1 Player on Every NFL Team Who Deserves More Snaps Already

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2018

1 Player on Every NFL Team Who Deserves More Snaps Already

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    We're only two weeks into the 2018 NFL season, but it's clear some players need to see more action.

    In several scenarios, injuries have created opportunities for the next man to fill a roster void or handle an expanded role. In order to justify more time on the field for a player, we'll take a look at his production in small glimpses, preseason performances and potential coming out of the college ranks.

    It's also fair to suggest backups who could serve as more effective alternatives to underperforming starters. When looking at the film, coaches can easily spot a position in dire need of an upgrade or a player with the appropriate skill set to strengthen weaker areas.

    Let's take a look at all 32 teams and highlight players who should be taking on larger workloads.


Arizona Cardinals: QB Josh Rosen

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    It's time for rookie quarterback Josh Rosen to warm up his arm. No, it's not a knee-jerk reaction to Sam Bradford's Week 2 outing in which he completed 17 of 27 pass attempts for 90 yards and an interception.

    At this point, Bradford's health isn't a major concern. He's been ineffective under center, averaging four yards per pass attempt in a lifeless offense. Head coach Steve Wilks didn't place all the blame on the 30-year-old signal-caller for a rough 0-2 start, but the team needs a spark.

    Rosen played well in the second preseason game with wideouts Christian Kirk and Chad Williams as his primary targets (10-of-16 for 107 yards and a score against the New Orleans Saints). It's time to see what he can do with the starters in regular-season action. 

    The Cardinals have yet to score a touchdown through the air, and they're coming off a 34-0 road loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Offensively, it couldn't get much worse.

    If there's garbage time late in the Week 3 matchup with the Chicago Bears, Rosen should see the field. If not, Week 4 against the Seattle Seahawks seems like a good spot to shake up things under center. 

Atlanta Falcons: RB Ito Smith

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    Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn couldn't give clarity on running back Devonta Freeman's timeline for a return from his knee injury, per ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure, but rookie ball-carrier Ito Smith saw action last week against the Carolina Panthers and fared well, logging nine carries for 46 yards.

    The Southern Mississippi product didn't turn heads during the preseason, but Freeman's injury created an opportunity. In a small sample, he showed an ability to handle a complementary role to Tevin Coleman. The fourth-rounder logged consecutive runs for 13 and 18 yards in the third quarter of last week's 31-24 victory.

    It looks like Smith can break off a long run on any handoff given his debut performance as a ball-carrier. The Falcons may not have their two-time Pro Bowl running back for a short period, but their new addition in the backfield could fill the void in the meantime.

Baltimore Ravens: LB Kenny Young

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    Linebacker Kenny Young could see more time on the field because of C.J. Mosley's knee injury. Even if the three-time Pro Bowler returns to action in Week 3 against the Denver Broncos, the Baltimore Ravens should increase the rookie's snap count and reel back on Patrick Onwuasor's usage in coverage.

    In his regular-season debut against the Buffalo Bills, Young played a limited role but finished with four tackles and a sack. In Week 2, he didn't have a flawless outing against the Cincinnati Bengals in coverage but showed great instincts after Mosley exited with an injury, per Clifton Brown of the team's official website.

    "He played with speed and anticipation and was a consistent presence around the ball, particularly in the second half when Baltimore held the Bengals to just six points," Brown wrote. "... Young had two tackles for no gain in the second quarter. In the third quarter, he blitzed up the middle and nearly sacked [Andy] Dalton."

    As a rookie, Young will make some mistakes; however, he spent four years at UCLA and may be able to quickly pick up the professional game. He's capable of filling a role in the nickel package as a cover defender and being an effective blitzer when necessary.

    Regardless of Mosley's status, Young should see extra reps at practices and an expanded role in the short term.

Buffalo Bills: CB Lafayette Pitts

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    In a bizarre turn of events, cornerback Vontae Davis retired during halftime of the Bills' last outing with the Los Angeles Chargers.

