFL preview: Pittsburgh's plan to replace Martavis Bryant

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant is facing a four-game ban for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

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


Buffalo Bills: Rex Ryan made a surprise decision Thursday by tapping EJ Manuel as his starter when the Bills host the Steelers on Saturday. Manuel will split first-team snaps with Tyrod Taylor and Matt Cassel, but they won't be surrounded by the Bills' full offensive cast. LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins, Percy Harvin and Robert Woods might all sit out the game. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are one day away from their third preseason game, at home against the Falcons. Ndamukong Suh and Miami's defense will look to continue its scoreless streak when starters are on the field. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: The Patriots visit the Panthers in the third preseason game for both teams, and the expectation -- barring a late change -- is that Tom Brady will get more playing time than the 16 snaps he has played over the first two games. The Patriots don't want to rush it with Reggie Wayne, but it could also be our first chance to see a possible Brady-to-Wayne connection. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: Rookie quarterback Bryce Petty could play the entire second half on Saturday night in the Jets' third preseason game, but there's nothing at stake in terms of the depth chart. There is no chance he will be the No. 2 quarterback for Week 1, according to Todd Bowles. Matt Flynn is projected as the primary backup -- but he could lose the spot to newly signed Josh Johnson if Flynn's hamstring problem persists. Petty will be playing simply to gain much-needed experience. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: Coach John Harbaugh indicated that there is still no timetable on the return of first-round pick Breshad Perriman, who hasn't practiced since spraining his right knee on the first day of training camp. That means Saturday's preseason game against Washington is another opportunity for Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown to establish themselves as the Nos. 2 and 3 receivers on the team. Aiken and Brown have combined for two catches and 34 yards this preseason. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: When the Bengals face the Bears inside Paul Brown Stadium on Saturday, 15 days will have passed between Cincinnati's preseason opener and the third game of its exhibition season. Within that 15-day stretch, coaches have granted the Bengals five official days off. Friday will be that fifth day. And while there won't be much happening at the Bengals' facility, we'll still be thinking about Cincinnati's linebackers. One-time reserve Vincent Rey has played well all preseason. Backup Chris Carter has impressed too, and should factor more heavily into Saturday's game plan. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: The team has Friday off as it travels to Tampa Bay for the third preseason game. With Johnny Manziel out due to a sore right elbow, Josh McCown and Thad Lewis will share the quarterback duties against the Bucs. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: Martavis Bryant's suspension for marijuana use compromises the Steelers' wide receivers depth. Expect the Steelers to give rookie Sammie Coates reps with the first team to get him into the flow of the offense. The Steelers are off Friday before playing at Buffalo on Saturday. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, like head coach Bill O'Brien, is pleased about Jadeveon Clowney's progress since returning to the football field. He noted, though, that in regards to the mental part of playing, Clowney is still basically a rookie. "I think that he's going to be enthusiastic, but he's going to make mistakes," Crennel said. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: Receiver Duron Carter was one of the standouts during training camp practices. He often made plays that gave you the indication he could compete to be the Colts' No. 3 receiver. Carter's play in practice has not translated into the games, though. The former Canadian Football League standout only has one reception for 16 yards in the first two preseason contests. "You get into the game and you just want to do everything the right way, and play like a little robot I guess," Carter said. "So really just in this third preseason game, go out there and be me and relax and do what I can do." -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: When the Jaguars play their third preseason game against the Detroit Lions at EverBank Field, it'll mark the first time seeing rookie running back T.J. Yeldon. He missed the first two preseason games with a strained finger on his left hand but resumed full contact this week. Yeldon likely won't start but still should get 5-10 touches with the first-team offense. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: Nose tackle Sammie Hill got solid reviews for his play in 2014. But as he has worked his way back from an offseason knee issue, Al Woods has done quite well in his place. Hill is expected to make his preseason debut Friday night at Arrowhead Stadium. He might feel the need to rise to the occasion considering how well his replacement has done. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: Newly signed left guard Evan Mathis participated in his first practice Thursday. Mathis did individual drills, but was held out of the team drills. The Broncos plan, however, is to have him ready for the Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the Baltimore Ravens. So, while Mathis will not play in Saturday night's preseason game against the 49ers or next week's preseason finale against the Cardinals, the Broncos are going to give him a crash course in the playbook and he's expected to steadily do more in practice over the next two weeks. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: The starters will play into the third quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are looking for better play from their starting offense, which has produced one touchdown in about three quarters of play. Many or all of the starters won't play in next week's final preseason game. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: With rookie tight end Clive Walford out, the spotlight is on Mychal Rivera. He was the Raiders' main pass-catching tight end last season with 58 receptions. With the regular season starting in 16 days, it may be a stretch to think Walford -- the team's third-round pick who's missed all but two practices of camp with a hamstring injury -- will be ready to make an impact in Week 1. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: Chargers players will travel to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar for the team's annual walk-through and autograph session on Friday, a day before hosting the Seattle Seahawks in their third preseason game. Quarterback Philip Rivers and running back Melvin Gordon, who did not play against the Arizona Cardinals last week, are expected to see the field against the Seahawks. -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys will have a brief walkthrough Friday at Valley Ranch after leaving Oxnard, California, a day earlier than scheduled, leading into Saturday's game against the Minnesota Vikings. For the rookies and newcomers, this will be their first game inside AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys did hold a minicamp practice there in the spring to help players get accustomed to the surroundings. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: The Giants are in the midst of a two-day recovery period designed to allow the players to heal and rejuvenate instead of banging away at each other on the practice field. Depending on the way they perform in Saturday night's preseason game against the Jets, this program of yoga, massage and other recovery techniques could be something they incorporate into their regular-season program. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles will travel to Green Bay Friday for a preseason game against the Packers Saturday night. Their hopes of testing their secondary against Aaron Rodgers may be dashed, though, as it appears the Packers quarterback will not play. Will Sam Bradford? All signs say yes. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: The Redskins' first-team offense needs to have a good showing at Baltimore on Saturday -- and that's not just on quarterback Robert Griffin III. The starters have not produced a preseason touchdown since 2013. They must run the ball better versus Baltimore, something they failed to do last week against Detroit. In order for the offense to have success, they must run well on first down. They gained gaining four yards on four first-down carries last week against the Lions. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: Friday is a closed walk-through practice before the Bears depart for Cincinnati. Head coach John Fox refused to rule anybody out for the Bengals game, but wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (calf), Marquess Wilson (hamstring) and Eddie Royal (hip) appear doubtful to play. The third preseason game is an opportunity for cornerback Alan Ball to improve his position on the depth chart. The Bears like Ball, who at 6-foot-2, is built to handle man coverage in a 3-4 defense. Cornerbacks Sherrick McManis and Terrance Mitchell have also enjoyed strong preseasons. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: The Lions play their third preseason game Friday night against Jacksonville -- and a bunch of roster spots, including at wide receiver and running back, are up for grabs. The main guys to watch there would be Lance Moore, Ryan Broyles, Jeremy Ross and TJ Jones. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: Coach Mike McCarthy and his staff will finalize playing-time plans for Saturday's preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. They will do so after one final practice on Friday, a session that's closed to the media and fans. The only remaining chance for fans to see a practice is Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. local. That's a change from the original schedule, which had the team practicing Monday but not Tuesday. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings will travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys on Saturday in their fourth of five preseason games. Coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings won't treat the game like a "dress rehearsal" by game-planning for the Cowboys. "It's still about us and seeing if we can do it against a team we really haven't studied much," he said. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons have a closed walkthrough Friday, so the chances of rookie running back Tevin Coleman aggravating his previously strained left hamstring are slim to none. Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Thursday that Coleman is ready to rock for Saturday's game at Miami, barring any last-minute setbacks. The only thing to watch for now should be how many snaps Coleman will play in his NFL debut. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: Quarterback Cam Newton was sacked three times and had his ribs cracked on a 7-yard scramble when the Panthers met New England in the third preseason game last season. Newton needs to get through Friday night's rematch healthy. He also needs to find a way to jump-start a first-team offense that has scored only once in seven series. A fast start from Newton would help. So would more support from his supporting cast, which dropped three passes last week. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: The final training camp practice should have some extra juice Friday night as the Saints move their operations to Tulane's Yulman Stadium for a prime-time session that could draw their biggest crowd to date. It will also give former Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin a home-field advantage in his tight battle with veteran Luke McCown for the Saints' backup job. Griffin needs a strong showing this week, including Sunday's preseason game against the Texans, to try to finally unseat McCown after falling short the last two years. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: With Leonard Johnson out with an ankle injury, the Bucs have been practicing with Sterling Moore and Isaiah Frey at nickelback. Moore played that role last year in a Dallas defense that is similar to the one Tampa Bay uses. The coaching staff wasn't pleased with what Johnson showed in the first two preseason games. With a strong showing while Johnson is out, Moore might be able to claim the job. -- Pat Yasinskas


Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals break training camp Friday with a morning practice and with hopes that running back Chris Johnson, cornerback Jerraud Powers and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon will practice. The three went through running tests during Thursday's practice, which could lead to their availability for Sunday night's game at Oakland. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: Rams receiver Brian Quick practiced all week without restriction for the first time since suffering a season-ending shoulder injury last October. He made it through the week without any apparent issues and coach Jeff Fisher said Quick is expected to play against the Colts on Saturday night. That's good news for Quick and the Rams, considering he was on his way to a possible breakthrough season before the injury in 2014. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: Aldon Smith? He's gone. Ahmad Brooks? He's in purgatory, so to speak. So the Niners, having completed two joint practices with Denver, will continue their search for a replacement pass rusher during Saturday night's third exhibition, against the Broncos. Paging Aaron Lynch, Corey Lemonier and Eli Harold. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll's group will get in one final day of preparation before heading to San Diego to take on the Chargers in the third preseason game Saturday. The focus this weekend will be on the run game. Robert Turbin and Christine Michael have averaged just 2.1 yards per carry on 28 runs in the first two games. Carroll indicated that Marshawn Lynch could see some action this time around, potentially providing a glimpse of where the retooled offensive line stands a couple weeks before the opener. -- Sheil Kapadia