- Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey will shadow Kansas City Chiefs stud Dwayne Bowe as much as possible, but Bowe could still find some coverage holes in Denver's injury-depleted, inexperienced secondary.
- Calvin Johnson owners have a glimmer of hope now that Drew Stanton is taking Detroit Lions snaps. Megatron will still get his share of chances on downfield lobs from Stanton.
- Safe bets have New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis lining up in the slot to guard New England Patriots wideout Wes Welker.
- Sorry, Sidney Rice (hip) owners, but it might be too late in the season for him to get back on the same page with Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre (shoulder, ankle, neck). Neither is 100 percent healthy.
- The San Diego Chargers planned on limiting Malcom Floyd's use in his return from his hamstring injury last week. He should be involved a little more this week, but he's still feeling it a bit, and they'll probably be cautious with him.
- Pierre Garcon is turning a corner. This past week's game was the first time the Indianapolis Colts' wideout looked like his old self since he was hurt earlier in the year. On his big play Sunday, he caught a slant pass with his hands, not his body. He's starting to be a bit smarter and give more effort.
- Expect the New York Giants' Steve E. Smith (pectoral) to be on the sidelines this week and maybe the next week. Hakeem Nicks (leg) will probably be back in Week 15. Mario Manningham is drawing much of the defensive attention in the passing game. The other wideouts ... never mind them.
- It'll be a tough go for the Oakland Raiders' Jacoby Ford against emerging San Diego Chargers cornerback Antoine Cason.
- Anquan Boldin has been less involved lately because Derrick Mason has simply had better matchups. The Baltimore Ravens think offensive attention will continue to swing back and forth.
- T.J. Houshmandzadeh said he'd be willing to return to Baltimore after this season, depending on how he'd be used. That means he'd have to be the No. 2 receiver, which won't happen.
Don't think that the Buffalo Bills' Steve Johnson is going to turn into a diva, like the Cincinnati Bengals' Chad Ochocinco, because of his big OT drop versus the Pittsburgh Steelers and subsequent Twitter-burst.
Garcon means ... man?
- Donald Driver (quadriceps) is nearly at full strength and is excited about what he can do when he is, but it wouldn't be a surprise if his numbers remained below par. Before he was hurt, he had more problems with drops than he used to; age has begun to catch up to him.
- Dexter McCluster is at full strength. Expect the Kansas City Chiefs to utilize him about as often as they did before his ankle injury - which wasn't a whole lot, but he'll be part of the game plan.
- The Miami Dolphins should have Brandon Marshall (hamstring) back but will probably limit him to a situational role. His number of offensive snaps may approach half the team's total.
- In his return last week, Danario Alexander played 20 snaps and caught four balls for 95 yards. He probably won't see much more time than that for the rest of the year, and he may never be an every-down player.
- Ben Obomanu has impressed the Seattle Seahawks with his all-around effectiveness, including his ability to accumulate yards after the catch. He'll remain a steady part of the O with Mike X. Williams (foot) back this week.
- Cleveland Browns wideouts should be thankful that Jake Delhomme is slated to start at QB this weekend. Delhomme will probably continue to look more toward Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie, with tight end Benjamin Watson's target load suffering.
- Antonio Gates (foot, toe) is a "situational player" at this point for the San Diego Chargers. In passing and red zone situations, Gates will come into the game. Expecting him to play often otherwise isn't wise.
If Oakland Raiders safety Tyvon Branch (shoulder) can't play this week, backup Michael Mitchell could reprise his successful effort in containing Gates in their previous meeting this year.
- Credit much of Jason Witten's big Week 12 game to the New Orleans Saints paying more attention to Dallas Cowboys wideouts Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. Witten might have to stay in to block more often against the Indianapolis Colts' rushing D-ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.
- Good news for the Detroit Lions' Brandon Pettigrew: Odds are he'll be Drew Stanton's favorite target once again.
- Our New England Patriots sage leaned in Rob Gronkowski's direction over Aaron Hernandez when asked which tight end has the better shot of producing this week versus the New York Jets. Gronk is on the field more often than Hernandez anyway, and this impending matchup was compared to the Pats' thrashing of the Pittsburgh Steelers, when Gronkowski scored three times on a similarly apt defense.
- This looks like a solid week to play Todd Heap (Baltimore Ravens). Pittsburgh Steelers nickel back William Gay was toasted by the New England's Gronkowski a few weeks back, and Heap profiles similarly in build. He will have to do some blocking against the Steelers, for sure. But he's hot, and the Baltimore Ravens are looking to send him out on routes as much as possible.
- The Jacksonville Jaguars get tackle Eugene Monroe (concussion) back, after a one-week hiatus. That'll free up Marcedes Lewis again.
- Once (if?) Owen Daniels (hamstring) is healthy, expect Joel Dreessen to remain involved to some degree because he just gets open. The Houston Texans think Dreessen could start for some teams.
- The San Francisco 49ers are extremely aware of how difficult it will be to account for the Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews. Until this week, they never discussed giving rookie tackle Anthony Davis help. Vernon Davis will probably sacrifice some pass patterns to aid his lineman - not encouraging given how much the tight end has been involved lately.
- Brent Grimes is still a bit raw but could follow a path similar to that of the Green Bay Packers' Tramon Williams, who cashed in on his breakthrough 2010 this week. In the meantime, the Atlanta Falcons need the well-compensated Dunta Robinson to step up. Maybe his knee continues to bother him, but he could stand to improve his footwork.
- Chris Gamble was late to a Carolina Panthers meeting and probably won't start. The injury report says so, but does he even have a hammy problem?
- Injuries and a severe deficit in the TOP battle have taken their toll on the Tennessee Titans' defensive line. Even with Kerry Collins back, and even if they're starting to get healthy, this D-line will probably have a hard time producing the way they did in the first half of the season.
Around the league
- As Derek Anderson "suggested" on a microeconomic scale in his post-MNF presser, there isn't a clear problem with lackadaisical attitudes on the Arizona Cardinals, despite recent hard times. Coach Ken Whisenhunt isn't in danger of losing the locker room. In fact, members of the O later came to DA's defense. Perhaps the episode could serve as a galvanizer.
- This year, Vincent Manuwai came into training camp in much better shape, with his job and perhaps career on the line. He stepped in when Justin Smiley was injured and hasn't given Smiley a chance to take it back. The Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive guard is playing like did in 2007, his Pro Bowl year.
- Best wishes to Mike Heimerdinger in his battle with cancer. He was back with the Tennessee Titans on Friday. QB coach Dowell Loggins may have to fill in and call plays nonetheless. Loggins is on the same page as Heimerdinger but has no experience doing the job.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous publications, and recognized as a finalist in FSWA's awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he's on The Reality Check with Glenn Clark every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. He hits the airwaves every Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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