    Cornerback Phillip Gaines dislocated his elbow in Week 2, and rookie fourth-rounder Taron Johnson didn't play because of a shoulder injury. The Bills are paper-thin at the position behind Tre'Davious White. Nonetheless, a relatively unknown talent could rise through the ranks, starting with a small opportunity.

    Lafayette Pitts played 27 defensive snaps against the Chargers, which suggests he's in line for more action at a position that lacks depth. The 25-year-old flashed during the preseason. He didn't log any interceptions but consistently broke up passes in coverage.

    The Bills could sign a free agent or two to ensure they have enough healthy bodies, but Pitts' summer showing could put him on the inside track to securing a significant role at an injury-riddled position.

Carolina Panthers: WR Jarius Wright

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    The Panthers selected DJ Moore with the No. 24 pick, making him the first wide receiver to come off the board in April's draft. He logged his first reception on a 51-yard touchdown pass against the Falcons on Sunday. However, seventh-year veteran Jarius Wright has been a consistent threat in the aerial attack early this season.

    In two games, Wright converted 12 targets into eight catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. He's emerged as a solid No. 2 option at wide receiver behind Devin Funchess.

    Going into Week 3, Wright has logged 56.0 percent of the team's offensive snaps compared to 81.3 percent for Torrey Smith, who has caught four of his nine targets. 

    Wright's efficiency should give him a larger role as quarterback Cam Newton acclimates to play-caller Norv Turner's system. The former Minnesota Vikings wideout has at least earned more looks from Newton as Moore comes along in the offense.

Chicago Bears: RB Tarik Cohen

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    During the offseason, head coach Matt Nagy spoke with excitement about working with Tarik Cohen. Thus far, he's used the versatile running back sparingly on offense, but the Human Joystick has paid dividends on special teams, returning punts for 30-plus yards in each of the first two contests. 

    The Bears could've used Cohen as a sparkplug on the ground or in the short passing attack against the Seahawks on Monday. Running back Jordan Howard managed to grind out tough yardage between the tackles, but he averaged 2.5 yards per carry. 

    When Howard can't find a breakthrough out of the backfield, Nagy could insert Cohen as a receiving threat in the flat to supplement the running game. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky only targeted him once against the Seattle.

    Based on Cohen's moves in open space on punt returns, he's clearly a playmaker with room to run. 

Cincinnati Bengals: DE Sam Hubbard

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    The Bengals may not have a choice but to give rookie third-rounder Sam Hubbard more opportunities. Defensive end Michael Johnson, who started the first two weeks, exited Thursday's contest with a knee injury. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, he'll miss multiple games.

    The Bengals front four shouldn't take a major hit. Hubbard flashed as a pass-rusher during the exhibition period with two sacks and several quarterback hurries. In Week 2's matchup against the Ravens, he sacked quarterback Joe Flacco once and made some stops against the run.

    Hubbard doesn't need to start to provide a significant impact. Last year, Carl Lawson played 41.6 percent of the defensive snaps but remained a pass-rushing force in the front seven with 8.5 sacks.

    With Johnson sidelined, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin could use Hubbard in rotation to boost a strong defensive line.

Cleveland Browns: RB Nick Chubb

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    Through two weeks, running back Carlos Hyde has averaged 2.8 yards per carry. He's recorded 38 rushing attempts, which is tied for third among ball-carriers. The Cleveland Browns selected Nick Chubb in the second round of April's draft, but the Georgia Bulldogs product has only played 4.6 percent of the offensive snaps.

    The offensive line has experienced its blocking issues, but the Browns should give Chubb more opportunities behind Hyde, who's struggling to move the ball with a high volume of carries. 

    The 22-year-old rookie started slowly during the exhibition period but picked up his production after the first game. He finished the preseason with 45 rushing attempts for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

    Chubb's summer performance should've led to more carries at the beginning of the regular season. It makes sense with the featured running back unable to move the ball more than three yards per attempt.

Dallas Cowboys: RB/WR Tavon Austin

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    The Dallas Cowboys offense doesn't yield many explosive plays, but quarterback Dak Prescott connected with Tavon Austin for a 64-yard touchdown pass on the first drive against the New York Giants in Week 2.

