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Tom Brady among sidelined fantasy stars


NFL preseason is the time of year when many rookies and fringe players get a chance to show their skills and prove to coaches they deserve a little more playing time. It's also a time when many veterans sit idly by on the sidelines cheering on their teammates. Thursday's games include more than one fantasy star who will be watching the action in civilian attire while younger potential fantasy stars get their work in.

Don't expect to see Tom Brady suiting up for New England's preseason opener against Washington. The Patriots' quarterback isn't unfamiliar with sitting out the first preseason game -- he's done it three times before -- and he got plenty of work during the team's practices this week. Instead it will be Ryan Mallett getting the call with an opportunity to build upon the good work that earned rave reviews from NFL Media's Mike Mayock.

Likewise, Rob Gronkowski won't see any playing time either. Gronk didn't even make the trip to Richmond, Virginia for this week's set of practices. It's kind of hard to play when you're nowhere near the stadium.

The Texans won't have either wide receiver Andre Johnson or running back Arian Foster when they begin their preseason slate on Saturday against the Arizona Cardinals. Both are resting injuries and while neither is considered serious, it's worth paying attention to Johnson's balky hamstring. Those nicks tend to linger -- especially when you're talking about a 33-year-old wide receiver with lots of miles on him.

Whether Cam Newton makes a start in the Panthers' preseason opener against the Bills on Friday night remains to be seen. The quarterback is still working his way back from offseason ankle surgery and the team could opt to protect the man who will be the linchpin to an offense filled with question marks.

In general, these don't mean much ... other than a chance to showcase some guys further down the depth chart. If we go another week without some of these stars playing, it might be time to get a little concerned.

Quick outs

» Bernard Pierce has been challenging Ray Rice for more touches for nearly a year now. That challenge could get even stronger with news that Pierce has been "the best running back in camp" for the Ravens. With Rice being forced to miss the first two games of the season with a suspension, it could be a chance for Pierce to make an even more concerted push to take over the top spot on the depth chart -- or at least even things up.

» Recently Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton questioned whether Hakeem Nicks was in game shape. Thursday, Nicks responded by saying he's "in the best shape I've ever been." Maybe the coach was trying to light a fire under a player who has underachieved the past couple of seasons. Nicks will need to be in his best shape to make an impact in what could be a more up-tempo Indianapolis offense this season.

» With Steven Jackson on the shelf for the preseason, there is some hope that Devonta Freeman can step in and help out with some of the running back duties. That might take some time if Freeman is having the reported "growing pains" in training camp. A lot of Freeman's struggles have to do with pass protection. That could be key if the Falcons plan to continue to lead with the passing game this season. As long as Jackson is out, however, Freeman will likely still have opportunities to play.

» It's your daily Johnny Manziel update! The Browns rookie isn't expected to see any snaps with the first team in Cleveland's preseason opener. Fear not, since Mike Pettine says Manziel is pegged to start the Browns second preseason game. The quarterback competition continues...

» Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro might have put some fear in a lot of defensive coordinators when he told that Jimmy Graham "seems stronger" than he was last season. Ruh roh. At just 27-years-old, it's understandable that Graham can only get better. But considering how much of a matchup nightmare he was in 2013, it might only get worse for the opposition. And better for fantasy owners.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for Follow him on Twitter @MarcasG.