NFL Media's "Instant Debate" series asked this week which defense is best equipped to challenge the Seattle Seahawks for superiority this season.
With the additions of three impact starters in free agency and the return of All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller, the Denver Broncos would have made for an interesting dark horse candidate.
Jack Del Rio's defense just took an uppercut, though, as starting weakside linebacker Danny Trevathan suffered a fracture in the bone below his knee in Tuesday's practice. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports the team is targeting a Week 5 return for Trevathan.
When Miller was sidelined during the Super Bowl, Trevathan emerged not just as the Broncos' best linebacker, but also one of the two most valuable players on defense. Not many linebackers possess the speed to hang with running backs and tight ends in coverage and the power to fight through trash at the line of scrimmage.
Although Trevathan should be recapturing pre-injury form by midseason, his early-season absence presents a stumbling block. General manager John Elway acknowledged in April that his team will have to "come out of the chute fast" with three matchups (vs. Colts, vs. Chiefs, at Seahawks) against teams that made the playoffs in 2013.
The Broncos remain the favorite to repeat as AFC West champions. It's up to the Chiefs and Chargers to take advantage of the defense's vulnerability at linebacker in September.
2. The Browns reunited Rex Grossman with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan on Tuesday, releasing Tyler Thigpen in the process. Coach Mike Pettine confirmed that Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer will each receive first-team snaps Monday night. The starter won't be named until later this week.
3. Just when you thought defensive play couldn't get any lower, the Cowboys lose cornerback Orlando Scandrick to a four-game suspension for ingesting Molly laced with amphetamines.
4. Owner Jerry Jones revealed Tuesday that Tony Romo will make his 2014 preseason debut on Saturday versus the Ravens. Now 100 percent recovered from back surgery, Romo reportedly looks the same as ever.
5. Among the big names activated from the physically unable to perform list were Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) and Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson (foot).
6. The Cardinals reportedly expect John Abraham to return to the team as soon as this week. The veteran pass rusher has been away from teammates since a late June arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence. Coach Bruce Arians also said Tyrann Mathieu is "pretty close" to returning from reconstructive knee surgery.
7. Jets running back Chris Ivory is expected to return for Saturday's game after suffering a rib cartilage injury in the preseason opener.
8. Returning from neck surgery, Ahmad Bradshaw isn't sure when he will get the green light to play in preseason action. He is confident, however, that he will be ready to roll by Week 1.
9. Coach Gus Bradley confirmed that rookie Blake Bortles will see first-team snaps at some point this summer, "but the team has really rallied around Chad (Henne)."
10. Rex Ryan's reaction to the prospect of entering the season with the worst collection of cornerbacks in his coaching career: "My defenses work, period." Never change, Rex.
11. The Titans pinned the "Just A Guy" label on talented young wide receiver Justin Hunter -- literally.
12. The Seahawks stated Tuesday that recent allegation of assault and personal property damage against Marshawn Lynch are "bogus."
13. Former Colts president Bill Polian calls the Jaguars' Paul Posluszny the best middle linebacker in the league "that nobody knows about."
14. Two sources have told Jason Cole of Bleacher Report that Raiders owner Mark Davis is attempting to raise funds to purchase Hollywood Park land for a new stadium.
The latest Around The League Podcast highlights the winners and losers from the first week of preseason action.