The clock is ticking for every NFL franchise regarding whether or not they will have several of their key players ready for the regular season Week 1.
After two preseason games, while there’ve been names surrounded by questions health-wise, we’ve seen players coming back and making their cases before the fantasy draft.
Let’s take a look at some injury-stock situations with two games to go into the preseason.
Emmanuel Sanders (WR, Denver Broncos)
It was good to see Emmanuel Sanders back on the field! Playing in his first game since tearing his Achilles tendon last December, Sanders looked on shape against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night. He had a nostalgic 19-yard reverse-play run, along with one reception for five yards. Besides that, his best highlight of the game — a 45-yard catch — was nullified by a holding penalty. The 32-year-old wide receiver is on track for Week 1.
Delanie Walker (TE, Tennessee Titans)
The Tennessee Titans’ first-team offense had solid drives over the New England Patriots in the preseason Week 2, and perhaps the most exciting news came from Delanie Walker’s return. Walker, who played in only one game in 2018 due to an ankle injury, hauled in both of his targets for 26 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 896 yards and five TDs between 2014 and 2017 and now is back to an offensive weapons-limited unit.
Sterling Shepard (WR, New York Giants)
Sterling Shepard (left thumb) has yet to play in the preseason, and even though an on-the-field appearance before September is unlikely, he’s on pace to be ready for the New York Giants’ regular-season debut. The 26-year-old started to practice without any limitations this week and now definitely has to be seen as one of the Giants’ top weapons in 2019.
Derrick Henry (RB, Tennessee Titans)
Another player who returned to usual training routine is Derrick Henry (strained calf), appearing at the Tennessee Titans’ practice on Tuesday (Aug. 20) for the first time since Day 1 of Training Camp. Although it hasn’t been confirmed if Henry will play in the preseason, he’s very likely to be on the field for Week 1. The 25-year-old was one of the league’s best RBs late in 2018, averaging 20 touches, 125 rushing yards and more than one touchdown per game in the five games played in December.
Andrew Luck (QB, Indianapolis Colts)
The Indianapolis Colts will not have Andrew Luck at the practice field prior to the team’s third preseason game. Luck has been dealing with a calf/ankle injury in the past months, and coach Frank Reich said that the combination of “full-speed movement vs. pain threshold” is what keeps the quarterback away for another week. Luck has now practiced three times since April and his status is very questionable with less than three weeks away from the regular-season opener.
Jacoby Brissett, who was having an unimpressive training camp thus far, had a strong performance against the Browns in the preseason Week 2, completing eight of his 10 passes attempts for 100 yards and a touchdown.
DK Metcalf (WR, Seattle Seahawks)
Even though he didn’t suit up for the second preseason game of the season due to a sore leg, DK Metcalf will have minor knee surgery this week. His timetable return hasn’t been announced, but head coach Pete Carroll doesn’t think the rookie wide receiver will be out very long as the Seattle Seahawks expects to have Metcalf back to the season opener. Any time a surgical procedure is involved it’s always better to be cautious though.
Donte Moncrief (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers)
It’s still too early to solidify that Donte Moncrief has lost the WR2 position battle at the Steelers’ depth chart. What we know, however, is that Moncrief struggled in his preseason debut playing through a broken finger this past weekend against the Chiefs, posting a lone one-yard catch followed by a lost fumble. Besides that, second-year wide receiver James Washington has led the Steelers in receptions and yards in both preseason games thus far.
Noah Fant (TE, Denver Broncos)
Although it doesn’t appear to be a serious injury, Noah Fant was carted off the field with a minor ankle sprain against the 49ers in the preseason Week 2. The first-round tight end is listed as day-to-day right now and is not expected to miss the season opener. Still, this should not be treated as an irrelevant thing for the Denver Broncos. Fant caught three of five targets for 21 yards after two preseason rodeos.
Cam Newton (QB, Carolina Panthers)
Cam Newton suffered a right should injury last season that brought several questions to his on-the-field production. After missing the first two preseason actions, the quarterback is set to play a couple of drives against the Patriots on August 22. It’ll be the first opportunity to see Newton, who has finished as a Top-5 QB in five of his eight seasons in the NFL, and his new throwing motion in 2019.
Derrius Guice (RB, Washington Redskins)
Derrius Guice was one of the best running backs from the Class of 2018, but a torn ACL shortened his rookie campaign to just a few preseason snaps. More than one year after the injury, Guice appears to be healthy again as he is set to be on the field at Week 3 of the preseason (Aug. 22). Despite playing in a crowded backfield, the former second-round pick can see a boost in his value as the regular season nears.
(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)