Wednesday NFL preview: Why Le'Veon Bell could have a big week

AP Photo/Billy Hurst

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


Buffalo Bills: Already down LeSean McCoy (hamstring), the Bills' backfield took another hit Tuesday when general manager Doug Whaley revealed that Karlos Williams suffered a concussion in the Bills' loss to the Giants. The team signed Boom Herron later Tuesday, and expect Herron, Boobie Dixon and Cierre Wood to serve as the Bills' trio of running backs for Wednesday's practice and potentially for Sunday's game against the Titans. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: Wednesday marks the first practice run by new Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell. He vows to make Miami's preparation more physical and add intensity. Players will also meet with the media for the first time to discuss Miami's head coaching change. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: The Patriots practice Wednesday afternoon with run defense being a focus. The team added 650-plus pounds of beef to its defensive line in trading for Akiem Hicks and promoting Khyri Thornton from the practice squad last week, and it's no coincidence those moves came in advance of facing the Cowboys, whose running game is a top priority for the Patriots to limit. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: After a film session but no practice Tuesday, the players are done for the week. With a bye, they won't practice again until Monday. The coaches will work Wednesday and take a four-day weekend. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: Tight end Crockett Gillmore has a chance of playing Sunday against the Cleveland Browns after missing Thursday's game with a strained calf. If Gillmore can play, his targets would increase because wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. (back) isn't expected to play. If Gillmore is out again, Baltimore would rely on its two rookie backups. Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle have combined for five catches for 29 yards. That's not exactly stretching the field. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: Wednesday should at least offer a glimpse into which players could be in jeopardy of missing Sunday's game against Seattle. Cornerback Adam Jones (groin), safety George Iloka (ankle) and linebacker Vincent Rey (ankle) are the players whose practice status will command the most attention. Jones and Rey essentially said after last Sunday's game that they thought they would be OK this week. Iloka, who sat out Week 4, is trying to get ease back to full health. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: Pro Bowl CB Joe Haden (broken finger) decided he could not face the San Diego Chargers last Sunday. Mike Pettine said he hopes Haden feels more comfortable as preparation begins for Baltimore -- starting with Wednesday's practice. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: A hand injury limiting backup tight end Matt Spaeth is significant for two reasons. One, it would force Heath Miller into primary blocking duties for much of the game, which would reduce his pass-catching role for the second straight week. Two, Le'Veon Bell apparently likes Heath Miller's blocking -- he rushed for 129 yards last week while Miller opened creases on the edge. Look for this Miller-Bell marriage to continue against the Chargers. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: The Texans and Colts, who play each other on Thursday night, have the two worst turnover margins in the NFL. The Texans turned over the ball four times on Sunday against the Falcons. The short week has made it difficult for them to change anything specifically, but coach Bill O'Brien recognizes the importance of that stat in Thursday's game. "This game will be somewhat about who takes care of the ball best and who can take it away," he said. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: Running back Ahmad Bradshaw worked out for the Colts on Tuesday. The team has concerns about its backup running back position. Injuries ended Bradshaw's 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Colts early. "He's a warrior," coach Chuck Pagano said. "Everyone knew what he did for this team." -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: DT Sen'Derrick Marks is expected to participate in some of the team drills in practice Wednesday, the first time he has done that since he suffered a torn ACL in the 2014 finale. That may inidcate he could be on the verge of making his 2015 debut on Sunday in Tampa. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: After a week of reflection during the bye, the Titans still believe their narrow Week 3 loss to the Colts means they can compete in the AFC South. They have three home games against opponents from outside the division before they get to a game in Houston. Practice for the Bills starts on Wednesday. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: Wednesday will be a good gauge of where left tackle Ty Sambrailo is in his return from a left shoulder injury, which he suffered during the team's Week 3 win over the Detroit Lions. After holding Sambrailo out of this past Sunday's game against the Vikings, the Broncos put him through a workout Monday with head trainer Steve Antonopulos. The Broncos are hopeful Sambrailo will be able to play Sunday in Oakland. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: Though the Chiefs have a need for a nickel cornerback, third-round draft pick Steven Nelson has been inactive for the first four games. "He's a rookie,'' coach Andy Reid said. "He still is learning. That's understandable.'' The Chiefs will continue to evaluate Nelson in practice, and he'll make his debut if Reid and the defensive coaches feel he is ready. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders have injury issues at the return spots. Kick returner Taiwan Jones missed Week 4 with a foot injury. And last week in Chicago, punt returner (and starting safety) TJ Carrie hurt his chest and did not return. Both of their statuses are unclear, so the Raiders may be forced to use backups against Denver on Sunday. Star rookie receiver Amari Cooper is Carrie's backup at punt returner, and key running back Roy Helu return kicks with Jones out. Those options are not ideal. Just look at Carrie. He's a key defensive player and he got hurt returning. It's too risky. Oakland needs a designated returner but hasn't been able to find a suitable one yet. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: Edge rusher Jeremiah Attaochu entered last Sunday's game with just two career sacks in 14 appearances, but the second-year pro doubled his career total against the Browns. Attaochu hopes the impressive performance is a sign of things to come. "It definitely feels good to get a sack," Attaochu said. "That's a rewarding statistic. But beating our man on a consistent basis is probably more important than getting a sack, because sacks can happen by accident sometimes." -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: Greg Hardy will practice for the first time since training camp now that his suspension is over. Hardy said Tuesday he believes he will be up to speed for Sunday's game against New England despite missing the first four games, adding that he was able to maintain his strength and conditioning. And while the Cowboys will try to not overuse him Sunday, that might to easier said than done considering the importance of putting pressure on Tom Brady. In one game against the Patriots, Hardy has one sack of Brady. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: The Giants worked out four tight ends Tuesday, including former fourth-round draft pick Adrien Robinson. They're looking to fill the void created by blocking TE Daniel Fells, who is out for the rest of the season with a MRSA staph infection. They're also working with infectious disease specialists to make sure the infection doesn't spread around their facility, though at this point no other player or member of the organization is believed to have contracted it. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: Three of the Eagles' five starting offensive linemen were held out of practice Tuesday, a day when the session is geared more toward recovery than preparing for the next opponent. So Wednesday's longer session, which is devoted to game planning for Sunday's game against New Orleans, will be a better gauge of whether the Eagles have a small problem or a major crisis along their offensive line. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: When the Redskins return to practice Wednesday, they'll get a chance to see if DeSean Jackson might be ready to play Sunday after missing the past three games with a hamstring injury. If tight end Jordan Reed can't play because of a concussion, the Redskins could use Jackson's deep speed to diversify their attack. Sunday's opponent, Atlanta, has allowed 13 receptions for 20 yards or more (17th in the NFL), so there would be chances downfield for Jackson if he can play. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: Alshon Jeffery is expecting to return from a three-game hiatus Sunday against Kansas City, but he needs a good week of practice for that to happen. Additionally, Wednesday gives us a peak at how the Bears intend to replace injured starters safety Antrel Rolle and center Will Montgomery. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: The Lions are pretty banged up as they return to practice on a short week. DT Tyrunn Walker (leg/ankle) is out for the year. Haloti Ngata has a calf injury. Eric Ebron hurt his knee, and Travis Lewis injured his ankle. The Lions have not had DeAndre Levy all season, Brandon Pettigrew has missed the past three games, and Larry Warford was inactive Monday night against Seattle. Those are seven key question marks as Detroit prepares to face Arizona, one of the NFL's best teams. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: The Packers should find out whether right tackle Bryan Bulaga has any chance to play Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. Bulaga is three weeks removed from knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. The timeline for his return was 4-6 weeks, but coach Mike McCarthy said Bulaga could try to practice on Wednesday. The Packers could use Bulaga against the Rams' dominant defensive front. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings' trade for center Nick Easton suggests they're trying to accumulate depth in the event John Sullivan's back injury persists longer than expected. Sullivan is eligible to start practicing on Oct. 19 and can return on Nov. 1, but back injuries are unpredictable enough that the Vikings need to be prepared. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons made a series of roster moves Tuesday, but none were bigger than placing game-changing return specialist Devin Hester (turf toe) on injured reserve with a designation to return. Hester has yet to play in a game this season, and his ability to establish field position will be important for the Falcons upon his possible return in Week 13. He needs to be at full strength, however, before making a comeback because his speed and ability to cut is crucial to his effectiveness. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers will hold a short practice Wednesday before players begin a five-day break on their bye week. Coach Ron Rivera said Monday he was "pretty optimistic'' middle linebacker Luke Kuechly would be cleared from the concussion protocol over the next couple of days. If given clearance by the independent neurological consultant, this could possibly be Kuechly's first practice since before the Sept. 13 opener. Regardless, Rivera is hopeful to have him back for the Oct. 18 game at Seattle. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: The Saints will return to practice Wednesday, and it will be interesting to see how much QB Drew Brees, left tackle Terron Armstead and cornerback Keenan Lewis are able to participate. A case could be made that they are all among the five most important players on the roster, and they're all a little banged up. Brees returned from a shoulder injury last week and led the Saints to their first victory, but this week will be the first time he has had to recover from such a heavy workload. Armstead played through -- and appeared to be hampered by -- an unspecified leg injury last Sunday. And Lewis made his 2015 debut this past Sunday night following summer hip surgery, but he was limited to 18 snaps while the trainers addressed an unspecified injury during the game. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Connor Barth will return as the Bucs' kicker after being re-signed Tuesday to replace Kyle Brindza. Barth offers a reputation of consistency with Tampa Bay, where he went 91-for-108 on field goal attempts from 2009-12. His best year with the team was in 2011, when he went 26-for-28 on field goal tries. Barth spent part of the preseason with the Bucs but lost out in a competition with Brindza. After the rookie's struggles the past two weeks, though, Tampa Bay is banking on Barth's veteran perspective to deliver results. -- Andrew Astleford


Arizona Cardinals: After a day off, the Cardinals will report to work Wednesday looking to put Sunday's loss behind them. They'll also see how close RB Andre Ellington is to returning to the field. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: Rams players spent Tuesday talking about how quickly they had to move on from their big win against Arizona. That's because Green Bay and quarterback Aaron Rodgers loom Sunday. The respect for Rodgers in the Rams' locker room overflowed Tuesday. The defense knows it will have to spend extra time this week studying Rodgers to have a chance for two upset wins in a row. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: The Niners have issues all over the offensive side of the ball. So what did they do Tuesday? They acquired a middle linebacker from a 4-3 scheme to add to their 3-4 alignment in Gerald Hodges. Regardless of how that works out, it'll be little help to an offense averaging a league-low 12 points per game. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: Going into their Week 5 matchup against the Bengals, the Seahawks' run game is a question mark. Marshawn Lynch missed the Lions game with a hamstring injury. The team is optimistic he'll return this week, but will Lynch be 100 percent? We'll find out. Fred Jackson, meanwhile, could be sidelined with a high ankle sprain. Depending on the severity of his injury, the team could try to add a running back this week. -- Sheil Kapadia