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NFL rumors roundup

Patric Schneider/AP

Here's a look at some of the top rumors for Wednesday, Sept. 16:

  • Now that we know who will start at quarterback for the Houston Texans against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday -- it'll be Ryan Mallett instead of Brian Hoyer -- the focus turns to how effective Mallett can be. Those who watched HBO's Hard Knocks will remember that head coach Bill O'Brien said Hoyer's leash as the starter would not be short, so perhaps this quick hook is more a vote of confidence in Mallett than it is a criticism of Hoyer. The fact that Mallett was unable to distinguish himself as the starter during training camp suggests he won't ever be a star, but he still has just 92 career pass attempts in the NFL. That's a small enough sample size that a sudden breakout wouldn't be shocking, and it could make Mallett a more appealing option than Hoyer, who has firmly established his ceiling at this point in his career. Mallett is immediately worth owning in fantasy leagues simply because of his upside, and he has a juicy matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3. If he can put together a few quality performances early on, the Texans could find themselves in the playoff hunt come December.

  • In other Texans news, the optimism surrounding Arian Foster's recovery from groin surgery has cooled just a bit. The Chronicle's John McClain reports Foster "has to practice a couple of weeks before he can play" and pegs the running back's return to come in Week 5 against the Colts. That timetable would be a little disappointing after whispers surfaced that suggested Foster could be back by Week 3, but it would still be well ahead of the original prognosis that had Foster missing at least half of the season. Even with a quarterback change coming, getting Foster healthy is the best thing Houston can hope for to improve its offense this year.

  • After oft-injured running back Vick Ballard was waived/injured on Tuesday, the Indianapolis Colts' backfield is looking awfully thin. The Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder reports a reunion with Ahmad Bradshaw could be in the works, as Bradshaw is healthy and the Colts have interest. Bradshaw was the Colts' top back for much of last season, averaging 12 fantasy points per game through nine games before breaking his leg in Week 11. Daniel "Boom" Herron took over for the rest of the season as the passing-downs back, but he was waived/injured earlier this month. Bradshaw has dealt with a swath of injuries over the years, but if he's healthy, he would be worthy of some reps in Indy. Frank Gore is still the clear top back for the Colts, but his production could be limited if a healthy Bradshaw gets into the rotation.

  • One of the surprising names on Sunday's inactives lists was that of St. Louis Rams receiver Brian Quick, who was in the middle of a breakout year in 2014 when he suffered a severe shoulder injury that ended his season. According to Joe Lyons of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it wasn't a surprise to Quick that he was listed as inactive, a move head coach Jeff Fisher explained as a "numbers issue." The implication is that because Quick doesn't play special teams, the Rams couldn't give him a jersey against the Seattle Seahawks, but it still calls into question Quick's status on the depth chart. Does Quick simply need more time to get back in the mix mentally? Has he fallen out of favor with the coaching staff? Considering how effective Quick was a year ago, we'd guess he's simply being worked back into the rotation slowly after missing most of the team's workouts in the offseason. Still, that may mean it could be a few weeks before Quick will get the chance to return to his 2014 self. Fantasy owners will have to be patient, but it doesn't seem like it's time to lose hope.

  • One player who looks like he has fallen out of favor with his coaching staff is Washington Redskins safety Jeron Johnson, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post. The former Seattle Seahawk reserve signed a two-year, $4 million deal in free agency and was expected to take over as the starting strong safety, but he lost a training camp battle to Duke Ihenacho. Ihenacho suffered a season-ending wrist injury on Sunday -- nearly a year after his 2014 season ended with a foot injury -- but Trenton Robinson, not Johnson, was Ihenacho's replacement against the Miami Dolphins. Robinson may be the starter moving forward, but Jones suggests even rookie sixth-rounder Kyshoen Jarrett could be an option. The fact that Johnson seems to be completely out of the mix isn't a good sign, especially considering the team's history with free agents.