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NFL Week 1 injuries: Latest on Emmanuel Sanders, Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham

NFL Week 1 injuries: Latest on Emmanuel Sanders, Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham

No week in the NFL is devoid of injuries, but some players questionable around the league are set to play in Week 1. Saquon Barkley, listed as questionable by the New York Giants, is cleared to play for Sunday’s showdown against the Denver Broncos. Emmanuel Sanders, another player listed as questionable, will play for Buffalo as he was not on the inactive report.

Austin Ekeler also will play for the Los Angeles Chargers (was not on the inactive report). The Chargers were optimistic Ekeler would play despite a hamstring injury. Among the inactives, Keelan Cole will sit for the Jets (knee) and Zack Moss was a surprise out for the Bills (ankle). 

Washington placed receiver Curtis Samuel on Injured Reserve on Friday due to a lingering groin injury, while Odell Beckham Jr. (knee) is questionable for the Week 1 against the Chiefs. However, Beckham is expected to play, per reports.

Those are just a few of the notable injuries to keep an eye on as the NFL’s first Sunday of action inches closer. Below is each team’s final Week 1 injury report along with some analysis about how these injuries could impact a particular matchup. 

All NFL odds come via Caesars Sportsbook. 

The Steelers do have a contingency plan if Highsmith is unable to go, as Melvin Ingram can fill the void at outside linebacker. Highsmith was a full participant in Friday’s practice after missing Thursday’s practice; what he’s able to do Saturday will likely reveal whether Highsmith will play in Week 1. 

Head coach Sean McDermott noted on WGR 550 that Star Lotulelei would be held out of Sunday’s Steelers-Bills game, while also saying that Emmanuel Sanders is questionable with a foot injury. Sanders will play. However, running back Zack Moss was surprising inactive.

The Jets could be down a few receivers in this game. Jamison Crowder was ruled out as he’s on the COVID list, and Jets head coach Robert Saleh said Cole will go “down to the wire” on his status for Sunday. If Cole can’t go, Denzel Mims and Braxton Berrios are expected to see an increase in snaps. Left tackle Mekhi Becton will start. 

Smith’s absence could lead to more snaps for rookie Terrace Marshall Jr., who had an impressive training camp. Sunday also marks the return of running back Christian McCaffrey, who missed 13 games last year while battling various injuries. 

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Campbell will play, according to Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer — while Chris Claybrooks will move up the rotation to take Herndon’s spot on the second team. 

No surprise Watson is out for the Texans, who look to keep him inactive all year. Pierre-Lewis was a non-participant in practice for the second consecutive day. 

The Cardinals lose one of their top pass rushers in Gardeck, who may be out multiple weeks. Overall, Arizona is relatively healthy heading into the opener. 

With Long out, Monty Rice could see a larger role at linebacker. A.J. Brown (knee) practiced in full and was not given an injury designation. He’ll be good to go. 

Chargers at Washington (-1)

  • Chargers: DB Trey Marshall (ankle) OUT; RB Austin Ekeler (hamstring) QUESTIONABLE
  • Washington: WR Curtis Samuel (groin) OUT

The Chargers have to be concerned with Ekeler, but he returned to practice on a limited basis and they’re “optimistic” he’ll play. If for some reason Ekeler has a setback, Justin Jackson will get the start. 

Washington put Curtis Samuel on short-term injured reserve, so he’ll be out at least three weeks. Samuel is the only player listed on WFT’s injury report. 

McLeod was a long shot to play for the Eagles in Week 1, yet alone start, as he’s still recovering from a torn ACL suffered last December. There’s a good chance the Eagles safety will be back for Week 2, but Marcus Epps is projected to start this week opposite Anthony Harris. Brandon Brooks will make his first start for the Eagles since Week 17 of the 2019 season (he missed all of 2020 with a torn Achilles). The Eagles right guard suffered a knee injury in practice and was limited Friday, but he’ll be good to go. Taylor was a full participant in Friday’s practice after missing the entire preseason with a calf injury. 

Arthur Smith will have the Falcons’ full 53-man roster healthy for Sunday. 

