Thursday NFL preview: Will Jeffery and Murray be ready for Sunday?

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


Buffalo Bills: The strongest signs of LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins' availability for Sunday's game against the Giants came from Rex Ryan on WFAN radio Wednesday afternoon. Ryan said that Watkins "probably" will not play, and that McCoy doesn't have a great chance of seeing the field. Don't expect either player to practice Thursday. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are focusing on generating more of a pass-rush this week. Miami is last in the NFL with just one sack in three games, which was unexpected with star defensive linemen, such as Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: Patriots players are off from Thursday through Sunday on their bye week, and some are looking forward to heading back to their alma maters. Undrafted rookie center David Andrews, for example, talked about his excitement of returning to Georgia for Saturday's game against Alabama. Andrews, in a surprising turn of events, is the only Patriots offensive player to be on the field for every snap through three games. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: Thursday is a critical day of preparation for the Jets, as they fly to London after practice. They're scheduled for a light practice Friday across the pond, but it'll be tough to make corrections and adjustments after a redeye because of sleep deprivation and a five-hour time change. Thursday has to be a crisp practice. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is hot, and Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith is not. Still, history says Brown might have a tougher time than expected against a struggling Baltimore secondary. Brown has been held to less than 100 yards receiving in each of the three games Smith has started against the Steelers. The Ravens also catch a break with Michael Vick at quarterback instead of Ben Roethlisberger. Vick has thrown two touchdowns and three interceptions in three career games against Baltimore. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: Giovani Bernard's 5.7 yards per carry average may be turning heads in Cincinnati, but it's his growing knack for picking up blitzes that could be a difference-maker for the Bengals on Sunday when they host the Chiefs. The smaller-statured back locked up with blitzing linebackers on both of Cincinnati's key fourth-quarter touchdown passes in last week's win at Baltimore. With the 2014 sack leader, Justin Houston, coming to town this week, Bernard -- and fellow RB Jeremy Hill -- will have to know where the Chiefs linebacker is at all times. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: The Browns have given up 158.3 rushing yards per game through three games. Defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil meets the media on Thursday, when he'll certainly be asked about his unit's early struggles. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: Despite spot duty on short notice, Michael Vick could have a big night against the Ravens, who are allowing the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks at 20.3, according to ESPN Fantasy data. Vick has enough weapons around him to succeed. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Falcons receiver Julio Jones have mutual admiration for each other. Told Jones praised his work ethic, Watt returned the compliment. "He's a physical freak for a reason, because he puts in the work," Watt said. "Some of the things that he does on the field, both from a speed aspect and a strength aspect, he's a pretty incredible player to watch." -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts aren't overly concerned about Andrew Luck's right shoulder injury. If he's back on the practice field Thursday, it's safe to assume he's playing on Sunday against the Jaguars. Veteran receiver Andre Johnson and linebacker Robert Mathis should also practice after having Wednesday off to rest. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: Coach Gus Bradley said the news that Andrew Luck has a right (throwing) shoulder injury doesn't impact the way they're preparing for Sunday's game. There's no denying it's a huge benefit for the Jaguars if Luck is limited. He has thrown for 1,702 yards and 10 TDs in six games against Jacksonville. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: The idle Titans are now off until Monday, when they return to Nashville and begin to prepare for the Bills. Quite a few players said they will watch the Bills against the Giants on Sunday. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: The Broncos will hope for the best with rookie left tackle Ty Sambrailo, who did not practice Wednesday after suffering a left shoulder injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday night's win in Detroit. It is a point of concern for the Broncos since Sambrailo is already in the lineup because of Ryan Clady's season-ending injury in May. Coach Gary Kubiak said he hoped Sambrailo could practice at least some Thursday, but also added Sambrailo "plays smart,'' so if he's healthy enough he could play on Sunday against the Vikings without many practice reps. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: One offensive focus as the Chiefs prepare for Sunday's game at Cincinnati is to improve on third downs. Kansas City has converted on just 17 percent of it third-down plays, worst in the league. "We've had a bunch of mental errors, we've had penalties,'' quarterback Alex Smith said. "We've put ourselves in third-and-longs.'' -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: With Aldon Smith playing more in base defense and with Khalil Mack playing more linebacker than he has been, Ray-Ray Armstrong's repetitions went way down in Week 3 after being a starter the past two games. Also, after starting in Week 2, safety Taylor Mays didn't play on defense because Oakland used cornerback T.J. Carrie some at safety, while giving newly claimed cornerback David Amerson reps at CB. Expect these changes to remain the same. The Raiders were more competitive on defense in Week 3 than in the first two games. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: With three starting offensive linemen missing practice on Wednesday due to injury, San Diego likely will go with its third different starting offensive line combination in four games. But reserve center Trevor Robinson said the Chargers still can execute the team's offense. "I'm confident in myself and I'm confident in everybody, whoever those five are," Robinson said "I don't know who it's going to be, but I'm confident we can give ourselves a chance to win." -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys have not been a team that's afraid to take shots down the field in the past, and Brandon Weeden said he should have more chances to do so against New Orleans than last week versus Atlanta. But Weeden said his top priority is protecting the football. He needs to find that balance of aggressiveness and patience. In last year's game against the Saints, Tony Romo completed 22 of 29 passes for 262 yards. The Cowboys had only two pass plays of more than 20 yards, but they still scored 38 points. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: Victor Cruz's calf setback is disappointing, but the Giants haven't had him all year and have been able to operate their passing game just fine. Expect them to continue to try to feed the ball to Odell Beckham Jr. The bigger absence from practice Wednesday may have been Daniel Fells, the team's best blocking tight end. The Giants were extremely limited in the run game with Fells absent against the Falcons in Week 2 and will have a hard time running the ball against Buffalo's front even if he is in there, let alone if he has to miss the game. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have a couple of issues hanging over their heads as they go into their last full practice of the week. Can left tackle Jason Peters be ready? How does that affect Matt Tobin, who is expected to start for Andrew Gardner at right guard? And will DeMarco Murray's hamstring hold up well enough for him to be ready to play Sunday at Washington? -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins played one stellar half versus the Eagles last season, then an inconsistent one in a 37-34 loss. He finished with 427 yards passing, three touchdowns and one interception. What struck him most when re-watching that game was how different he looked as a quarterback in terms of fundamentals. Cousins said he's much better now than he was last September, and it was evident to him on film. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler is on the mend. The 32-year-old quarterback is expected to practice again on Thursday, raising hopes that Cutler can return soon from a hamstring injury. The health of Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) will be a hot topic on Thursday after Jeffery practiced in limited fashion on Wednesday. The Bears may have to sign a free-agent punter if Pat O'Donnell's knee injury doesn't improve by week's end. The team is scheduled to re-examine O'Donnell on Thursday before deciding whether to add another punter to the roster for the Raiders game. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: As Golden Tate prepares to face his former teammates in Seattle, the focus on Thursday will be his comments about Detroit's predictable play calling. You can bet coach Jim Caldwell and Matthew Stafford will be asked about it on Thursday, and with Joe Lombardi speaking Friday, this will be a topic of conversation all week. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: It looks like Aaron Rodgers may have to make due without receiver Davante Adams. He was in a walking boot on Wednesday to protect his sprained ankle. He limped off the field after just three plays on Monday night, and even though he said it's not a high ankle sprain, it could keep Adams out of Sunday's game at the 49ers. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings will have to monitor the health of wide receiver Jarius Wright, who did not practice Wednesday because of a hand injury. The team was already without wide receiver Charles Johnson on Wednesday because of a rib injury, and could have two of its top three receivers at less than 100 percent -- or out -- on Sunday against Denver. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: Receiver/return specialist Devin Hester wasn't supposed to return to practice Wednesday but ended up being limited coming off his turf toe injury. Hester missed the first three games due to the injury, which he aggravated during the third preseason game. It required at least four weeks to heal, so Hester seems right on track, although there's no guarantee he'll play against the Texans on Sunday. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: With new defensive end Jared Allen comfortable back at right defensive end in a 4-3 scheme and Kony Ealy moved to the left side, the focus returns to when middle linebacker Luke Kuechly will be cleared from the concussion protocol. There are no signs yet that it will be for Sunday's game at Tampa Bay. Since the Panthers are 3-0 without him, the thinking might be to sit him through the upcoming bye week so he has a full month to recover. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: By trading away defensive end Akiem Hicks, the Saints are putting even more faith in a young, inexperienced group of defensive linemen. Hicks was replaced in the base defense by undrafted rookie Bobby Richardson over the past two weeks. And the Saints' four backup defensive linemen are all rookies, as well (fifth-round pick Tyeler Davison and undrafted Tavaris Barnes, Kaleb Eulls and Obum Gwacham). The Saints were disappointed in Hicks' sagging production, but they should still expect some inconsistency and growing pains up front. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Coach Lovie Smith continues to emphasize the chance to improve to 2-0 within the NFC South with a victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. He made an appropriate boxing reference Wednesday, when he said, "In order for you to say that you're ready to make a move, you've got to knock out the champ." A victory over the Panthers, who have won the NFC South two consecutive times, would serve as a needed boost for a team that lost momentum with a poor showing in Houston during Week 3. -- Andrew Astleford


Arizona Cardinals: Bruce Arians said Mike Iupati's will make the call on whether he plays on Sunday, but Thursday brings another opportunity to evaluate RB Andre Ellington, who's still 50-50 for Sunday with a knee injury. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: Running back Todd Gurley is expected to see his role increase as the weeks go on, but he said he has some adjustments to make before he's back at full speed. At Georgia, Gurley rarely ran outsize zone plays, which requires patience he hasn't yet developed. He is also focused on getting his strength up to where it was before the knee injury so he can break tackles. Those are two things to keep an eye on with Gurley moving forward. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: Running back Reggie Bush returned to practice for the Niners on Wednesday, his first time suiting up since straining his left calf in the season opener on Sept. 14. His presence as a playmaker should take some of the stress off of beleaguered QB Colin Kaepernick as the 49ers prepare for the Packers. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll said that RB Thomas Rawls was one of his guys during the scouting process last offseason. Carroll liked Rawls' violent style, and the Seahawks signed him as an undrafted free agent. Through three games, Rawls is averaging 6.1 yards per carry on 18 attempts. Regardless of whether Marshawn Lynch plays Monday night (hamstring), look for Rawls to get touches. -- Sheil Kapadia