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The New York Giants tend to do the first round of the NFL draft well. A look back at their past decade and a half doesn't find too many misses. William Joseph in 2003, maybe. Ron Dayne in 2000. But other than that, the list of Giants first-rounders this century includes guys who became solid starters, reliable contributors and more than a few stars.

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Week 1 :: NFL Regular Season 2013

[+] EnlargeDavid Wilson
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsThe Giants had hoped to give David Wilson more time to develop, but the second-year running back will assume more work while teammate Andre Brown rehabs.
Based on that, the idea that the Giants go into 2013 with last year's first-rounder, David Wilson, and this year's first-rounder, Justin Pugh, as offensive starters is not, on its face, a worrisome one. The Giants' track record tells you that these will turn out to be good players in time. In Wilson's case, you've already seen glimpses of potential greatness.

The only issue that gives you pause is the timing. Because while the Giants tend to find good players with their first-round picks, one reason their track record is so good is that they don't rush them.

We have discussed here many times that the Giants look at the draft in a very specific way. They persistently avoid drafting to fill immediate needs, instead viewing the draft as a means of building and maintaining a deep roster from which they can ultimately fill holes created by age, free agency or salary-cap crunches. They drafted Pugh this year not because they needed him to play right tackle in Week 1, but because they looked down the road and saw potential needs at several offensive line positions and they believed they could develop him into a player who could fill one of them -- even if they didn't yet know which.

They drafted Wilson last year not because they needed him to be their starting running back. They had Ahmad Bradshaw and, as it turns out, Andre Brown to handle the carries. They drafted Wilson because they loved his raw talent, knew they wouldn't have Bradshaw forever and believed they might be able to develop him as a key part of their offense down the road -- a starting running back maybe, but a useful piece even if he wasn't up to that.

As they head into Sunday night's season opener against the Cowboys in Dallas, injuries to Brown and offensive linemen David Diehl and David Baas have thrust Wilson and Pugh into more significant roles than those the Giants had planned for them in 2013. Wilson was expected to be the starter at running back, but Brown was spelling him in key situations -- at the goal line, where he excelled last year, and on passing downs, since he was more comfortable and experienced with the protection schemes. Pugh was still learning the NFL game from Diehl and others. He lost some training-camp practice time to a concussion. He may have been in the plans as a starter at some point in 2013, but only if he developed into one -- not because they needed him to be.

Yet here they are, being asked to do things the Giants don't tend to ask of their first-round picks this early in their careers. Wilson and Pugh are being asked to handle starting roles whether they're ready or not. And that's not the way the Giants are most comfortable handling young players.

They could both be fine. Jason Pierre-Paul was a first-round pick who had 16.5 sacks in his second year. Hakeem Nicks had 79 catches for 1,052 yards and 11 touchdowns in just 13 games in his second year. The players the Giants pick in the first round are talented, and recent history offers hope that Wilson could make an impact this soon. Pugh might have some growing pains as a rookie starter on the offensive line, but it's not as though they have him at center or left tackle. They won a Super Bowl two years ago with the remains of Kareem McKenzie playing right tackle. If Pugh isn't perfect, they can weather that. They just need him to be capable. Not overwhelmed.

The Giants have faith in their ability to pick first-rounders and develop them into very good players. It's just that they usually like to take a little more time with that second part. Heading into 2013, they're going with Wilson and Pugh as starters on offense and asking a lot of them very early in their careers. It could work out, but it's not the way the Giants are most comfortable doing it.

 JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It appears Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert is on pace to start Sunday’s season opener against Kansas City.

Gabbert suffered a hairline fracture of his right thumb in the Jaguars’ third preseason game on Aug. 24 and had not practiced since. He was nearly a full participant in individual drills on Monday. He did not take snaps under center or in the shotgun but did throw. He was wearing a small wrap on his hand.

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said last week that Gabbert was to begin gripping a football late in the week and start throwing over the weekend. Bradley is scheduled to speak to the media at 12:50 p.m. and will provide an official update.

Two other starters -- guard Will Rackley (ankle) and defensive end Jeremy Mincey (allergic reaction) -- did not practice. Running back Justin Forsett, who hasn't practiced since a toe injury during the first live period of training camp, was back on the field and practicing.

AFC South, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jeremy Mincey, Gus Bradley, Justin Forsett, Jacksonville Jaguars, Blaine Gabbert, Will Rackley, 2013 NFL injury wire

 ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel was back on the practice field Monday, one day after returning from knee surgery.

Reporters had access to only stretching and light-intensity position drills. Head coach Doug Marrone said that Manuel would take part in the full practice on Monday, after sitting out team drills on Sunday.

