Fri Aug 16 6:31pm ET
By The Associated Press
In this May 11, 2019, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush, left, catches the ball during pass defense drills at NFL football practice in Pittsburgh. First-round pick Bush will get a chance to show his eye-opening debut _ when the inside linebacker made 10 tackles against Tampa Bay _ was a taste of things to come. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
In this July 29, 2019, file photo, Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten catches the ball from a passing machine at the NFL football team's training camp in Oxnard, Calif. The Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams meet Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Honolulu, a place that used to be a regular NFL stop for the Pro Bowl. The first exhibition game in Hawaii since 1976 also figures to be Wittens return after a year in retirement as a broadcaster. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker, File)
Aloha. The Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams meet Saturday night in Honolulu, a place that used to be a regular NFL stop for the Pro Bowl.
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Eds: With AP Photos.
By The Associated Press=
The Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams meet Saturday night in Honolulu, a place that used to be a regular NFL stop for the Pro Bowl.
Instead, Hawaiians will see lots of backups for both teams, who faced off in a playoff game in January won by LA on its way to the Super Bowl.
''Hawaii is a magical place,'' coach Jason Garrett said. ''There is a great football tradition there, a lot of great players have come from there. One of our great players years ago, Mark Tuinei, is from Hawaii, and so many others. But once you get around the logistical part it's going to be fun to go over there and play a football game and hopefully grow as a team in a great environment.''
The first exhibition game in Hawaii since 1976 also figures to be Cowboys tight end Jason Witten's return after a year in retirement as a broadcaster. The 11-time Pro Bowler is on the verge of setting a club record with a 16th season. The 37-year-old Witten already holds the Dallas records for catches and yards receiving and could threaten the mark for touchdowns receiving.
With two-time rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott about to miss his second preseason game in a holdout, rookie Tony Pollard should get a slightly longer look than he did in the opener at San Francisco. Playing just the first series against the 49ers, Pollard had four carries for 16 yards on a drive to a field goal. Alfred Morris, the primary replacement during Elliott's six-game suspension two years ago, could see his first action of the preseason after signing during training camp.
Many of the Rams' top players are not even making the trip to Hawaii. Coach Sean McVay intends to stick to his strategy of sitting out his key starters for the entire preseason.
After spending last week in Northern California ahead of a game in Oakland, the Rams are already a bit tired of life on the road again, so they're only spending about 48 hours total in Hawaii.
Lions at Texans
While Houston coach Bill O'Brien doesn't seem ready to play many starters, one of them who would like to get in Saturday's game, or at least one of the next three preseason contests. Receiver Will Fuller, a first-round pick in 2016, sustained a season-ending knee injury last October.
''I think I need to play in a preseason game because I haven't played a football game in a long time,'' he said. ''So just being out there and feeling game speed again, getting hit again, I haven't gotten tackled yet, is important.''
For the second straight week, the Lions will play a team after having joint practices with the opponent. Last week, New England was at the Lions' facility for practices and faced them in their preseason opener.
''Competing against the Patriots, competing against Houston, you really get three good sets of evaluation with different types of players,'' Detroit coach Matt Patricia said. ''J.J. Watt is obviously a phenomenal player, as is everybody that's down there, so I think that it is a great opportunity.''
Of course, Watt and those others ''down there'' likely won't play.
Browns at Colts
After two days of physical workouts and minor skirmishes, Cleveland and Indianapolis get together one more time.
Indy needs to see more productivity out of its offense. In last week's loss to Buffalo, the Colts managed only two first downs on their first seven possessions. Those problems reappeared during the joint practices and included slow starts by the offensive line on both days. Coach Frank Reich wants to see that corrected this weekend even as Andrew Luck continues sitting out to recover from calf and lower left leg injuries.
The Browns are expected to keep the bubble wrap on star receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who didn't play in the first exhibition and is dealing with a hip injury the team claims is minor.
Beckham's absence has given Rashard Higgins more reps and the receiver's development has been one of the team's most pleasant surprises this summer.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield is expected to get a few more snaps with the starting offense.
Patriots at Titans
The Patriots have wideout woes.
Julian Edelman is still recovering from a thumb injury, and they also practiced without N'Keal Harry for a second straight day this week. Phillip Dorsett also watched with a wrap over his left thumb and hand after not being able to finish Wednesday's practice. And Maurice Harris didn't finish that practice and wasn't seen Thursday.
Not that it mattered to Tom Brady, who simply completed most of his passes to receivers such as undrafted rookie Gunner Olszewski of Bemidji State. And the standout thus far in camp has been undrafted WR Jakobi Meyers.
Three-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker is hoping to play for Tennessee after watching the Titans' preseason-opening win in Philadelphia. He sat out three straight practices before working against the Patriots on Thursday. The Titans also might get back rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown, who sat out for two weeks of training camp after hurting his left hamstring on the opening day of camp.
Chiefs at Steelers
The Steelers will begin the painful process of moving on following the death of wide receivers coach Darryl Drake.
Drake's passing left the Steelers in mourning and the young group of receivers the 62-year-old led missing more than just a coach.
''It's hard to get back to the game you love because he's not out there telling you what to do, he's not out there yelling,'' Steelers receiver Ryan Switzer said. ''So it's hard. But it's part of our profession, and it's something we have to do. And something that coach Drake would want us to do.''
First-round pick Devin Bush will get a chance to show his eye-opening debut - when the inside linebacker made 10 tackles against Tampa Bay - was a taste of things to come.
The Chiefs head to Pittsburgh with quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the rest of their starters expected to play most of the first half. That includes a number of guys who have missed practice this week with an illness, such as wide receiver Sammy Watkins and defensive end Frank Clark.
Newly signed cornerback Morris Claiborne could also get on the field for the first time with Kansas City, even though he will be suspended the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Saints at Chargers, Sunday
The Saints' first-team defense struggled in its preseason opener while healthy Pro Bowl edge rusher Cameron Jordan watched from the sideline.
''We've got some things we have to fix,'' Jordan said. ''I'm always going to put it on the front D-line when we don't generate enough pass rush. I'd say it's concerning, but at the same time, that's why you have a preseason game to tune everything up.''
While Jordan could see his first preseason action, more attention is on how much progress fellow end and 2018 first-round draft choice Marcus Davenport is making. He struggled to create pressure on Vikings QBs last week in a 34-25 loss.
''He's got a lot of things he wants to do, mentally,'' Jordan said of Davenport. ''So, I try to tell him sometimes it's not about thinking so much. It's about just going out there and physically performing.''
Philip Rivers will be held out for the second straight game as Chargers coach Anthony Lynn continues to get the backups and young players more snaps. Rivers said he would be fine with not playing in a preseason game, which is a pretty stunning admission from him; he likes getting in as much work as possible.
Tyrod Taylor will get the start followed by Cardale Jones and rookie Easton Stick.
Adrian Phillips will get a lot of snaps at free safety now that Derwin James (foot) is injured.
Seahawks at Vikings, Sunday
After playing the starters one series in their opening win at New Orleans, the Vikings will probably give the first-team offense a longer look as quarterback Kirk Cousins continues to settle in to the revamped scheme under coordinator Kevin Stefanski and adviser Gary Kubiak. Running back Dalvin Cook, entering his third year after two injury-shortened seasons, was held out against the Saints as a precaution. Rookie Alexander Mattison is the leading candidate to be the No. 2 running back and will get plenty of action against the Seahawks.
The most intriguing player in purple will undoubtedly be specialist Kaare Vedvik, the recent acquisition from Baltimore who is being evaluated equally as both a kicker and a punter. Though it's unlikely Vedvik, a native of Norway in his second year in the league out of Marshall, would be given both jobs for the regular season, he'll get a chance to kick and punt in the remaining exhibition games.
Russell Wilson likely will see the field for the first time and will give the first true look at his connection with rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf that has shown promise during training camp. Running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny - leaders of the top running attack in the NFL last season - are also likely to get some carries.
Defensively the focus will be on Seattle's pass rush that remains the biggest question heading into the season.
49ers at Broncos, Monday night
San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to get his first game action since going down with a season-ending knee injury last September. Garoppolo sat out the first exhibition game, but is expected to play at least a series at Denver. The Niners are counting on big things this season from Garoppolo, who has made only 10 starts in five NFL seasons.
Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders is expected to make his first start since tearing his left Achilles tendon in practice last December. Sanders revealed recently that in addition to that injury, he had ''tightrope'' surgery on his right ankle (which is being used in athletes now to speed the recovery from high ankle sprains).
The Broncos are hoping to finally have their starting O-line together in a game. LT Garett Bolles, LG Dalton Risner and C Connor McGovern have all played, but health concerns have limited RG Ronald Leary and RT Ja'Wuan James. The Broncos need this group to show marked improvement and keep Joe Flacco upright for them to have any chance of returning to respectability in 2019.
Sunday Morning Update: Week 3
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins won't be active in Week 3 against the Washington Football Team. Considering he took just vie offensive snaps in Week 2, this move shouldn't come as a big surprise. Higgins was getting some preseason hype, but it's time to pull the ripcord if you're still rostering him in redraft leagues. KhaDarel Hodge has solidified a role as the No. 3 receiver in Cleveland, and we'll see a little more of JoJo Natson today, though not enough to make any kind of fantasy movement happen.
Los Angeles Rams rookie running back Cam Akers (ribs) is out for Sunday's contest against the Buffalo Bills. Without Akers, expect Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson Jr. to split carries, with the advantage likely going to Henderson. Brown is a touchdown-dependent fantasy play, while Henderson has the potential to be a solid RB3. Both guys have their upside limited due to a tough matchup with the Buffalo Bills Defense.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Tajae Sharpe is a healthy scratch on Sunday against his former team, the Tennessee Titans. Considering Sharpe had taken just 16 offensive snaps this season, this doesn't move the needle at all. Wide receiver Chad Beebe will play for the first time this year, but like Sharpe would have been, Beebe isn't a fantasy option this week. The Vikings offense doesn't have the upside to support their fringe receivers as fantasy plays.
No surprise here, as all reports indicated both would play, but it's now official: Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (hip) and tight end Darren Waller (knee) are both playing against the Patriots. Both players are must-play options in season-long leagues, with Waller being a TE1 option and Jacobs being a strong RB2 play. Don't be concerned about how the injury issues will impact their performance today. The bigger issue is the Patriots Defense and a game script that might be bad for Jacobs.
Las Vegas Raiders TE Darren Waller (knee) will play in Week 3's game against the New England Patriots.
Fantasy Spin: Waller has 18 receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown through his first two games this season and has developed into QB Derek Carr's favorite target. His steady role in the Las Vegas offense makes him a viable starting option in all fantasy formats.
Cincinnati Bengals WR Tee Higgins will be one of the starting receivers in Week 3 because WR John Ross is inactive for the game. WR Auden Tate is also active this week after being inactive last week.
Fantasy Spin: Higgins is off to a slow start this season with only 35 receiving yards but should be more involved in the passing game this week. He has a chance to have success against the Philadelphia Eagles and could be a flex option in deeper leagues. Tate may see a handful of targets but can be avoided in most leagues. Fantasy players should keep an eye on Ross' status to see when he will return to the lineup.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross III is a healthy scratch in Week 3 against the Eagles. After being targeted five times in Week 1 and playing 84 percent of the team's snaps, he saw that snap share fall to 30 percent last week. Now, the Bengals won't have Ross on the field this week. It sounds like this team is already wanting to see how rookie Tee Higgins and other players look. This isn't the first time that the Bengals have made a wide receiver a surprise inactive this year, and Ross could very well suit up next week, but his fantasy outlook moving forward becomes very cloudy. You can probably drop him in most season-long redraft leagues.
