Injury doubts could scupper the best-laid plans ahead of Week 1. After training camp and preseason, 32 NFL head coaches will be hoping to have a full 53-player roster looking fit and ready, but for most teams there will be lingering doubts over a number of players.
Very little tape is available to analyze, and the lead-up to Week 1 contains press conferences filled with smoke and mirrors as head coaches seek to outsmart their opposite numbers and ruin their opponents' gameplans.
Many players carrying injury issues into Week 1 have not been ruled out. Maybe they will suit up with limited use, or maybe they will be sharp and firing. We look at the biggest 5 injury doubts ahead of the weekend games.
5 players with injury concerns ahead of Week 1
#1 - Carson Wentz (Indianapolis Colts)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz is yet to be confirmed as the starter in Week 1, but even if he is, don’t expect the former Philadelphia Eagles passer to be at his fleet-footed best.
Wentz went under the knife to have a bone removed from his foot five weeks ago. With key offensive lineman Quenton Nelson also expected to start on Sunday, a less mobile Wentz will hope to be well protected against the Seattle Seahawks.
#2 - Evan Engram (New York Giants)
New York Giants head coach Joe Judge said he was optimistic about Saquon Barkley’s chances of suiting up in Week 1 following knee surgery, but there were no such positive words said about Evan Engram.
The first-choice tight end suffered a calf injury during the preseason and although Engram is back practicing, he is considered a long shot to be ready for the clash against the Denver Broncos. Judge will have to send out either an understrength offense in Week 1, or a banged-up one.
#3 - D’Andre Swift (Detroit Lions)
A groin injury has hampered the Detroit Lions' number one running back D’Andre Swift through preseason and head coach Dan Campbell has voiced his concerns about Swift’s availability for Week 1.
On Tuesday, Campbell said Swift will be ready to play against the San Francisco 49ers, but how much workload the second-year rusher will be afforded, will remain unknown until a ball is snapped.
The Lions were expected to be a run-heavy team in 2021 but if they go down early against San Francisco, Jared Goff will need to step up and show how well he can throw in the Detroit offensive scheme.
#4 - Brandon Aiyuk (San Francisco 49ers)
It looks like the San Francisco 49ers will be without newly drafted quarterback Trey Lance in Week 1 because of a hand injury, while dynamic wideout Brandon Aiyuk may be touch-and-go to line up on the outside of Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
Aiyuk was struggling with a left hamstring strain last week, with Shanahan admitting the WR could be out one-to-two weeks. Aiyuk returned to practice on Monday but, having had hamstring troubles in the past, his head coach may well exercise caution in a Week 1 match they should be able to win by running the ball often against Detroit.
#5 - Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Kansas City Chiefs)
Second-year Kansas City Chiefs runner Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been dealing with a sprained ankle sustained on August 20 in a preseason outing against the Arizona Cardinals, while in the same game fellow RB Darrel Williams was diagnosed with a concussion.
Head coach Andy Reid says both are 'ok' to play against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1 but against a stout defensive front, the Chiefs are likely to lean on Patrick Mahomes' aerial attack and give their backfield less pressure to deliver while the running back duo return to full fitness. Jerick McKinnon is the next man up.