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What we learned: Preseason injury plague spreads

The preseason is about survival. In the second week of the preseason, plenty of best-laid plans were torn up because of injuries.

The Miami Dolphins lost starting tight end Dustin Keller, who might have led the team in catches had he stayed healthy, to a gruesome knee injury. The Washington Redskins lost backup quarterback Kirk Cousins to a mid-foot sprain Monday night, while Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Le'Veon Bell suffered a foot injury of his own. The Steelers hoped Bell would start in Week 1, but those plans could change now.

Guys like Victor Cruz, DeAndre Hopkins, EJ Manuel, Quinton Coples, Blaine Gabbert, Champ Bailey and Wes Welker all suffered injuries of varying severity over the weekend. Some of those players will be ready for Week 1, but it's impossible to know. That's because teams can be even more vague or overly optimistic about injuries during the preseason than the rest of the year.

We only have one more significant week of the preseason to go. It's a necessary evil, but we are so ready for the real stuff to begin.

Here's what else we learned during Week 2 of the preseason:

Quarterback battles

  1. Michael Vick put together his second consecutive flawless preseason game, clearly outplaying Nick Foles. Vick's strong performances have paid off, as coach Chip Kelly announced Tuesday that the veteran quarterback will start the Eagles' season opener against the Washington Redskins.
  1. What is old and yet young is new again in Jacksonville. Blaine Gabbert is your new Jaguars starting quarterback after a nice outing Friday. A thumb injury will keep Gabbert out of practice, but he's expected to be ready for Week 1.
  1. Mark Sanchez didn't do anything to change the narrative in the New York Jets' quarterback battle: It's Geno Smith vs. Geno Smith.
  1. EJ Manuel's knee injury will delay an official winner in the Buffalo Bills' quarterback battle for a few weeks. But Manuel's performance against the Minnesota Vikings, along with Kevin Kolb's predictable struggles, should do the trick.

Rookie runners

  1. In just a handful of carries, Eddie Lacy looked like the bestGreen Bay Packers running back in years. He's earned a huge role to start the season, probably as the team's starter. Lacy's teammate, Johnathan Franklin, meanwhile, has struggled to make an impact.
  1. Very few runners in the NFL can match Giovani Bernard's burst. When the Cincinnati Bengals rookie gets his shoulders square and accelerates, it's like he's playing a video game.
  1. Montee Ball missed a block that got Peyton Manning hammered. Ball's running in Denver has yet to stand out, and it looks like he'll truly start training camp in a time share with Ronnie Hillman.
  1. Bell's nagging injury problems continued on "Monday Night Football" with a foot injury. The Steelers want Bell to start, but he's struggled to stay 100 percent for long.

Depth-chart moves

  1. The San Francisco 49ers dumped A.J. Jenkins in a surprising trade to the Kansas City Chiefs for Jon Baldwin. Of the two wide receivers, Baldwin has a better chance to make an impact because the 49ers are so desperate for help. But teams only give up on first-round draft picks for a reason: Both guys have uphill climbs to relevance.
  1. The 49ers announced that wide receiver Mario Manningham will remain on the reserve/PUP list into the regular season. He will miss at least the first six weeks.
  1. With Cowboys backup running back Lance Dunbar out 3 to 4 weeks, rookie Joseph Randle looks like Dallas' backup to DeMarco Murray early in the season.
  1. Cleveland's acquisition of right guard John Moffitt from the Seattle Seahawks gives the Browns another body at a position where they lost two starters.

We recapped the second week of the preseason and previewed the AFC South on Monday's Around The League Podcast. It's the best 35 minutes you'll spend all week -- unless you spend any time with your family. Or watching football.

The Around The League Podcast is now available on iTunes! Click here to listen and subscribe.

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