Tuesday NFL preview: How teams adapt after significant injuries

Who do the Ravens turn to without Steve Smith Sr.? (3:41)

ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley discusses how things will change for the Ravens with Steve Smith Sr. out of the lineup. (3:41)

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


Buffalo Bills: The Bills' excessive amount of penalties -- they are on pace to set an NFL record this season -- was the main topic Monday, but the Bills will turn the page Tuesday as players return to the facility after their off day. Rex Ryan said Monday that he had "no idea" of the status of wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf), but that he would learn more Tuesday. Ditto for running back LeSean McCoy, who could miss more time with a hamstring injury. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell has a lot of decisions to make just 24 hours into the job. The first order of business is determing the roles of his assistant coaches and what he wants to change schematically. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: After their bye, the Patriots returned to practice Monday for an extra session and welcomed back veteran C/G Ryan Wendell (illness) for the first time since the week leading up to the Sept. 10 opener. That means depth and reinforcements are on the way for an offensive line that has held its ground regardless through the first three games. Players get another day off Tuesday, before returning to work Wednesday in preparation for Sunday's road game at Dallas. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: The players will be in Tuesday to watch film of their win over Miami, and that's it for the rest of the week. Todd Bowles decided against having practices during the bye week. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday that he doesn't believe wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. will miss too much time with microfractures in his back. "He's probably got one of the all-time high pain tolerances that you're ever going to see," Harbaugh said. "He's on the Hall of Fame of pain tolerance." Smith is Baltimore's leading receiver with 29 catches for 373 yards and two touchdowns. The other Ravens receivers have totaled 25 receptions for 292 yards and one touchdown. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: The idea is to get to Sunday. At least, that's how Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick said he put it to fellow corner Adam Jones on Monday. Kirkpatrick said Jones was eager to do his normal weekly exercise routine, one day after suffering a groin injury in the Bengals' 36-21 win over Kansas City. Kirkpatrick said he told his fellow banged-up defensive back to go easy these next couple of days because Cincinnati has an important game this weekend against the Seahawks. Relaxing should come easy for Jones on Tuesday. The Bengals are off. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: Coach Mike Pettine said there will be no major scheme change and no major lineup change for the Browns' struggling defense. He believes in his staff and also does not see the need to be more involved. So it's back to work to try to get better. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: Wide receiver Markus Wheaton has a low ankle sprain, which means he has a chance to get back for Monday night's game at San Diego. More importantly, the third-year receiver needs a breakout. The Steelers expected more than eight catches for 156 yards and no scores through four games, but they have to get him the ball. The return of Martavis Bryant should help Wheaton because it slides him to the slot receiver position where he's comfortable. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: Texans coach Bill O'Brien took the blame for Sunday's loss in his postgame news conference, a view which one of his players said was nonsense. He talked again about coaching on Monday but gave a few more specifics on what he'd like to see improve. "We have to make an honest assessment of where we are right now," O'Brien said. "We've got to coach better. We've got to stop turning the ball over. We've got to put our players in better positions to make plays. We've got to tackle better. We have to catch the ball better. We can't continue to give up big plays and we have to eliminate penalties. We have too many penalties. Those are some things that we have to improve upon." -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts got good news Monday when starting cornerback Greg Toler returned to practice. "Good to go," coach Chuck Pagano said. Toler had been out since injuring his neck against the Chicago Bears in the Aug. 22 preseason game. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars could be on the verge of getting tight end Julius Thomas (hand) and defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks (knee) back for Sunday's game at Tampa. Thomas is being reevaluated by a hand specialist this week and hoping for clearance to begin catching the ball. Marks will increase his participation level in practice this week. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: The Titans expect all their injured players to be at least limited in practice on Wednesday. Cornerback Jason McCourty will play against the Bills. Others we will learn about when the team resumes practicing: right guard Chance Warmack, defensive tackle Sammie Hill and cornerback Cody Riggs. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: The Broncos formally welcomed back defensive end Derek Wolfe to the team Monday. Wolfe had been suspended for four games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Defensive line coach Bill Kollar put Wolfe through a stern workout Monday to gauge Wolfe's fitness, and the Broncos believe he is ready to contribute as soon as Sunday against the Raiders. Wolfe is expected, unless there is an unexpected issue in practice this week, to contribute quickly on early downs in the base defense. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs will stick with Zach Fulton at right guard in an effort to help their struggling offensive line. Fulton, who started for the first time this season on Sunday against the Bengals, is more experienced than Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the player he replaced. Duvernay-Tardif, who played in college in Canada, has often looked overwhelmed. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders are using newly claimed cornerback David Amerson a lot. With TJ Carrie moving to safety, Amerson is getting playing time since being claimed off waivers from Washington prior to Week 3. Amerson was a second-round pick, has good size and has made some plays. Expect him to stay in the mix. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: After a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, tight end Antonio Gates returned to the facility this week. He doesn't have to be added to the active roster until Oct. 13. During that time he can practice with the team, so essentially the Chargers have an extra roster spot for this week. "It's definitely good to have a guy of his caliber back," running back Danny Woodhead said. "It's not a bad thing to have a Hall of Fame tight end back in the locker room." -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: Lance Dunbar will have season-ending surgery to repair at least a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The Cowboys will have to find a way to replace his work in the run game, passing game and on special teams as the kick returner. While Jason Garrett said the team is always looking for help, Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Christine Michael will split the chores. Randle and McFadden are better suited for the third-down work and more familiar with the passing game but neither has the same skill set as Dunbar to work in space as a receiver or a runner -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: Expect the Giants to look into adding a tight end after learning Monday that Daniel Fells will miss the rest of the season with a staph infection in his ankle. Starter Larry Donnell, who's no help as a run blocker, will get a heavier workload, but he and undrafted rookie Will Tye were the only healthy tight ends the team had Sunday in Buffalo. They worked out veteran Chris Cooley last week, but they could add a lesser-known piece to give them some depth there. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly is preaching patience. He will stick with new kicker Caleb Sturgis after a couple of misses at Washington. And he expects his current group of players to calm down and start making plays on both sides of the ball. Kelly said this is no time to make radical changes in his offensive scheme or on defense. This team is capable of performing better than it has in starting the season 1-3. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: One aspect that can't be ignored from the Redskins' game-winning drive Sunday: Quarterback Kirk Cousins' trust in receiver Pierre Garcon. On the two throws he made on that last drive to Garcon, both involved sticking the ball in tight windows knowing Garcon likely would be hit hard right after the catch. But Garcon's toughness gives quarterbacks reason to make that throw; he never shies from contact and will fight to make the tough catch in traffic. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: As the injuries pile up, the Bears are expected to use Tuesday as an opportunity to kick the tires on available free agents. The Bears need to settle on a starting five on the offensive line for Week 5's road game versus Kansas City. Unless left tackle Jermon Bushrod returns from a concussion, the Bears' line may consist of Charles Leno, Patrick Omameh, Matt Slauson, Vladimir Ducasse and Kyle Long in raucous Arrowhead Stadium. There are also issues in the secondary, where Antrel Rolle's ankle injury leaves a void at safety. John Fox said he liked the safety combo of Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey in the second half versus Oakland, but both are rookies. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: The Lions are a mash unit heading back to the Midwest and might have to make some adjustments quickly. Tight end Eric Ebron (knee) and defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker (ankle) both suffered injuries that didn't appear to look good and were declared out for the game. Jim Caldwell will have a news conference at 3 p.m. Tuesday and updates on both players could be coming then. If the Lions lose Ebron for any amount of time, it would be a big blow. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: The Packers better solidify their pass protection this week with the Rams coming to town. The Rams ranked fourth in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt through Sunday's games, and Aaron Rodgers is coming off a game in which he was sacked a season-high three times by the 49ers. Fill-in right tackle Don Barclay allowed all three sacks and likely will have to play at least one or two more games before regular starter Bryan Bulaga returns from his knee injury. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: Vikings players and coaches won't mind having a bye this week after the team's long preseason. Coach Mike Zimmer said the early bye gives him a chance to do some self-scouting earlier in the season and hopefully fix problems before they become issued later in the year. He'll get time to do that this week before the Vikings return home to face Kansas City on Oct. 18. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: Falcons coach Dan Quinn said rookie running back Tevin Coleman should return to practice this week off a fractured rib, but Coleman's availability for Sunday's game against the Redskins remains unclear. Devonta Freeman, who has seven touchdowns in the past three games, is more than willing to share the load with Coleman for the good of the team. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: This could be the last Tuesday off for a while if coach Ron Rivera's new schedule works out. In an attempt to avoid his post-bye-week winless streak, Rivera will start giving players off on Monday next week, then practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The players' off day will be Friday. Rivera said if it works he might make it permanent. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: The Saints managed to get their first victory of the season without forcing any turnovers -- since the Cowboys didn't force any either. But that is unlikely to keep working for them. The Saints (1-3) have only three takeaways this season and zero interceptions. They'll need to improve those big-play numbers to get a win at Philadelphia this week. Luckily, the Eagles have been generous this season with eight turnovers, which was tied for third most in the NFL heading into Monday night's game. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: To little surprise, the Bucs cut Kyle Brindza on Monday. Expect them to have a new kicker in place by Wednesday, when they begin preparations for the Jaguars. Coach Lovie Smith said accuracy will be valued over power in his team's search to fill the job. Whoever the replacement will be, the bar is rather low. Brindza made just 6 of 12 field goal attempts this season. -- Andrew Astleford


