NFL Week 1 injury roundup: Newton, Webb, Gilmore among key inactives
Good news for a couple of quarterbacks (Jay Cutler and Andy Dalton), as there are a pair of highly-rated cornerbacks who will miss Week 1. As for the Jaguars, expect a very young offense to take the field today against the Eagles. Here's who will sit out the first game of the NFL season.
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers (ribs) -- The story that's been speculated all weekend came true when Cam Newton led the Panthers' inactive list for their Sunday afternoon game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reported Sunday morning that head coach Ron Rivera was planning to hold Newton out against the Bucs, because his ribs are still an issue, and Tampa Bay's defense looks to be pretty special this season. The Panthers want Newton to be healthy for the majority of the season, so this appears to be a preventative decision. Derek Anderson will start for a Panthers offense that is already down its top three receivers from the 2013 season after the team was picked off in free agency.
Cecil Shorts III, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (hamstring) -- Jags people will tell you that they're very high on Allen Hurns, one of three rookie receivers (Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson) expected to see a lot of time against the Eagles. Hurns lit it up this preseason, and we'll see how he and the other kids do against a Philadelphia defense that has not been excellent against the pass.
Stephon Gilmore, CB, Buffalo Bills (groin) -- Though Gilmore practiced this week, he won't go against the Bears and their high-volume passing attack. It's a big hit for a Buffalo secondary that lost super-safety Jairus Byrd in free agency, and it will be Leodis McKelvin and Corey Graham starting outside against Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey. When Marshall moves into the slot, as he does quite often in Mark Trestman's offense, nickel corner Nickell Robey (how fortuitous) will deal with him there. Robey was one of the better slot men in the league last season, but it's tough to imagine the Bills matching up well here. Also, rookie offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio will be scratched after struggling in the preseason. That's bad news against a redefined Bears defensive line that looks ready to dominate this season.
Garrett Graham, TE, Houston Texans (back) -- Graham, who caught 45 passes for 54 yards and five touchdowns in Houston's anemic offense last season, will miss the opener against the Redskins in favor of rookie C.J. Fiedorowicz. The Iowa alum has the potential to steal a lot of starting time in the long term -- he's a quick player down the field, has good hands and can block well. He'll be joined by Ryan Griffin when the Texans go with two tight ends.
Lardarius Webb, CB, Baltimore Ravens (back) -- The Ravens were dealing with cornerback injuries all preseason, and they're rolling three starters at the position against the Bengals today -- Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson. Not only could A.J. Green feast on this situation, but Mohamed Sanu could grab a few passes against this undermanned secondary as well. Things are looking better and better for Bengals QB Andy Dalton in his first regular-season start since the new mega-deal.
De'Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Kansas City Chiefs (hamstring) -- Sadly, we won't yet see Black Mamba light up the field as he did in the preseason -- he was hurt during practice week. The Chiefs had the NFL's best special teams last year, but we'll have to wait a while to see what the rookie from Oregon, one of the league's fastest players, can do on returns when the games get real.