Sunday NFL preview: Looking ahead to debuts, returns

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


Buffalo Bills: LeSean McCoy is officially listed as probable on the Bills' injury report for Sunday's game against the Colts. McCoy said Wednesday he wasn't sure if he would be 100 percent, but when I told a teammate Friday about McCoy's comment, he said, "No, he's gonna be good." -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: Sunday marks the Dolphins' debut of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. After a dominant preseason, Suh, who has favorable matchup against Redskins rookie guard Brandon Scherff, will look to continue that momentum. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: The Patriots' most notable injury situation is with defensive lineman Dominique Easley, who left Thursday's season opener with a left hip injury. Rookie Geneo Grissom played the most snaps at the position in his place. With the timeline for Easley's return uncertain, how the Patriots proceed will be closely watched. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: For six months, the Jets have been talking about how they've improved their weapons on offense. In reality, they added only one impact player -- Brandon Marshall. Will it be enough? We'll know soon enough because the Browns have a top secondary. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: This is the first time running back Justin Forsett enters a season knowing he'll be the starter. He is looking to carry over a strong finish from last year. Forsett averaged 5.4 yards per rush from Week 10 on last season, second among running backs. With backup Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) out, Forsett will likely get close to 25 carries in Denver, including inside the red zone. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: Now that A.J. Green has signed his contract extension, keep an eye on how well he performs in his first game with the new money. Although Green kept saying he was handling his negotiations well, it seemed clear in the past week he was getting a little agitated over a deal not yet being done. With the Bengals Pro Bowler's contract now settled, his mind ought to be at ease entering Sunday's opener at Oakland. Like former Cincinnati receiver Chad Johnson tweeted earlier in the week, expect Green to have a "monster" day. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: Josh McCown becomes the 23rd starting quarterback for the Browns in Sunday's opener against the Jets, but with Johnny Manziel as his backup, McCown will learn quickly that speculation and questions will follow every game and every throw. McCown needs to play well if he wants to keep his job for the long term. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers' defense is scheming to make sure Tom Brady's four-touchdown performance doesn't rub off on Colin Kaepernick, who faces Pittsburgh next Sunday. The Steelers were flustered by Brady's ability to get the ball out of his hands in two seconds. They will likely leave one area of the field vulnerable, cover everything else and dare Kaepernick to detect the weak spot from the pocket, where he has traditionally struggled. On offense, the Steelers will keep riding the hot hand of DeAngelo Williams, a feature fantasy back, for at least one week before Le'Veon Bell returns. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: One teammate called Jadeveon Clowney a "monster" and another called him an "animal." Tales of how explosive he has looked in practice are plentiful. Now the Texans can't wait to see that translate to a big 2015 debut for the outside linebacker. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: Quarterback Andrew Luck will try to even his Week 1 record to 2-2 when he faces Buffalo on Sunday. Luck is 76-of-121 for 857 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions on opening day in his career. Both of Luck's losses in Week 1 have come on the road. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: Coach Gus Bradley said it is unlikely WR Marqise Lee (hamstring) will be able to play in Sunday's opener against Carolina, but keep an eye on RB Toby Gerhart. He'll be a game-time decision depending on how he moves and how his strained abdominal muscle feels. He had a good camp and preseason and is the Jaguars' top third-down back. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: Ken Whisenhunt tired of questions about the Titans' 2-14 season a long time ago. He starts his second campaign with the team against the only team that was worse last year. It's just one game, but the result will determine whether it's the same old story or whether the Titans may be ready for something new. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: Nobody is quite sure what the Broncos' offense will look like in Sunday's opener after an offseason of coach Gary Kubiak meshing what he has always done as a playcaller with what Peyton Manning has done as a quarterback. The Broncos are expected to look for big plays in the passing game, out of play-action, and just might run more three-wide receiver sets than people think. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: Getting big pass plays will be an offensive focus against the Texans. The Chiefs were last in the league in pass plays of 25 yards or more last season. The average distance of an Alex Smith pass was just 5.6 yards down the field, the worst for a quarterback since the stat was first tracked in 2006. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: A trend is going to end Sunday in Oakland. The Cincinnati Bengals are 0-10 at the O.co Coliseum (including one playoff game). The Raiders, however, are 1-11 in their home openers dating back to 2003. The last time Oakland won a Week 1 game was in 2011, at Denver. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: The Bolts open the 2015 season for what could be the team's final year in San Diego at Qualcomm Stadium. Foundational players such as Malcom Floyd understand what the moment means. The 12-year veteran plans to retire at the end of the year. Floyd, 34, has played his entire NFL career with the Chargers. "I'm just going to go play," Floyd said. "It's been tough already thinking how much I'm going to miss my teammates. I really can't let that get to me. But I can channel that into just playing harder for my teammates, and that's what I'm trying to do." -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys don't have DeMarco Murray anymore, but they promise they will continue to run the ball with Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar. They can draw on the success Murray had vs. New York when they meet in the opener on Sunday night. In his past five games vs. the Giants, Murray averaged 110 yards per game on the ground. We'll find out if it's the system or the player soon. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: The Giants will lean hard on two rookies in their opener. Safety Landon Collins will be asked to carry a lot of the load in the secondary, as he's the best-known quantity they have at safety. And Ereck Flowers starts at left tackle in place of the injured Will Beatty. He'll get an early test from the Cowboys' improved pass rush as Eli Manning's blindside protector. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have a light workout Sunday morning before flying to Atlanta for Monday night's season opener against the Falcons. Tight end Zach Ertz, who has the most significant injury, is listed as questionable after being limited in practice for three days. He is expected to be a game-time decision. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: The Redskins want to get the ball to tight end Jordan Reed, who was targeted 13 times in two games with quarterback Kirk Cousins last season. Miami did a solid job limiting catches to tight ends last season (an NFL-low 53). But the Dolphins ranked 28th in the league in yards per catch allowed by tight ends (12.53). -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: The Bears are searching for their first home win over Green Bay since 2010, but they enter the game with question marks at receiver. Alshon Jeffery (calf), Eddie Royal (hip) and Marquess Wilson (hamstring) are questionable and will be game-time decisions, according to coach John Fox. The pressure is on Jay Cutler to deliver results. Cutler is 1-11 all-time against the Packers. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: With Larry Warford out Sunday, first-round pick Laken Tomlinson will start in his regular-season debut. He fared well during the preseason when he was elevated into the starting lineup after Warford went down, but the regular season is a completely different situation. How Tomlinson does against San Diego could be a hidden key to how the Lions fare Sunday, particularly in the run game. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: We know receiver Randall Cobb will play Sunday against the Bears but what we don't know -- and what he doesn't know -- is how much pain he'll be in. He said this week his sprained right shoulder is still bothersome, but he feels he still can be effective. One hit or one awkward fall, however, could change that. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: After John Sullivan was placed on short-term IR on Thursday, the Vikings gained an extra roster spot they have yet to fill. The team could make a move Sunday to fill that spot, possibly by adding a player such as guard Isame Faciane from the practice squad. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: Both wide receiver Roddy White (elbow) and running back Devonta Freeman (hamstring) were listed as probable on the final injury report, meaning quarterback Matt Ryan will have plenty of weapons other than Julio Jones at his disposal Monday night even without Devin Hester (turf toe) on the field. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: Does Cam Newton have enough talent at wide receiver to be successful? That will be the question when the Panthers open at Jacksonville. The loss of Kelvin Benjamin left a huge hole in the receiving corps. The Panthers will try to fill that by a committee of Ted Ginn Jr., Corey Brown, Jerricho Cotchery and rookie Devin Funchess. But don't forget Newton can run. Keep an eye on how often he runs the read option and how often Carolina goes to the no huddle to keep the Jaguars off balance. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: The Saints' revamped offensive line will get a good test at Arizona -- especially new starting left guard Tim Lelito, who will face Pro Bowl DE Calais Campbell. Lelito painfully remembers his NFL debut against the Cardinals in 2013 when he made a spot-start as a rookie, pulled a calf muscle on the third play and allowed three sacks. He said it was rough watching the film this week. Lelito mostly faced Darnell Dockett, but he saw Campbell at times, too -- Lelito guessed everyone wanted a chance to "tee off on the rookie." Lelito feels much more prepared in Year 3. The Saints also love what they've seen from new center Max Unger, who knows the NFC West well as a former member of the Seattle Seahawks. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Rookie quarterback Jameis Winston has limited experience against 3-4 defenses. He needs to pick up blitzes or else he'll have a long day against Tennesseee. -- Pat Yasinskas