    At 5'8", 179 pounds, Austin isn't a prototypical wide receiver, but he's a viable threat in space. The sixth-year veteran has 108 all-purpose yards on 36 snaps in two games. The versatile playmaker can provide a boost in multiple roles. 

    Play-caller Scott Linehan should increase Austin's involvement in the passing attack as a short- and deep-threat option to open up the offense and keep defenses guessing. He could also take more handoffs in the backfield. The 28-year-old logged 52 rushing attempts for 434 yards and four touchdowns during the 2015 campaign with the then-St. Louis Rams.

    In an expanded role, Austin can easily finish the year with 1,500-plus all-purpose yards.

Denver Broncos: TE Jake Butt

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    The Broncos go into Week 3 with the No. 2 rushing offense featuring two rookie ball-carriers in Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay and a revamped offensive line. Quarterback Case Keenum has done enough to balance the attack, completing 59.5 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and four interceptions.

    Keenum's touchdown-to-interception ratio isn't something to tout, but the coaching staff could help boost his production by having a big-body receiving option on the field more frequently.

    Tight end Jeff Heuerman has played 71.4 percent of the team's snaps, while Jake Butt took the field 44.3 percent of the time. The Broncos should consider closing the gap to consistently force their opponents to defend a reliable receiver in the seam. 

    The 6'6", 250-pound Butt has converted eight targets into six catches for 77 yards. With a 75 percent catch rate, he could see his production spike with more opportunities in the aerial attack.

Detroit Lions: RB Kerryon Johnson

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    Despite selecting running back Kerryon Johnson in the second round of April's draft, the Detroit Lions haven't fully committed to the ground attack. They rank 31st in rushing attempts and 30th in yards.

    It's hard to steer away from a potentially explosive aerial attack with quarterback Matthew Stafford's big arm, but the balance would allow the Lions to catch defenders on their heels.

    Johnson had a solid preseason as a ball-carrier and receiver. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry and caught five passes for 43 yards.

    Nonetheless, he took the field for 35.4 percent of the offensive snaps over the last two weeks. The Auburn product saw more action in Sunday's loss to the San Francisco 49ers and logged eight carries for 43 yards, which included a 21-yard run. He also caught five passes for 23 yards.

    As a capable receiver with the ability to handle pass-blocking responsibilities, Johnson offers enough versatility to handle a bigger workload.

Green Bay Packers: TE Marcedes Lewis

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    Aaron Rodgers has been sacked six times, one of which caused the injury to his balky knee. He was facing the NFL North rival Bears and Vikings, who have top-notch defensive units, but it's important to shield a hobbled quarterback with added protection.

    Throughout his 13-year career, tight end Marcedes Lewis improved his play as a pass protector on the perimeter. Jimmy Graham is atop the depth chart at the position, but taking on pass-rushers isn't his strong suit.

    The Packers also have tight end Lance Kendricks, but he's not as polished as Lewis, who sharpened his skill set for over a decade with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Lewis played 14 snaps against the Vikings on Sunday and should see more action if the coaching staff is committed to keeping the pocket clean and pressure away from Rodgers.

Houston Texans: TE Jordan Akins

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    Clearly, the Houston Texans front office made a concerted effort to upgrade the tight end position, as rookies Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas joined Ryan Griffin on the depth chart.

    During the preseason, Akins flashed as a receiving threat with four receptions for 53 yards and two touchdowns. Through two weeks, he's caught all four of his targets for 32 yards. Griffin and Thomas have one catch apiece. 

    Griffin logged 81.6 percent of the team's offensive snaps, while Akins saw the field for 36.9 percent going into Week 3. Quarterback Deshaun Watson needs the sixth-year veteran inside for pass protection, but Akins hasn't struggled to pick up his blocking assignments.

    With Akins on the field, the Texans would have a tight end who can develop into a solid asset on the front line and move the chains for first downs.

