NFL rumors roundup

AP Photo/Tom Gannam

Here's a look at some of the top rumors for Wednesday, Oct. 7:

  • The initial prognosis for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's absence was 4-6 weeks, which would have put Big Ben back as early as Week 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals or as late as Week 10 against the Cleveland Browns. Monday, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reported that Roethlisberger was targeting a return in Week 7 against the Kansas City Chiefs, which would have meant missing just three weeks. Roethlisberger, however, didn't give that report any credence during his weekly radio show on Tuesday on 93.7 The Fan, noting that he's still dealing with "quite a bit of pain" and he thinks the original timetable still applies. It sounds like Roethlisberger's recovery is on schedule, but we'd be surprised to see him back by Week 7. The game against the Bengals in Week 8 seems like an ideal date to target considering the importance of the matchup to the Steelers' chances to win the division. Last Thursday's collapse against the Baltimore Ravens could come back to haunt Pittsburgh, who fell two games behind Cincinnati. Perhaps Michael Vick will perform better moving forward after having 11 days to prepare for Monday night's matchup with the San Diego Chargers.

  • We looked yesterday at the possibility of Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle being let go by interim head coach Dan Campbell. Campbell said Wednesday he hasn't decided on Coyle's future yet, but NFL Media's Albert Breer reported Wednesday morning that "the situation remains fluid," and that the Dolphins have discussed bringing in Mike Smith, Jim Schwartz or Greg Schiano to help on defense. NFL Media's Ian Rapoport added that the Dolphins have "touched base" with Schwartz, who is not interested. It would be a massive task to jump in midseason and try to turn a defense around, but perhaps the Dolphins were hoping Schwartz could help get Ndamukong Suh rolling like he was when the pair was together with the Detroit Lions. While Schwartz isn't interested, Smith and Schiano are defensive-minded coaches with head-coaching experience, so it probably couldn't hurt the Dolphins' chances to bring one of them in. We should learn a lot more in the next few days.

  • Oakland Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith has quietly had a very nice season with his new team so far, but a question remains: Will he be disciplined by the NFL for DUI and hit-and-run charges he's facing? Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com reported Tuesday that Smith pleaded not guilty on Sept. 29 and a pretrial conference regarding his charges is scheduled for Nov. 4. Bair adds that it "seems unlikely" but "is certainly possible" that the NFL would suspend Smith prior to the legal process playing out. Considering Smith's history of issues -- he was suspended nine games in 2014 for violating the league's substance abuse and personal conduct policies -- it wouldn't be a shock to see the NFL step in at some point. For now though, Smith remains a key part of a defense that looks significantly more dangerous than in years past.

  • The Carolina Panthers' 4-0 start has quietly featured extensive use of quarterback Cam Newton as a runner. Newton already has 43 carries -- only 16 fewer than starting running back Jonathan Stewart -- through four games, which puts him on pace for 172 totes this season, nearly 50 rushes more than his career-high (127 in 2012). According to CBS's Pat Kirwan, head coach Ron Rivera is comfortable with that sort of workload for his star QB. That's great news for fantasy owners who have Newton on their rosters, but the risk of injury is always out there, even for an athletic freak like Newton. Also worth keeping an eye on: Newton's per carry average (4.5) for the season is far below his career average, which could mean opposing teams are keying on him more and more. That would make sense, considering Carolina lacks weapons on the perimeter and doesn't have a bulldozing offensive line to clear the way for Stewart. It's hard to imagine Newton's rushing numbers staying on this pace, particularly once the Panthers are facing tougher teams and trailing more often, but Rivera seems to be fine with it for now.

  • Houston Texans running back Arian Foster had a rough season debut against the Atlanta Falcons last week, but the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson notes Foster "could have a dramatically increased role" on Thursday night against the Indianapolis Colts. Foster had eight carries for 10 yards and three receptions for 25 yards in Week 4, and he lost a fumble that was forced by his own teammate, right tackle Derek Newton. Now that he's back in the swing of things and hasn't appeared to suffer any setbacks, Foster could well be back to his old self against the Colts, who rank 25th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game. For fantasy owners who drafted Foster and waited patiently for his return, it would be hard to leave him out of the lineup this week.