Sunday NFL Week 3 Buzz Blog

All times EST.

September 26 News and Notes

Some random postgame observations from Week 3

• Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick continued his quick ascension back up the NFL ladder against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After a slow start in the first quarter with a few inaccurate passes, Vick never lost his poise and hit WRs Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson for several big plays as the game progressed. Vick was willing to let the offensive scheme work by going through the passing progressions. Earlier in his career with the Atlanta Falcons, Vick would take off and run after going through just one or two progressions. Over his two starts, Vick has gone 38 for 65 for 575 with five touchdown passes. He has not thrown an interception this season. While Vick will still miss an occasional wide open receiver or tight end, he’s been much more accurate than I can remember.

• The New York Giants offense continues to regress. Today against the Tennessee Titans, the Giants simply could not find any consistency in their passing game. While QB Eli Manning threw for nearly 400 yards, he didn’t throw a touchdown pass, while throwing two interceptions. The Giants ended the game with 11 possessions, but only scored 10 points. They did not score in their final five possessions. With head coach Tom Coughlin’s four-year, $21 million contact up after 2011, Giants fans might turn up the heat on the veteran coach if things don’t improve very soon.

• While Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre continues to struggle, RB Adrian Peterson continues to put up big numbers. Over his last two games, Peterson has carried the ball 51 times for 305 yards. You have to wonder where they would be without his three rushing touchdowns. Oh yeah, Peterson also has 10 receptions over those two games. And he’s not wearing a cape in his Superman role.

• The New England Patriots secondary continues to struggle. In their last two games against less than stellar passers such as Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick, the defense has given up five touchdown passes. The lack of a pass rush is very evident. And the absence of a veteran cornerback is another issue. None of the five cornerbacks on New England’s 53-man roster has more than three years of playing experience.

• As expected, the Houston Texans had trouble dealing with Dallas Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware due to the absence of starting LT Duane Brown (four-game suspension). Dallas’ defense was very physical against the Houston offensive line. You could clearly see the sense of urgency Dallas had in this game. They feared going 0-3 and knew any chance of going to the playoffs this season would have evaporated with a loss to Houston.

• Cleveland Browns FB Peyton Hillis has really played himself into a significant role in the running game. Hillis had 29 touches against the Baltimore Ravens for 180 yards and a touchdown. He’s the epitome of a downhill runner. The only negative for him this season were the two fumbles during the Week 1 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

• I’m starting to get the feeling that the Pittsburgh Steelers are going on a Super Bowl run. I know it’s only three games, but their defense has been nearly dominant while giving up just two touchdowns in 12 quarters this season. And they are winning without starting QB Ben Roethlisberger, who has to sit out just one more game to finish his four-game suspension.

• One of the big reasons for the improvement for the Kansas City Chiefs this season has to be the speed on both sides of the ball. KR/PR/WR/RB Dexter McCluster and RB Jamaal Charles might be the fastest combo of speed on offense in the NFL. Trust me when I say this; McCluster was the most unique player available for the 2010 NFL Draft. He’s only reaching the surface of his talent. It has taken a while, but OLB Tamba Hali is starting to really emerge in their 3-4 defensive scheme. And unheralded OLB Andy Studebaker is the best player that you’ve never heard of.

• For the first two seasons of his career, Oakland Raiders RB Darren McFadden had been an afterthought, struggling through injuries and inconsistency. But in year three, the speedy back just might be on his way to something big. Through three games, McFadden has posted 350 yards on the ground. But what has to be more impressive is he’s not going down after first contact. In his first two seasons, McFadden would go down easily after being hit. This year, he’s running with much better balance and vision.

• While everyone wants to bury Dallas Cowboys veteran WR Roy Williams, he now four touchdowns through three games. Williams may be splitting time with rookie WR Dez Bryant, but he has been getting more red zone looks than first expected. He’s starting to develop some badly needed chemistry with QB Tony Romo.

— Adam Caplan

Carney to work out for Saints — 8:19 p.m.

With the struggles of Garrett Hartley, the New Orleans Saints are scheduled to work out veteran K John Carney on Monday, a source confirmed.

Carney, 46, appeared in 11 games for the Saints last season. After being released by the team in late December, the Saints brought him back for the rest of the season as a team consultant.

Other available kickers for the Saints to work out include Shaun Suisham and Matt Stover.

