We're now entering the biggest slate of preseason Week 1 with eight games on Saturday's slate. Plenty of teams intend on playing their starters this week, while others are opting for a more cautious approach.
Let's dive into the news, notes, depth charts, historical playing time, and notable injuries for all 16 teams heading into Thursday.
Chiefs Notable Injuries/Absences:
OUT: WR Justyn Ross (foot), RT Lucas Niang (knee); UNLIKELY TO PLAY: CB Rashad Fenton (shoulder); QUESTIONABLE: WR Daurice Fountain (finger), WR Gary Jennings (concussion), WR Omar Bayless (back), TE Jody Fortson (quad), DE Frank Clark (illness)
Chiefs News & Notes:
Update as of Saturday 11:15 AM ET -- Mahomes says he's hoping to play at least one series. Based on how it goes, coach Reid will then make a decision.
According to coach Reid, each QB will get one quarter of playing time in preseason Week 1. While that's what he said, it doesn't seem very likely that QB Patrick Mahomes will play an entire quarter especially when we look at his historical snap counts:
All eyes are going to be glued to rookies WR Skyy Moore and RB Isiah Pacheco as we get our first glimpse at them in action. The Chiefs have used both players creatively throughout training camp and both players have garnered a lot of hype in practices.
Bears Notable Injuries/Absences:
OUT: WR N'Keal Harry (ankle), WR David Moore (knee); DOUBTFUL: RB David Montgomery (undisclosed), TE Cole Kmet (undisclosed); UNLIKELY TO PLAY: WR Byron Pringle (quad), WR Velus Jones (undisclosed) LB Roquan Smith (holdout); QUESTIONABLE: WR Dante Pettis (undisclosed), TE Ryan Griffin (undisclosed), James O'Shaughnessy (undisclosed), RT Teven Jenkins (undisclosed)
Bears News & Notes:
The Bears will play their starters in Week 1, including QB Justin Fields. Who he's going to throw to is a different question as the Bears have been decimated at WR by injuries. Darnell Mooney is certainly the top player left, but Tajae Sharpe has reportedly done well in the absence of many of his teammates.
Coach Eberflus mentioned the team will look to play their starters somewhere in the range of 10-20 snaps:
"Eberflus said the Bears’ starters will play 15 to 20 plays against the Chiefs in their preseason opener Saturday at Soldier Field. But who starts and who plays how much will depend on each player. 'Some guys are going 10-15, some guys are going 15-20,” Eberflus said. “But again, that changes by guy. It’s really individual based on the guy, where he is, and what his maturation is in terms of his play.'"
RB David Montgomery will likely rest. It remains to be seen how much playing time Khalil Herbert will get in his place, but Herbert has displayed the qualities of a starting RB in the NFL.
Panthers Notable Injuries/Absences:
OUT: RB Christian McCaffrey (rest); WR DJ Moore (rest), WR Terrace Marshall (leg), WR C.J. Saunders (quad), WR Andrew Parchment (undisclosed), TE Ian Thomas (ribs), TE Stephen Sullivan (personal), TE Collin Thompson (calf); LB Shaq Thompson (knee), CB Jaycee Horn (foot)
Panthers News & Notes:
Update as of Saturday at 12:00 PM EST -- Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, Terrace Marshall, and TEs Ian Thomas, Stephen Sullivan, and Colin Thompson have all been officially ruled out.
Additionally, RB Chuba Hubbard, WR Rashard Higgins, and TE Giovanni Ricci have been named starters.
Per Joseph Person of The Athletic, Baker Mayfield will start against the Commanders on Saturday. He'll get the first series while Sam Darnold will get the second series. Coach Rhule is hoping for each QB to get 6-8 plays in this one.
The plan is for other offensive starters to play 15-20 snaps, including with both Mayfield and Darnold.
The TE position is littered with injuries across the board. It'll be interesting to see if anybody can step up. One name to highlight is Tommy Tremble, a former third-round pick who flashed in his rookie season in 2021.
