Friday NFL preview: Will Bradford, Collins return Sunday?

Bradford says he expects to play vs. Pats (0:34)

The NFL Insiders crew reacts to Eagles QB Sam Bradford saying he is expecting to start for Philadelphia against the Patriots. (0:34)

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


Buffalo Bills: The Bills will continue to wait and see about the status of starting right tackle Seantrel Henderson, who has missed practice this week because of an illness, before they rule him out for Sunday's game against the Texans. If he can't play, the Bills will be starting Jordan Mills at right tackle against the NFL's best defensive player, J.J. Watt, a matchup that coach Rex Ryan admitted Thursday could pose a problem. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: Due to injuries and performance, the Dolphins (4-7) are expected to rely heavily on their rookie class Sunday against the Ravens (4-7). First-round pick DeVante Parker is in line to get his first career start in place of injured receiver Rishard Matthews (ribs, chest). Second-round pick Jordan Phillips and fifth-round pick Bobby McCain also could see extensive playing time at defensive tackle and cornerback, respectively. Miami will need its rookie class to step up in the final five games. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: Linebacker Jamie Collins has missed the past four games due to an undisclosed illness, but momentum is building for him to return Sunday against the Eagles, as he has practiced on a limited basis the past two days. Collins isn't expected to speak with reporters until he returns to game action. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: Coach Todd Bowles made red zone efficiency an offseason priority, and the hard work is paying off. The Jets lead the league with a 73 percent touchdown rate, more than double last season's league-low conversion rate. Trading for wide receiver Brandon Marshall (nine TDs) also helped. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: Kamar Aiken's best shot at his first 100-yard receiving game comes Sunday at Miami. The Dolphins have given up more than 100 yards to a receiver in five of their 11 games this season, including 131 yards and two touchdowns to Jets receiver Brandon Marshall last Sunday. Aiken has stepped up since Steve Smith Sr. suffered a season-ending Achilles injury; Aiken is averaging 66.3 yards receiving per game. He is also looking to score a touchdown in his third straight game. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: Will Tyler Eifert (neck/stinger) be ready to play for the Bengals on Sunday at Cleveland? As the days go by, it's looking less and less like that will be the case. The tight end has missed two practice days this week, leaving Friday and Saturday's up-tempo walk-through as the only opportunities he will have to see if he can play through the ailment he sustained while falling on a fumble last week. If Eifert can't go, the Bengals will turn to H-back Ryan Hewitt and rookie Tyler Kroft at the position. Eifert enters this week with an NFL-leading 12 touchdown receptions. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: The Browns will have their third starter at quarterback when Austin Davis faces the Bengals. But despite the inconsistency at the position, coach Mike Pettine has been happy with the production he has gotten from Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel and Davis: "Let's rank what our issues have been and what our problems have been, and that [quarterback] room is not near the top." -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: Linebacker Ryan Shazier (concussion) practiced Thursday and chances are growing that he'll play Sunday, but in the bigger picture, is the Steelers' defense going to hold this team back again? Fresh off Russell Wilson's five-touchdown game, the Steelers' secondary is at a crucial point entering a matchup with 40-year-old Colts quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who might actually have the advantage. The Steelers feel they can fix their problems, though. Cornerback Antwon Blake said the defensive backs are in the right places but are missing tackles. The Steelers are determined to get off the field and let the offense do the rest. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: By this time last season, Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney was already shut down for the season and headed toward microfracture surgery on his right knee. Having played in only four games last season, Clowney didn't have to worry about the rookie wall. He joked Thursday that he's looking to avoid that this season. He has played in nine of the Texans' 11 games and has been disruptive around the quarterback more than his statistics show. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: So much for age slowing down Adam Vinatieri. Vinatieri, who opened the season missing his first two field goal attempts, was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for November on Thursday. The 42-year-old kicker made all 11 of his field goal attempts and was 9-of-10 on extra point attempts last month. "Any time that you're recognized for good play is a special thing," Vinatieri said. "It's a great honor. It's hard to come by. A month, that means you've put four pretty good games together, you've helped your team win games and that kind of stuff." -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: Kicker Jason Myers missed practice Wednesday with tightness in his back, and the Jaguars were beginning to make contingency plans if the injury were to linger into the later part of the week, but he felt well enough to practice fully Thursday. Even though he missed his fourth PAT of the season last Sunday, coach Gus Bradley says the rookie has settled down since a midseason slump. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: Quarterback Marcus Mariota is incredibly even-keeled. He takes blame for things that aren't remotely his fault. Earlier this season he had no reply beyond "losing" when asked what bothers him. Mike Mularky has found another: "Guys hitting him late. He gets kind of pissed off about that. That's about all I've seen." -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: The Broncos, week after week, have been forced to adjust practice rotations in the offensive line as well as the rotations in games because of injuries. And in the win over the Patriots this past Sunday night, it was to the point where they replaced one injured player (Louis Vasquez) with a player who had not practiced the previous week because of his own ankle injury (Evan Mathis). This week both Mathis and Vasquez have been limited in practice, so while the Broncos know rookie Max Garcia will start at one guard spot Sunday against the Chargers, which one depends on who is the most ready of the other two guards. If Vasquez is, he would play right guard and Garcia would be on the left, while if Mathis is the most ready he would play left and Garcia the right. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: Offensive coordinator Doug Pederson suggested Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware would play at running back Sunday against the Raiders. "You see Charcandrick as more of that slasher, quick-cut guy, and then here comes [Ware], a big, physical guy that can hit you downhill. It's a change of pace for a defense." -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is getting excellent protection. Oakland has allowed just 14 sacks. It is tied for the fewest in the NFL with the Jets. Oakland has allowed a sack on 3.2 percent of all dropbacks, which is the second-lowest rate in the NFL. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: Coach Mike McCoy said quarterback Philip Rivers practiced fully for a second straight day after a surprise appearance on the injury report this week with a foot issue. McCoy doesn't expect Rivers to be slowed down by the injury when the Chargers host the Broncos on Sunday. "He didn't miss a snap," McCoy said. "He looked great. He looked phenomenal out there today, as he has the past three years." -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: If his comfort level in dealing with a broken left collarbone is good enough, Tony Romo is expected to travel to Washington with his teammates. Romo traveled to the three road games after suffering the first break on Sept. 20. The Cowboys want to keep Romo engaged with the team as he recovers from the injury, but they also believe he can be of help to Matt Cassel and the offense in terms of serving as a quasi-coach and making real-time adjustments. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: The Giants likely will be missing a couple of starters on defense Sunday against the Jets. Safety Brandon Meriweather has missed practice all week with a knee injury, and linebacker Devon Kennard has been out with hamstring and foot injuries. Kennard's absence would be a tough one, partly because he's been the linebacker with the speaker in his helmet, receiving and relaying the play calls from the sideline. If he can't play, Jasper Brinkley and Jonathan Casillas would be the most likely candidates to wear that helmet. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles go into the weekend as healthy as they've been all season. Running back Ryan Mathews (concussion/hamstring) was the only player who didn't practice Thursday. Quarterback Sam Bradford sounded like he expected to make his first start after missing two games with a concussion and shoulder injury. With the Patriots waiting in Foxborough Sunday, the question is: Does it matter? -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: Linebacker Keenan Robinson has missed the past three games because of a shoulder injury, but coach Jay Gruden said there's a chance he might be active Monday. It's a matter of regaining his strength. The question would be if he'd start. Will Compton has solidified his role as a starter in place of Robinson. But Compton can play either spot; however, the coaches like him in a leadership role. The other factor is Perry Riley Jr., whom the team feels plays better next to Compton. Riley injured his foot in practice Thursday and needed an MRI. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: The Bears will closely monitor the health of wide receiver Marquess Wilson on Friday. Wilson is the latest player to be injured at practice -- a common theme under John Fox. The head coach said Wilson injured his foot at the end of Wednesday's workout, which caused him to miss Thursday's practice. Wilson is third on the club with 28 catches for 464 yards. The Bears are already without receiver Eddie Royal (knee), who is expected to miss his fifth straight game Sunday when Chicago hosts the 49ers. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: The Lions are potentially back to having problems at right tackle after Michael Ola injured his knee in the second half against Green Bay. Detroit went back to its old starter, LaAdrian Waddle, but he had a holding penalty. The Lions have a long break before playing at St. Louis next Sunday, but they have to shore up that spot if Ola is going to be unable to play against a strong St. Louis pass rush. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: It's a good thing the Packers have a mini bye week after Thursday's game at Detroit. They're going to need all the time they can get in order to get some of their ailing offensive linemen back. Already without right tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle) and right guard T.J. Lang (shoulder) to start the game, center Corey Linsley (ankle) and left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) went down against the Lions. Who knows how many of those players will be available for the next game on Dec. 13 against the Cowboys. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings will see if nose tackle Linval Joseph can practice Friday, though Joseph's foot injury could keep him out Sunday against the Seahawks. Linebacker Anthony Barr will likely play with a groin injury, and safety Harrison Smith could return from a knee injury. Joseph's absence would be a key loss against the Seahawks' second-ranked running game. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: A shoulder injury for starting right guard Chris Chester might now be a concern for the Falcons. Chester injured his shoulder in last week's loss to the Vikings and didn't practice for the second consecutive day Thursday. If he doesn't return Friday, that could mean James Stone is in line to start against Tampa Bay. Stone had some mishaps snapping the ball at center but could be an asset in pass protection at guard. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: Panthers coach Ron Rivera tried a different practice schedule to end his winless streak in post-bye games earlier this season. It worked, so he used it again this week with the Panthers coming off a semi-bye weekend after playing a Thanksgiving Day game at Dallas. That means Friday is an off day for players to let their bodies rest after three straight days of practice. Speaking of rest, Rivera has a plan in place to get running back Jonathan Stewart fewer reps after seven straight games with at least 20 carries. That could mean rookie Cameron Artis-Payne is active Sunday after being inactive for four straight games. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: The Saints' defense has been far too kind to opposing passers this year, including Cam Newton in New Orleans' first game against Carolina. Newton threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns in the Panthers' 27-22 victory, the first time he has thrown for 300 yards in nine career games against the Saints, and his only 300-yard game this season. That has been a consistent theme for New Orleans' pass defense, which is on pace to allow the highest opponents' passer rating (115.9) and the most TD passes (43) in NFL history. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy's status for Sunday's game against the Falcons is still up in the air after he had an "undisclosed procedure" performed on his left hand. McCoy is hopeful he can play and should have a better feel for his status on Friday. -- Rick Brown


