Marcus Mariota has only managed five touchdown passes over his past four games after lighting the Bucs up in his NFL debut. The rookie has taken a number of hits behind the Titans’ porous offensive line and has been sacked a league-high 4.4 times per game and 22 times in total through five starts.

Week 6 against the Dolphins, Mariota was sacked five times and injured his knee on a hit from Dolphins RE Olivier Vernon early in the game. Mariota toughed it out and stayed in the game before being pulled late when the game was well out of hand. Afterward, it was revealed Mariota suffered a sprained MCL. And on Monday night, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported it was a Grade-2 sprain. That’s typically a multi-week injury and more severe than the one Tyrod Taylor suffered for the Bills.

On Tuesday, Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole reported Mariota isn’t expected to play Week 7 against the Falcons. Cole has whiffed on some things recently, but is a credible reporter with multiple connections around the league. With the Titans sitting at 1-4 and losing four straight games, expect them to take it slow with their franchise quarterback. If Mariota sits, which he likely will, sophomore Zach Mettenberger would get the start under center. Mettenberger proved competent at times as a starter last season and would enter the streaming radar in a home date with the Falcons.

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In Other News…

Dez Bryant is expected to test his surgically-repaired foot at Wednesday’s practice. The next step in Bryant’s rehab process is to begin cutting on the foot after he ran in a straight line last week. Per NFL Network’s Rand Getlin, Bryant is still no better than “50-50” to play Week 7 against the Giants. We’ll have more updates on Bryant throughout the week, but it’s clear a return will be sooner than later. Terrance Williams, Devin Street, and Cole Beasley will continue to man receiver while Bryant is out.

Coach Rex Ryan said he considered starting Tyrod Taylor (knee) Week 6, but went to E.J. Manuel to give Taylor the week off. Manuel predictably didn’t keep the Bills close against the Bengals. Taylor said he has no limitations and expects to play Week 7 against the Jaguars in London. Look for him to practice throughout the week before the Bills provide an update on Friday.

Carlos Hyde is clearly battling a foot issue, and it hampered him a bit on Sunday against the Ravens. Now on a short week, Hyde isn’t practicing at all. Don’t expect him to practice Wednesday ahead of Thursday night’s divisional tilt with the Seahawks, but coach Jim Tomsula has intimated Hyde will play against Seattle. Treat him as a low-end RB2 who carries plenty of injury risk.

Giants beat writer Art Stapleton reported Tuesday that Victor Cruz is no longer experiencing pain in his calf. The injury has forced Cruz to miss the season’s first six games. Cruz will reportedly undergo an MRI on Wednesday and could be cleared to practice yet again after suffering a setback in his first practice of the season a couple weeks ago. Cruz seems unlikely to play Week 7 against the Cowboys, but a Week 8 return can’t be ruled out. Coach Tom Coughlin refused to provide an update.

Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch made the news late Tuesday evening. TMZ Sports — gulp — reported the two were drag racing after leaving practice when Jackson lost control of his Corvette and was injured when he crashed into a stop sign. The “report” quickly fell apart almost immediately. It was later reported by Jason La Canfora and confirmed by police that the two teammates weren’t drag racing at all; Jackson simply left the Seahawks’ facility too fast and misjudged a sharp turn. Lynch drove to the scene to check on his longtime friend. The story quickly became a non-story. TMZ has had numerous credible reports recently, but this certainly isn’t one of them.

 

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Quarterback & Running Back Slants

Coach Chip Kelly remains committed to Sam Bradford as his starting quarterback. … Marshawn Lynch (hamstring) is practicing in full for Week 7. … The Steelers are operating as if Landry Jones will start Week 7 against the Chiefs. Ben Roethlisberger won’t know his status for Week 7 until he tests his knee this week. … Duke Johnson suffered a stinger in Sunday’s loss to the Broncos. He was initially checked for a concussion, and should be fine for Week 7 against the Rams. … Zach Zenner (ribs, lung) has been released from the hospital. He was placed on I.R. Monday. … Jaguars placed RB Corey Grant (hip) on I.R. … Free agent FB/TE James Casey worked out for the Panthers on Tuesday. … Browns waived RB Shaun Draughn. … Coach Mike McCoy wouldn’t commit to Melvin Gordon as his starting running back, but said Gordon will get carries. … Lions signed RB George Winn off their practice squad.

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Wide Receiver & Tight End Slants

Tyler Lockett (hip) was upgraded to full practice Tuesday after being limited Monday. … Anquan Boldin (hamstring) practiced Tuesday after sitting out Monday. He’ll be fine for Thursday night. … Coach Jeff Fisher acknowledged teams have called the Rams about trading for Jared Cook. We doubt the most overpaid player in football is dealt anywhere. … Giants TE Daniel Fells (foot, MRSA) has been released from the hospital. After several surgeries the past two weeks, Fells’ career is believed to be over. … Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) didn’t practice Tuesday, but said he’s “close” to a return. … Saints signed WR T.J. Graham. … Brandon LaFell (foot, PUP) is expected to start practicing this week. … Coach Jim Tomsula said Vernon Davis remains the starting tight end. … Odell Beckham confirmed he didn’t suffer any setbacks with his hamstring Monday night. … Bills placed WR Marquise Goodwin (ribs) on I.R. … Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley believes Steve Smith Sr. is reconsidering his decision to retire after the season. … 49ers WR Jerome Simpson is eligible to return from suspension this week. … Mike Wallace compared Stefon Diggs’ skill set to a young Antonio Brown, who Wallace played with in Pittsburgh.

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