Indianapolis Colts: DL Jihad Ward

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    Defensive end Jihad Ward has bounced around the league this year. The Oakland Raiders traded him to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for wide receiver Ryan Switzer on the third day of the draft. He didn't survive Sept. 1 cuts but signed with the Indianapolis Colts practice squad.

    After Week 1, the Colts promoted Ward to the active roster, and he played 33 defensive snaps Sunday against the Washington Redskins. The third-year defensive lineman logged a sack. 

    The coaching staff may call on Ward to play in Week 3's game against the Philadelphia Eagles as defensive end Denico Autry nurses an ankle injury. 

    As a 2016 second-rounder out of Illinois, Ward underperformed in Oakland under then-defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. Going into his sophomore season, he underwent foot surgery and then only suited up for five games.

    If Ward gets an opportunity and a stable role, the Colts could see the best out of him. He's off to a good start as a pass-rusher and should see more snaps within a front seven that needs to generate more pocket pressure to minimize lapses on the back end.

Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Dante Fowler Jr.

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    Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. served a one-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy. He played 18 defensive snaps against the New England Patriots on Sunday and logged a sack.

    Coming off a strong 2017 campaign, Fowler proved he could affect the game in a limited role. He played 44.8 percent of the team's defensive snaps last season and recorded eight sacks. The Florida Gators product could reach a double-digit number of takedowns with a sizable workload within a stacked front seven. 

    The front office declined the fifth-year option on Fowler's rookie deal, so the short-term outlook for the 24-year-old remains unclear. But he can continue to elevate the pass rush in the meantime. 

    Even in a moderate role, Fowler makes an immediate impact. His low snap count may have been a temporary conditioning precaution. He spent a short period on the physically unable to perform list during training camp because of an upper-body injury.   

Kansas City Chiefs: S Armani Watts

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    The Kansas City Chiefs need a shake-up in the secondary. Beneath their sparkling 2-0 record lies a vulnerable pass defense that's allowed 860 yards. Eric Berry's eventual return from his Achilles injury should strengthen the defense on the back end, but defensive coordinator Bob Sutton could use three-safety looks, as he's done in the past.

    Armani Watts displayed his ability to force turnovers at the collegiate level, logging 10 interceptions in four years at Texas A&M. He also notched two picks in the preseason finale against the Packers. 

    Safeties Ron Parker and Eric Murray have played 99.4 and 98.2 percent of the defensive snaps, respectively. Watts saw the field for 19 snaps through two weeks. Like many rookies selected in the middle rounds, he's earning his keep on special teams.

    When Berry returns, Sutton will have a solid trio of safeties, but the rookie could provide a boost in the meantime and potentially bail this defense out of trouble on critical drives.

Los Angeles Chargers: LB Uchenna Nwosu

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    Despite defensive end Joey Bosa's absence because of a foot injury, the Los Angeles Chargers haven't struggled to apply pocket pressure, recording six sacks in two games. Rookie linebacker Uchenna Nwosu logged his first sack against the Bills on Sunday. 

    Nwosu could find his niche as a pass-rusher within the front seven. He logged 9.5 sacks as a senior at USC and showed glimpses of his skill set during the first and last preseason games with a sack in each and three total hits on the quarterback. 

    The second-rounder has played 15.3 percent of the team's defensive snaps and holds a significant role on special teams. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley may want to experiment with Nwosu as a defender who can come off the edge on early downs, especially if Bosa's timeline for a return remains uncertain.

Los Angeles Rams: LB Matt Longacre

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    The Rams have outscored their first two opponents 67-13, but there's room for tweaks. With all the big names on the defensive line and in the secondary, the linebacker corps looks like it's most in need of a boost.

    Matt Longacre isn't a household name, but he's a pass-rushing asset. He lined up for 35.3 percent of the team's defensive snaps in 2017 and logged 5.5 sacks. The fourth-year veteran has been on the field 36.5 percent of the time this year. 

    Longacre isn't an All-Pro like Aaron Donald or Ndamukong Suh, but defensive coordinator Wade Phillips can use him to dial up pocket pressure off the edge. In a larger role, he could list among the top three Rams defenders in sacks.

