Let’s recap Wednesday’s most pertinent news.
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Dez Bryant (foot) returned to practice on Wednesday in his first practice since September 11th. Last week, Bryant reportedly was cutting and running on his surgically repaired foot, so perhaps practicing sooner rather than later is best for his eventual return. Again, it’s still early in the week, but Bryant getting even a “limited” practice is a fantastic sign for his availability against Seattle.
As mentioned above, Ben Roethlisberger is practicing in full for Week 8’s game at home against the Bengals. At press time, all signs are pointing towards Big Ben suiting up but Roethlisberger himself has been a bit unsure of his status saying, “If there is a restriction, I shouldn’t be out there.” We’ll see how his practice status progresses, but there is a ton of optimism in favor of Big Ben playing.
In Buccaneers’ a update, Vincent Jackson (knee) is expected to miss Week 8 and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport hinted Jackson could be dealing with a multi-week injury. In positive news, Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) returned to practice Wednesday after sitting out since Week 2. Seferian-Jenkins’ return could not come at a more perfect time as Louis Murphy (ACL) was just put on season-ending injured reserve and the Bucs’ lone two healthy receivers are Mike Evans and Donteea Dye.
Antonio Gates (MCL) was sidelined at Chargers’ practice and “wasn’t close” to playing in Week 7 against the Raiders per Bolts’ beat writer Michael Gehlken adding, “It wouldn’t (be) surprising if Gates’ knee proves to be a multi-week injury.” He’s yet to have an MRI, but Gates admitted earlier this week he might need one if he doesn’t progressively heal. Right now, it doesn’t seem like Antonio Gates will play in Week 8 against the Ravens. Ladarius Green has averaged 6.75 targets per-game in games Gates has missed versus 4.5 looks per-game when Gates is active.
At press time, there is no way of knowing Dion Lewis’ (abdomen) status for Thursday Night Football against the Dolphins. Sticking to his usual guns, head coach Bill Belichick didn’t hint either way if Lewis would be active or not. Belichick literally said, "We didn't really practice this week… my mom could've gotten through practice" at Wednesday’s presser. Don’t even speculate on the “percent chance” Lewis has at playing, as any attempt at getting inside of Belichick’s mind will leave you grasping at straws. Make sure you check the inactive list 90 minutes prior to kick off for Lewis’ status.
Marcus Mariota (knee) participated in individual drills at Wednesday’s practice, saying he’s “not sure” whether he’ll able to play Sunday against Houston. Of course his availability for Week 8 will hinge on his practice status on Thursday and Friday. Mariota will have to progress quickly to play or else Tennessee will start Zach Mettenberger again.
Jeremy Maclin (concussion) is practicing in full for Week 8 in London against the Lions. Maclin was cleared from concussion protocol late in the week prior to Week 7 but the Chiefs held him out as a precaution against the Steelers. He’s expected to be a full go this week. Maclin is in a sneaky attractive spot this week as the Lions are currently ranked 31st in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA and are allowing the fourth most receiving yards per-game to opposing wide receivers (204).
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Josh McCown (shoulder) didn’t practice on Wednesday but is expected to start against the Cardinals on Sunday. Joe Haden (concussion) has cleared the league’s concussion protocol and will play in Week 8. Joseph Randle (oblique) is not practicing on Wednesday. … In your weekly Victor Cruz update: head coach Tom Coughlin confirmed the Giants do not expect Cruz (calf) to play in Week 8. … Jason Pierre-Paul (finger, hand) participated in pre-practice drills on Wednesday and will continue to rehab towards game shape this week. … Prince Amukamara (pectoral) was ruled out for Week 8. … Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said Eddie Lacy’s ankle injury “is not affecting him anymore.”… Randall Cobb (shoulder) is no longer listed on the Packers’ injury report. …