Commanders Notable Injuries/Absences:
OUT: WR Jequez Ezzard (undisclosed), TE Logan Thomas (knee), DE Chase Young (knee); UNLIKELY TO PLAY: TE Cole Turner (hamstring), TE John Bates (undisclosed), G Trai Turner (quad); QUESTIONABLE: RB J.D. McKissic (undisclosed), TE Sammis Reyes (hamstring), CB William Jackson (hamstring); IN: WR Curtis Samuel (back, hamstring)
Commanders News & Notes:
The Commanders will play their starters 15-20 snaps, per coach Rivera.
QB Carson Wentz will don his new uniform for the first time while WR Curtis Samuel, who's dealt with a litany of injuries dating back to last year, will also suit up. Rookie WR Jahan Dotson is a player who could show out:
"One of the cleanest performers in camp — not just among the rookies. Dotson has been working with the first-team offense, racking up reps when Curtis Samuel has missed sessions. The hype over the 5-foot-11 receiver’s catch radius and reliable hands remains intact. It’s possible the steady praise from the media corps overstates Dotson’s first-year projection, since he’s yet to play a single game or face defensive backs with bad intentions."
The TE position presents nothing but question marks. Someone will likely receive a strong snap count in this game.
Colts Notable Injuries/Absences:
OUT: WR Michael Strachan (undisclosed), LB Shaquille Leonard (back); QUESTIONABLE: RB Ty'Son Williams (undisclosed), WR DeMichael Harris (undisclosed); UNLIKELY TO PLAY: RB Jonathan Taylor (undisclosed); IN: WR Parris Campbell (hamstring)
Colts News & Notes:
RB Jonathan Taylor is the only starter not expected to play a little in preseason Week 1, per coach Reich.
Newly acquired QB Matt Ryan will play the first quarter of Week 1. Coach Reich has mentioned the starters will play "a little" in Weeks 1 and 2, and they'll treat Week 3 as the "dress rehearsal". The dress rehearsal is typically code for the starters playing an entire half:
WR Parris Campbell has been in and out of practice because of a tight hamstring but will suit up and play alongside the remaining starters.
Rookie sixth-round TE Drew Ogletree has repeatedly shown out in training camp. His rapport with Ryan is evident. Ogletree is a player to circle heading into this game as he should be in line for significant playing time.
Bills Notable Injuries/Absences:
OUT: QB Josh Allen (rest), CB Tre'Davious White (knee), S Jordan Poyer (elbow); UNLIKELY TO PLAY: WR Marquez Stevenson (foot); QUESTIONABLE: WR Tavon Austin (tightness), WR Isaiah McKenzie (general soreness), WR Khalil Shakir (general soreness); LIKELY TO PLAY: WR Jake Kumerow (undisclosed)
Bills News & Notes:
It comes as no surprise that QB Josh Allen won't play this week as the Bills have no reason to trot him out there. Backups Case Keenum and Matt Barkley should be the beneficiaries in terms of playing time, though Keenum is likely to start.
Coach McDermott will make choices on which of his important players will start on an individual basis. Buffalo would be wise to play it safe, but it would be fun to see camp standouts McKenzie and Shakir get some run on offense. According to Matt Parrino of New York Upstate, McKenzie isn't likely to see a ton of playing time:
"McKenzie and Crowder both made big plays on the day. Don’t expect to see a ton of McKenzie on Saturday against the Colts, but he had a touchdown from Allen during team drills on the last play of camp. Crowder showed off his run-after-catch ability after a short completion from Allen. He made on guy miss and turned it upfield and went for over 30 yards."
Rookie RB James Cook might get some playing time in this contest. He's got an opportunity to earn a legitimate role in Buffalo's offense and that could start with a strong showing in this game.
WRs Tavon Austin and Marquez Stevenson appear like they won't be available to play, per The Buffalo News' Jay S
Seahawks Notable Injuries/Absences:
OUT: CB Sidney Jones (concussion); DOUBTFUL: RB Rashaad Penny (groin), WR Dee Eskridge (hamstring), WR Freddie Swain (back), WR Marquise Goodwin (hamstring); UNLIKELY TO PLAY: WR DK Metcalf (rest); LB Jordyn Brooks (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: S Jamal Adams (finger)
Seahawks News & Notes:
DK Metcalf isn't expected to play.