The Seahawks will have all 53 players on the roster available for Sunday. DK Metcalf was limited with a calf injury, but he’ll play. 

Julie’n Davenport is slated to start Sunday and protect Carson Wentz’s blindside following the retirement of left tackle Anthony Castonzo, and with Fisher still dealing with the injury he sustained with the Chiefs in last season’s playoffs. Davenport started 28 games during his first four NFL seasons, but had just one start during the 2020 season. BoPete Keyes is expected to start in place of Rhodes. A 2020 seventh-round pick, Keyes made eight tackles in his first (and only) NFL start, the Colts’ Week 17 win over the Chargers last season. 

With Barr out, Blake Lynch is slated to get the start for the Vikings. An undrafted rookie last season, Lynch made one start in four games in 2020. He had 10 tackles (including seven solo stops) in his first career start, a Week 16 loss to the Saints last season.

Waynes was not a participant in practice all week, as head coach Zac Taylor said he wasn’t going to play earlier in the week. The Bengals are healthy heading into this one, especially quarterback Joe Burrow — who is playing his first regular season game since tearing his ACL last November. 

49ers at Lions (+7.5)

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan still believes Kinlaw has a chance to play this week, so he won’t place him on injured reserve. Shanahan was mum on the other players on the injury report. Trey Lance (right finger) was limited in practice all week, but was not given an injury designation. Shanahan said the finger injury won’t change how he uses the rookie quarterback. 

Decker is trending towards needing finger surgery, so the Lions’ best offensive lineman could miss a few weeks. Head coach Dan Campbell says the Lions have a few options, but first-round pick Penei Sewell may be the top option to move to left tackle. Williams and Onwuzurike are two of the top three defensive ends on the depth chart. 

The Browns have a long list of players who are questionable, but the biggest mystery for Sunday’s showdown with the Chiefs is Beckham. Eleven months removed from knee surgery, Beckham was limited to individual periods of practice in training camp and did not play in the preseason.  Beckham has been ruled out. Harrison, Clowney, Tretter, and McLaughlin also start for Cleveland. Harrison and McLaughlin were full participants in practice while the rest were limited. 

For the Chiefs, head coach Andy Reid said Clark “has looked good the last couple days.” Tyrann Mathieu has been ruled out

Williams just got off the PUP list, but Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said he’s “working in the right direction.” Flores also was mum on the status of left tackle Austin Jackson and tight end Adam Shaheen, as both are on the COVID list. Liam Eichenberg is projected to start at left tackle Sunday if Jackson doesn’t get cleared. 

For the Patriots, Bill Belichick is typically mum on injuries until 90 minutes before the game. All the players listed as questionable were limited in Friday’s practice. 

Broncos at Giants (+3)

Head coach Vic Fangio said Chubb will be a game-day decision. If Chubb can’t go, Malik Reed is projected to start in his place — but Denver will see how he feels Sunday.  

The good news for the Giants? Saquon Barkley has been medically cleared and is expected to play. Judge did rule Engram out after taking a second look during Friday’s practice, so expect Kyle Rudolph to see a significant amount of the snaps at tight end. Jackson has been limited in practice throughout the week. 

Packers at Saints (+3.5)

Smith participated in only one practice last month due to his back injury, which is still ailing him. He’ll be a game-time decision for the Packers.  

The Saints placed Smith and Crawley on injured reserve, leaving them thin at wide receiver heading into the opener. Behind Marquez Callaway, New Orleans has Deonte Harris, Chris Hogan, and Lil’Jordan Humphrey at wide receiver. 

Bears at Rams (-7.5): ‘Sunday Night Football’

The Bears are still hoping Goldman can play Sunday night, given his injury designation. All six Bears players who were ruled questionable practiced in full Friday, a good sign they will be able to play Sunday night. Rookie Khyiris Tonga could start in place of Goldman. 

The Rams have a relatively clean injury report as Skowronek as listed as a third team receiver on the depth chart. 

Ravens at Raiders (+4): ‘Monday Night Football’

Analysis to come.