Sunday NFL notes
Three different quarterback battles were affected by injuries this weekend, starting in New York where Mark Sanchez was diagnosed with a bruised right shoulder joint. Sanchez was knocked out of Saturday's game in the fourth quarter and is thought to be day-to-day, but he isn't expected to play in the Jets' preseason finale Thursday. Although Geno Smith looked terrible Saturday night, the rookie could start by default in Week 1 if Sanchez isn't ready to go.
Meanwhile in Buffalo, the Bills now have two injured quarterbacks, as Kevin Kolb was diagnosed with a concussion after hitting his head on the ground during Saturday's game. Kolb missed a total of four games with concussions in 2010 and 2011, leading to speculation that this latest injury could threaten his career. At the very least, Kolb seems doubtful for Week 1 against the Patriots, though the Bills are still holding out hope that E.J. Manuel (knee) will be ready. There's no question that the team is highly concerned about the situation, as Matt Leinart was signed Sunday afternoon and Thaddeus Lewis was acquired via trade from the Lions. Manuel figures to start if he's healthy, but if not, the Bills will turn to Leinart, Lewis, or undrafted free agent Jeff Tuel.
The injury doesn't sound as serious in Oakland, but Terrelle Pryor is looking like a reat threat to Matt Flynn, who will miss the next few days of practice and the final preseason game with elbow tendinitis in his throwing arm. While Flynn shouldn't be ruled out of the running, Pryor has a nice opportunity to work with the first-team offense in practice and make an impression during Thursday's game against the Seahawks. As for Flynn's injury, it's a problem that he has had in the past, but doesn't sound like something that will necessarily prevent him from being ready for Week 1. It seems as if Pryor may have a chance to win the starting job, regardless of Flynn's health status.
Moving away from quarterbacks, Rashard Mendenhall was diagnosed with a minor sprain in his right knee and is expected to be ready for Week 1. Health permitting, Mendenhall is the unquestioned starter in Arizona, but if his injury lingers it could open up an opportunity for the likes of Alfonso Smith, Stepfan Taylor, and Ryan Williams (knee). Smith was the first running back to replace Mendenhall during Saturday's game, while Williams was the subject of trade rumors Sunday, and Taylor is a fifth-round pick who seems to be buried on the depth chart. Though he received little hype this offseason and isn't a particularly explosive runner, Smith currently looks like the best bet to work as Mendenhall's primary backup.
Both Jordy Nelson (knee) and Randall Cobb (biceps) returned to practice for the Packers, with Nelson's return registering as the bigger news. Cobb never appeared to be in danger for the regular season, but Nelson was looking questionable after undergoing a procedure on his knee in early August. Nelson is reportedly ahead of schedule and is tentatively on track to be ready for the Packers' season-opener against the 49ers on September 8. With Nelson, Cobb, and James Jones in tow, Aaron Rogers should get along just fine in the post-Greg Jennings era.
The news isn't entirely positive in Green Bay, as DuJuan Harris missed Sunday's practice after suffering a knee injury during Friday's preseason game. Harris didn't seem too concerned about the injury following the game, but after Sunday's practice coach Mike McCarthy said that the third-year running back's status is still “up in the air”. Harris and Eddie Lacy are the favorites to get carries heading out of the gate, so Lacy could be in line for a larger-than-expected workload if Harris isn't ready for Week 1.