Each NFL Team’s Most Devastating Injury So Far in 2013
Each NFL Team's Most Devastating Injury So Far in 2013
Injuries pile up for every NFL team over the course of a grueling 16-game regular season, but for some teams it turns into an avalanche.
The Green Bay Packers knew this all too well during their Super Bowl run in 2010 yet that could not prepare them for losing Aaron Rodgers Week 9 on Monday night. Once among NFC favorites midway through the 2013 campaign, Packers fans have watched Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn steer them to zero wins over the span of five games when counting the bout that felled Rodgers.
Each squad has suffered its share of devastating injuries and some more than others. Many fates lean on the ability of a stud skill player returning to full health, or finding a way cope with the defensive lynchpin landing on injured reserve.
Most championship teams take an obscene share of lumps by the time the Lombardi Trophy is raised. It's entirely possible to blaze into glory lacking much quality depth, but those issues become more important when stars fall.
Not one of the 32 teams has left the gridiron unscathed and managing around injuries can make the difference between postseason berths and coaches losing jobs. It comes down to personnel planning, coaching strategy and also just dumb luck as to whether the most vulnerable part of your roster gets hit.
Read through for the most devastating injury to hit every NFL team thus far as we approach Week 14 of the 2013 NFL regular season.
Arizona Cardinals-Andre Ellington
Rashard Mendenhall has picked it up over the past couple weeks but Arizona's offense needs that game-breaking element Ellington provides out of the backfield. The rookie, nursing a knee injury that sat him in a Week 13 Cards loss, leads all running backs with at least 70 carries in yards per attempt at 6.0.
Atlanta Falcons-Julio Jones
No Falcons fan can forget the double-whammy Monday night. Week 5 not only saw Atlanta lose to Geno Smith at home but the also league-leading receiver end his season with a foot injury, sending 2013 on a downward spiral for the dirty bird.
Baltimore Ravens-Dennis Pitta
Pitta may return to Baltimore for Week 14 and it couldn't come any sooner for the 29th-ranked offense. This offense struggled to manufacture first downs without Joe Flacco's most trusted short-to-intermediate target
Buffalo Bills-CJ Spiller
A sprained ankle in Week 4 robbed Spiller of his incendiary burst off the cut, which helped him top Pro Football Focus' elusive rating in 2012. Despite dragging his body onto the field Spiller just wasn't the same until Week 13 following the bye, when he sprinted for 149 yards on nearly 10 yards per carry.
Carolina Panthers-Charles Johnson
Before Marcus Cannon's leg whip on Monday night in Week 11, Johnson had tallied 34 quarterback pressures and 8.5 sacks in providing a terrifying bookend pass rush along with fellow Greg Hardy. Carolina can really use Johnson at 100 percent in two looming matchups against Drew Brees.
Chicago Bears-Lance Briggs
An already poor Bears run defense dove a thousand leagues below the 31st ranked unit after their all-time great OLB hit the sidelines Week 7. Even Benny Cunningham gashed them. Chicago needs Briggs back to have a (slim) chance at the postseason.
Cincinnati Bengals-Geno Atkins
It's a tribute to Mike Zimmer that this Bengals defense keeps on ticking after all the catastrophic injuries, including arguably the league's best 4-3 defensive tackle. Brandon Thompson has filled in nicely but doesn't jailbreak into the backfield like Atkins.
Cleveland Browns-Brian Hoyer
Quarterback W-L records are often way overvalued in a sport that holds 22 players on the field at any given time. However, in the case of Brian Hoyer (3-0 in 2013) and the Browns (1-8 without Hoyer starting), I'll allow it.
Dallas Cowboys-Sean Lee
Dallas has avoided complete disaster in Lee's absence thanks to the late-game heroics of Tony Romo, while the defense is just barely hanging on as one of the league's very best inside linebackers recovers for the stretch run.
Denver Broncos-Rahim Moore
Most know Moore for letting Jacoby Jones get behind him in the divisional round, but he's also forging a reputation as one of the best young safeties in the game. An emergency surgery following compartment syndrome leaves his status for return uncertain.
Detroit Lions-Chris Houston
Houston has played well below his potential this year and missed the Lions' dominating Thanksgiving performance with a foot injury — though that was against Matt Flynn. Houston's still the best corner on a roster thin at the position and is sorely needed at 100 percent.
Green Bay Packers-Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers' injured shoulder in Week 9 took Green Bay from Super Bowl contenders to long shots (that is if he even returns Week 14).
Houston Texans-Brian Cushing
It seems a yearly theme that when Cushing goes down the Texans defense goes with him. Such is life for a 3-4 team perennially lacking at linebacker.
Indianapolis Colts-Reggie Wayne
You could just see the self-loathing on Andrew Luck's face when his underthrown pass led to Reggie Wayne's season-ending knee injury Week 7. The punishment of leaning more on Darrius Heyward-Bey and (for a moment) Griff Whalen just seems way too harsh.
