NFL Week 1 Injury Report: Who's Hurting the Most?
One thing that NFL teams strive for in the preseason is to remain relatively healthy. There is no worse feeling than losing a quality player in meaningless summer football games.
While most teams came through the four-game preseason schedule intact, there are a few that struggled a great deal with injuries.
As is the case with every week of the regular season, Bleacher Report will run an injury report for fans and fantasy football owners to take a look at.
This is the first in that series of 17 articles.
So, let's take a look.
Corey Peters, Defensive Tackle, Atlanta Falcons
Peters was slated to be one of the Atlanta Falcons' starting defensive tackles heading into the 2012 season after a standout performance last year. However, those plans quickly changed when the former third-round pick out of Kentucky fractured his foot.
Reports indicate that Peters will miss half the season.
Jonathan Babineaux and Peria Jerry will be the Falcons' two starting defensive tackles in his stead. While both are more than capable of starting, Atlanta was definitely relying on Peters to be an effective run-stopping force.
Hakeem Nicks, Wide Receiver, New York Giants
The New York Giants might have one of the most explosive receivers in the NFL in the form of Victor Cruz, but Hakeem Nicks has been their most consistent pass-catcher over the last couple seasons.
If Nicks is unable to go or isn't 100 percent, it will be a huge loss for the Giants on Wednesday. After all, they are going up against a suddenly-legit secondary with Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne joining forces in Dallas.
Nicks did not practice on Sunday and is questionable for Wednesday's nationally-televised season opener. If he is unable to go, the onus will be on four unproven youngsters opposite Cruz. Not the ideal scenario.
Jay Ratliff, Defensive Tackle, Dallas Cowboys
Any time you lose a Pro Bowl-caliber defender for an extended period, it is going to hurt. It really hurts when he is tasked with stuffing the run along the middle of the defensive line.
Ratliff is dealing with both plantar fasciitis as well as a high ankle sprain and is extremely doubtful to be ready for Wednesday's season opener against the New York Giants. If Ratliff is unable to go, Sean Lissemore will fill in.
Louis Delmas, Safety, Detroit Lions
One of the very few difference makers in the Detroit Lions secondary, Louis Delmas needs to be on the field in order for their defense to succeed. The former second-round pick out of Western Michigan has progressed in terms of field awareness and coverage in the back end. Needless to say, he is an important cog in Motown.
Delmas underwent knee surgery early last month and needs to be in practice shape starting today if he hopes to suit up against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
If not, the starting free safety duties will be left for John Wendling, who has been a standout during the preseason after being one of the best special teams performers in the NFL in 2007.
Trent Richardson, Running Back, Cleveland Browns
Any time a rookie fails to play a single preseason game, you have to take notice. When that rookie is as important as Trent Richardson is to the Cleveland Browns offense, it becomes more magnified. In short, if they are going to have any success, Richardson is going to have to be a big-time producer.
The talented 2012 first-round pick has the capability to go for 1,500 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns. It is all about him staying on the field and being able to produce.
Reports indicate that the Alabama product will be available on Sunday and should be near 100 percent. That is great news.
Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, Tight Ends, Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco loves to target both of his talented young tight ends, but he might have to focus more on outside receivers early in the season.
Both Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson are questionable to play when the Baltimore Ravens host the Cincinnati Bengals next Monday night. If they play, Flacco will definitely utilize them between the hashes.
That being said, both are going to be limited next week, even if they play.
Brandon Jacobs, Running Back, San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers need all hands on deck when they travel to Green Bay on Sunday. It is probably going to be one of their toughest tests of the season.
One of the most important aspects of this game is going to be third-down conversions. This is where Brandon Jacobs comes into play. He was brought over from the New York Giants in order to be the 49ers' short-yardage back and excelled in that role through two preseason games before going down with a knee injury against the Houston Texans a couple of weeks ago.
He is questionable for the Packers game after showing "dramatic improvement" the last week or so.
J.J. Watt, Defensive End, Houston Texans
As one of the most productive rookies on the defensive side of the ball last season, J.J. Watt is looking to take that next step as a sophomore. The young defensive end and his organization are relying on it.
So when the news broke that the 2011 first-round pick suffered a dislocated elbow immediately before the Houston Texans' preseason opener in early August, it was a big blow. He missed the entire exhibition slate and just recently returned to practice.
For what it is worth, Watt expects to be 100 percent and ready to go next weekend. Houston's primary backup at left defensive end is Tim Jamison.
Jason Witten, Tight End, Dallas Cowboys
One of four Dallas Cowboys players to make this list, Jason Witten is one of the most valuable offensive players in the National Football League. He has caught at least 75 passes in each of the last five seasons as a consistent receiving threat for Tony Romo.
The former Pro Bowler lacerated his spleen—yes, a very disturbing injury—and is unlikely to make the trek to New Jersey in order to take on the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants two days from this morning.
John Phillips, an under-the-radar performer for Dallas last season, will get the start and should see plenty of targets from the aforementioned Romo. It remains to to be seen just how long Witten will be out.
As it relates to this week, ESPN's Ed Werder reports that Witten is "extremely unlikely to play."
Cory Redding, Defensive End, Indianapolis Colts
Cory Redding might not be too well known nationally, but he is one of the most productive 3-4 defensive ends in the National Football League.