— Adam Caplan

Cowboys lose key OL; MRI scheduled — 7:22 p.m.

The Dallas Cowboys lost offensive lineman Kyle Kosier at the end of their 27-13 win Sunday over the Houston Texans. Kosier injured his knee when he was rolled up on during a running play by Marion Barber.

Full story …

— Fox Sports Southwest

Seattle’s Washington returns two kickoffs for TDs — 7:22 p.m.

In the opening kickoff of the second half, Leon Washington returned a 101 yard kickoff for a touchdown. Just moments ago, Washington returned his second kickoff of the day for 99 yards against the San Diego Chargers.

— Ross Jones

Edwards benched for first quarter — 6:59 p.m.

The New York Jets have decided to bench starting WR Braylon Edwards for the first quarter of Sunday night’s divisional matchup at the Miami Dolphins.

Edwards was charged with driving while intoxicated on Tuesday. Fifth-year WR Brad Smith is expected to start for Edwards.

Two key starters are inactive for the game: CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring) and OLB Calvin Pace (foot). Also in active of note is rookie RB Joe McKnight, who is a healthy scratch.

Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum offered his thoughts on the matter. "We’ve made our disappointment clear to Braylon. Now he must deal with the consequences of his actions as the legal process runs its course, and the league will determine the appropriate discipline under the guidelines of the Collective Bargaining Agreement."

— Adam Caplan

Jackson-Maclin combo getting it done — 6:52 p.m.

The Philadelphia Eagles receiver combo of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin have torched the Jacksonville secondary.

With less than eight minutes left in the game, the duo has combined for nine receptions, 236 yards, and three touchdowns.

— Adam Caplan

Undrafted rookie scores — 6:26 p.m.

On Saturday, Indianapolis Colts undrafted free-agent WR Blair White was signed off the practice squad. On Sunday, White scored his first NFL touchdown against the Denver Broncos. White hauled in a nine-yard pass from Peyton Manning in the third quarter for that score.

Because of injuries to WRs Anthony Gonzalez and Pierre Garcon, White is filling in as the No. 3 receiver.

— Adam Caplan

Vick regroups — 6:19 p.m.

After a slow start, Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick is starting to get it done against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Vick hit a streaking Jeremy Maclin in the third quarter for their second touchdown hookup of the day.

Maclin now has four touchdowns on the season.

— Adam Caplan

Parker posts another sack — 6:06 p.m.

While he’s not starting anymore for the Philadelphia Eagles, veteran DE Juqua Parker continues to produce.

Parker has posted at least one sack in each game this season. He posted a sack early in the third quarter of Sunday’s game at the Jacksonville Jaguars. He now has four on the season.

— Adam Caplan

Rams RB Jackson leaves game — 5:57 p.m.

Rams RB Steven Jackson has left St. Louis’ home game against the Washington Redskins with what appears to be an aggravation of a prior groin injury that had limited him all week.

Jackson injured himself on a 2-yard carry late in the second quarter with the Rams clinging to a 14-13 advantage. He remained on the sideline lying on a stretcher but later walked to the team’s locker room under his own power.

Before re-injuring himself, Jackson had 10 carries for 58 yards, including a 42-yard TD run with 11:31 remaining in the opening quarter at the Edward Jones Dome.

— Nancy Gay

Chargers suffer three fumbles — 5:54 p.m.

The San Diego Chargers didn’t score a point in the first half at the Seattle Seahawks. They could probably point to three fumbles as to the reason for the donut. Amazingly, Seattle didn’t score a single point off of any of those turnovers.

— Adam Caplan

Vick willing to be patient — 5:36 p.m.

While Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick had an up and down first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he has been willing to be patient in the pocket.

A great example of this is on his second touchdown pass, this time to WR Jeremy Maclin. A Jaguar defender was coming off the edge, but Vick didn’t run. Instead, he stayed in the pocket and found an open Maclin in the front corner of the end zone.

With that touchdown, the Eagles are six out out of seven in the redzone so far this season.

— Adam Caplan

Maroney carries rushing load — 5:18 p.m.

In a small surprise, Denver Broncos RB Laurence Maroney, who was recently acquired from the New England Patriots, is leading the team in carries during the first half of Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Maroney got the first carry of the game for Denver and has been in for most of the game over veteran RB Correll Buckhalter.

— Adam Caplan

Redskins may have new backup RB — 5:01 p.m.

