Tuesday NFL preview: Backup QBs step into spotlight

Drew Brees uncertain for Week 3 (2:28)

ESPN Saints reporter Mike Triplett breaks down the latest on Drew Brees, who has a bruised rotator cuff and may not be available for New Orleans' Week 3 matchup against the Panthers. (2:28)

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


Buffalo Bills: The Bills experienced a scare Sunday when safety Aaron Williams was immobilized and taken from the field in an ambulance after suffering a neck injury. Williams, wearing a neck brace, was back in the Bills' facility Monday. Coach Rex Ryan said it would be "a stretch" for Williams to play Sunday against the Dolphins. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins have a lot of questions to answer about its defensive after allowing 396 yards to the Jaguars. Coach Joe Philbin denied a report that Pro Bowl defensive Ndamukong Suh freelanced. But Miami's coaching staff must figure out ways to get more out of Suh, who signed a $114 million contract during the offseason. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: The Patriots are off today, with Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia scheduled to hold conference calls. The theme of the past 24 hours has been turning the page from the win over the Bills to focusing on the Jaguars, a team that the Patriots don't know very well. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: For the second consecutive week, the Jets will spend the day after a win holding their breath on an MRI. This time, it's wide receiver Eric Decker, who left Monday night's game with a knee injury in the fourth quarter. Decker said he doesn't think surgery will be necessary, saying he was told it's likely a PCL sprain. The MRI will confirm it. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: First-round pick Breshad Perriman, who hasn't played this season because of a knee injury, ran for the first time in pregame warm-ups Sunday. Asked if that was a sign that Perriman was ready to play, coach John Harbaugh said, "Not that I've been told. I got no update on it." Baltimore has missed Perriman's speed at wide receiver. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: Bengals coaches made it clear Monday that there was no running back controversy in the wake of Jeremy Hill's benching Sunday. The second-year player was sidelined for his two lost fumbles that came in the same game Giovani Bernard exploded for more than 120 rushing yards. Hill remains the Bengals' primary back, and he will work to regain the trust of his coaches after taking Tuesday off with his teammates. He'll want to prove he can reestablish that confidence Wednesday. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: Another season, another ongoing quarterback discussion. Josh McCown again will go through tests to see if he is cleared from the concussion protocol. If he is cleared, he will practice Wednesday, and the Browns have to decide whether McCown or Johnny Manziel starts against Oakland. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers' offensive line has held up well without Maurkice Pouncey, and Week 3 vs. the Rams' front could be its biggest test yet. If Le'Veon Bell is set for a triumphant return after a two-game suspension, he will earn it against Aaron Donald & Co. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: Texans coach Bill O'Brien said the word "better" 23 times in his news conference on Monday and used the words "improve" or "improved" six times. He was light on specifics of what he wanted to see, and didn't want to evaluate many positions or coaches but included coaching, communication, execution, blocking, rushing, catching, throwing and tackling among the things that needed to get better. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts may have to look on the outside for help in the secondary because cornerback Vontae Davis will have to go through the NFL's concussion protocol before he's cleared to play in a game. Davis suffered the concussion in the first half of Monday's game against the New York Jets. The Colts were already without Greg Toler (neck) and Darius Butler (hip) against the Jets. Coach Chuck Pagano has been referring to Toler's status as week-to-week. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: The second-best thing for the Jaguars after picking up their first victory on Sunday: WR Marqise Lee made it thorugh the game without any problems with his hamstring or any other injury. Having him on the field helps the offense significantly because defenses have to respect his speed. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: As the Titans look to improve protection of Marcus Mariota, they'll be working to get to the line faster. At least for a game, they'll do it with Jamon Meredith as their right guard, as Chance Warmack is recovering from a sprained right knee. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: The Broncos will face a Detroit offense that has thrown the ball 83 times in the first two games of the season -- 53 times in Sunday's loss to the Vikings -- and unless the Lions decide they need to run more to protect Matthew Stafford, the Broncos figure to turn the rush loose. They feel comfortable in man coverage and that has allowed them to be aggressive in the rush. Thus far this season the Broncos have blitzed on about 32 percent of their opponents' passing attempts. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: Another offensive problem in addition to five turnovers against Denver last week is that the Chiefs have been awful on third downs. They were 0-for-7 against the Broncos and their 15 percent conversion rate for the season is the worst in the league. Improvement will be a focus during practice this week. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders are ecstatic about beating Baltimore to even their record at 1-1, and they should be. But Oakland must fix its defense. It has allowed 889 yards and 66 points in two games. Opponents are completing 72.2 percent of their passes. Basically, teams are moving the ball at will. That's too much pressure on the Raiders' young offense. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers could get a shot in the arm with injured starting offensive lineman Johnnie Troutman (forearm) and D.J. Fluker (ankle) returning to practice soon. Coach Mike McCoy, however, provided no indication if either player would return to the field on Wednesday. San Diego's offensive line allowed Philip Rivers to be sacked four times in a loss at Cincinnati over the weekend. "I'm hoping to get everybody back as quickly as possible," McCoy said. "It's not just those guys." -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: Even though he will not play possibly for the next eight weeks, Tony Romo plans to stay engaged in offensive meetings and help Brandon Weeden as much as possible. Romo's No. 1 priority will be his rehab, but Weeden wants Romo to advise him throughout the practice week and game day so his experience can help the backup quarterback, who will be making just his second start as a Cowboy. He did not perform well in losing his only start last year, but the Cowboys nonetheless remain optimistic this time around. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: It's tough to imagine CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (concussion) and LT Ereck Flowers (sprained ankle) recovering from their injuries in time to play Thursday night's game. Given the Giants' issues so far in coverage and in run blocking, those would be two tough losses for a team trying to avoid a second winless September in two years. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly says he will not make lineup changes after the Eagles' second consecutive loss of the young season. It is up to the coaching staff, he said, to come up with a game plan that gets the Eagles' running game going and allows the players to succeed. That process begins Tuesday, with meetings and a brief practice designed to help the players recover from Sunday's game. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: The Redskins might be without inside linebacker Perry Riley Jr. for Thursday's game at the Giants. Riley injured his calf in Sunday's win over the St. Louis Rams and coach Jay Gruden said his status is "up in the air." If Riley can't play, Will Compton would replace him. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: Jared Allen said on Monday the sky isn't falling around the Bears' facility, but Chicago is in trouble. The Bears are staring 0-3 straight in the face unless they clean up a ton of stuff before they travel to Seattle. The coaching staff is expected to stress discipline this week after they amassed a franchise record 170 penalty yards in Week 2. The defense is a mess. And the Bears must prepare quarterback Jimmy Clausen to play versus the Seahawks with Jay Cutler sidelined with a strained hamstring. Clausen's lifetime NFL starting record: 1-10. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: The Lions are off Tuesday, but pay attention to who the franchise brings in for weekly workouts. Neither Matthew Stafford in local radio and TV interviews nor Jim Caldwell in his weekly news conference committed to Stafford playing Sunday against Denver. While Stafford still seems like a likely bet to play -- he hasn't missed a game since 2010 -- he has already had rib, chest and arm injuries the first two weeks of the season. The Lions didn't rule out signing a third quarterback to the active roster this week, so pay attention if the Lions bring in some veteran quarterbacks for workouts. It might give a truer sign of Stafford's actual health prior to the first game prep practice of the week Wednesday. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: The good news is that RB Eddie Lacy has a chance to play on Monday Night Football against the Chiefs next week, despite his sprained right ankle, but the bad news is that the defense sustained another loss when backup DE Josh Boyd (ankle) was placed on season-ending injured reserve. It'll be another week before DT Letroy Guion is available after serving a three-game suspension. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings had Adrian Peterson on the field for 52 of their 65 offensive snaps on Sunday, which coach Mike Zimmer said is "about the number of plays we want him to play." Peterson touched the ball on 31 of those 52 plays, though the Vikings don't necessarily plan for Peterson to get the ball as frequently every week. "We're not going [to say], 'We're going to hand him the ball 31 times' or 'He's going to catch 10 passes,'" Zimmer said. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: Devonta Freeman was confident about being the Falcons' starting running back going into the season, but he was passed by rookie Tevin Coleman. With Coleman likely sidelined at least this week with a fracture rib, Freeman has a chance to reestablish himself, starting with Sunday's road matchup with the Cowboys. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers are going through film to study Luke McCown, who could get his first start since 2011 on Sunday if New Orleans starter Drew Brees can't play with a shoulder injury. This was supposed to be Carolina's first test against a quality quarterback after beginning the season against Jacksonville's Blake Bortles and Houston's Ryan Mallett. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott may be able to throw more caution to the wind to rattle McCown than he would with Brees. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees is waiting for a second opinion on the severity of his shoulder injury from Dr. James Andrews and hoping it will respond well enough to treatment to play Sunday at Carolina. But New Orleans will have to be prepared for the possibility that he misses his first game due to injury in 10 years with the Saints. That means devising a game plan that will be effective even with a hobbled Brees or with journeyman backup Luke McCown running the show. That's tough timing, considering the Saints' offense was already lacking explosiveness in the first two weeks. They can go back to the screen pass only so often. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The coaching staff was delighted with the way rookie linemen Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet played in Sunday's victory against New Orleans. They both held up well in pass protection and in the running game. If they can do that on a consistent basis, the offense will be in good shape. -- Pat Yasinskas


Arizona Cardinals: Heading into their off day, the Cardinals are still trying to determine who will start a right tackle Sunday. Earl Watford, who started in place of Bobby Massie during his two-game suspension, played well in the run game but struggled in pass protection. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: Rams coach Jeff Fisher offered a long list of things his team must improve after a disappointing loss in Washington. Stopping the run on defense and running effectively on offense top that list. Both are considered core tenets of what Fisher wants the Rams to be but their inconsistency in both areas has led to the team's inconsistent performance in the win and loss columns. Getting them fixed will be a major point of emphasis for the Rams this week. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: The Niners, one of the healthiest teams in the league last week, took some psychological and physical bumps and bruises in a 43-18 loss at Pittsburgh. They have to heal up on both fronts and, as coach Jim Tomsula reiterated Monday, "Own it. Fix it. Move on." -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: Last week, Seahawks coaches said they were placing an emphasis on Jimmy Graham's role. Sunday came around, and he was targeted just twice. The organization acquired Graham for a reason. They need to spend this week figuring out creative ways to get him the football. -- Sheil Kapadia