NFL Injury Report: Who's Hurting Most After Preseason Week 2?
Injuries during the preseason are pointless and can derail playoff aspirations for teams around the National Football League. This is one of the primary reasons that there has been a lot of talk about shortening this somewhat meaningless exhibition season to just two games.
These injures have seemed to become commonplace around the league, and 2012 is not different. There are multiple running backs who appear to be questionable for the start of the regular year.
While Adrian Peterson is on the verge of returning to action, Ryan Mathews suffered another injury in what has already been a disastrous early career in that aspect.
Wide receivers have gone down, important offensive linemen have seen their seasons lost, and even the occasional quarterback finds himself on the injury list.
Let's take a look at who's hurting the most after two weeks of the 2012 NFL preseason.
Levi Brown, Offensive Tackle, Arizona Cardinals
Levi Brown tore his right tricep in the Arizona Cardinals' preseason win against the Oakland Raiders on Friday night. He is expected to miss a minimum of three months and will likely be placed on injured reserve.
While Brown leaves a lot to be desired at left tackle, he was the Cards' best option. It is now going to be up to the likes of D.J. Young and Nate Potter to hold down the fort. There is also a possibility that Arizona moves Jeremy Bridges to the left side while implementing rookie Bobby Massie at right tackle. In fact, the latter scenario seems to be the likeliest.
Either way, this hurts a great deal. The idea of Adam Snyder, Massie and Bridges representing 60 percent of the Cardinals' starting offensive line isn't exactly fortifying a unit that struggled in 2011.
Miles Austin, Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys have to be concerned about what has happened in the first couple weeks of training camp. I am not talking about their disastrous performances on the football field—that really isn't a huge deal.
Instead, Dallas is struggling with injuries.
Miles Austin, who missed six games last season due to a hamstring injury, appears to be dealing with the same type of injury this summer.
Austin hasn't practiced in recent weeks, and the outlook doesn't seem to be too good right now.
According to the Cowboys' official site, Austin's recovery isn't going according to plan. Team owner Jerry Jones said, "He’s not one of the ones I’m thinking will be back.... I wouldn’t discount it, but he’s not one of the ones that I have coming back."
This leaves Dez Bryant as the only Cowboys receiver with regular-season success. They are going to have to rely on Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris and training camp surprise Cole Beasley, among others, to step up until Austin is able to return.
Brandon Flowers, Cornerback, Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs are already without one of their starting cornerbacks from last season, Brandon Carr, who signed a free-agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys.
They were able to let Carr go knowing full well that they had another No. 1 corner in the form of Brandon Flowers on the roster.
The former second-round pick has been one of the best cover guys since he entered the league in 2008, recording a whopping 70 passes defended during that span.
Flowers has not participated in practice over the course of the last few weeks and is still walking around in a boot. There is no telling if Flowers will be ready for the Chiefs' opener in less than a month.
Brandon Jacobs, Running Back, San Francisco 49ers
New San Francisco 49ers running back Brandon Jacobs took a helmet to the knee against the Houston Texans on Saturday. After the scary injury, the veteran couldn't put any pressure on it and ended up having to be carted off the sidelines and into the X-ray room.
Suggestions arose that it might have been some sort of ligament injury, which is the worst possible news for a running back in the National Football League.
Jacobs and the 49ers can now breathe a sign of relief, as both the X-ray and MRI came up negative.
The former New York Giant was seen leaving Santa Clara on crutches Monday, which does indicate that he will miss some time.
Though the injury doesn't seem to be long-term, for what it's worth, Frank Gore seems to believe that Jacobs will be back in a week or two.
Considering the 49ers' issue with running in short-yardage situations and the way that Jacobs looks thus far, they are going to need him on the football field when the regular season starts.
Brian Urlacher, Linebacker, Chicago Bears
Outside of two serious injuries—one in 2004, the other in 2009—Brian Urlacher has been an iron man of sorts. The future Hall of Fame linebacker has started all 16 games nine times in his extensive NFL career.
So, when you hear news about him being injured it does take you by surprise. Concern is magnified by the fact that Urlacher turned 34 back in May.
Urlacher underwent a "non-invasive" knee procedure following the 2011 season and then was required to have another surgery a few days ago. For his part, the Chicago Bears linebacker fully expects to be ready to play when the regular season starts in less than three weeks.
Let's hope that he is fully recovered and ready to go. After all, the talented linebacker makes the game so fun to watch at times.
Ryan Mathews, Running Back, San Diego Chargers
Ryan Mathews, who has been bothered by various injuries during his early career, fractured a clavicle in the San Diego Chargers' preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers. A normal prognosis suggests about four to six weeks of recovery time.
Despite this, Mathews seems to be confident he will be ready to go when the regular season begins.
The Chargers are going to need their starting running back on the field if they are going to run a balanced offensive attack. The combination of Ronnie Brown, Jackie Battle, as well as youngsters Curtis Brinkley and Edwin Baker don't appear ready to contribute at the level we saw from Mathews last season.
Trent Richardson, Running Back, Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns were definitely relying on Trent Richardson to be a premier running back as a rookie in 2012. This is one of the primary reasons they traded up to acquire the talented young player.
Richardson had a scope done on his injured left knee earlier in August. While the procedure itself was minor, it is a setback that the Alabama product and his team just didn't need.
Third-year running back Montario Hardesty has taken the bulk of Cleveland's carries in Richardson's stead. He has accumulated 71 yards on 16 rushes through two preseason games.
If Brandon Weeden is going to succeed as a rookie quarterback, he is going to need a consistent running game, something that Cleveland just didn't have last season.
With that in mind, Richardson should be returning in time for the start of the regular season. It remains to be seen just how much of an impact he can make early due to this recent setback.