Miami Dolphins: WR Albert Wilson

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    In Danny Amendola's 10-year career, durability has been an issue, as he's played a full 16 games twice. The wideout went through the NFL's concussion protocol during Sunday's game with the New York Jets. Even though he returned, his injury history is concerning.

    Amendola has been on the field for 72.9 percent of the team's offensive snaps. The Dolphins should scale that back in favor of wideout Albert Wilson, who signed a three-year, $24 million contract during the offseason, which is a top-30 average salary at his position, per Spotrac

    Wilson has played 51.6 percent of the offensive snaps, and the coaching staff has exercised creativity with his role. He's logged four carries for 15 yards to go with six catches, 68 receiving yards and a touchdown.

    Last season, Wilson saw 62 targets with the Chiefs and finished with career highs in receptions (42) and yards (554). That shows he can produce if given the opportunity. 

Minnesota Vikings: RB Latavius Murray

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    Running back Dalvin Cook exited Sunday's game against the Packers with a hamstring cramp in overtime. 

    It's not a serious setback; however, Cook tore his ACL in Week 4 last season, and he's averaging three yards per carry through two games. The second-year ball-carrier has logged 74.3 percent of the team's offensive snaps. Coordinator John DeFilippo may want to scale back Cook's workload and give Latavius Murray more opportunities. 

    Murray averaged 4.1 yards per carry over the last two contests. At 6'3", 230 pounds, he can handle inside runs, stay on the field for third down as a pass protector and leak into the flat for short passes.

    The Vikings have underutilized Murray, who's only been on the field for 25.7 percent of the offensive snaps. He's not as explosive as Cook but still brings versatility.

New England Patriots: DE Deatrich Wise Jr.

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    The Patriots signed defensive end Adrian Clayborn in March to bolster the pass rush, but they have an in-house asset who can strengthen that area.

    Deatrich Wise Jr. logged five sacks in 16 appearances as a rookie in 2017. He's played 53 percent of the team's defensive snaps and saw more action after Trey Flowers suffered a concussion Sunday.  

    Regardless of Flowers' condition, Wise should take on a bigger role. The developing asset flashed his ability to play on run and passing downs during the preseason with stops and consistent pocket pressure.

    None of the Patriots defensive ends have played more than 61 percent of the team's snaps. Typically, New England's used rotations based on week-to-week matchups. However, Wise's potential and production in a small sample warrant more time.

New Orleans Saints: RB Jonathan Williams

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    In 2017, the New Orleans Saints fielded the No. 5 rushing offense as Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram handled the load. While the latter serves the second half of his performance-enhancing drug-related four-game suspension, the former has averaged 3.6 yards per carry.

    The Saints slightly increased Kamara's workload from 7.5 rush attempts per game last season to 10.5 through the first two weeks. The front office signed running back Mike Gillislee after the Patriots released him, but he's been unable fill Ingram's role. The 27-year-old recorded 11 carries for 27 yards in two appearances.

    Surprisingly, the Saints didn't give Jonathan Williams the first crack at a short-term role following an impressive preseason. He played in all four games and finished with 31 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns. The 24-year-old hasn't seen much regular-season action with nine offensive snaps

    Ingram will return in two weeks, but Williams could help boost the Saints ground attack, which ranks last, until then.

New York Giants: TE Rhett Ellison

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    The Giants must strengthen quarterback Eli Manning's pass protection. The Cowboys sacked him six times in Sunday's matchup. At one point, you could see the horror on his face.

    For the season, Manning has been sacked eight times, which ties Bills quarterback Josh Allen for fourth in the NFL. Head coach Pat Shurmur could consider more two-tight end sets with Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison.

    Ideally, Ellison would stay inside to help on the perimeter while Engram runs pass routes. The Giants would risk losing Manning if he continues to stand behind a weak offensive line like a pocket pinata. The blocking assistance may also boost the ground attack, which is moving the ball at 3.7 yards per carry. 