The Seahawks are electing to be somewhat secretive with their playing time plans for Week 1, though we do know a handful of their skill-position players are unlikely to suit up. It seems rookie second-round pick Kenneth Walker is likely to start the game at running back, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.
QB Geno Smith is currently in the lead of the position battle and will start preseason Week 1, but QB Drew Lock shouldn't be counted out just yet. It's possible the coaching staff could be swayed depending on the quarterbacks' performance in this contest. "You guys will see," coach Carroll told reporters on Thursday. "We’ve got a plan. We’ll roll with the game a little bit to make sure that the opportunities (that arise) that we can maximize them. But those guys will play quite a bit."
Steelers Notable Injuries/Absences:
OUT: RB Jeremy McNichols (shoulder), RB Benny Snell (knee); UNLIKELY TO PLAY: RB Najee Harris (foot), WR Chase Claypool (shoulder), DE Alex Highsmith (rib); QUESTIONABLE: RB Mataeo Durant (undisclosed), WR Diontae Johnson (hip), TE Pat Freiermuth (hamstring), TE Zach Gentry (undisclosed), TE Kevin Rader (undisclosed)
Steelers News & Notes:
Saturday 6 PM EST update: Benny Snell is not in uniform.
Like the Seahawks, the Steelers have a certified quarterback competition on their hands. Coach Tomlin said Mitch Trubisky will start the first quarter, Mason Rudolph will take the game through the third quarter, and Kenny Pickett will get the fourth quarter:
Two players that have flashed major potential for the Steelers throughout training camp are WR George Pickens and RB Jaylen Warren. Both should have plenty of opportunities to produce with a handful of injuries at either position.
Dolphins Notable Injuries/Absences:
OUT: QB Tua Tagovailoa (rest); RB Chase Edmonds (rest), RB Raheem Mostert (knee); WR Tyreek Hill (rest), WR Jaylen Waddle (rest); TE Adam Shaheen (rest)
Dolphins News & Notes:
Skylar Thompson will start at quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater will be available but Thomspon is expected to see most of the snaps.
Saturday update as of 6 PM EST -- The Dolphins team account tweeted that Tagovailoa, Edmonds, Mostert, Hill, Waddle, and Shaheen aren't expected to play.
Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson will be the team's quarterbacks.
The Dolphins are one of the healthier and more secretive teams entering preseason Week 1. Historical snap counts won't help much, either, as Mike McDaniel is a first-time head coach and debuting with his new team.
McDaniel did mention he's encouraged by the idea of not playing Tagovailoa, whatever that means. It seems likely Tagovailoa won't play in this game. And if Tua isn't suiting up, it's likely other solidified starters like Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, etc. won't play either.
The Miami Herald's Daniel Oyefusi offers some more context on who will and won't play:
Meanwhile, McDaniel said certain players likely won’t play Saturday. The team has been cautious about the practice reps for veterans such as cornerback Xavien Howard, left tackle Terron Armstead and outside linebacker Melvin Ingram III. It would be a surprise to see any of those players see the field, as well as established vets such as wide receiver Tyreek Hill and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah."
Buccaneers Notable Injuries/Absences:
OUT: QB Tom Brady (rest), C Ryan Jensen (knee); DOUBTFUL: WR Chris Godwin (knee); UNLIKELY TO PLAY: RB Leonard Fournette (rest), WR Mike Evans (hamstring), WR Julio Jones (rest), WR Breshad Perriman (undisclosed), WR Russell Gage (hamstring); TE Kyle Rudolph (rest); RT Tristan Wirfs (rest); QUESTIONABLE: C Robert Hainsey (cramps)
Buccaneers News & Notes:
Saturday 6:55 PM ET update -- Blaine Gabbert to get 1-2 series. It'll then be "the Kyle Trask show."
Saturday 6:45 PM ET update -- Brady, Fournette, Evans, Godwin, Julio Jones, Gage, and Rudolph are all sitting.
Coach Bowles has already mentioned, "a lot" of starters won't play in preseason Week 1, including QB Tom Brady.
