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.