Jacksonville Jaguars-Luke Joeckel
It's not that the No. 2 overall pick was playing particularly well before fracturing his ankle, though you would like your franchise tackle to take his rookie lumps in a full season. Joeckel and Austin Pasztor could prove nice O-line bookend for the future.
Kansas City Chiefs-Justin Houston
Despite missing action with an elbow injury since part way through Week 12, Houston still ranks third in sacks and second in quarterback hurries among 3-4 outside linebackers.
Miami Dolphins-Cameron Wake
Wake did not look quite the same between Week 3 and Week 7, and was eventually diagnosed with a sprained MCL that would keep him out of a Monday night humiliation at the Superdome. Wake would recover and the Dolphins are 3-2 since his game-winning safety on Thursday night Week 9 — fortunately not too late for the AFC wild-card race.
Minnesota Vikings-Adrian Peterson
Peterson topped 200 yards against the Bears' pitiful run defense but it could have been closer to 300 if not for a nagging hammy hurting his breakaway potential.
New England Patriots-Vince Wilfork
The Pats ranked ninth against the run in 2012 and now sit second-to-last in 2013. Losing their behemoth nose tackle early this season is pretty directly related — along with losing Jerod Mayo and Tommy Kelly — as the trench replacements have been miserable.
New Orleans Saints-Darren Sproles
New Orleans' offense seems far more potent when Sproles is 100 percent and this nagging ankle injury has to be cause to worry for Saints fans who watched their team average 12 points over the past two weeks.
New York Giants-Jason Pierre-Paul
The offseason back surgery forced JPP to ease into 2013 and that's just not his style. After finally catching his form midway a shoulder injury is threatening to shut him down for the year. A shame when Justin Tuck is finally regaining his form and Damontre Moore is not ready to start.
New York Jets-Antonio Cromartie
In 2012 Cromo was among the NFL's best answers to a deep threat; in 2013 he's just chasing them. The Jets corner has complained about a hip injury, while simultaneously slipping from 16th to 100th in PFF's cornerback grade rankings.
Oakland Raiders-Jared Veldheer
Veldheer immediately returned to form as a borderline elite left tackle in his Thanksgiving performance. His 2013 debut showed just how much the Raiders miss him. Too late for their playoff hopes; just in time for Matt McGloin's tryout.
Philadelphia Eagles-Nick Foles
Foles' concussion led to Matt Barkley appearing in two games this season and two losses against opposition that was playing very poorly at the time. Are we talking 9-3 Eagles without the Foles concussion? That second Giants-Eagles matchup started by Michael Vick and finished by Barkley was frankly disgusting.
Pittsburgh Steelers-Kelvin Beachum
Beachum is no world-beater, but he's not Mike Adams or Guy Whimper, which you might as well replace with a dumpster fire at offensive tackle. Beachum's knee must recover posthaste for Ben Roethlisberger to stay upright, and the Steelers to stick around in the playoff picture.
San Diego Chargers-Dwight Freeney
San Diego peaked with its Week 4 win over Dallas, and it's been mostly downhill from there. Freeney left that contest with a torn quadriceps, as did the Chargers' pass rush.
San Francisco 49ers-Michael Crabtree
You can only throw to Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis so many times before defenses force you to look for another option. This gets really difficult when they're named Jonathan Baldwin or Kyle Williams. Welcome back Crabtree.
Seattle Seahawks-Percy Harvin
Seattle thoroughly dominated New Orleans at home Monday night but could really use a dangerous, versatile weapon like Percy Harvin when battling elite defenses like San Francisco over the next month or two. The great question is whether that hip holds up long enough for Harvin to make an impact this season.
St. Louis Rams-Sam Bradford
Bradford probably would've liked a strong run game with Zac Stacy and a suddenly tenacious defense to emerge before his brutal knee injury Week 7. Alas, these are in the hands of Kellen Clemens — a decent caretaker that brings the offensive ceiling way down.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Carl Nicks
Tampa presents a lot of strong injury candidates including Doug Martin and Mike Williams. We'll file MRSA under "injury" and tab Nicks, once the league's best guard and a centerpiece to Greg Schiano's smashmouth run-heavy offense.
Tennessee Titans-Jake Locker
The Titans received brutal play from Ryan Fitzpatrick during Locker's initial hiatus with a hip injury, while Fitz has stepped it up since Locker found his way back on the sideline for good. However, I remain convinced that Tennessee wins the AFC South if Locker — who still owns the division's top passer rating — were to play all 16 games
Washington Redskins-Jordan Reed
Aside from garbage time against the Eagles and the opening drives against New York, Washington's offense has been rendered lifeless since Reed went out with a concussion Week 11.