    Ellison has played 38.1 percent of the team's offensive snaps. A slight increase in his playing time may be ideal for this offense.

New York Jets: LB Brandon Copeland

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    The Jets pass rush was an area of concern during the offseason. The team waived outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin—who joined New York as a 2015 third-rounder—but didn't add any notable free agents at the position.

    Fortunately for Gang Green, linebacker Brandon Copeland's Week 2 performance jumped off the screen. He logged three tackles and a sack against the Dolphins on Sunday. 

    Copeland flashed during the exhibition period as a solid component in run defense and recorded a sack in the fourth contest. The production likely helped him ascend to a starting role. Nonetheless, he's played 63.9 percent of the snaps on defense and 61.4 percent on special teams.

    The Jets coaching staff should consider curtailing Copeland's special teams involvement to see what he can do with 70 percent or more of the defensive snaps. The unit needs a consistent pass-rusher.

Oakland Raiders: DE Bruce Irvin

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    After the Raiders traded edge-rusher Khalil Mack to the Bears on Sept. 1, defensive end Bruce Irvin expected to take a leadership role.

    Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has used different combinations on each level, which is putting a ceiling on Irvin's snap count. It's not ideal for a veteran who's aiming to finish the season with 10 sacks—a goal Matt Schneidman of the Bay Area News Group noted. Irvin's played just 62.0 percent of the snaps, which is a significant drop-off from 84.7 percent last season or 88.5 percent two years ago. 

    Head coach Jon Gruden has acknowledged the team's lack of a pass rush, per The Athletic's Vic Tafur, but doesn't regret trading Mack, according to the Mercury News' Jerry McDonald. He should talk to Guenther about not taking the team's top pass-rusher off the field for more than a third of the defensive snaps.

    The Raiders have two sacks. Before dialing up some exotic blitzes, the coaching staff must consider putting their best players on the field more, especially in an area lacking production.

Philadelphia Eagles: TE Dallas Goedert

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    Here's the good news for the Eagles: Quarterback Carson Wentz received medical clearance, which means he'll make his season debut against the Colts in Week 3.

    Now, the bad news. Wentz won't have wideout Alshon Jeffery, who's recovering from shoulder surgery. Fellow wide receiver Mike Wallace suffered a fractured fibula in Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

    Before Wentz went down with a torn ACL in December 2017, he performed at an MVP level, but the Eagles shouldn't take his past performances for granted. He needs quality assets in the passing attack.

    Rookie second-rounder Dallas Goedert had an impressive preseason, hauling in nine passes for 149 yards and a touchdown in three games. He's been a non-factor in 34 offensive snaps over the last two weeks. But head coach Doug Pederson could use more two-tight end sets to bolster the aerial game with Wentz under center. 

    A combination of Zach Ertz and Goedert could compensate for an ailing wide receiver corps.

Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Jaylen Samuels

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers fell short defensively in Sunday's contest against the Chiefs, allowing 42 points. However, the offense can do more to control the clock and limit scoring opportunities with the ground attack.

    In Week 1, running back James Conner broke out, recording 31 carries for 135 yards and two touchdowns. He came back to earth with eight rushing attempts for 17 yards and a score in the last outing. 

    As Le'Veon Bell continues to hold out, the Steelers backfield should feature multiple tailbacks. Conner and rookie fifth-rounder Jaylen Samuels could develop into a solid duo. The latter would take on pass-catching duties. 

    Samuels averaged 3.1 yards on the ground during the preseason, but he flashed his reliable hands with eight catches for 50 yards. 

    Pittsburgh doesn't have to use Conner as the workhorse. It's less common in today's league as more teams embrace committees. Samuels hasn't taken a snap in the regular season, but he can add another dimension to the offense, specifically in the short passing attack.

San Francisco 49ers: RB Matt Breida

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    Running back Matt Breida broke out for 138 yards on 11 carries in his best performance as a pro Sunday against the Lions. He looks far more explosive than his less versatile counterpart, Alfred Morris.

