Finally football Sundays are back. Every weekend we'll take a look at important injuries you'll want to keep an eye on leading up to Sunday's kickoffs. We'll also point out any other factors that might affect your fantasy teams and some key storylines to be on the look out for as you enjoy the games.
Key game-time decisions
Geno Smith can use all the help he can get in his first start. Holmes was limited in Friday's practice so he could play some against the Buccaneers, but we shouldn't expect a whole lot out of the Jets' most talented playmaker.
The Jags gave Gabbert one last season to prove he should keep his job. The right thumb injury won't help his cause. He was limited all week, but we expect Gabbert to take the first snap of the season when he faces the Chiefs.
Pete Carroll called both players game-time decisions. It is interesting to note that while Avril fully participated Friday, Browner sat out the last two days. If neither can go, it's not a huge blow for one of the league's deepest teams as Seattle battles the Panthers.
Kidding. He's not going to play. He did not make the trip to Buffalo with the team.
Key Players Coming off Injures
(Admittedly, the most ballyhooed return takes place Monday night).
The EJ era is underway in Buffalo as the quarterback returns from knee surgery. Coach Doug Marrone says the whole playbook is open, but I'll be watching his mobility and how he commands the new Bills' offense.
Yes, Marshall has dealt with hip injuries, but I'm watching to see how he fits into coach Marc Trestman's offense more than if he'll play through an injury. I'm also pumped to see defensive tackle Henry Melton back on the field after a concussion.
Going into his eighth season, the Jags need MJD to carry the load. But coming off a Lisfranc injury, he's entering the portion of his NFL career where usually it becomes harder for running backs to keep pace.
Smith is back healthy after fighting through a triceps injury last year. For the 49ers' defense, Smith is like the koozie on your can of barley pop. Sure you'd still drink it without one, but it just wouldn't be as good.
Petyon Manning hoarded all the lightning bolts Thursday. It looks to be beautiful skies for opening Sunday.
Did you know?
Only 1.7 percent of clubs that lost their season openers have won the Super Bowl since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990. Good luck!
When the Chiefs take on the Jaguars it will mark just the second time that players selected No. 1 (Eric Fisher) and No. 2 (Luke Joeckel) overall will play in a Week 1 meeting in the same season. The other occurrence took place in 1982 (Patriots DT Kenneth Sims; Colts LB Johnie Cooks).
Cam Newton begins his pivotal "Save My Coach's Job" campaign against one of the toughest defenses in the NFL.
Undoubtedly, Bears pass rusher Julius Peppers started salivating upon hearing Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth would be out. If the Bengals can't protect Andy Dalton, all his new weapons will be worthless.
What sort of Brandon Weeden will we get Sunday? The Brandon who had people raving early in the preseason, or the Brandon who seemed all too much like last season's rendition?
The Lions won't have to deal with Kevin Williams (knee) in the Vikings' defensive front, but running the ball still will be a struggle. The question is, how many bags of ice will Matthew Stafford's right arm require after the contest?
It's anyone's guess what the Raiders' offense will look like with Terrelle Pryor and a terrible offensive line. The street ball that is likely to ensue will either be thoroughly entertaining or an abysmal atrocity. I'm guessing the latter.
Speaking of offensive lines, how many times will Andrew Luck hit the ground? Likely more than he should and more than his coach will be happy about.
Cecil Shorts was probably the Jags' best storyline last year. Has he gotten better, especially without Justin Blackmon on the other side?
Sean Payton is back! Now what will the excuse be when the defense undermines his offense?
Forget Revis and the revamped defense. We won't get a good read on that side of the ball in this matchup. Instead we should keep our eyes glued on Josh Freeman. He's playing for his job starting Sunday.
Geno, Geno, blah, blah, blah. Let's judge Rex Ryan in this game based on how his defense messes with Freeman. He's really just a defensive coordinator who is required to talk to the media.
The Packers' defense will be under the microscope this entire season. It starts with possibly their most difficult matchup. We'll get a quick look at how much work they've put in defending mobile quarterbacks.
The Rams' offense was kept mostly under wraps in the preseason. How coordinator Brian Schottenheimer deploys rookie receiver Tavon Austin and opens up the offense for Sam Bradford will tell us a lot about how this season could unfold in the NFC West.
Complain about Tony Romo all night if you like, I'll be keeping an eye on Monte Kiffin's defense. The transition from a 3-4 to 4-3 defense looked positive in the preseason. But that is the preseason. We'll see if the thin group can hold up under the real spotlight.