The Washington Redskins have been looking for another running back who could take over the No. 2 role. They already released veteran RBs Willie Parker and Larry Johnson.

The team signed RB Ryan Torain off their practice squad over the weekend. Torain appears to have already moved into that role. Torain had a nice 36-yard run during today’s game at the St. Louis Rams.

— Adam Caplan

Merriman hurt again — 5:01 p.m.

Chargers LB Shawne Merriman is lights out again in Week 3, this time with a calf injury that has sidelined him for the remainder of the Week 3 contest at Seattle.

That leaves San Diego with only three outside linebackers after the team made Larry English (foot) and Jyles Tucker (personal issues) game-day inactives. As expected, rookie RB Ryan Mathews (ankle sprain) also was on the inactive list.

Merriman has been hampered by a chronic Achilles’ tendon injury. He has only three tackles this season.

— Nancy Gay

Wells plays, has long run — 4:58 p.m.

Arizona Cardinals second-year RB Chris "Beanie" Wells finally got some playing time this season. Wells missed the first two games after having knee surgery.

Wells had a nice 24-yard run during the first half of Sunday’s home opener against the Oakland Raiders.

— Adam Caplan

Vick struggling in the face of pressure — 4:52 p.m.

Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick has not been playing well against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he has been under constant pressure. The interior of Philadelphia’s offensive line continues to give up pressure to Jacksonville’s front-four.

— Adam Caplan

Flacco bounces back in a big way — 4:46 p.m.

After tossing five interceptions in his first two starts this season – including four in Week 2 – Ravens QB Joe Flacco bounced back in a monster way in Week 3 against the winless Cleveland Browns. Flacco tossed three touchdown passes, all to Anquan Boldin, while completing 22 of 31 passes for 262 yards in a 24-17 Baltimore victory at M&T Bank Stadium.

Sounds like coach John Harbaugh’s vote of confidence last week in his third-year quarterback proved prescient.

“He’s going to play a lot better. I guarantee you that," Harbaugh said of Flacco, who threw two picks in the final five minutes of a 15-10 Week 2 loss to the Bengals. "He always has. He’s always bounced back."

— Adam Caplan

Hartley’s miss very costly — 4:38 p.m.

New Orleans Saints K Garrett Hartley missed a costly field goal during the team’s overtime loss to the visiting Atlanta Falcons. Hartley pushed the 25-yard kick way wide right. The Falcons got the ball back and veteran K Matt Bryant hit on a 46-yard field goal for the 27-24 win.

Hartley is now is just four out of seven on field goal attempts this season.

— Adam Caplan

Denver’s emotional week continues — 4:31 p.m.

The Denver Broncos (1-1) returned to the field while grieving for teammate Kenny McKinley, and their honored the young wide receiver who was found dead this week of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot would with a moment of silence at Invesco Field at Mile High.

Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, who was visibly shaken and emotional when speaking publicly about the loss of McKinley, tried to rally his team in the pre-game warm-ups by running past each player and high-fiving him.

Also on the sideline for the game against the 1-1 Colts: recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Floyd Little. The Broncos rushing great will be honored at a halftime ceremony.

— Nancy Gay

Second-year back scores — 4:22 p.m.

When the Arizona Cardinals selected RB La’Rod Stephens-Howling in the seventh-round of the 2009 NFL Draft, most fans had never heard of the diminutive back. In fact, had he not put together a solid Pro Day, Stephens-Howling might not been even drafted, personnel sources said.

Stephens-Howling scored on a 102-yard kickoff return early in the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders.

— Adam Caplan

Eagles DE notches first sack — 4:13 p.m.

As noted previously, Philadelphia Eagles DE Darryl Tapp was active for the first time this season for today’s game at the Jacksonville Jaguars. The fifth-year pro recorded his first sack in the first quarter.

— Adam Caplan

Vikings win; Peterson takes over — 4:09 p.m.

With the passing game struggling, the Minnesota Vikings did the smart thing today against the Detroit Lions. They relied on perhaps the NFL’s best running back, Adrian Peterson, in order to beat the Lions 24-10.

The fourth-year pro touched the ball 28 times (23 runs, 5 receptions) en route to 190 total yards and two rushing touchdowns. Peterson was at his best running through and over the Detroit defense.

Veteran QB Brett Favre wasn’t exactly sharp during his 23 for 34 performance for 201 yards. Favre threw a touchdown pass to second-year WR Percy Harvin, but also threw two interceptions.

