With the NFL pre-season starting this weekend, fantasy football drafts underway (I’m happy to say I’ve got my favorite fantasy guy, Aaron Rodgers, for the third year running…let’s just forget about how that went last season), and everybody chomping at the bit to see how their teams do this year, it’s easy to let all the excitement cloud the fact that there’ve been some pretty intense injuries this off-season. Today, we’re going to examine ten you really ought to keep an eye on.
1. Indianapolis Colts’ RB Vick Ballard tore his Achilles tendon in training camp this week, rendering him out for the entirety of the 2014 season. Ballard, while not the league’s top RB by any means, would’ve provided some measure of security for Indy, who are now being forced to rely heavily on Trent Richardson. I know I’m not the only Colts fan crossing my fingers…and toes…and eyes…
2. Buffalo Bills’ star LB Kiko Alonso tore his ACL while conditioning in Oregon this month. Alonso will miss the full 2014 season. This is a disastrous turn of events for the Bills, who, with the addition of players like Sammy Watkins, are hoping to truly compete in their division for the first time in years.
3. Sean Weatherspoon, LB for the Atlanta Falcons, also suffered a torn Achilles this off-season. Weatherspoon’s injury occurred in June, but he, like Ballard and others, will be benched for the full 2014 year. Weatherspoon has 290 career tackles and will be missed in the ATL.
4. This has not been a good off-season for the Achilles. Baltimore Ravens’ CB Aaron Ross also went down this past week with a torn tendon. Ross, too, will be out for the entire season. This is devastating news for a Baltimore squad that is hoping to turn things around after a mediocre 2013 year.
5. Dallas Cowboys’ LB Sean Lee ripped his ACL in late May, ending his 2014 season before it even started. Talented Lee, who has dealt with a variety of injuries, including wrist, toe, hamstring, and neck issues, during his career thus far, will hopefully be back for the start of the ‘Boys’ 2015 campaign. This is a definite blow to the squad right now, though.
6. Jon Beason, New York Giants’ LB, fractured a sesamoid bone in his foot in early June and is expected to need at least 12 weeks to recover. Sesamoid fractures can be difficult to deal with, largely due to the fact that these bones have a naturally low blood supply and heal slowly. Beason is currently touch-and-go for Week 1.
7. Saint Louis Rams’ OL Jake Long had ACL surgery in January of 2014 and has spent the off-season rehabbing. Long has yet to practice at OTAs or training camp and probably won’t return to the field until at least October. Since this injury occurred prior to the end of last season, it shouldn’t shock anyone, but it seems that Long’s recovery might be taking a bit longer than initially anticipated.
8. Knowshon Moreno, RB for the Miami Dolphins, had a knee procedure in May, but it doesn’t look like he’ll miss any of the regular season (and may even return in time for the full pre-season), which is good news for the Fins and their fans.
9.While Houston Texans’ DE (er, OLB) Jadeveon Clowney did not develop his sports hernia during this year’s off-season, he did announce its existence. Clowney underwent surgery to fix the issue (which isn’t really a hernia at all) earlier in 2014. Clowney isn’t on the PUP list and it appears that all systems are go for him, but it’s still worth keeping an eye on this year’s No. 1 overall draft pick.
10. The New Orleans Saints' acquisition of S Jairus Byrd was perhaps the biggest move of the 2014 NFL off-season. The Big Easy’s thrill was quelled, though, when Byrd had to undergo back surgery for a herniated disc shortly after signing. While there are no blatant red flags and all indicators are that Byrd will be perfectly fine to play this year, it’s still an important situation to make note of.