Brandon Hardin, Safety, Chicago Bears
Any time a player is taken off the field on a stretcher, you have to pause and think about his physical well-being rather than the impact the injury might have on the team.
After all, football is just a game, and we must always take a step back when situations like these arise.
Brandon Hardin was strapped to the cart with his helmet still on. This took place Saturday night when the safety lowered his head on Logan Paulsen of the Washington Redskins. It was an extremely scary moment for everyone at the game and all of us watching on television.
There hasn't been much reported about the injury since.
Aldon Smith, Linebacker, San Francisco 49ers
This was yet another injury for the San Francisco 49ers that looked a lot worse than it ended up being. Aldon Smith went down hard on his hip against the Minnesota Vikings in the preseason opener. Initial thoughts were that he was going to be out for some time.
San Francisco and their young pass-rusher ended up avoiding a dramatic setback by suffering just a bruised hip.
The 49ers desperately need their top 2011 sack man, as evidenced by their inability to get any type of pass rush against the Houston Texans on Saturday.
While this type of injury can linger, Smith should be 100 percent by the time the regular season starts in September, and he was back at practice on Monday.
Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, Tight Ends, Baltimore Ravens
Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta combined for 94 receptions and over 900 yards last season for the Baltimore Ravens. They were a solid tight end combination for embattled starting quarterback Joe Flacco.
Both promised to play prominent roles in Cam Cameron's offensive scheme heading into the 2012 season. They are now on the shelf for the remainder of the preseason.
Pitta's injury is a little less certain. The BYU product underwent surgery to repair a broken hand in the beginning of August and was expected to miss four to six weeks. This put him smack dab in the middle of a possible return for their regular-season opener.
Either way, Flacco is going to need both of his tight ends healthy to improve what was an inconsistent passing game last season.
Jahvid Best, Running Back, Detroit Lions
Concussions have become a paramount concern for players and coaches around the National Football League.
The process upon which a player is activated to play after suffering a concussion is so much more detailed today than it was just a decade ago. So when a running back goes down to multiple concussions in the matter of a just one calendar cycle, you take notice.
This is the case with Jahvid Best, who hasn't seen the football field since October of 2011.
Adam Schefter reports that the Detroit Lions running back and former first-round pick is going to start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List. This means that he is going to miss the first six games.
Detroit is in need of consistent play from the running back position. Mikel Leshoure is suspended for the first two games, and the rest of the players they have on the roster at this position leave a lot to be desired.
I wouldn't rely on Best returning anytime soon, which will leave the duties up to the rest of their marginal running backs.
Not a good sign for Stafford and Co.
Desmond Bishop, Linebacker, Green Bay Packers
Desmond Bishop had a breakout campaign for the Green Bay Packers last season and was well on his way to becoming a perennial Pro Bowl performer. This is what makes the news of his ruptured hamstring that much more devastating.
The talented linebacker is going to miss the entire 2012 season, leaving a huge void in the middle of the Packers defense.
Bishop recorded 121 tackles, five sacks and two forced fumbles last year. He will be replaced by 2011 sixth-round pick D.J. Smith, who has a total of three career starts under his belt.
This is a huge blow to a Packers defense that is looking to rebound from a disastrous performance last year.
Smith now teams up with A.J. Hawk to form what has to be considered a relatively weak middle linebacker combo for Green Bay.
Brian Orakpo, Linebacker, Washington Redskins
This talented young pass-rusher has recorded 28.5 sacks in his first three NFL seasons. Needless to say, the Redskins were holding their collective breath when Brian Orakpo went down with a shoulder injury against the Chicago Bears last weekend.
Despite what looked like a serious injury, reports surfaced on Monday that he should be able to return by the start of the regular season.
The Redskins are definitely going to need Orakpo in the mix come September. He is one of the league's most dynamic outside linebackers and teams up with Ryan Kerrigan to form one dynamic duo at that position.
Michael Vick, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles
In short, the last couple of seasons have been filled with various injuries and cost the quarterback a few games here and there.
The Philadelphia Eagles just cannot afford to lose Vick for an extensive period of time this season. Mike Kafka is currently injured, and after that, they just don't have too much in terms of the quarterback position.
Trent Edwards is a few years removed from being anywhere near a reliable backup quarterback, while rookie Nick Foles is still as raw as they come.
This pattern, as it relates to Vick, has to be worrisome to the Eagles. It's hard not to cringe every single time he takes a hit. While this might leave a couple of fans with coronaries during the season, it could cost Philadelphia the NFC East.
Time will tell.
J.J. Watt, Defensive End, Houston Texans
The Houston Texans have a ton of young talent along the front seven of their defense. Connor Barwin, Brooks Reed and J.J. Watt combined for 23 sacks in 2011. What makes them so promising is the fact that all three are under the age of 25.
Watt dislocated his elbow earlier in August and is going to miss the remainder of the preseason. Although he is on target to to return by the start of the regular season, there has to be concern that the talented second-year defensive end will not be 100 percent.
Depth does seem to be lacking at defensive end in Houston. Jared Crick and Tim Jamison are their two primary backups at this position. Jamison has started a total of one game in three NFL seasons, while Crick is coming off a serious injury that caused him to drop in the 2012 NFL draft.
Let's hope Watt is 100 percent and ready to start the regular year.
James Harrison, Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers
James Harrison has caused his fair share of injuries over the years, but now the proverbial shoe appears to be on the other foot.
Harrison had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Wednesday to remove an impairment that has caused swelling since the spring. There remains optimism that Harrison could make it back for the opener.
Entering his 11th NFL season, Harrison might be slower to recover from this injury than most players in their prime.
Chris Carter, who recorded just one tackle in his rookie season, is slated to start at right outside linebacker until Harrison returns. Veteran free-agent signing Brandon Johnson is also a candidate to get more playing time after coming over from the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency.