The Carolina Panthers will open their preseason odyssey without the services of Charles Johnson -- and probably quarterback Cam Newton.
Coach Ron Rivera told reporters Thursday that the team's second-leading sack-master from a season ago will sit out Friday's game against the Buffalo Bills with a hamstring injury.
Johnson has missed practice all week with the setback, leaving Frank Alexander to start in his place against the EJ Manuel-led Bills.
"He's earned it," Rivera said of Alexander, while making it clear that Newton -- if he plays at all -- will do nothing more than hand the ball off before calling it a night.
However, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday that, per a Panthers source, the team does not expect the fourth-year QB to suit up against the Bills -- an unsurprising development. (UPDATE: Newton was ruled out.)
Here's the rest of your injury news:
- The Falcons announced that rookie linebacker Marquis Spruill will miss the entire season after tearing his ACL during Wednesday's practice. Losing their fifth-round pick only magnifies Atlanta's depth issues at linebacker after Sean Weatherspoon suffered a season-ending torn Achilles tendon in June.
- Also for the Falcons, Pro Bowl wideout Julio Jones (foot) will not play Friday night against the Dolphins:
- No big surprise out of Houston, but coach Bill O'Brien confirmed that Arian Foster (undisclosed) and Andre Johnson (hamstring) won't play Saturday against the Arizona Cardinals. We're not concerned about either player's long-term status.
- Staying with the Texans, pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney was back at practice on Thursday for the first time all week and told reporters that he planned to play against Arizona, per the Houston Chronicle. Clowney is listed as the team's starting weakside outside linebacker on Houston's unofficial depth chart, but O'Brien swatted down assumptions that the No. 1 overall pick was guaranteed to roll with the ones vs. the Cards:
- More Texans injury news: cornerback Johnathan Joseph (toe) said he doesn't think he's playing in Saturday's preseason opener. He added there is no doubt he'll be ready for Week 1.
- Making his way back from a torn ACL and LCL, Cardinals second-year safety Tyrann Mathieu hopes to be back on the practice field in "the next two to three weeks." Coach Bruce Arians has said all along, though, that he doesn't expect Honey Badger to suit up for live action before Arizona's Week 5 meeting with the Denver Broncos.
- In Carolina, Rivera also announced that safety Roman Harper will miss the Billsmatchup due to a toe injury.
- Giants rookie receiver Odell Beckham continues to rehab from an injured hamstring. "I'm getting there. It's a process," Beckham said Thursday, per the New York Daily News. "Should be soon. I'm definitely getting close."
- Eric Ebron did not practice again Thursday. The talkative rookie tight end has an undisclosed injury. His availability for Saturday's preseason game vs. the Cleveland Browns is in doubt.
- Indianapolis Colts center Khaled Holmes left Thursday's preseason game against the New York Jets with an ankle injury. Early news back isn't positive -- The Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder reports that Holmes' injury "appears to be a sprain, but one that will likely cost (him) time in the lineup," potentially missing a handful of weeks.
*The latest Around The League Podcast answers every question about preseason action that you were too afraid to ask. *