Wednesday NFL preview: Eyeing Megatron's injury status

There's a chance Calvin Johnson will miss the Lions' game at Green Bay on Sunday. AP Photo/Rick Osentoski

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


Buffalo Bills: Rex Ryan stole the show Tuesday when he showed up to his news conference wearing a Clemson helmet, a nod to his son Seth, who is a holder on special teams for the nation's No. 1 team. That might just be the beginning of the pregame theatrics for Bills-Jets. All eyes will be on Ryan, Bills defensive end IK Enemkpali and Jets quarterback Geno Smith in pregame warm-ups when the Bills play their first prime-time game of the season Thursday night against the Jets at MetLife Stadium. Get your popcorn ready. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: Dolphins rookie running back Jay Ajayi showed enough in his NFL debut last week against Buffalo (41 rushing yards on five carries) to earn a bigger role. Ajayi is a promising fifth-round pick with power, size and burst who should get more work behind starter Lamar Miller this week against the Philadelphia Eagles. He also has fresh legs after sitting out the first seven games with a rib injury. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: The Patriots have an open roster spot after placing running back Dion Lewis on injured reserve, and Wednesday will provide an indication of which way the team is leaning. The options include: signing a free-agent runner or a practice squad player from another team, promoting defensive tackle Chris Jones or linebacker Dane Fletcher from the PUP list or focusing on a different position. The main question: Is the team comfortable having just three running backs on its roster (LeGarrette Blount, James White, Brandon Bolden), or is another needed? -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: The Jets will continue to evaluate cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who has a deep thigh bruise and significant swelling. Todd Bowles isn't optimistic about Cromartie's chances of playing Thursday night against the Bills. If he's unable to go, they will start Buster Skrine or Marcus Williams. Darrelle Revis will be on the other side, covering Sammy Watkins. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: Kamar Aiken is ready to assume the No. 1 wide receiver spot with Steve Smith Sr. out for the season. Just don't expect a big game from him Sunday, even though Baltimore is playing the NFL's 25th-ranked pass defense. The Jacksonville Jaguars have allowed only one receiver (Houston's DeAndre Hopkins) to gain more than 100 yards over the past six games. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals aren't ready to rule out the possibility that first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi will play this season, but they know he has a long way to go before he would be ready for any game action. After being sidelined most of the year with an ACL tear he suffered in his college bowl game last December, the offensive tackle was cleared to practice Tuesday for the first time this season. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander said he had some "wow" moments at both left and right tackle but that he still has a "mountain of information" to learn. Coaches and trainers will be interested to see how his knee responds on Wednesday's off day. It was his first on-field activity in 11 months. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: Rookie first-round pick Cameron Erving figures to get his first start Sunday in Pittsburgh. Left guard Joel Bitonio has an ankle injury. How prepared is Erving, who has bounced around several positions on the line? "That's probably the spot that I've taken the least amount of reps at," he said, "but offensive line is all the same. It's just all about getting a level of comfort at each position." -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: The workload for DeAngelo Williams is suddenly in question as coach Mike Tomlin said his feature back's midfoot area is experiencing inflammation. The Steelers must gauge how Williams feels in practice Wednesday, but he's been at the team facility working out and getting treatment, so expect him to get himself ready. Perhaps the Steelers will give a few more carries to backup Jordan Todman. And the Steelers won't go conservative with Landry Jones running the offense. He'll get the chance to convert key third-down throws against Cleveland. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: According to ESPN Stats & Information, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has two touchdowns, five interceptions, a fumble lost, seven sacks and a QBR of 36 in his four games against the Texans. All five picks were on passes thrown to A.J. Green. The tide might be turning for Dalton against the Texans, though. He won their last meeting to improve to 1-3 all time, and his excellent play to start this season might indicate his success will continue. A win on Monday would be especially sweet for Dalton, who went to high school in a Houston suburb. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts feel confident that veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck can still put them in position to win the AFC South while Andrew Luck sits out for as long as six weeks with a laceration in one of his kidneys and a partial tear of an abdominal muscle. Hasselbeck threw three touchdowns and didn't commit a turnover while leading the Colts to back-to-back victories in Luck's prior two missed starts this season. "Matt Hasselbeck will step right in again," coach Chuck Pagano said. "He will do a great job, and we will win football games with Matt." -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Marqise Lee is expected to increase his practice workload on Wednesday. If his hamstring handles the extra work well, there's a good chance he could play Sunday at Baltimore. He hasn't played since Week 3. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: Carolina will bring the NFL's top rushing offense to Nashville, Tennessee, on Sunday. The Panthers average 142.3 ground yards per game. Prior to holding Houston and New Orleans below 60 rushing yards, Tennessee had allowed at least 116 yards on the ground in five consecutive games. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: With Aqib Talib having lost his appeal of a one-game suspension, the Broncos will lean on Bradley Roby in the starting lineup Sunday against the Chiefs. Kayvon Webster is also expected to get some work in the team's specialty packages to cover for Talib's absence. The Chiefs figure to test Roby plenty, but the Broncos will not shy away from matching Roby against any receiver in man-to-man situations. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: Don't look for another big rushing game from quarterback Alex Smith, who ran for a career-high 78 yards and a touchdown in the recent win over the Lions. Detroit's coverages allowed Smith the opportunity to scramble for a lot of yards, but Denver's don't. On a couple of Smith's runs against the Lions, he didn't so much get great blocking but most of the defenders had their backs turned to him. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: In their past three games, the Raiders have been outscored 47-17 in the fourth quarter. Oakland is 2-1 in those games. The one loss was Sunday at Pittsburgh. In the first two cases, wins against the Chargers and the Jets, the Raiders were way ahead and surrendered scores in garbage time. Yet the Steelers game was a back-and-forth affair, with Pittsburgh winning in the final seconds. Playing a complete game will surely be a coaching focus as the 4-4 Raiders prepare to host Minnesota on Sunday. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: Mike McCoy said that the team will take the bye week to see how receiver Malcom Floyd recovers from a shoulder injury suffered in San Diego's loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday. So there's a possibility the 34-year-old Floyd could return this season. "It's day-to-day," McCoy said. "We'll see how that goes. Fortunately, we have the bye week this week, so we'll get a better evaluation as we go into next week." -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: Defensive end Jeremy Mincey is hoping the Cowboys will have a team meeting this week just to address where the team is going and where it has been, but not because of any kind of dysfunction in the locker room caused by the six-game losing streak. At 2-6, Mincey wants the younger players to understand the Cowboys are not out of a possible playoff chase, but the time to start playing well is now. Mincey -- who led the Cowboys in sacks last year but does not have one in the first eight games -- said he needs to raise his level of play as an example to others around him. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: The Giants are hoping to get good news on cornerback Prince Amukamara this week. He missed the past four games with a pectoral tear, and when he does come back, he's going to have to wear a shoulder harness to keep from injuring himself further. But even if he's not at 100 percent, a return this week by Amukamara would help the Giants make a game of it against Tom Brady and the unbeaten Patriots. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: The loss of Jordan Hicks is disappointing. Hicks was hallway through a spectacular rookie season before tearing his pectoral muscle on Sunday night. But the Eagles should be OK since they are left with the three inside linebackers they expected to play this year: DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso. Ryans' ability to return from a hamstring injury should be clearer if he practices Wednesday. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: The Redskins lost yet another starter to an injury as center Kory Lichtensteiger was placed on injured reserve with a designated early return. He can't come back until the first week of the playoffs, an unlikely destination for the 3-5 Redskins. With Lichtensteiger in the lineup, the Redskins averaged 4.06 yards per carry compared to 2.37 without him. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: The Bears return home from San Diego full of confidence following their third come-from-behind victory of the year. There is no need to rush Matt Forte back from his knee injury in light of rookie Jeremy Langford's performance at Qualcomm Stadium. Langford (142 all-purpose yards) is capable of carrying the load in the backfield. The Bears also used Ka'Deem Carey and Antone Smith in their running back-by-committee approach with Forte out. Chicago avoided any serious injuries in their 22-19 victory, although it's unclear when Forte and Eddie Royal plan to come back. The news is better on linebacker Shea McClellin and center Hroniss Grasu, who both participated in pregame workouts with a member of the team's training staff and appear close to returning to the field. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: Pay attention to Calvin Johnson on Wednesday. The star wide receiver didn't practice Monday or during the team's bye week due to an ankle injury he suffered against Kansas City in Week 8. The Lions will need him desperately if they want to upset Green Bay at Lambeau Field on Sunday. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: Why do the Packers rank an uncharacteristically low 25th in total yards per game? Heading into Sunday's game against the Lions, they don't have any individual skill position player in the top 15 of his respective categories. Aaron Rodgers ranks 26th in passing yards per game, James Jones and Randall Cobb are 42nd and 44th in receiving yards per game, respectively, and James Starks and Eddie Lacy are 34th and 41st in rushing yards per game, respectively. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings' decision to sign linebacker Jason Trusnik comes as they wait to see how much linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks will be able to do with arm and rib injuries, respectively. Kendricks did not play Sunday, while Barr had his left arm in a cast after the game. Coach Mike Zimmer sounded optimistic about the recovery timetable for both, but if either is unable to go on Sunday, their absence would hurt as the Vikings try to rattle the Raiders' Derek Carr, who's been pressured less than any quarterback in the league. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: News of Luck being out 2-6 weeks will have an impact on the Falcons. Indy and Atlanta both have byes this week before meeting Nov. 22 in the Georgia Dome. Based on Luck's recovery timetable, the Falcons are expected to face Hasselbeck instead. Hasselbeck might be the best backup quarterback in the league, so it's not like the Falcons will be able to relax. Besides, they are fresh off losing a 17-16 decision to San Francisco and Blaine Gabbert, who made his first start in place of Colin Kaepernick. Hasselbeck would be the fifth quarterback the Falcons will face who was a backup at the start of the season, following Brandon Weeden (Cowboys), Ryan Mallett (Texans), Zach Mettenberger (Titans), and Gabbert. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: Coach Ron Rivera expects defensive end Charles Johnson (hamstring) to practice Wednesday for the first time since he went on injured reserve with a designation to return after Week 3. Johnson is not eligible to play until the Thanksgiving Day game at Dallas, but getting him back for practice will be a positive step for Carolina's second-all-time sack leader. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: A home loss to the Titans could easily take the wind out of the Saints' sails after they worked so hard to get back to .500 following a 1-4 start. But safety Kenny Vaccaro insisted that won't happen. "It hurts, but at the same time, it's not gonna break us. We've been resilient all year. We're not gonna win three, drop one, and all of a sudden we lose that. We just gotta keep pushing. Carolina's not helping, but we gotta keep pushing." -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: With Demar Dotson activated from the injured reserve designated for return list, the Bucs will have a choice to make at right tackle. Veteran Gosder Cherilus has played well in Dotson's absence this season, and Tampa Bay has enjoyed continuity on the offensive line of late. Dotson has started 49 of his 70 career games, but it remains to be seen if he'll slide back into his former role Sunday against the Cowboys. -- Andrew Astleford


Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals are 1-4 in their past five games at Seattle, their only win coming in 2013. But the Cards understand the road to the NFC West title will undoubtedly go through the Pacific Northwest, regardless of the Seahawks' record. As coach Bruce Arians said: "This our defending champs, and we have a chance to go up there and win again." -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: Aside from third-down issues on offense, another primary focus for the Rams this week is fixing their pre-snap penalty problems on defense. The Rams had five offside penalties last week and have been racking them up at an alarming rate. Rams coach Jeff Fisher joked that he'd have his defensive line 3 yards off the ball to keep it from happening. Although that isn't happening, it is a point of emphasis this week and must get better as the Rams prepare for the Bears. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: Jim Tomsula went on the radio on Tuesday and explained that he's sticking with Gabbert because of the things he did in a win over the Falcons. Tomsula, though, would not commit to Gabbert's status as the starter beyond the Nov. 22 game at the Seahawks, leaving room for more speculation going forward. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: How big is Sunday's matchup against the Cardinals? According to ESPN's Football Power Index, the Seahawks currently have an 11 percent chance to win the NFC West. With a win, that number would rise to 21 percent. But with a loss, it would plummet to two percent. Yes, it's only Week 10, but the result of this game will go a long way in determining the division winner. -- Sheil Kapadia