Elsewhere, the Bills were without a pair of starters who were present for Sunday's practice. Defensive end Alex Carrington was spotted at the start of practice riding an exercise bike, while right tackle Erik Pears was not seen on the field.

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist) and offensive lineman Doug Legursky (knee) also remain out.

Bills players will be off Tuesday before returning to practice Wednesday.

Buffalo Bills, Erik Pears, Alex Carrington, Doug Legursky, Stephon Gilmore, EJ Manuel, 2013 NFL injury wire

 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The good news out of New York Giants practice Monday was the return of star wide receiver Victor Cruz from his heel injury. But while Cruz is starting to look like a good bet for Sunday night's regular-season opener in Dallas, the status of some other key Giants remains in doubt.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had back surgery in June and didn't return to the practice field until last week, did some work in practice Monday as well. But neither he nor his coach are certain yet whether he'll be ready to go Sunday.

"He's got to practice," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He's got to practice every day. He's got to put the uniform on. He's got to play in the pads. He's got to see how he feels the next day. His bursts were good today. Now, how many of them? I can't tell you that. But he did what I hoped he wouldn't do: There were no pads in practice, and he was coming in there like he had them on."

Pierre-Paul said he was feeling good, though he didn't know yet whether he'd make the trip to Dallas on Saturday for Sunday's game. The plan for his recovery and for increasing his practice workload appears to be based on his conditioning and how he feels the day after he practices. If his back is sore Tuesday after working Monday, he may not get to do much of anything Wednesday.

Fullback Henry Hynoski, who's recovering from a knee injury, was another guy who practiced maybe a little harder than Coughlin would like him to at this point.

"Henry's ... if there's a will, there's a way," Coughlin said. "This guy is all heart. As soon as they gave him the opportunity to get back out there, he was trying to jump in on every snap."

Monday's practice was a short one, so Wednesday's will be a better gauge for Hynoski as well as all of the injured Giants. It'd be a surprise if Hynoski were ready to go Sunday, but it's not out of the question.

"That determination will probably be made later in the week by the coaches and the doctors, I would think," Hynoski said. "I think I have to progress a little bit more for them to give me that go-ahead."

As for Cruz, he said his biggest concern was coming out of hard-breaking routes such as curls, but that his bruised heel felt good after the first one. He said he might try to get some practice in on the artificial turf of the Giants' indoor facility at some point this week in order to prepare for Sunday night's indoor opener.

Let's see. What else do we have? Coughlin said tight end Adrien Robinson was "going to be a while" with his sprained foot, though Robinson pointed out that he's out of his walking boot sooner than had been expected and said he was feeling good. He was walking with a limp, however, and the Giants did keep four tight ends in their final roster cuts, so we'll see. ... Coughlin seemed to doubt the four- to six-week recovery time frame that came out last week on injured running back Andre Brown, though he praised Brown's determination to come back sooner. Either Brown or injured offensive lineman David Diehl could be placed on injured reserve with a designation for return Tuesday if the Giants choose to use that designation. They don't have to, but if they do they can only use it on one player per year. That player would then have to miss at least six weeks of practice and at least eight weeks of games.

New York Giants, David Diehl, Andre Brown, Jason Pierre-Paul, Victor Cruz, henry hynoski, adrien robinson, 2013 NFL injury wire, tom coughln

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets' always-fascinating quarterback carousel was spinning at full speed Monday.

Newly signed Brady Quinn, who worked out for the team in the morning, participated in practice, wearing No. 9. As Quinn went through the paces with his new team, embattled incumbent Mark Sanchez was off in the distance, riding a stationary bike. Sanchez is out with a bruised joint in his throwing shoulder and is not expected to be ready for the season opener.

Coach Rex Ryan is scheduled to address the media after practice. It's unknown whether he will announce the starting quarterback, although it's clear that rookie Geno Smith will be the choice.

In other practice news, cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie (hip) and Dee Milliner (calf) worked with the trainers during the 30-minute window open to the media. The early sense is that both will be ready for the Bucs, although there's still some question about Milliner.

Nose tackle Kenrick Ellis (back), who missed the last three preseason games, also didn't participate in the early portion of practice. His status for the opener is up in the air. It looks as if Damon Harrison could get the start.

New York Jets, Mark Sanchez, Brady Quinn, Antonio Cromartie, Kenrick Ellis, Dee Milliner, 2013 NFL injury wire
 What was supposed to be a minor obstacle has put Manti Te’o’s chances of being ready for the season opener in major jeopardy.

