15 Most Injury-Prone Players in the NFL Today

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIAugust 15, 2012

15 Most Injury-Prone Players in the NFL Today

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    There are times when there is nothing a player can do about getting injured. For example, a defensive end is chasing down a running back and an offensive lineman falls on his ankle, ending his season. Nothing can be done about that.

    However, there are players who seem to get injured every time a gust of wind blows in their faces. Of course, I'm exaggerating, but you get the point; there are freak accidents that happen to players and there are players that are 100 percent prone to injury.

    Today we'll take a look at the 15 most injury-prone players in the NFL today.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    When was the last time you remember Ben Roethlisberger not being injured leading up to a game? Seriously, if it isn't a torn rotator cuff it's a thumb or a knee or his head.

    However, what is incredible about Roethlisberger is that he generally plays through the injuries. Sure, he's missed a few games here and there, but never a major chunk of a season. With that said, he's only played one full 16-game season during his eight years in the league.

    There is no doubt that Roethlisberger is an absolute iron man, but when you miss at least one game in all but one of your seasons in the league, you have a problem with injuries.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

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    Much like Ben Roethlisberger, Adrian Peterson always seems to have some type of injury nagging him. This, of course, is due to his extremely violent running style and the fact that he is always looking to pick up the extra yard at any cost.

    This style of play has led to numerous injuries, his most recent being a torn ACL and MCL in Week 12 last year. He's only missed a total of seven career games in five years, but knee injuries for running backs are usually difficulty to return from.

    Despite Peterson being ahead of schedule and back to taking snaps in practice, as Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com states, don't be surprised if Peterson is still slowly working his way back into the offense once the regular season starts.

Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    It's likely that Troy Polamalu will go down as one of the greatest safeties to ever play in the NFL. There is little that he has failed to accomplish during his career, and he still has plenty of years left to add to his already impressive resume.

    However, if there is one hitch in Polamalu's hold on the title of The Greatest Ever, it is his history with injuries. Since 2006, Polamalu has missed 21 games, or 22 percent of total possible games he could have played.

    While this string of injuries won't keep Polamalu out of the Hall of Fame, just imagine the statistics he'd have if he'd stayed healthy his entire career.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

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    After failing to play a combined 16 games in his first two years in the league, Matthew Stafford finally played a full season for the Detroit Lions. However, in his first two seasons he missed a combined 16 games from a knee injury in his rookie season and a shoulder injury in 2010.

    The good news for Detroit is that the most recent memory of Stafford is of him being healthy and throwing for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns. The bad news is that Lions fans can't be sure which Stafford will come out in 2012—the healthy one or the injured one.

    If Stafford can stay healthy for another year, he'd no longer need to be considered one of the most injury-prone players in the league. However, until that happens he'll remain on the list.

Jared Gaither, San Diego Chargers

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    After a promising start to his young career, Jared Gaither has recently spent more time off the field because of injuries than on the field.

    During his third year in the league, Gaither suffered a head injury against the New England Patriots that forced him to miss he final five games of the 2009 season. An injury to his back the following season landed him on injured reserve as he missed every game.

    He was released by the Baltimore Ravens following the 2010 season and has since found a home with the San Diego Chargers. Unfortunately, it looks as if the injury bug has once again hit Gaither with his back possibly keeping him out at the start of the 2012 season.

    If Gaither misses another chunk of time due to another injury, it would be safe to consider him one of the most injury-prone players in the NFL.

Matt Schaub, Houston Texans

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    There is little doubt that when Matt Schaub is healthy, he is one of the better quarterbacks in the league. Unfortunately, Schaub has had major difficulties in staying healthy during his time with the Houston Texans.

    Schaub missed five games in each of his first two seasons with Houston. Then, after back-to-back seasons starting every game, Schaub was once again hit by an injury this past season. His broken foot in Week 10 brought his total of games missed in Houston to 16 in just five years.

    With the Texans looking like a serious threat in the AFC they'll need Schaub to stay healthy for the entire year. Hopefully he is back to his 2009 and 2010 ways instead of his injury-prone ways.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers

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    It seems that every year Ryan Mathews has been in the league people have been talking about how huge of a year he'll have for the San Diego Chargers. It happened when he was a rookie back in 2010, as well as last year and this year.

    While Mathews has played solid football, he's also failed to stay healthy for an entire year to have that huge season. He missed four games his rookie season, two games his sophomore year and broke his collarbone on the first carry in Week 1 of the preseason.

    His most recent injury could keep up out up to six weeks, which would mean the possibility of a full 16-game season would have to wait another year for Mathews.

Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins

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    The only season that Reggie Bush participated in all 16 games was his rookie season in 2006. Since then, he's missed a total of 21 games for the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins.

