The 2022 NFL preseason got underway Thursday with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
But the matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders was certainly lacking in star power.
Derek Carr, Davante Adams, Darren Waller, Trevor Lawrence and Josh Allen were just a few of the several starters from both squads who sat out of the league’s preseason opener.
While those players might suit up for their remaining exhibition games over the next few weeks, it may not be until Week 1 of the regular season, or later, until we see some NFL stars.
Here’s a look at the big-name players who are unlikely to take the field this preseason.
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow only played three snaps in the 2021 preseason as he returned from a torn ACL, and he may not even match that total this year. In late July, Burrow had his appendix removed, a procedure that generally has a two-to-four week recovery timetable. While the Cincinnati Bengals haven’t ruled out Burrow for the preseason, it seems unlikely that they’d trot their franchise QB out there before the regular season. Cincy's preseason finale is set for Aug. 27, which would be just over a month following Burrow's procedure.
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
Don't expect to see Ezekiel Elliott in uniform until Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Dallas Cowboys said he doesn’t think he needs to play in the exhibition games to get ready for the regular season, adding that the team's joint practices with the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers will be enough to prepare him. This is a big season for Zeke, as there’s no guaranteed money on his contract beyond 2022. The three-time Pro Bowler averaged 13.9 carries for 58.9 rushing yards over 17 games last season, both of which were career lows. However, he did play most of the season with a partially torn PCL.
Randy Gregory, Denver Broncos
Randy Gregory underwent shoulder surgery shortly after inking a five-year, $70 million deal with the Denver Broncos in free agency. The pass rusher began training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and, per Mike Klis of 9NEWS in Denver, he’s likely to be held out of Denver’s preseason games. The Broncos, however, do expect Gregory to be ready for Week 1 versus the Seattle Seahawks.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans are being extra cautious with their best player. Head coach Mike Vrabel said he doesn’t anticipate Derrick Henry getting any preseason reps after a Jones fracture cost the running back nine games last season. Henry’s foot is back at full health, but the Titans will still be saving their two-time rushing champ for the games that count.
Shaquille Leonard, Indianapolis Colts
Shaquille Leonard, formerly known as Darius Leonard, underwent back surgery in June and, at the time, the Indianapolis Colts anticipated he would be ready for the start of the regular season. Leonard began training camp on the PUP list and head coach Frank Reich said earlier this week that the three-time All-Pro linebacker’s return wasn’t imminent. Like Burrow, Leonard hasn’t been ruled out of preseason action yet. But, at this stage, it seems like a safe bet that we won't see him in game action until at least Week 1.
Jameson Williams, Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions traded up 20 spots to select Jameson Williams 12th overall in the 2022 draft despite the wideout coming off a torn ACL. Williams sustained the injury while playing for Alabama in the 2022 National Championship Game and doesn’t sound close to returning. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Williams is likely to start the regular season on the non-football injury list, which would keep him out of at least the first four games.
Chase Young, Washington Commanders
The Washington Commanders already know they won’t have Chase Young in Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, as head coach Ron Rivera ruled out the pass rusher for the season opener. The former No. 2 overall pick is still recovering from a torn ACL, which he sustained in early November of last year, and there’s no timeline for his return. Young is currently on the PUP list, but it’s unclear if he’ll remain there to begin the season.