New York Giants running back Devonta Freeman was just signed this week, but he'll officially be active for Sunday's meeting with a banged-up 49ers Defense. Freeman's a risky fantasy option for this week as he works his way into being part of a new team, but at some point this season, Freeman's going to be the lead back in the Meadowlands. For this week, he's a deep-league flex option with a fairly low floor.
The San Francisco 49ers have declared CB Ahkello Witherspoon, DL Dee Ford, QB Jimmy Garoppolo, LB Dre Greenlaw, TE George Kittle, OG Tom Compton and RB Raheem Mostert inactive for Week 3.
The Chicago Bears have declared OT Arlington Hambright, DL Daniel McCullers, LB Trevis Gipson, CB Duke Shelley and WR Riley Ridley inactive for Week 3.
The New York Giants have declared S Adrian Colbert, DT R.J. McIntosh, TE Eric Tomlinson, CB Brandon Z. Williams, OT Jackson Barton and LB T.J. Brunson inactive for Week 3.
Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson Jr. (ankle) is inactive for the team's Week 3 contest against the Steelers, which means that David Johnson should function as the workhorse back for the team this week. It's a bad matchup for Johnson, but his projected volume gives him a good shot at being an RB2 on the day. Elsewhere on the team, wide receiver Kenny Stills (illness) is playing but is the No. 4 receiver on the team and isn't a fantasy option. Defensive tackle Ross Blacklock -- who was ejected from last week's game -- is also inactive and could be in head coach Bill O'Brien's doghouse.
New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry (ankle) is officially active for the team's Week 3 meeting with the Las Vegas Raiders. Harry had a bit of a lost season as a rookie, but has become one of the primary targets for quarterback Cam Newton in 2020. His high target share and the lack of viable receiving options in New England makes Harry a solid WR3 with upside, even if there are valid concerns about just how healthy he'll be out there with an injured ankle.
The Minnesota Vikings have declared OL Olisaemeka Udoh, WR K.J. Osborn, CB Cameron Dantzler, WR Tajae Sharpe, CB Mike Hughes, DE Eddie Yarbrough and DE James Lynch inactive for Week 3.
The Washington Football Team have declared OT David Sharpe, QB Alex Smith, OT Saahdiq Charles, RB Bryce Love, LB Cole Holcomb, CB Danny Johnson and DE James Smith-Williams inactive for Week 3.
The Cincinnati Bengals have declared LB Markus Bailey, WR John Ross, RB Trayveon Williams, DE Andrew Brown, PK Austin Seibert and DL Geno Atkins inactive for Week 3.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) is officially inactive for the team's Week 3 meeting with the Chicago Bears. In his stead, expect big performances from both Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage. Ridley becomes a WR1 option, and Gage is now a solid WR3. Tight end Hayden Hurst gets a boost as well. As for Jones, this shouldn't be a huge surprise as he seemed to be trending down all week. Now, the question becomes if Jones will miss more than just this one game.
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor (lungs) is already ruled out for Week 3, but it seems his absence due to a punctured lung that happened pre-game in Week 2 will stretch until at least the team's Week 4 meeting with Tampa Bay. Justin Herbert will start this week and should be the starter again in Week 4 if healthy. As for Taylor, the team has said the quarterback job is his when healthy, but things could if Herbert plays well over the next couple of games.
The Atlanta Falcons have declared DT Deadrin Senat, DE Takkarist McKinley, LB Foyesade Oluokun, WR Julio Jones, OT Kaleb McGary, S Ricardo Allen and DB Kendall Sheffield inactive for Week 3.
Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (knee) is expected to suit up for Sunday's Week 3 contest with the Seattle Seahawks. Lawrence hasn't done a lot in 2020, and while he's a disruptive pass rusher when he's at his best, his impact is likely to be pretty minimal this week based on how his season's began. The Cowboys Defense remains unplayable in all formats -- unless you really want to make a big punt play in a GPP -- because they're facing the extremely dangerous Seattle Seahawks offense.