    Jerick McKinnon's ACL injury happened September 1, which thrust Morris into a bigger role to start the year. However, Breida's recent outing suggests he could handle more than 42.3 percent of the team's offensive snaps.

    In two weeks, Morris has averaged 3.3 yards per carry. Breida logged a 66-yard run in the last game, which inflated his average to 8.4. Nevertheless, his ability to break off a long touchdown should help him earn more time. 

    The 49ers could benefit from an effective ground attack as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's 1-1 touchdown to interception ratio takes the offense through peaks and valleys. 

Seattle Seahawks: DE Rasheem Green

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    With the offense's struggles in establishing a rhythm sans wideout Doug Baldwin (knee) and a viable ground attack, head coach Pete Carroll must find a way to win low-scoring games with a strong defense.

    The Seahawks could challenge opposing offensive lines with Rasheem Green opposite Frank Clark at defensive end. In fact, the coaching staff sent the USC product out with the starters at the beginning of the second half against the Bears on Monday over Quinton Jefferson. 

    The second-half switch shouldn't come as a surprise. The rookie third-rounder led Seattle in sacks with three during the preseason, showing promise within a revamped unit.

    The Seahawks defense played well against the Bears, but they experienced how a relentless pass rush could dominate. Quarterback Russell Wilson couldn't settle in the pocket with Mack and Danny Trevathan bearing down on him.

    Carroll could have a solid combination in Clark and Green that's capable of keeping this team competitive when the offense sputters.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Jacquizz Rodgers

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    The Buccaneers passing offense has run well with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. He's thrown eight touchdown passes and one interception in two games against two NFC juggernauts in the Saints and Eagles.

    However, Tampa Bay needs balance. The rushing offense ranks 27th. Despite a solid preseason, running back Peyton Barber has averaged a paltry 2.6 yards per carry.

    At 28 years old, Jacquizz Rodgers isn't a workhorse, but Fitzpatrick can target him in the short passing attack—similar to how the Patriots operate when the ground game struggles. 

    Rodgers caught 134 passes for 916 yards and four touchdowns out of the backfield from 2012 to 2014 under Dirk Koetter, who served as the Falcons' offensive coordinator. Now the Buccaneers head coach, Koetter should take advantage of the eighth-year veteran's receiving skills until the ground attack finds its way.

Tennessee Titans: WR Tajae Sharpe

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    During the offseason, wide receiver Rishard Matthews alluded to a limited role after recovering from a torn meniscus, per Jim Wyatt of Titansonline.com: "That is kind of the plan, so wherever they need me. The young guys have been doing good, so wherever they need me to contribute, I am ready to go in there and do what I have to do." He's played 50 percent of the team's snaps through two weeks.

    Matthews didn't come off the physically unable to perform list until August 26. As he returns to normal speed, wideout Tajae Sharpe should see an increase in snaps. He started the first two games and took the field for 67 percent of the Titans' offensive plays. 

    To put their passing attack into perspective, safety Dane Cruikshank, who caught one 66-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Byard, is second on the team in receiving yards. Tennessee must work on developing a solid No. 2 wideout behind Corey Davis. 

    In 2016, Sharpe caught 41 passes for 522 yards and two touchdowns. He missed 2017 with a foot injury. Now, the 23-year-old should be on the field for more than 70 percent of the offensive snaps until Matthews returns to a full workload.

Washington Redskins: LB Pernell McPhee

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    Pernell McPhee isn't an upstart talent with a lot to prove. The 29-year-old's resume includes 31 sacks, which he garnered primarily as a reserve pass-rusher with the Ravens and Bears over the last seven seasons.

    McPhee shouldn't play more than 50 percent of the team's defensive snaps, but he's only seeing the field 22.8 percent of the time under coordinator Greg Manusky.

    It's the veteran's first year in Washington, but the coaching staff can simplify his responsibilities to rushing the passer for at least a third of the team's snaps on defense.

    Thus far, the Redskins have logged three sacks. With a controlled focus, McPhee could boost that number and create opportunities for others within the front seven.


    Snap counts provided by Pro Football Reference.