The Bucs are nearly guaranteed to rest WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, in addition to Breshad Perriman, who's nursing an undisclosed injury. This should open the door for a handful of intriguing players to find snaps, which includes Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, Jaelon Darden, and Cyril Grayson Jr.
Will rookie RB Rachaad White get some playing time? Hopefully. RB Leonard Fournette should be one of the starters Bowles had in mind when suggesting they'd sit.
Greg Auman of The Athletic took a stab at what the playing time may look like for the Brady-less QB room. Expect to see a lot of Kyle Trask:
Saints Notable Injuries/Absences:
UNLIKELY TO PLAY: QB Jameis Winston (foot), RB Alvin Kamara (rest), RB Mark Ingram II (rest); WR Michael Thomas (rest), WR Jarvis Landry (rest); TE Taysom Hill (ribs); QUESTIONABLE: WR Rashid Shaheed (undisclosed), DE Marcus Davenport (shoulder, finger), LB Pete Werner (groin), CB Marshon Lattimore (undisclosed)
Saints News & Notes:
Saints beat reporter Nick Underhill noted Saturday afternoon that Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, and Taysom Hill are unlikely to play.
Coach Dennis Allen hasn't delved into his preseason plans just yet, but it does seem QB Jameis Winston is a near guarantee to sit this one out. That'd make a ton of sense as he continues to deal with a sprained foot.
Whoever plays is likely to get a decent number of snaps, according to Allen. He wants his guys to get comfortable and in a rhythm. We can expect to see a lot of QB Ian Book:
Saints writer John DeShazier expects a good amount of starters to be held out, and highlights Book as someone to watch, with RB Tony Jones the frontrunner to start:
"Expect a decent amount of bubble-wrapping due to precaution or injury. So I'm not expecting to see receivers Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry, right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, tight end Taysom Hill, defensive ends Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport, linebacker Demario Davis, defensive tackle David Onyemata, safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye or cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Alontae Taylor, among others."
"Maybe a series from quarterback Andy Dalton, though, and some time for first-round picks Chris Olave and Trevor Penning. Penning won't start at left tackle, but he should see a decent amount of snaps. Olave could open at receiver, and the starting offensive line (minus Ramczyk, insert Landon Young) might have a series or two. Ian Book enters early at quarterback, and he's going to play a lot."
"It's sensible to assume Tony Jones opens at running back, since he knows the system best among the trio of him, Devine Ozigbo and Abram Smith."
Texans Notable Injuries/Absences:
OUT: QB Kyle Allen (personal), RB Darius Anderson (knee), WR John Metchie III (knee, Leukemia), WR Davion Davis (undisclosed), CB Derek Stingley Jr. (Lisfranc); UNLIKELY TO PLAY: RB Rex Burkhead (rest); WR Brandin Cooks (rest); LT Laremy Tunsil (rest); QUESTIONABLE: WR Drew Estrada (leg), WR Chester Rogers (ankle), TE Anthony Auclair (knee), TE Teagan Quitoriano (undisclosed), T Kenyon Green (knee)
Texans News & Notes:
QB Jeff Driskel could play 3+ quarters in relief of Davis Mills.
Saturday 6:30 PM ET update -- RB Rex Burkhead isn't expected to play. Neither is WR Brandin Cooks. However, Marlon Mack will play.
The Texans have not delved into many of their plans, but starting QB Davis Mills will play "a couple of series" while QB Kyle Allen will not play, according to coach Lovie Smith.
Rookie RB Dameon Pierce is a player who's reportedly done well in training camp and will be circled for that reason.
We don't know if Houston plans on playing "important" players alongside their QB but seeing either starting TE — Pharaoh Brown or Brevin Jordan — would be highly entertaining. As would the WR duo that includes Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins.
Maybe the most intriguing thing to focus on in Houston is the RB split. How do they work in Marlon Mack, Rex Burkhead, and Pierce? Who gets the most touches? And what's the order in the backfield? We'll continue to monitor this situation.