Te’o was not practicing Monday. He was hurt Aug. 8 in the preseason opener. When Te’o appeared in a walking boot Aug. 10 San Diego coach Mike McCoy said he’d be in it for a week. Yet, it has now been more than three weeks.

Theoretically, Te’o can practice Wednesday and be ready to play against Houston in the season opener Sept. 9. But right now it appears Bront Bird will be in Te’o’s inside linebacker spot.

This injury hurts Te’o and the Chargers. The team was counting on him. For a rookie to play just a couple of series in the preseason and to miss three weeks of practice, it will certainly thwart his progress. Te’o, a second-round pick, can catch up, but it may take several weeks.

However, the Chargers did get some good injury news Monday as they began to prepare for Houston in earnest.

Star defensive end Corey Liuget returned to practice after being out with a shoulder injury. Receiver Eddie Royal is also back after being out with a bruised lung and concussion.

San Diego Chargers, Mike McCoy, Houston Texans, Eddie Royal, Corey Liuget, Bront Bird, Manti Te'o, 2013 NFL injury wire, injury wire
 It has appeared for most of the offseason, ever since the Vikings drafted Sharrif Floyd, that they would be dealing from a position of strength in the middle of their defensive line. The Vikings planned to rotate Floyd and Kevin Williams at their three-technique tackle spot, and pair Letroy Guion with Fred Evans at the nose. They would be able to rotate four players, possibly mixing in Christian Ballard, and hand one of the inside spots to Everson Griffen on third downs to rush the passer from the inside.

That plan sounded nice in theory, but the details have been muddied by reality. Williams didn't practice on Monday, as the Vikings began their preparations for their season opener with the Detroit Lions. Floyd, who was back on the practice field, hasn't played since the Vikings' second preseason game, and could be thrust into a starting role in his first NFL game. Ballard is on the team's reserve/left squad list. Guion could wind up going back to the three-technique position, rotating with Floyd there and Evans at the nose if Williams can't play. Chase Baker, who hasn't played a NFL game, is the only other defensive tackle on the roster.

It's another reminder of how quickly the best-laid plans can get altered in the NFL, and as the Vikings head into Week 1 against Detroit, they suddenly have a reason to be concerned about what looked like a position of strength.

Frazier didn't offer much detail about injuries on Monday, probably because the Vikings aren't required to file an injury report until Wednesday, but the fact that Williams didn't practice probably means things aren't looking good for the Lions game. Williams is trying to come back from a hyperextended knee in two weeks' time, and rushing him back isn't in the Vikings' best interests.

But can Floyd handle a bigger role in his first game, after not having practiced in two weeks? That remains to be seen.

"I think we’ll have to go through this week and determine that, but he’s missed quite a bit of time and then (he's) coming off an injury," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "We’ll have to gauge that as the week goes on.”

Guion played the three-technique spot before shifting to nose tackle full-time last season, and the fact that he's not a typical wide-bodied nose tackle -- which might hurt him at his normal position -- could actually work in his favor here. But the Vikings are probably at their best at the nose when they have both Guion and Evans fresh, and they could be stretching their depth on Sunday if Floyd needs help on his side.

There might not be any perfect options for the Vikings in Week 1. There rarely are in the NFL. But it's striking to look at how quickly the defensive tackle position has become a worrisome spot for them.

Minnesota Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Letroy Guion, Fred Evans, Kevin Williams, Christian Ballard, Sharrif Floyd, Chase Baker, 2013 NFL injury wire

 PITTSBURGH -- Heath Miller is not practicing with the Steelers just yet, but the veteran tight end acknowledged that coming off the physically unable to perform list (PUP) is a big deal.

Heath Miller
Heath Miller
#83 TE
Pittsburgh Steelers

2012 STATS


The Steelers added Miller, who is coming back from reconstructive knee surgery, to their 53-man roster last Saturday making the team's 2012 MVP eligibile to practice and play in games.

“Obviously I'm close,” said Miller, who hurt his knee in the penultimate game of 2012. “It's just a few more steps I've got to take. I'm feeling good.”

Miller did not offer any timetable for his return. Coach Mike Tomlin could do so Tuesday at his weekly news conference.

Miller would not have been allowed to practice or play in any games until after the sixth week of the season had he stayed on the PUP list when the Steelers set their 53-man roster.

