NFL's most indispensable players; blue-chip/red-chip defenders

Kickoff is inching closer, and is getting you ready for the season with a list of the players most essential to their teams. Check back later Tuesday for Bucky Brooks' five most indispensable players in the NFL.

Here's what else is on tap Tuesday:

Harrison: But for Cutler's thumb ...

Before he broke his thumb, Jay Cutler and the Chicago  Bears were headed for big things in 2011, writes Elliot Harrison ... like maybe even a Super Bowl title. **More ...**

» Wake up early with "NFL AM" (from 6 to 10 a.m. ET) to hear what Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak has to say as his team gets ready for the regular season. Later on "NFL Total Access" (from 7 to 8 p.m. ET), Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks and Jake Locker of the Titans check in to address the pressures of being a first-year starter as a quarterback in the NFL.

» Michael Lombardi unveiled the first installment of his blue-chip/red-chip rankings on Monday by going through every offensive position. On Tuesday, he'll switch sides to the defense.

» After making their calls for the MVP, Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, our analysts give their picks for Offensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year.

» Need a crash course on a certain NFL team before the season starts? Head to's team previews to learn everything you need to know about each squad.

» It's finally here. "Madden NFL 2013" is now in stores. Before you pick up that controller, get a refresher on the top 10 rankings for quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.

» Monday was the final day for teams to cut their rosters to 75 players. Gregg Rosenthal overviews all the releases you need to know about.

» A battle of the quarterbacking titans looms, as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are set to face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Week 5. But is it the best game of the regular season?.

» Happy birthday to Denver Broncos defensive end Jason Hunter, who turns 29 on Tuesday.

» There's not much time left to get a fantasy team up and running before the start of the season. Get your draft cheat sheet from Michael Fabiano and sign up for an fantasy team here.

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