Arizona Cardinals: It's looking more like the Cardinals will be without running back Andre Ellington on Sunday against the Rams. He didn't practice for the second straight day Thursday. Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said the number of David Johnson's carries will be determined by the flow of the game, and that there's no predetermined number they want Johnson to hit. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: The Rams won't wait until late in the week to make a decision on their starting quarterback. Coach Jeff Fisher named Nick Foles the starter Thursday after quarterback Case Keenum was again limited in practice. Keenum still hasn't passed the concussion protocol. Foles will get his first chance to meet an NFC West division opponent twice in the same season Sunday against Arizona. It might not be such a bad thing since Foles had one of his two best starts of the season against the Cardinals earlier in the year, throwing for three touchdowns in an upset win. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: The question does not seem to be if the Niners place running back Carlos Hyde on injured reserve, but when. As noted in this space for weeks now, Hyde has not suited up since playing for the 49ers against the Seahawks on Oct. 22. No games. No practice. So what's the holdup? There are only five games remaining for the 3-8 Niners, and he will not play this weekend. The Niners have not scored a rushing touchdown since before he suffered a stress fracture in his left foot at the Giants on Oct. 11. And, if the Niners decide to activate either center Daniel Kilgore or rookie receiver DeAndre Smelter by their Monday deadlines, Hyde would provide a roster spot. So, again, what's the holdup? -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: Coaches maintain that the one area where Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has made the most progress is operating inside the pocket. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Wilson is completing 71.4 percent of his attempts when he stays in the pocket. That's the highest number of any quarterback in the NFL. Wilson is currently on track to set career highs in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating. -- Sheil Kapadia