The 10-year veteran was stout against the run for the Baltimore Ravens over the course of the last two seasons and fits the mold of the newly-installed Indianapolis Colts 3-4 scheme.
Despite missing only six games due to injury in the last nine seasons, Redding is ailing, and his age (31) isn't helping either. Due to an MCL sprain, Redding is questionable for the Colts' season opener in Chicago against the Bears. If the veteran is unable to go, it looks like Ricardo Mathews will fill in at left defensive end for Indianapolis.
Brandon Flowers, Cornerback, Kansas City Chiefs
By far one of the best cover guys in the National Football League, Brandon Flowers is as important to the Kansas City Chiefs as any defensive player is for any team in the league. He has recorded a whopping 70 passes defended and 13 interceptions in his first four seasons.
With the departure of Brandon Carr to the Dallas Cowboys in free agency, Flowers is even more important to the sustained success of the Chiefs defense.
The Chiefs are hopeful that Flowers will be available for Sunday's season opener. A lot has been made about his heel injury, but there is a chance that Kansas City is just being extra cautious with their standout defensive back. We will get a better idea as the week progresses.
Jonathan Stewart, Running Back, Carolina Panthers
The talented young running back suffered an ankle injury against the New York Jets a couple weeks ago and is questionable to play. While fantasy owners might be a bit concerned about his short-term production capability, the Carolina Panthers have a wide array of options and shouldn't be affected too much if Stewart isn't able to suit up.
DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert are more than capable of shouldering the load.
Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne, Linebackers, New Orleans Saints
Losing one linebacker to injury is big, especially if your starter at that position was suspended for the season. Losing two starting linebackers, both recently signed, is a much larger deal. NFL teams just don't have the depth to make up for these losses. The New Orleans Saints are no different.
Curtis Lofton, recently of the Atlanta Falcons, is dealing with a high ankle sprain. Recent reports indicate that he will be ready to go on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the news might not be as good for David Hawthorne. He underwent meniscus surgery two weeks ago and is doubtful to suit up this week. There is even a small chance that the talented linebacker misses a couple of additional weeks. Jonathan Casillas should start in his stead this weekend.
Adrian Peterson, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings
Surprisingly, it appears that Adrian Peterson might be available for the Minnesota Vikings' season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Recovering from a torn ACL and MCL suffered late last year, there was some thought that Peterson wouldn't be able to play in Minnesota's first few games. Things have most definitely changed over the course of the last month.
Needless to say, Peterson is valuable to the Vikings offense and the continued success of Christian Ponder through the air. In order for this offense to succeed, they need to have a solid run/pass balance.
According to ESPN, Peterson is going to be a game-time decision this upcoming Sunday. If he is unable to go, it looks like Toby Gerhart will get a bulk of the carries. Not a bad fallback option.
Prince Amukamara, Cornerback, New York Giants
You have to feel bad for Prince Amukamara. The 2011 first-round pick missed a majority of his rookie season. He is now going to be on the shelf for a couple of weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Chicago Bears in preseason Week 3.
This injury is even more harsh for the New York Giants, who are also without Terrell Thomas. It looks like Michael Coe and Corey Webster will be the Giants' two starting corners against the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday night.
Ryan Mathews, Running Back, San Diego Chargers
The release of Edwin Baker and Jacob Hester on Friday is an indication that the San Diego Chargers are comfortable that Ryan Mathews will be able to play against the Oakland Raiders next Monday night.
The talented young running back combined for over 1,500 total yards last season and is an essential cog in San Diego's offense.
That being said, The San Diego Union-Tribune believes that Mathews won't be able to return until the third week of the season. If that is the case, they are going to definitely be short-handed come next week. Ronnie Brown and Jackie Battle will get a bulk of the carries until Mathews returns.
Brian Urlacher, Linebacker, Chicago Bears
Not much has been made about Brian Urlacher's knee surgery during the offseason. With that in mind, it is important to note that the future Hall of Fame linebacker is getting to the stage in his career where any procedure, no matter how minor, has to be cause for alarm.
The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Urlacher is expected back at practice this week and should be available when the Bears take on Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts are Sunday.
This is big news considering that Urlacher is the heart and soul of their defense, even more so than Julius Peppers or Lance Briggs.
Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, Wide Receivers, Dallas Cowboys
Both Dez Bryant and Miles Austin should play Wednesday night against the New York Giants. Just how much of an impact they will make remains up in the air.
Austin didn't see any preseason action in August, and he continues to be limited due to a nagging hamstring issue that saw his production drop a great deal last season.
Meanwhile, Bryant is dealing with a knee issue and just returned to full practice this past weekend. Outside of a spat with the law, there really hasn't been much negative PR come from Bryant this offseason prior to the knee injury. He has, by all accounts, looked great.
It is vital that Dallas gets Bryant back at full health so he can take that next step towards elite status.
Injured Reserve List
Levi Brown, Offensive Tackle, Arizona Cardinals
Johnny Knox, Wide Receiver, Chicago Bears
Jason Hunter, Defensive Tackle, Denver Broncos
Desmond Bishop, Linebacker, Green Bay Packers
Jeff Demps, Running Back, New England Patriots
Terrell Thomas, Cornerback, New York Giants
Davin Joseph, Guard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dave Ball, Defensive End, Tennessee Titans