    What makes Bush being prone to injuries so terrible is that few players are as dynamic with the ball in their hands. He is such a weapon to his offense that it is a shame that injuries have basically portrayed him as a bust in the eyes of many.

    Even after an impressive first season with Miami, where he enjoyed a career year running the ball, he has yet to shed the label of bust and injury-prone.

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans

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    Of all the players on this list, Andre Johnson might be the most physically gifted. He is easily as talented as either Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald when healthy.

    The problem is that while Megatron and Fitzgerald have been relatively healthy throughout their careers, Johnson has struggled mightily with injuries. Since the 2007 season, Johnson has missed a total of 19 games.

    What is surprising about Johnson's injuries is that it always appears that minor injuries cause him to miss great deals of time. For example, a hamstring injury suffered last year kept him sidelined for six weeks.

    Most fans want Johnson to stay healthy for an entire year, because when he is on the field he is one of the most exciting players to watch.

Shawne Merriman, Buffalo Bills

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    There was a time when Shawne Merriman was going to be the next great pass-rushing linebacker in the NFL. He was coming off a dominant rookie season in which he notched 10 sacks and looked poised to keep that dominance through his sophomore campaign.

    He continued to look good the next two years before a knee injury in 2008 forced him to miss all but one game of that season. He struggled through injuries the following season and wasn't nearly the same player he was earlier in his career.

    After missing the first half of the 2010 season, the San Diego Chargers finally decided to part ways with Merriman. He was picked up by the Buffalo Bills, but an Achilles injury kept him sidelined for the remainder of the season. 

    Things didn't get much better for Merriman last year either, as that same Achilles gave him troubles and kept him off the field for the final 11 games. That brought his total games missed up to 47 in just seven years in the league.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders

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    There was a time last year when Darren McFadden was making people wonder if he was the best running back in the NFL. Then he got injured, missed the final nine games of the season and took himself out of that conversation.

    His shortened 2011 season wasn't the first time that McFadden suffered an injury either. In fact, he hasn't played a full season in the NFL in four years. He's missed 19 career games because of an injury, nearly an average of five per season.

    When healthy, McFadden certainly has the abilities to be a truly elite player in this league. He is explosive as a runner and receiver. Unfortunately, he's fought injuries every step of the way, and he'll need to prove that he can play all 16 games of a season before being considered an elite player.

Jeremy Shockey, Free Agent

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    Jeremy Shockey has been in the league for 10 seasons, and in those 10 seasons he has yet to participate in all 16 games of any regular season.

    While he has never missed more than seven games in a single season, when you start adding a game here and two games there, the total number of games missed can rise pretty quickly. In case you were wondering, that total currently sits at 24 games missed.

    Shockey's history with injuries is probably a huge reason why he remains a free agent this late into the offseason. If he does end up signing with a team, that team will have to game-plan for him only being healthy part of the season.

Joseph Addai, Free Agent

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    Joseph Addai was picked up by the New England Patriots in the offseason, but released shortly after being brought in. Considering that Addai has missed 18 games over the past five years, I can see why the Patriots had second thoughts about keeping him on the team.

    After a stellar rookie season that saw the Indianapolis Colts win the Super Bowl, Addai was looking like the future franchise running back for Indianapolis. However, the injuries starting slowly accruing the following year and really took off during his third year in the league.

    Once those injuries starting hitting, Addai was never able to get back to the player he once was. While there is still the possibility that he'll get picked up sometime during the season, a team would need to be rather desperate to bring in such an injury-prone player. 

Bob Sanders, Free Agent

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    If we're talking about the most injury-prone player to ever play the game, Bob Sanders' name would have to be throw in the mix. He's never played a full 16-game season during his career and has missed a ridiculous 78 games over the course of his career. That's 61 percent his possible career games that he has missed due to an injury.

    Despite all these injury concerns, the San Diego Chargers decided to take a chance on Sanders and bring him in last year. They were rewarded with that decision by Sanders being placed on injured reserve by Week 3.

    The chances of Sanders getting picked up by a team are small now, as no team thinks he'll be able to break his current streak of four straight seasons ending up on IR.

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

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    If you're making me vote on the most injury-prone player in the NFL today, I'm going with Michael Vick.

    He's been a starting quarterback in this league for eight years and only once has he played every game of a season. What makes Vick different than an injury-prone player like Bob Sanders or Darren McFadden is that a quarterback isn't supposed to get hit as often as other players on the field.

    However, because of Vick's love to run the ball without sliding and his overall appeared frailness, Vick has missed a total of 29 games in eight years. He even injured his hand during his first preseason game, and while the injury isn't serious, it still shows just how easy it is for Vick to get banged up.

    If there is one thing that remains constant year after year in the NFL, it's that Vick is going to miss some time during the season because of an injury. Now if that isn't being injury prone, then I don't know what is.