The Minnesota defense did a nice job of controlling Detroit’s two best offensive weapons, RB Jahvid Best and WR Calvin Johnson.

— Adam Caplan

Best leaves game — 3:47 p.m.

Detroit Lions rookie running back Jahvid Best has left the game with a toe injury.

Best was hurt in the third quarter Sunday at Minnesota, and the Lions called his return questionable. After five touchdowns and 268 yards from scrimmage in his first two NFL games, Best was limited to 26 yards rushing on seven attempts and two catches for 13 yards by the Vikings.

Best was the 30th pick in the first round of the draft, a selection acquired from the Vikings in a draft-day trade.

— The Associated Press

Boldin scores three TDs — 3:36 p.m.

The Baltimore Ravens were hoping that veteran WR Anquan Boldin would give them a physical presence on the inside. So far today, that’s been the case.

Boldin has scored three times. On at least two of those touchdown passes, Boldin has either been lined up inside or moved inside after the snap.

— Adam Caplan

Chargers without rookie RB — 3:28 p.m.

As expected, San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is one of the team’s eight inactives for today’s game at the Seattle Seahawks. FB Mike Tolbert will start for Mathews.

Starting ILB Stephen Cooper (knee) is active for the second straight game. Backup ILB Brandon Siler will start for him.

For the Seahawks, OLB Leroy Hill (calf, Achiles), OLT Russell Okung (ankle), and ORT Sean Locklear (knee are inactive. So the Seahawks will be without both starting offensive tackles.

— Adam Caplan

Redskins without LT; Hayneworth active — 3:22 p.m.

The Washington Redskins will be without starting OLT Trent Williams (knee, toe) when the team takes on the St. Louis Rams today. Backup OT Stephon Heyer will replace him.

Veteran DL Albert Haynesworth (ankle) is active.

The Rams will be without starting SS Craig Dahl (head) and starting WR Laurent Robinson (foot). The team will also be without backup DTs Cliff Ryan (migraine) and Darell Scott (ankle).

— Adam Caplan

Broncos missing key Starters — 3:19 p.m.

The Denver Broncos are without three starters for today’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.

On offense, RB Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and RT Ryan Harris (ankle) are out. QB Tim Tebow is also one of their eight inactives. Because of that, Tebow will not be able to enter the game against the Colts unless Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn suffer injuries.

On defense, the team will be without CB Andre’ Goodman (thigh).

Starting CB Champ Bailey (heel) is active.

— Adam Caplan

Colts without starting LT — 3:16 p.m.

The Indianapolis Colts will be without starting OLT Charlie Johnson (foot) for today’s game at the Denver Broncos.

The Colts are also without WRs Anthony Gonzalez (ankle) and Pierre Garcon (hamstring), SS Bob Sanders (biceps), and WLB Clint Session (hamstring).

— Adam Caplan

Wells active for Cards — 3:08 p.m.

Arizona Cardinals RB Chris "Beanie" Wells (knee) is active for today’s game against the Oakland Raiders. That’s the first time this season Wells has been active. The Cardinals are dressing four running backs for the game.

— Adam Caplan

Chiefs pulling off trick plays — 3:02 p.m.

The Kansas City Chiefs are throwing everything at the San Francisco 49ers today.

They tried an onsides kick late in the second quarterback, but it got called back due to a penalty.

In the third quarter, they executed a flea flicker out of wildcat formation for a touchdown.

The play culminated with a 45-yard pass to WR Dwayne Bowe.

— Adam Caplan

Vikings lose center — 2:52 p.m.

Minnesota Vikings starting C John Sullivan suffered a calf injury during the first half of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions. Sullivan is not expected to return. Backup OL Ryan Cook, who has played mostly right tackle, replaced him.

— Adam Caplan

Spiller makes his mark — 2:51 p.m.

While the Buffalo Bills continue to go with a committee approach at running back, rookie C.J. Spiller is making his mark in a different way.

Spiller took a kickoff after a New England Patriots score for a 95-yard TD early in the third quarter. On the score, Spiller showed incredible explosiveness and speed.

— Adam Caplan

Johnson helped off the field — 2:45 p.m.

Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson was helped from the field by the team’s medical staff early in the second half of Sunday’s home game against Dallas.

