Markus Wheaton is locked in as the Steelers' No. 2 receiver following Martavis Bryant's four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
Bryant's impending ban explains why the Steelers have gone to great lengths to talk Wheaton up this summer, and why he was running well ahead of Bryant in last week's preseason game. The No. 79 overall pick of the 2013 draft, Wheaton has been thoroughly underwhelming through the first two years of his NFL career, but his role puts him on the WR3 fringes to begin the season.
NFL suspended Steelers WR Martavis Bryant four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Bryant is appealing, but this explains why the Steelers have gone to great lengths to talk up Markus Wheaton this summer. It's a massive blow to an offense already missing Le'Veon Bell for Weeks 1 and 2, and severely curbs Bryant's upside appeal after his promising rookie season. Bryant was inactive for Weeks 1-6 last season, but scored eight touchdowns in just 306 snaps upon joining the fray. He played 62-of-76 snaps in the Steelers' Wild Card loss. Bryant's absence puts Wheaton on the WR3 fringes, and forces thus far unimpressive third-rounder Sammie Coates into a role on offense.
Free agent DB Cortland Finnegan is open to playing in 2015.
Finnegan "retired" in March nine days after being released by the Dolphins. Arguably the league's worst corner last season, the pint-sized Finnegan is reportedly open to playing safety. Finnegan is just 31, but his career fell off such a cliff following his big deal with the Rams in 2012 that it's hard to see him generating interest.
Ravens signed SS Will Hill to a one-year extension through 2016.
It's a sign the Ravens genuinely believe Hill has turned his life around. Hill went undrafted over character concerns in 2012, and proceeded to draw a suspension in each of his first three NFL campaigns. Hill has been popped for both substance abuse and PEDs. He is still only 25, however, and has proven to be one of the league's more effective safeties when on the field. Now the Ravens will keep their fingers crossed he stays there.
Victor Cruz (calf) will miss Saturday's preseason game against the Jets.
It means Cruz will miss the entire preseason. Coming back from a devastating knee injury, Cruz remains on track for Week 1. He's in the WR3 conversation.
Bills RB Karlos Williams (undisclosed operation) was spotted at team facilities on Thursday.
Per reporter Mike Rodak, the fifth-round rookie was walking with a "slight limp." The Bills have yet to disclose what necessitated an emergency operation, but it was possibly appendicitis. Williams won't play in the preseason, but coach Rex Ryan has expressed confidence he'll be ready for Week 1. Williams had been making a push for No. 2 duties, but will now be no higher than No. 3, and quite possibly lower.
Eagles waived/injured ILB Emmanuel Acho (thumb surgery).
The special teamer/reserve linebacker should clear waivers and revert to injured reserve. It's possible he'll eventually be cut loose with an injury settlement.
Speaking Thursday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said there's "no timetable" for Breshad Perriman's (sprained PCL) return, and that his recovery gone slower than expected.
Perriman should miss the entire preseason, and is looking mighty questionable for Week 1. It's a disaster for a team with no receiver depth to speak of. It should ensure Marlon Brown's roster spot. If you're drafting this weekend, Perriman should be treated as a boom-or-bust WR4.