By Doug Farrar
October 05, 2014

Here's the biggest news regarding active and inactive players for Week 5's early Sunday games.

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Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions (ankle) -- Megatron was basically a decoy against the Jets last week, but according to multiple reports, he'll be more than that when the Lions take on the Bills. Earlier this week, head coach Jim Caldwell hypothesized that Johnson might sit if his ankle wasn't healthier, but it's all-go for Sunday. Observers noted that Johnson looked good in pre-game warmups, which could lead to a pretty epic battle between Megatron and Bills cornerback Corey Graham, who's having a great season.

Odell Beckham, Jr. WR, New York Giants (hamstring) -- Big Blue's first-round pick in the 2014 draft finally makes his NFL debut against the Falcons. The Giants will reportedly ease Beckham, who has been dealing with hamstring issues since the preseason, into their offense over time, and now is as good a time as ever for Beckham to do so, as New York's offense is starting to gain traction after a very rough start to the season. Beckham may not see a high snap count, but the LSU alum has the potential to make big plays in the slot and outside from the word go.

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Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams (knee) -- The Rams' surprisingly potent passing game with quarterback Austin Davis gets a jump-start with the return of Austin, who's been out since Week 2 with an MCL sprain. St. Louis will line Austin up against the Eagles' spotty pass defense, and hopefully offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer can come up with imaginative uses for the speedster -- that's been an issue through Austin's NFL career. The second-year receiver caught three passes for 34 yards in the Rams' season debut against the Buccaneers.

Ben Tate, RB, Cleveland Browns (knee) -- The Browns have enjoyed outstanding performances from two rookie backs -- Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West -- and that's eased the sting of losing Tate in Week 1 with a right knee sprain. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has said that he'll use a "hot hand" approach when it comes to his backs, which means that the veteran could be fighting for reps in ways he may not have imagined before the season began. Whoever runs for the Browns against Tennessee's vulnerable front might have a field day.


Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets (hamstring)

Decker has been dealing with hamstring issues for a while now, and he will be inactive against the Chargers. Decker, the former Broncos receiver who signed a five-year, $36.25 million contract to play for the Jets in the offseason, has been a relative non-factor this season, with just 14 catches for 204 yards and two touchdowns. Moving from Peyton Manning to Geno Smith under center is the primary reason, but the injuries don't help.

Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers (back)

Davis gave himself a small chance to play with his back injury during the week, and he won't go against the Chiefs. The veteran tight end had been dealing with ankle issues earlier in the season and left last Sunday's win over the Eagles after taking a nasty hit in the back from linebacker DeMeco Ryans. Look for Vance McDonald to pick up his snaps, but losing Davis is a major blow to San Francisco's passing offense.  

Josh McCown, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (thumb) -- Tampa Bay's formerly moribund passing offense saw signs of life when backup quarterback Mike Glennon took the reins against the Steelers, and it's Glennon who will go against the Saints. McCown is still dealing with the sprained thumb he suffered in Week 3. Glennon is more mobile and has a better arm, so although the Bucs will be without receiver Mike Evans this week, good things could be coming versus New Orleans' highly suspect passing defense.

Jon Beason, LB, New York Giants (toe) -- Beason has been out since Week 2 with a toe injury, and though there was some hope he's return for the Falcons game, he'll remain inactive. Jameel McClain will continue to spot-start in the middle for the veteran.

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Kyle Williams, DT, Buffalo Bills (knee) -- Williams left Buffalo's Week 4 loss to the Texans with a knee injury, and he won't go against the Lions. That's big news for Reggie Bush, because Williams is the anchor of Buffalo's defensive line. Whether it's Corbin Bryant and/or Stefan Charles who replaces him, Williams' exit will leave a pretty big hole in the Bills' surprising defense.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers (ankle)/Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers (knee) -- As if there was any question, both Williams and Stewart will be out against the Bears. So, Darrin Reaves and Fozzy Whitaker will face a Chicago defensive front that could see more shutdowns than it consistently has through the season. Carolina's offense basically consists of Cam Newton and rookie Kelvin Benjamin at this point.

Jermon Bushrod, LT, Chicago Bears (knee) -- Bushrod injured his knee in practice on Wednesday, and he will not start against Carolina. The Bears have Michael Ola and Eben Britton to replace him. Bushrod isn't a top-tier pass protector, and his replacements are questionable at best, but Chicago should be okay as long as head coach Marc Trestman sticks with a quick passing game and a heavy diet of Matt Forte

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