Johnson, who entered the game with a sprained right ankle, appeared to aggravate the injury when tripped from behind by Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick after an 11-yard reception. Johnson had three catches for 49 yards when leaving the game at 12:01 of the third quarter.

Johnson, who missed just one offensive snap before returning, entered Sunday ranked among the league’s receiving leaders with 15 catches for 191 yards and one touchdown.

— Alex Marvez

Tapp active for the first time — 2:42 p.m.

Philadelphia Eagles DE Darryl Tapp is active for today’s game at the Jacksonville Jaguars. It’s significant because it’s the first time he’s been active this season. Philadelphia acquired him from the Seattle Seahawks back in March.

Also inactive of note for Philadelphia is backup LB Omar Gaither. He started last week for MLB Stewart Bradley, who is back in the lineup.

— Adam Caplan

Ravens lose DE — 2:31 p.m.

Baltimore Ravens starting DE Cory Redding, who suffered a concussion during Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns, is out for the rest of the game.

Veteran DE Trevor Pryce figures to replace Redding.

— Adam Caplan

Batch getting it done — 2:19 p.m.

To begin training camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Charlie Batch was No. 4 on the depth chart at quarterback.

Because of injuries and a suspension to starter Ben Roethlisberger, Batch was elevated to the top job just two weeks ago.

Batch is on fire today at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The veteran signal caller put together an amazing first half with three touchdown tosses to go along with 177 yards in the air.

— Adam Caplan

Hillis a beast for Browns — 2:12 p.m.

Cleveland Browns FB Peyton Hillis got the start at running back in today’s game at the Baltimore Ravens for the injured Jerome Harrison.

At halftime, Hillis has 17 touches for a total of 100 yards and a rushing touchdown. Hillis has been running with great balance and power. He basically has been running all over the Baltimore defense.

— Adam Caplan

Woodhead helping — 2:09 p.m.

When the New England Patriots signed RB/WR Danny Woodhead prior to the game at the New York Jets, it was believed by some that the Patriots only signed him so that they could get more information on the Jets.

As it turned out, Woodhead has a bigger role than most thought. With veteran RB Kevin Faulk (knee) out for the season, Woodhead is seeing time as a passing gown back and as a change of pace.

Woodhead scored on a 22-yard run in the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday where he made a few nifty cutback moves.

— Adam Caplan

Palmer struggling in Carolina — 2:01 p.m.

Cincinnati Bengals QB Carson Palmer had only one interception coming into Sunday’s game at the Carolina Panthers, but Palmer is struggling with accuracy today.

Palmer has already thrown two interceptions. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the absence of a downfield passing treat is working to compress Cincinnati’s passing game.

— Adam Caplan

McCluster scores first offensive TD — 1:56 p.m.

Kansas City Chiefs KR/PR/WR/RB Dexter McCluster scored on a kickoff in Week One against the San Diego Chargers, but he hasn’t done much on offense … until today.

McCluster scampered 31 yards for a score from QB Matt Cassel in the second quarter of today’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.

On the play, McCluster got into another gear to beat the defense.

The diminutive rookie is averaging 62.5 yards on his two scores.

— Adam Caplan

Harvin scores, then gets examined — 1:49 p.m.

Percy Harvin got his first scoring catch of the season in the second quarter, taking advantage of a Lions’ muffed punt and grabbing a 24-yard TD pass from Brett Favre with 57 seconds remaining in the first quarter

Minnesota tied the game at 7-7 with the play, after the Lions took the opening lead on QB Shaun Hill’s 5-yard TD pass to TE Tony Scheffler.

Favre redeemed himself somewhat with the quick strike to Harvin – his badly thrown pass to RB Adrian Peterson was picked off by Lions DL Corey Williams set up Detroit’s first score.

After the catch, Harvin was being examined the Vikings’ medical staff on the sideline.

— Nancy Gay

Blueprint obvious for Titans — 1:43 p.m.

For the Tennessee Titans to win most games, it’s clear that they want to limit the amount of times QB Vince Young goes back to throw.

With just over eight minutes left in the first half of today’s game at the New York Giants, the Titans have just four called running plays to go along with 14 called running plays.

And to no surprise, the Titans have a 10-0 lead.

— Adam Caplan

Favre INT leads to score — 1:34 p.m.

Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre is off to a rough start against the division rival Detroit Lions.

Favre threw a screen pass, but to Lions DT Corey Williams and ran it back 27 yards. The Lions scored a touchdown three plays later on a Shaun Hill to Tony Scheffler hookup.

