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Justin Blackmon, Morris Claiborne sitting out games

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We could have 73 separate articles on the players sitting out this first preseason week. Or we could combine the most notable guys sitting on the bench in one post. Let's do that.

1. Dallas Cowboys rookie Morris Claiborne (knee) returned to practice Thursday after missing nearly a week, but he won't play in the preseason opener. Cowboys veteran defensive tackle Jay Ratliff will also sit out.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars rookie Justin Blackmon isn't ready for game action yet. It's no surprise the first-round draft pick will "probably" sit out the first preseason game even though he's healthy, according to coach Mike Mularkey.

3. The Detroit Lions will be without defensive end Cliff Avril and running back Mikel Leshoure.

"You don't just tell a 16-year-old to jump in the car and drive. It doesn't work like that. You might not make it too far. You might not make it out of the neighborhood," Avril told the Detroit Free Press.

Leshoure hasn't practiced throughout training camp. He hopes to return next week.

4. The New England Patriots have 20 players not expected to play Thursday night, according to ESPNBoston.com. They are often cautious about playing anyone hurt. Wide receiver Deion Branch, guard Logan Mankins and linebacker Brandon Spikes are among the most notable absences.

5. Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason is not expected to suit up.

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