Friday NFL preview: Can Seahawks, Chargers utilize star tight ends?

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Gruden: Russell Wilson doesn't have time to throw to Jimmy Graham

Jon Gruden claims the reason Jimmy Graham isn't getting the ball enough is the fact that Russell Wilson doesn't have the time in the pocket to find him down the field.

NFL Nation reporters look ahead to what Friday has in store for each team.


Buffalo Bills: It's looking more and more as if the Bills will be without Sammy Watkins (calf), LeSean McCoy (hamstring) and Karlos Williams (concussion) for Sunday's game against the Titans. Of the three, Watkins might have the only realistic shot to practice Friday and make a late run at playing in the game. Rex Ryan said Thursday that it would be a "reach" for Williams to play Sunday, and McCoy has been shut down this week. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are on a bye and will focus on rehabbing their injured players. Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes (knee), Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake (hamstring) and starting defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (back) are among the ailing players in need of rest this week. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: With veteran cornerback Tarell Brown showing up on the injury report (foot) as a limited participant in practice, it shines a brighter spotlight on Logan Ryan (third year) and Justin Coleman (undrafted rookie) as the next players on the depth chart. Brown opened the year as the starter opposite Malcolm Butler, but his health will be watched closely at arguably the thinnest position on the roster. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: When the Jets return to practice Monday after the bye, one area that needs attention is punt coverage. They're allowing 23.7 yards per return, second-worst in the league. Punter Ryan Quigley is doing fine; this is more about tackling and maintaining lane discipline. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: The usually stingy Ravens' defense has given up 104 points, the most they've allowed in their first four games in franchise history. But here come the Browns, who have averaged 10.8 points in Baltimore since their last win in 2007. Cleveland has scored only one touchdown in its past 10 quarters at M&T Bank Stadium. The Browns' last passing touchdown in Baltimore was 2011, when Seneca Wallace connected with Evan Moore. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: While Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson may be wanting to see White Castle and Skyline Chili during his visit to Cincinnati, the Bengals' defensive linemen hope he comes their way Sunday, too. One year after helping generate a league-low 20 sacks, the Bengals' linemen have all 11 of the team's early-season sacks. That number figures to go up this week, considering Wilson has been sacked a whopping 18 times this year. As the Bengals make their final preparations Friday, coaches will continue hammering home the point about generating constant, relentless pressure on Wilson. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: The Browns may be without free safety Tashaun Gipson in Baltimore. Gipson has not practiced after spraining his ankle in the loss to the Chargers. The Browns also should have a better idea about his Pro Bowl counterpart, cornerback Joe Haden, who is trying to figure a way to play with a broken right ring finger that kept him from facing the Chargers. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: After an erratic preseason, third-round rookie Sammie Coates is starting to get comfortable with the offense. He caught his first NFL pass last week, and he has been more productive in recent practices. Martavis Bryant's return keeps Coates buried on the depth chart, but he's making a move behind the scenes. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: The Texans ended Thursday night still unsure of their starting quarterback following a 27-20 loss to the Colts. Coach Bill O'Brien said after the game he thought Brian Hoyer "did a good job" after he came in for Ryan Mallett, but O'Brien plans to review film and evaluate the position further. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: Matt Hasselbeck, a 40-year-old backup quarterback, overcame an illness to help the Colts defeat the Texans on Thursday night. The Colts will now take the weekend off before the most anticipated week of the season begins Monday. They'll start their preparation to face the Patriots next week. It'll be a rematch of last season's AFC Championship game and the first time the two teams have met since Deflategate. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars have won four games in a row over the Bucs dating to 1998. A victory Sunday would tie the franchise's third-longest winning streak against one team. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, the Jags won eight in a row over Baltimore, six in a row over Cleveland and five in a row over Cincinnati. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: Bills tight end Charles Clay could test the Titans' linebackers and safeties in a way they've not been tested yet this season. He's Buffalo's leading receiver, and Tennessee will probably want Tyrod Taylor looking elsewhere because he seems so comfortable throwing to Clay. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: Broncos running back C.J. Anderson, who has averaged just 2.7 yards per carry over the season's first four weeks, said this week one of the things he knows he must address to help kick-start his game is dealing with his own frustration. He has said that he has become "too frustrated too early in games" this season. He thinks there are hints the team's run game is going to come around and that his performance will improve not only by improving football matters, but his own outlook as well. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: One player to keep an eye on Sunday against the Bears and beyond is rookie wide receiver Chris Conley. He had two catches for 53 yards last week against Cincinnati and could be ready to claim the other starting spot beside Jeremy Maclin. Conley has size and speed and gives the Chiefs a big-play threat because he runs well after the catch. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders have been trying to address the basic defensive fundamental this week -- tackling -- as they prepare to host AFC West-leading Denver on Sunday. They have struggled badly on defense in the first quarter of the season. The lack of clean tackling is the main culprit. According to Pro Football Focus research, Oakland has had double-digit missed tackles in three of their four games. Clearly, that has been a bone of contention for Oakland's coaching staff and a main teaching point. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers: San Diego coach Mike McCoy said tight end Antonio Gates looks like he never took any time off in his first week back on the field for the Chargers. Gates has fresh legs compared to his teammates, who have already played four games. "He looks outstanding," McCoy said. "He looks like Antonio, and it doesn't shock me one bit the way he came back in shape, running routes out there and doing things the right way." -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: The loss of Lance Dunbar to a season-ending knee injury does not affect only the Cowboys' offense. He has been a valuable special-teams contributor as a return man and on the coverage teams. The Cowboys have not been dynamic in the return game, but they will look to a number of players to replace Dunbar. Lucky Whitehead and Darren McFadden are kickoff return possibilities with Cole Beasley maintaining his punt return job. Whitehead earned a spot in training camp in part because of his return ability. The Cowboys' average starting position after a kickoff is their 21-yard line. They need Whitehead and McFadden to make a difference to help give the offense short fields to work with. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: The Giants rank first in the league in run defense but 32nd against the pass, and part of the reason for the latter has been an ineffective pass rush. Don't assume the sack totals go up this week, though, just because the 49ers have allowed the third-most sacks in the league. The Giants game planned last week to stop mobile Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor by keeping him in the pocket rather than tearing off after him with pass-rushers. They're likely to try something similar this week against Colin Kaepernick. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: It appears as if the Eagles will have their five starting offensive linemen for Sunday's game against the Saints. It remains to be seen how long all five will remain on the field. Tackles Jason Peters and Lane Johnson practiced with injuries this week. If they had to leave the game, a guard such as Matt Tobin or Dennis Kelly would move out to tackle, while Josh Andrews would make his NFL debut at guard. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: Two young players who could play key roles Sunday for Washington: running back Chris Thompson and slot receiver Jamison Crowder. The Falcons will give up a lot of catches on underneath routes, making sure not to get beat deep. That could be good news for Crowder and Thompson, who perform well in this area, especially Crowder. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: The Bears have serious decisions to make Friday. Wide receiver Eddie Royal (ankle) has missed two straight practices, and unless he participates Friday, it's hard to envision the veteran playing in Kansas City. Fellow wideout Alshon Jeffery is making progress to return Sunday, but he's expected to be listed as questionable. The status of guard Patrick Omameh is also important. If Omameh, who sat out Wednesday and Thursday, cannot dress for the Chiefs game, the Bears will have to start rookie Hroniss Grasu at center and leave Matt Slauson at left guard. Even if Omameh returns in limited fashion Friday, the Bears have prepared Grasu to make his first career start at Arrowhead Stadium. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: Be concerned if you're the Lions. Tyrunn Walker is out for the season. Haloti Ngata (calf) has missed two days of practice. They have some big questions at defensive tackle, especially if Ngata can't play. Caraun Reid will be one defensive tackle. Then there's either rookie Gabe Wright, veteran Jermelle Cudjo or two guys who were signed this week -- Andre Fluellen or Ish Kitchen. It'll be interesting to watch if Ngata practices Friday and how that rotation could shake out against an Arizona team getting back to full offensive strength. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: Will Davante Adams (ankle) and Morgan Burnett (calf) have any chance to play Sunday against the Rams? At this point, it looks unlikely. Neither has practiced so far this week after not playing last Sunday against the 49ers. The Packers don't practice Friday but will have to make an official designation about their status. Last week, they were listed as questionable on Friday, only to be downgraded to doubtful a day later. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings' two defensive ends -- Everson Griffen and Brian Robison -- are first and second among 4-3 defensive ends in total pressures, according to research from Pro Football Focus. Both players could have a chance for big days when the Vikings get back on the field against the Chiefs on Oct. 18; Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith has already been sacked 18 times this year. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: Roddy White returned to practice Thursday after being excused to be by his mother's side for her surgery. Upon returning, White met with both coach Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to discuss his role in the offense. Everyone appears to be on the same page; White left the meeting feeling "good.". -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: Carolina coach Ron Rivera plans to take advantage of the bye weekend by traveling around North Carolina with his wife and enjoying the sights. He didn't give a detailed schedule of where they'll be, but don't be surprised if they show up anywhere from downtown Charlotte to the mountains near Asheville. Come Sunday, though, he'll be in front of his television watching upcoming opponent Seattle take on the undefeated Bengals in Cincinnati. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: The Eagles' offense has been struggling this year, but it still puts plenty of stress on opponents with its up-tempo pace and zone-read run game. Saints coach Sean Payton said it's hard to substitute players when the Eagles are in their no-huddle mode, and it can wear down a team's pass rush. So the key, as always, will be getting off the field. The Eagles' average time of possession this year is 22:48 -- by far the lowest in the NFL. Keeping that number down would give Drew Brees a lot of time with the ball and the Saints a great chance to win. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: How long has the Bucs' home losing streak gone on? Even their own players seem surprised by the drought's length, which stands at 11 consecutive losses at Raymond James Stadium. Running back Bobby Rainey was blunt Thursday when calling the skid "sad." The Bucs have plenty of weaknesses, but they're more talented than the Jaguars. A loss to Jacksonville would add another bad memory to a "sad" slide. -- Andrew Astleford


Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals' complete offensive arsenal practiced Thursday as tight end Darren Fells and wide receiver J.J. Nelson returned to the field. The Cardinals will have their last home practice Friday until Oct. 21 because the team is spending next week practicing in West Virginia. -- Josh Weinfuss

St. Louis Rams: The Rams' offense got some much-needed confidence in the second half against Arizona this week but still hasn't been able to consistently sustain drives. While they'd like the big plays to continue, their focus this week is on staying on the field with longer drives. That would be a step in the right direction for the offense and help keep Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the sideline. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: Starting outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks has been away from the team this week after the death of his sister and will not be with the team for Sunday's game against the Giants in New York. Rookie Eli Harold and Corey Lemonier should get the majority of Brooks' snaps. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: Jimmy Graham's role has become a weekly topic of conversation in Seattle. Per ESPN Stats & Information research, he has been targeted on 18.3 percent of his pass routes, the lowest number of his career. But when Russell Wilson does throw Graham's way, he's completing 81.8 percent of his passes. The Seahawks might need a big game from Graham to keep up with the Bengals, especially if Marshawn Lynch is hobbled. -- Sheil Kapadia