— Adam Caplan

TE Gonzalez adds to record — 1:30 p.m.

A 13-yard scoring pass from Falcons QB Matt Ryan to Tony Gonzalez pushed the tight end’s NFL-record TD total to 1,002 and Atlanta moved into a 7-7 tie with the Saints at the New Orleans Superdome. Shortly after, Drew Brees hit Lance Moore on an 80-yard touchdown pass.

Ryan threw the game-tying pass to Gonzalez with 6:53 remaining in the first quarter, beating Jonathan Vilma in coverage in the end zone.

New Orleans took a 7-0 lead on QB Drew Brees’ 2-yard scoring toss to Jeremy Shockey with 1:42 left in the opening quarter.

— Nancy Gay

Boldin scores first TD as a Raven — 1:28 p.m.

While the Baltimore Ravens passing game has not been impressive over the first two games, they are off to a good start against the Cleveland Browns.

Veteran WR Anquan Boldin scored his first touchdown as a Raven on a pass to the back of the middle of the endzone from QB Joe Flacco to give the Ravens their first lead of the game.

— Adam Caplan

Eli off to rough start — 1:22 p.m.

New York Giants QB Eli Manning is off to a tough start against the Tennessee Titans. Manning has already thrown two interceptions in the first quarter.

On his second interception, Manning was being flushed out of the pocket and he threw the ball up in the air with his left hand. The ball was deflected up in the air and was picked off in the endzone by the Titans.

— Adam Caplan

Long punt return sets up Saints score — 1:11 p.m.

Last year, New Orleans Saints WR/PR LanceMoore was hurt almost all season with a few different injuries. He’s back healthy this year and already is paying off dividends.

Moore’s 72-yard punt return helped set up the first touchdown drive for the Saints.

— Adam Caplan

Flacco’s first pass should have been picked — 1:08 p.m.

Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco’s first pass against the Cleveland Browns today should have been returned for a touchdown.

He made a sideline throw to veteran WR Derrick Mason which went right to Cleveland rookie S T.J. Ward, who bobbled the pass. Ward would have likely returned the interception for a touchdown.

— Adam Caplan

Broncos sit Moreno — 12:57 p.m.

Denver coach Josh McDaniels has decided to deactivate WR Knowshon Moreno and RT Ryan Harris for the Broncos’ 4:15 p.m. ET home game against the Colts.

The decision to sit Moreno comes as a surprise – the receiver hasn’t shown up on the Broncos’ official injury reports this week, although McDaniels said the 2009 first-round draft pick came away from Friday’s walk-through and “sustained a little something.”

Former Patriots first-round pick Laurence Maroney, whom the Broncos picked up in the offseason after Correll Buckhalter missed most of training camp with an injury, is expected to get the start. Buckhalter also is expected to get plenty of work.

— Nancy Gay

Percy Harvin active for Vikes — 12:34 p.m.

The Vikings have activated WR Percy Harvin for their Week 3 home game against the Detroit Lions, which Minnesota fans hope is a sign that one of QB Brett Favre’s much-needed receiving targets may finally be ready to go after multiple setbacks.

Harvin was listed as questionable this week with a lingering hip injury — which an MRI revealed to be a strain — and ongoing problems with his often debilitating migraine headaches.

— Nancy Gay

Pregame observations — 12:32 p.m.

Cincinnati Bengals – The team will be without starting DE Antwan Odom (wrist) when they take on the Carolina Panthers. The coaches will insert second-year DE/SLB Michael Johnson in his place. Johnson has tremendous quickness off the edge.

Second-year OT Andre Smith, a former first-round pick, is a healthy inactive for the Bengals.

Cleveland Browns – Lots of key starters out against the Baltimore Ravens: QB Jake Delhomme (ankle), RB Jerome Harrison (thigh), WR Brian Robiskie (hamstring), NT Shaun Rogers (ankle, hip).

Not having Rogers could prove to be detrimental against Baltimore’s Ray Rice.

Detroit Lions – Two important starters are back on defense: DE Cliff Avril (knee, finger), and MLB DeAndre Levy (groin). But there are three key starters on Detroit’s inactive list: QB Matthew Stafford (shoulder), WR Nate Burleson (ankle), WLB Zack Follett (concussion).

RB Kevin Smith is a healthy inactive for the third straight week.

New Orleans Saints – Rookie RB Chris Ivory (knee) is active for the first time this season. He had a very good training camp and preseason, so the team could get an extended look at him against the Atlanta Falcons today with RB Reggie Bush (leg) inactive.

New York Giants – Starting C Shaun O’Hara (Achilles) is inactive. The team will insert backup OL Adam Koets, who was drafted as a tackle, in his place. That could be a problem going against the solid Tennessee Titans front-four.

— Adam Caplan

What I’ll be looking for in today’s games – 10:15 a.m.

1. Can the Minnesota Vikings bounce back from their two losses?

Teams that go 0-3 to start the season generally have next-to-no chance to make the playoffs. So the Vikings must find a way to beat the 0-2 Detroit Lions in the Metrodome today. The absence of starting WR Sidney Rice is very noticeable, but they are going against perhaps the worst secondary in the NFL.

If Brett Favre and the Viking passing game can’t find success against the Detroit defense, then they deserve to go 0-3. The bottom line is they have a win gift-wrapped here. There would be nothing worse than going into your bye coming off a loss at home to the lowly Lions.

2. Can Michael Vick put together another solid performance on the road for the Philadelphia Eagles?

The key for Vick’s performance last week against the Detroit Lions was his willingness to stay in the pocket and throw instead of looking to run. He took over 20 hits in that game. While this game is also on the road, the Jacksonville Jaguars defense doesn’t exactly instill fear in anyone. There’s no reason to doubt Vick’s ability to duplicate his outstanding production from last week’s game.

Philadelphia’s defense shouldn’t have much trouble against veteran QB David Garrard, who struggled mightily last week against a very average San Diego Charger defense. Had QB Luke McCown not gotten hurt, it would have been interesting to see if Garrard would have gotten his job back.

3. Can the Houston Texans go 3-0 for the first time in the team’s history?

The Texans have to overcome some issues against the Dallas Cowboys if they are to win again this week. The Texans won’t have starting LT Duane Brown, who will sit out the first game of his four-game suspension. Brown has started every game since he was drafted in 2008, so his loss could be big as Houston will have to find a way to block Dallas OLB DeMarcus Ware. And the Texans will still be without starting LB Brian Cushing, who will be serving the third game of his four-game suspension.

For Dallas to win this game, they have to find some semblance of offensive balance. While they aren’t getting blown out of any games, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has dialed up nearly 100 passing plays, with just over 42 runs in two games. That’s not a good way to structure an offense. The predictability of the play calling has made Dallas’ offense easy to defend.

I’m picking Dallas in this matchup, but don’t scream at me if I’m wrong. I still think Dallas will win the NFC East, or NFL Least as it should be called based on the way those four teams in that division have played so far.

4. Are the Kansas City Chiefs for real?

I didn’t see them winning more than five games this season, so they are off to a very solid start with regard to proving me wrong. The key for the improvement from the Chiefs is the addition of Thomas Jones. The veteran back gives the Chiefs the ability to sustain offense on the ground. But at some point, they’re going to have to get something out of QB Matt Cassel. All of the guaranteed money in his contract is done after this season, so he could be playing somewhere else next year if he doesn’t start to play well soon.

Their defense hasn’t exactly faced any strong offenses thus far, but you can see the improvement on the backend. Getting rookie S Eric Berry in there right away has helped. I still think they will struggle on defense against the better passing offenses, but the Chief defense is off to a good start.

I don’t see the Chiefs defense struggling against the inconsistent 49ers offense. I never would have believed it coming into the season, but 3-0 is staring Kansas City right in the face.

5. Can Vince Young bounce back from last week’s dreadful performance?

Young seemed to be coming on late last season, but based on last week’s performance, he may have regressed. I think what head coach Jeff Fisher said during his Monday press conference summed it up pretty well when talking about Young’s progression as a passer.

"It happened yesterday, we needed to throw it to catch up and win. Kerry (Collins) has had a lot more experience with this defense. In time, Vince will be able to do those things. It was kind of a one-time thing; it’s an issue we’ve put behind us."

It’s obvious by what Fisher said that Young is limited as a passer. So, having to throw from behind in order to win just isn’t going to work based on Young’s history. You can see why this team will always have a running mentality on offense.

The Giants usually play pretty good defense at home, so it’s hard to imagine Young putting up good numbers in this matchup.

— Adam Caplan