Thu Oct 17 7:27pm ET
By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer
Chicago Bears quarterback Chase Daniel (4) prepares to throw during the second half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew, lower left, is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, center, as Jaguars offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, right, tries to slow Jordan down during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, left, looks for a receiver as he is pressured by Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) tackles Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) during the second half of an NFL football game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in London. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The New Orleans Saints kept their sights set on a Super Bowl even after Drew Brees went down with an injury.
While their superstar quarterback continues to recover following thumb surgery, the NFC South leaders will try to remain unbeaten without him.
The Saints look to improve to 5-0 with Teddy Bridgewater as their starter in Brees' place when they visit Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
''It just shows this is a team that's determined to win and do whatever it takes,'' Bridgewater said.
The Saints (5-1) are getting big contributions from their defense and special teams and enough from their offense even if they're not moving the ball the way they did a year ago. They're averaging 344.7 yards - down 34.5 yards per game from last season, when Brees made 15 starts. He's been sidelined since he tore a ligament in his right thumb during a loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2.
Bridgewater has completed about 69 percent of his passes for 1,089 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He wasn't as effective last week at Jacksonville, after throwing for 314 yards and four touchdowns against Tampa Bay, but he hit Jared Cook for a tiebreaking 4-yard TD early in the fourth quarter against the Jaguars.
He will try to keep the Saints rolling against a team looking to bounce back. The Bears (3-2) are coming off a loss to Oakland in London two weeks ago in which their defense got pushed around a bit after dominating the first four games and their offense continued to struggle.
Here are some things to know:
The Bears hope to get quarterback Mitchell Trubisky back after missing a game because of a left shoulder injury.
If he returns, he'll try to build on a promising showing against Washington in Week 3.
Trubisky threw three touchdowns in an easy win over the struggling Redskins after mediocre outings in a season-opening loss to Green Bay and a narrow victory at Denver. He was then injured on the opening drive against Minnesota on Sept. 29.
''I felt that each game leading up to that Vikings game, until he got hurt, that there was (improvement),'' Bears coach Matt Nagy said. ''Progression-wise where he's going, playing faster, seeing at the line of scrimmage that he's getting into checks or seeing progressions, adjustments at the line of scrimmage - way quicker than what he was.''
Veteran Chase Daniel figures to make his second straight start if Trubisky is unavailable.
With 18 sacks, New Orleans is tied with Green Bay and Tennessee for sixth in the NFL.
Coach Sean Payton has been pleased by how depth along the front has helped keep linemen fresh and pressure high. While Cameron Jordan leads the club with five sacks, he's one of eight defensive linemen who've had at least half a sack. Payton said the Saints put an emphasis on improving depth on the defensive line after defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who was second on the club in sacks last season with eight, tore his Achilles tendon last January. That helped the Saints remain stout up front until Rankins returned in Week 4.
The Saints have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season - or in 32 games, for that matter. They've also held their previous three opponents - Dallas, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville - to season lows in total yards.
While the Saints could be thin at running back if Alvin Kamara is unavailable or limited because of knee and ankle injuries, the Bears placed right guard Kyle Long and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks on injured reserve this week.
Long will miss the remainder of the season with a hip injury. Hicks could return after eight weeks from an elbow injury he suffered against Oakland. Both players have made the Pro Bowl - Long from 2013-15 and Hicks last year.
Saints rookie defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson has had a promising start to his career. And he is expected to be tested more this week because primary nickel back P.J. Williams was suspended two games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Johnson's biggest moment was a hit on Cowboys QB Dak Prescott on a delayed blitz that forced an interception on the final play of the Saints' 12-10 triumph over Dallas in Week 4.
DEFERENCE TO DANIEL
While the Saints weren't sure which quarterback they'd be facing, several spoke highly of former teammate Daniel.
Rankins said Daniel - who played for New Orleans from 2009-12 and in 2017 - was always respected by the Saints' offensive brain trust: Payton and Brees.
''Coaches respected his opinion if he had an opinion on certain plays, or Drew would go to him about certain things, or they would converse back and forth about things they were seeing on the field,'' recalled Rankins, who was Daniel's teammate in 2017.
Five Cold Plays: Week 2
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon III has more upside as an RB2 this weekend against the Steelers with teammate Phillip Lindsay (toe) week-to-week with turf toe. The matchup is a daunting one, though, as the Steelers Defense held Saquon Barkley in check (15 carries for six yards) in Week 1. But the extra touches that Gordon should receive on Sunday push him from a flex play to more of a low-end RB2. Royce Freeman should help spell Gordon when he needs a breather. In his first game with Denver, the 27-year-old had 86 total yards and a touchdown on 18 touches, but he also had a costly lost fumble in the first half. Gordon had 18 yards in eight carries against Pittsburgh last year while with the Chargers.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hamstring) has been officially ruled out for Week 2 against the Packers. Golladay will miss his second straight game to open the season, but hopefully his fantasy managers will be able to put him into their lineups for Week 3. The Lions will use three-wide sets of Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola and rookie Quintez Cephus against their division rivals on Sunday. Jones will be a high-end WR3 and Amendola will be in flex consideration in DFS and deeper leagues. Tight end T.J. Hockenson will be intriguing with some TE1 upside with Golladay out again.
Miami Dolphins LB Elandon Roberts (concussion) was upgraded to a limited practice Friday, Sept. 18, but has been ruled out for Week 2 versus the Buffalo Bills. DB Clayton Fejedelem (pectoral) was limited in practice all week and is listed as doubtful. WR DeVante Parker (hamstring) was also limited in practice all week but is listed as questionable. CB Xavien Howard (knee), CB Byron Jones (Achilles), LB Kyle Van Noy (hand) and WR Preston Williams (knee) practiced in full Friday, Sept. 18, and have been removed from the injury report. WR Jakeem Grant (calf) was not given a practice designation for a second straight day Friday but is also expected to play.
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock faces a stiff test in Week 2 on the road against the Steelers Defense. The 23-year-old second-year signal-caller had his ups and downs in the Week 1 Monday night loss to the Titans. His mobility and arm strength were on display, but he was hurt by some drops and overthrows and he also fumbled the ball twice but recovered. His final line was 22-for-33 for 216 yards and one touchdown. Lock should get both Courtland Sutton (shoulder) and rookie K.J. Hamler (hamstring) back for this one, but the matchup is too tough to consider him as anything more than a low-end QB2 in leagues that start two quarterbacks.
Kansas City Chiefs DE Alex Okafor (hamstring), DT Khalen Saunders (elbow) and CB Charvarius Ward (hand) did not practice all week and have been ruled out for Week 2 against the Los Angeles Chargers. C Austin Reiter (knee), DT Derrick Nnadi (ankle), OG Kelechi Osemele (knee), S Juan Thornhill (knee) and RB Darrel Williams (hamstring) practiced in full all week and no longer appear on the injury report.
Los Angeles Chargers RB Justin Jackson (quad) did not practice all week and is listed as doubtful for Week 2 versus the Kansas City Chiefs. TE Donald Parham (illness) returned to a full practice Friday, Sept. 18, and has been removed from the injury report. DE Joey Bosa (triceps), CB Casey Hayward (knee), OG Trai Turner (knee), WR Mike Williams (shoulder) and QB Tyrod Taylor (ribs) also practiced in full Friday and no longer appear on the injury report.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) was not present at practice on Friday for the second straight day. There were reports that Thomas "felt fantastic" at practice on Thursday, and there is a "glimmer of hope" that he can play in Week 2 on Monday night against the Raiders, but it's a long shot, at best. The All-Pro receiver is dealing with a high ankle sprain, which can keep players out up to a month or more. The 27-year-old is known as a quick healer and wants to get back out there as soon as possible, but fantasy managers need to keep realistic expectations. You should be planning to be without Thomas this week. Both Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook should have heavy target shares with Thomas likely out.
Chicago Bears linebackers Khalil Mack (knee) and Robert Quinn (ankle) are both questionable to play in Week 2 against the Giants. Mack was also questionable for the season opener against the Lions, but he played and was quiet with just four combined tackles. Quinn missed Week 1 with Chicago after a big season with the Cowboys. The Bears are counting on the combination of Mack and Quinn to be a big pass-rushing force this year, so if they both sit out, it'll be excellent news for Daniel Jones and the Giants passing attack. Chicago's defense/special teams should be considered a midrange starting unit in fantasy, but they'll lose a little luster if one or both of Mack and Quinn are ruled out.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Antony Auclair (calf) did not practice for a second straight day Friday, Sept. 18, and has been ruled out for Week 2 versus the Carolina Panthers. WR Chris Godwin (concussion) was upgraded to a limited practice Friday and is listed as doubtful. DL Ndamukong Suh (non-injury) did not practice Friday but was removed from the injury report. WR Mike Evans (hamstring), OT Donovan Smith (knee) and S Jordan Whitehead (elbow) practiced in full Friday and no longer appear on the injury report. LB Jason Pierre-Paul (non-injury) was not given a practice designation Friday but is also expected to play.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (ankle) practiced in full the last two days and was taken off the Week 2 injury report. Conner will be active this Sunday against the Broncos, but he might play second fiddle to Benny Snell Jr. after Snell replaced the injured Conner in Week 1 against the Giants and ran for over 100 yards on the ground. Conner couldn't stay healthy last year as the team's lead back, so perhaps this will become more of a backfield committee in 2020 to preserve Conner's health. Snell is probably the more attractive RB3/flex this week, but both running backs are hard to trust because of the uncertain playing time split.
New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Week 2 against the Bears. Tate sat out in Week 1 against the Steelers, but he was much more active in practice on Friday than he was last week. Even if the 32-year-old plays this weekend, there are likely better flex options you can plug into your fantasy lineups. If he doesn't play for the second straight week, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and tight end Evan Engram would all stand to benefit from extra targets in the passing game. Slayton was the biggest beneficiary in Week 1, hauling in two touchdowns.
The Carolina Panthers Defense has ruled out defensive tackle Kawann Short (foot) and rookie defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (concussion) for Week 2 against the Buccaneers. A shaky Panthers defense that allowed over 30 points to the Raiders in Week 1 will be hoping that rookie defensive tackle Derrick Brown can step up against their division rivals on Sunday. Already at the bottom of the pile for fantasy defenses, Carolina should be avoided like the plague this weekend against Tom Brady and the Bucs, who are looking for their first win of the season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (hamstring) practiced in full on Friday and was taken off the Week 2 injury report. Evans will be good to go against the division-rival Panthers. The 27-year-old should draw the coverage of cornerback Donte Jackson, but he's good enough to put up points, and he should be targeted even more by cornerback Tom Brady with Chris Godwin (concussion) doubtful to play. Evans had a quiet Week 1 but still managed to find the end zone to salvage his day. With Godwin likely out, Evans will be a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 this Sunday.
Chicago Bears LB Khalil Mack (knee) was limited in practice all week and is listed as questionable for Week 2 against the New York Giants. LB Robert Quinn (ankle) was upgraded to a full practice Friday, Sept. 18, and is also listed as questionable. WR Ted Ginn Jr. (rest), TE Jimmy Graham (rest) and DT Akiem Hicks (illness) practiced in full Friday and have been removed from the injury report.
New York Giants DB Adrian Colbert (quad) did not practice Friday, Sept. 18, and has been ruled out for Week 2 against the Chicago Bears. LB Carter Coughlin (hamstring) and WR Golden Tate (hamstring) were limited in practice Friday and are listed as questionable. LB Tae Crowder (hamstring) was a participant in practice all week and no longer appears on the injury report.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Week 2 against the Bills. Parker is in line to be a game-time decision on Sunday morning, but fantasy managers will know well in advance of the early games whether Parker will be able to play. The 27-year-old was able to get in three practices this week, so that bodes well for his availability. However, Parker will be a risky flex option for fantasy managers if he plays, since he'll likely be covered by Bills All-Pro cornerback Tre'Davious White. Preston Williams, Miami's No. 2 wideout, would be more attractive as a flex if Parker suits up. Otherwise, he'll likely draw the coverage of White in this one.
Carolina Panthers OG Dennis Daley (ankle), DT Kawann Short (foot) and DE Yetur Gross-Matos (concussion) did not practice Friday, Sept. 18, and have been ruled out for Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. WR Pharoh Cooper (ribs), CB Donte Jackson (ankle), LB Shaq Thompson (groin) and DE Stephen Weatherly (hamstring) practiced in full all week and no longer appear on the injury report.
Tennessee Titans WR A.J. Brown (knee) and RB Darrynton Evans (hamstring) did not practice Friday, Sept. 18, and has been ruled out for Week 2 versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. CB Malcolm Butler (quad) did not practice Friday and is listed as questionable. LB Vic Beasley (knee), OL Jamil Douglas (hand) and LB Derick Roberson (knee) practiced in full Friday and are also listed as questionable. WR Corey Davis (hamstring), S Kenny Vaccaro (illness), LB Jadeveon Clowney (hip) and OT Taylor Lewan (illness) practiced in full Friday and have been removed from the injury report.
Jacksonville Jaguars TE Tyler Davis (knee) did not practice all week and has been ruled out for Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans. DE Josh Allen (calf), TE Tyler Eifert (non-injury), CB D.J. Hayden (non-injury), C Brandon Linder (non-injury), DE Adam Gotsis (non-injury) and TE James O'Shaughnessy (non-injury) practiced in full Friday, Sept. 18, and no longer appear on the injury report.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich said that tight end Jack Doyle (ankle, knee) is out for Week 2 against the Vikings. Doyle missed practice all week and will give way to Mo Alie-Cox as the team's starting tight end with Trey Burton already on Injured Reserve. Alie-Cox is a low-end TE2 to begin with, but on top of it, the Vikings were the best against opposing tight ends in 2019. When healthy, the 30-year-old Doyle is a low-ceiling TE2 in a Colts offense with plenty of mouths to feed, even after Marlon Mack's (Achilles) season-ending injury. He went for 49 yards in the season-opening loss to the Jaguars.