Projecting 2013 Roles for 5 NFL Stars on IR
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As soon as an NFL star gets placed on season-ending IR, two things are for certain: We won’t see him on an NFL field until, at the earliest, the next preseason—and somebody is going to doubt him when he returns.
Everyone on the following list didn’t suffer the dreaded torn ACL like New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis did. Even if they had, we’ve seen that every injury is different. Variations include specific physical aspects of the injury as well as timing, the position of the player involved and the person that is embarking upon a rehabilitation regiment.
Adrian Peterson didn’t make it back for Week 1—and demolish the NFL thereafter—because he is a superior athlete. While that’s a given, it wouldn’t be fair to discount the effort that he put into returning to the field.
It also wouldn’t be fair to say that guys like Kenny Britt aren’t setting the NFL on fire post-ACL surgery because they don’t work hard. Both the physical and mental elements of recovery have to be in place. That’s why it’s so hard to tell what guys are going to look like post-injury.
Five franchise-type players—Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin, Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee, Washington Redskins LB Brian Orakpo, Revis and Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe—will likely be making their next NFL appearances in 2013.
Let’s project how their roles might shake out next season based on their respective expected times of recovery.
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Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com reported that Kansas City Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe’s broken ribs will keep him out against the Oakland Raiders—and everyone else on the Chiefs’ schedule. The question with Bowe is less about his injury and more about which jersey he’ll be wearing next fall.
Broken ribs tend to heal in six weeks; Bowe should be 100 percent healthy by the start of next season. He will likely be placed on IR simply because there isn’t enough time remaining in Kansas City’s 2012 campaign for him to come back healthy.
If the Chiefs were a playoff team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations, he’d probably just sit out the regular season and hope to be cleared during each of Kansas City’s playoff games. Since that isn’t the case, it’s best for the team to take him off the active roster.
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Percy Harvin was giving Adrian Peterson a run for his money as the Minnesota Vikings’ most valuable player. He went down with a sprained ankle on November 4 against the Seattle Seahawks and hasn’t been available for action since.
The team has since placed him on IR—a curious decision at the time, since sprained ankles usually don’t take that long to heal. Maybe it was a truly severe sprain, but it could also be something else. Either way, the uncertainty about whether Harvin was going to play heading into the matchups between his injury and his entry onto the IR suggests that he’ll be himself next season.
Minnesota might have shut him down to ensure that he doesn’t injure himself further. Harvin has one year remaining on his deal, and the Vikings may wish to extend his contract in the offseason. Like his teammate, Peterson, Harvin expects to come back an even better player than he was before.
We shouldn’t put it past him.
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Dallas Cowboys inside linebacker Sean Lee ended up on IR after surgery on his toe. In October, ESPNDallas.com’s Todd Archer wrote: “Lee will have surgery on his right big toe next week with a full recovery expected for 2013. [Cowboys] Running back Felix Jones had a similar surgery in 2008 and has not had any issues with the toe since.”
That’s a glowing endorsement for the Cowboys’ defensive captain. Lee’s 2013 campaign should be another step toward superstardom—as all talented Dallas players seem to approach that level of popularity.
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Brian Orakpo’s torn pectoral muscle—and injury history—has some Washington Redskins followers questioning his long-term career prospects in the NFL. He suffered the injury in the Redskins’ Week 2 loss to the St. Louis Rams and was placed on IR on September 18.
That could be an overreaction.
The most heartening aspect of Orakpo’s injury is the timing in which it happened. Because it was so early in the season, he’ll have the benefit of about 10 months of recovery time before training camp. He should still be able to terrorize passers regularly in 2013.
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The biggest name among NFL cornerbacks (and, perhaps, defensive backs or even defenders overall) hasn’t been called very often this season as New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis tore his ACL in Week 3.
We’ve still heard from Revis, who delivered a message to his talkative squad through the media and speculated on his own return from rehab by saying: “Once I get back to 100 percent, to me there’s no question I (will) be back to where I was.” (via Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com)
Optimism is where the road to recovery starts—well, that and surgery.
Conventional wisdom is that guys are better in their second year after tearing their ACLs than in the first, but every injury is different. Revis could come back and be a beast next season, but he will be tested.
The nature of his position and his skillful performance as a corner dictate that his role will be different in 2013, even if his coach is the same. Guys used to avoid looking—let alone throwing—in Revis’ direction. For his first few games back, opposing offenses will challenge him until he can prove that he’s the same guy that he was pre-injury.
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