    Isaac Redman, who expects to start at running back Sunday against the Titans, said he practiced on Monday and felt fine. Redman had been hampered by a pinched nerve, an injury that caused him to miss the Steelers' final three preseason games.
    Rookie outside linebacker Jarvis Jones practiced for the first time since bruising his chest in the Steelers' third preseason game. The first-round pick will play against the Titans barring a setback.
    Second-round pick Le'Veon Bell, meanwhile, said he is not longer in a walking boot. The rookie running back is already doing some jogging as he works his way back from a mid-foot sprain. Bell said he hopes to return for the second game of the season. But, he added, “I'm not going to rush this process. I'm just going to make sure I get back to 100 percent before I do anything else.”


Pittsburgh Steelers, Heath Miller, Isaac Redman, Jarvis Jones, Le'Veon Bell, 2013 NFL injury wire
 The Broncos released their first formal injury report of the week following Monday’s practice. For the second consecutive day, three players did not take part in the workout.

Cornerback Champ Bailey (foot), tight end Joel Dreessen (knee) and rookie running back C.J. Anderson (knee) did not participate. Guard Chris Kuper (ankle) was limited.

Bailey is still a significant question mark at this point for Thursday night's season opener. Given his experience level and knowledge of the defensive scheme, he could certainly line up and play in a game without taking part in practice during the week, but the concern would be setting him back with the foot injury if he isn’t ready to go.

If it’s close, the Broncos will likely hold him back, taking a big-picture approach with one of their captains.

Dreessen is not expected to be available for the game so Julius Thomas, Jacob Tamme and Virgil Green will be in the offense. If the Broncos stick to how they were aligned in the preseason, Thomas is expected to start and get the majority of snaps when the team uses a single tight end look, either in two-back, or three-wide sets.

Anderson won’t play.

Quarterback Brock Osweiler (left, non-throwing, shoulder), defensive end Robert Ayers (Achilles/ankle), wide receiver Wes Welker (ankle) and left tackle Ryan Clady (shoulder) were all listed on the report, but took part fully in practice. All four will be in uniform, ready to go, Thursday night.

AFC West, Denver Broncos, Robert Ayers, Champ Bailey, Wes Welker, Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen, Ryan Clady, Virgil Green, Brock Osweiler, C.J. Anderson, 2013 NFL injury wire
 Baltimore Ravens tight end Ed Dickson was a full participant in Monday's practice, which likely means he'll be ready for the season opener at Denver on Thursday, but starting defensive end Art Jones has been declared out with an illness. Marcus Spears, a free-agent pickup this offseason, started six of the final seven games last season for the Dallas Cowboys.

Dickson suffered a slight tear in his hamstring on Aug. 4, and he missed all of the preseason games. He is expected to replace Dennis Pitta, who dislocated his hip, in the starting lineup.

At one point last month, Dickson was skeptical about playing in the regular-season opener. But he returned to practice on Aug. 19 and hasn't had any setbacks.

"Obviously, they are kind of bringing him along slowly, but it shows that he’s making rapid improvement," offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. "We’re certainly glad to get him out there and get him a little work.”

Jones, meanwhile, hasn't practiced in more than a week. There won't be a downgrade in run defense with the stout Spears, but Jones provides more of a pass rush.

With Jones out, the Ravens defense will likely have seven different starters from their lineup in the Super Bowl.

As expected, Pitta has been ruled out as well. The plan is to put him on the injured reserve-designated to return list Tuesday. Nose tackle Brandon Williams (toe), wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot) and center Ryan Jensen (foot) all didn't participate in Monday's practice.

Marcus Spears, Ed Dickson, Art Jones, 2013 NFL injury wire, Ravens injury wire
 GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It took Casey Hayward a month to return from the pulled hamstring he sustained while working out shortly before training camp.

If it takes that long to return from the recurrence of it, which happened in the Aug. 23 preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, then the Green Bay Packers cornerback would not be available for Sunday’s regular-season opener at San Francisco.

Hayward was the only player who did not practice on Monday.

Coach Mike McCarthy said he would not discuss injuries until Wednesday, when the first official injury report for this week is due.

Safety Morgan Burnett and linebacker Brad Jones, both of whom missed the preseason finale at Kansas City because of hamstring injuries, returned to practice.

In other notes from practice:

    Don Barclay took the starter’s reps at right tackle, but McCarthy stopped short of naming him the full-time starter over Marshall Newhouse. “Don started today at right tackle,” McCarthy said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Marshall plays in the game.”
    McCarthy also would not say who would return kicks against the 49ers. “We have some decisions to make in the return game but obviously feel good about Jeremy [Ross]. Also, Micah [Hyde], I’m very impressed with him. Johnathan Franklin’s doing a good job.”


Green Bay Packers, Brad Jones, Marshall Newhouse, Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde, Casey Hayward, Jeremy Ross, Don Barclay, Johnathan Franklin, 2013 NFL injury wire