Arizona Cardinals: Sunday will be telling for the Cardinals in quite a few ways. How will Carson Palmer look in his return? How well will the offensive line protect Palmer? What will the defense look like under new coordinator James Bettcher? Then there are the questions about if wide receiver Michael Floyd will play and how effective the Cardinals' tight ends will be with a slew of injuries bothering them. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: The Rams enter Sunday's opener against Seattle in need of a fast start. In more ways than one. They haven't made the playoffs with a start of 2-3 or worse since 1952 and currently have the fourth-longest streak of seasons without a playoff appearance (10). They face four teams in the first five games that won 11 or more games in 2014, making that fast start an even more difficult task. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: The Niners have a day of rest Sunday, given they open up Monday night against the Vikings, and it's not as if they need a break. Only one player is listed on the injury report in CB Tramaine Brock and he is "probable" to play, a testament, perhaps, to new coach Jim Tomsula's kinder, gentler approach to training camp. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: Much of the attention this week has been on Kam Chancellor's absence, but the Seahawks' other safety, Earl Thomas, will be playing with a shoulder harness. He admitted it bothers him when he tries to high-point the ball. Given the Rams have a pair of 6-foot-3 receivers in Kenny Britt and Brian Quick, this could be one of the rare occasions when an opposing offense tests Thomas deep. -- Sheil Kapadia