Cowboys Notable Injuries/Absences:
OUT: WR Michael Gallup (knee), WR James Washington (foot), FB Ryan Nall (shoulder); UNLIKELY TO PLAY: QB Dak Prescott (rest), RB Ezekiel Elliott (rest), WR CeeDee Lamb (rest), TE Ian Bunting (neck soreness), CB Trevon Diggs (rest); QUESTIONABLE: QB Will Grier (groin), WR Dontario Drummond (groin), TE Jake Ferguson (hamstring), TE Jeremy Sprinkle (Achilles), LB Anthony Barr (conditioning), S Jayron Kearse (back)
Cowboys News & Notes:
Saturday 5 PM EST update -- Bobby Belt, a Cowboys beat writer, is expecting almost all of the team's starters to rest on Saturday. Additionally, he expects to see a lot of Ben DiNucci at QB.
The likelihood the Cowboys sit the majority of the starters is high, according to multiple beat writers. Expect their first-team unit to be held out of Week 1, including QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR CeeDee Lamb, and many more.
Dallas is short at WR with Lamb likely sitting this one out, and Michael Gallup and James Washington dealing with injuries. Does rookie Jalen Tolbert find the field? And do camp standouts Simi Fehoko and Noah Brown play?
Broncos Notable Injuries/Absences:
OUT: QB Russell Wilson (rest), RB Damarea Crockett (knee), WR Tim Patrick (knee), RT Billy Turner (knee), DE Randy Gregory (knee); UNLIKELY TO PLAY: RB Melvin Gordon (foot), WR K.J. Hamler (knee), WR Tyrie Cleveland (throat), TE Greg Dulcich (hamstring), CB K'Waun Williams (knee), CB Ronald Darby (chest)
Broncos News & Notes:
Update as of Saturday at 8:30 PM ET -- Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler are all not expected to play.
QB Russell Wilson won't play in the Broncos' preseason opener, as expected. Josh Johnson will get the start at QB in his place with Brett Rypien backing him up. The Broncos are expected to rest most of their starters, according to 9News' Mike Klis.
There's a good chance RBs Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams sit too. Troy Renck of Denver7 seems to think that's a possibility:
Two players to watch in this game both come from the WR room — Kendall Hinton and Montrell Washington. Both have stood out throughout training camp.
Rams Notable Injuries/Absences:
OUT: QB Matthew Stafford (rest), RB Cam Akers (rest), RB Darrell Henderson (rest), RB Xavier Jones (Achilles), WR Cooper Kupp (rest), WR Allen Robinson (rest), WR Van Jefferson (knee), WR Brandon Powell (knee), TE Tyler Higbee (rest), TE Jacob Harris (knee), DT Aaron Donald (rest), CB Jalen Ramsey (shoulder); QUESTIONABLE: RB Kyren Williams (foot), WR Warren Jackson (undisclosed)
Rams News & Notes:
The Rams won't play any starters or key contributors. This is a starting lineup to avoid across the board.
It remains to be seen whether second-year WR Tutu Atwell is considered a "key contributor". He led all receivers in targets (28) last preseason. He's also had a strong training camp thus far.
RBs Kyren Williams (if healthy) and Jake Funk are two more players to highlight.
Chargers Notable Injuries/Absences:
OUT: TE Stone Smartt (undisclosed), LB Kenneth Murray Jr. (ankle), S Derwin James (holdout); UNLIKELY TO PLAY: QB Justin Herbert (rest), RB Austin Ekeler (rest), WR Keenan Allen (rest), WR Mike Williams (rest), TE Tre McKitty (undisclosed), TE Donald Parham Jr. (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: WR Jason Moore (undisclosed), TE Gerald Everett (undisclosed)
Chargers News & Notes:
Coach Staley was vaguer on information than the Rams, but it wouldn't come as a surprise if the former Rams defensive coordinator also elected to bench the majority of his key players:
Don't expect to see any of the Chargers' important offensive players.
The TE position is currently decimated by injury. There may not be any specific player to highlight, but someone in that room will get a ton of snaps and could return some good production.
RB Isaiah Spiller is a fun player to watch. He's in a battle with Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree for playing time and backup RB duty. It wouldn't be a surprise if all three received reps in this one.