Arizona Cardinals: A lot has been made this season about Larry Fitzgerald, Carson Palmer and Chris Johnson, but John Brown has quietly been increasing his numbers. He's averaging 57 receiving yards per game and had 75 yards in Sunday's loss to the Rams. But what's most intriguing about Brown as a fantasy option is that he was targeted 10 times -- tied for the game high -- on Sunday. The more teams start keying on Fitzgerald, the more Brown will be open. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: The loss of linebacker Alec Ogletree to an ankle injury is a significant one for the Rams. Ogletree was playing at a Pro Bowl level and some believed he was emerging as one of the team's two or three best players. The Rams must now figure out how to account for his absence. Daren Bates got the first shot to replace Ogletree against Arizona and figures to be part of a group that includes Mark Barron and Akeem Ayers as other alternatives for the position. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: The Niners' kicking the tires on Terrelle Pryor as a playmaker makes sense ... so long as they see him as such: a playmaker. Then again, they had Reggie Bush on the field Sunday and he had only two touches. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks escaped with a victory Monday night, but they need to get their offensive line figured out. Russell Wilson was sacked six times and fumbled twice in the team's 13-10 win over the Lions. If protection doesn't improve quickly, it will be difficult for this team to go into Cincinnati next week and beat the Bengals. -- Sheil Kapadia