Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cleveland's RB carousel, Fred Jackson's thumb, Cadillac revs up...

Reversing field: Several weeks ago I commented in a blog post that Jerome Harrison was having a terrific offseason for the Browns and would likely be pushing Jamal Lewis for playing time and/or his starting gig. While that was certainly true at the time, Harrison has since lost some steam while nursing an injury and rookie RB James Davis (pictured) is now the shining star of the preseason. I've hesitated to come out with an official reversal because you never know what to believe from coaches and beat reporters during the preseason, but the writing is getting fairly clear on the lockerroom wall that Davis is the current favorite over Harrison. So...if you are looking for Jamal's handcuff and/or a backup who could very well claim a starting job sooner rather than later, the man of the hour in Cleveland is James Davis.

It didn't take long for Brandon Marshall to reclaim his starting job in Denver, now that he's back from hip and hamstring injuries. But he still has a lot of ground to make up with new QB Kyle Orton and learning a new offensive scheme. I remain very wary of him, but the talented receiver could start climbing my rankings with a good showing in this weekend's preseason game. That said, there's no word yet if he will even suit up, and I still like Eddie Royal better.

T.O. is still nursing the toe he injured in the Hall of Fame game and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. Turf toe anyone? Owens' stock is dropping as a result, and you'd be wise to think twice before drafting him any time before the 5th round. Given his advanced age, 35, this is the type of injury that could linger and keep him on the sidelines for an extended period.

Also in Buffalo, Fred Jackson injured the area between his left thumb and wrist in practice. That could spell trouble for the team, since they're counting on him to start the first three games of the season while Marshawn Lynch serves his league-imposed suspension. Next in line is Dominic Rhodes, but don't rush out to pick him up just yet. There's still plenty of time for Jackson to heal, and the injury isn't considered serious.

Donnie Avery (stress fracture in foot) is back practicing with the Rams. Gotta be impressed by the guy's tenacity and commitment. Looks like he'll be good to go by Week 1.

Mark Sanchez beat out Kellen Clemens for the Jets' starting QB gig -- no surprise there -- but I'm still not listing him in my Top 30 QB rankings. Just don't like the talent around him.

Interesting news out of Tampa Bay: Cadillac Williams is slated to start this week's game, and play two series. Wow. If the oft-injured but multi-talented back fares well, his presence would throw a wrench into the Derrick Ward-Earnest Graham committee we've been expecting. True, you can't count on Williams to last more than a handful of games given his history, but this is very bad news for those expecting big things from Ward (not I) or Graham (who I have ranked slightly ahead of Ward currently, but still toward the bottom of my list). This could get interesting.

Brian Westbrook will also be testing out his surgically repaired knee in this weekend's game. I'll be watching that one closely, especially since I spent my 2nd round pick on Westy in my Sporting News Experts League draft and failed to snag LeSean McCoy in time to hedge my bets.

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