Almost all NFL players suffer some form of tweak or injury during their career. However, some players are held back their entire career by bouts of unfortunate injuries. Here are eight extremely talented players who are dangerous while on the field, but have been held back by injuries.
There is a lot of potential here, what happened at Arkansas was not a coincidence. Darren McFadden impressed in the first two games of his career, rushing for 210 combined yards on an average of seven yards per carry. In his second game versus the Chiefs McFadden suffered an injury to his big toe, which led to three missed games and a limited amount of carries in the other eleven. Hardly a month into the 2009 season, McFadden tore a meniscus in his knee, again limiting his performance.
McFadden has played in 25 games over two seasons, averaging 12.5 a year. He has never played in all 16 games.
Smith's first three seasons in the league were a success, and he even earned a pro-bowl berth as a rookie. However, the injury bug bit in 2004 as he suffered a devastating leg break in the season opener, which would keep him out for the rest of the year. He came back in 2005 and led the league in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns, becoming only the third NFL player to do so. Smith suffered a hamstring injury and an in-grown toenail in the 2006 preseason, keeping him out for the first two games of 2006.
He was healthy for 2007, and then suffered a severe concussion during the 2008 preseason. He didn't miss any regular season games. During week 16 of the 2009 Season, Steve Smith broke his forearm on a vicious hit from Giants safety Michael Johnson. On June 19 2010 Smith broke his arm playing flag football, and is currently on injured reserve.
Steve Smith has played in 121 games over nine seasons, averaging little over 13 games per year. He has played in all 16 games twice.
Williams has never even come close to the success of his rookie season, when he rushed for 1,178 yards and won Rookie of the Year. An injury nagged him throughout his second season, dragging him down to a more pedestrian 798 yards and only 3.5 YPC. He only played four games in 2007, due to a torn pateller tendon in his right knee. He suffered the exact same injury in his left knee the next season, missing all but six games. He managed to play in all 16 games in 2009, but his injury history negatively affected his play, as he again failed to reach 1,000 yards.
Cadillac Williams has played in 54 games in five seasons, averaging less than 11 games per year. He has played in all 16 games once.
The former first round pick played well his first three seasons in the league, filling in for the oft-injured Bob Sanders. However, he is now coming off back to back seasons--2008 and 2009--that ended in knee injuries. He signed a two year 6 million dollar contract with the Eagles in March 2010, only to rupture his achilles tendon, which may be career ending.
Marlin Jackson has played in 56 games in five seasons, averaging little over 11 games per year. However, he will miss at least all of 2010. He has played in all 16 games once.
Buchalter has shown flashes of talent throughout his career--when he is healthy. His rookie year he rushed for 586 yards with a 4.5 YPC average. He went on to miss the entire 2002 season with a torn ACL in his left knee. He played decently in 2003, forming a formidable tandem with then-second year running back Brian Westbrook. He then missed both 2004 and 2005 with a torn patellar tendon in his right knee. He stayed healthy for the entire 2006 season and played in all 16 games. He has since stayed healthy, but his performance has been negatively affected by numerous injuries. However he still possesses an impressive 4.7 career YPC.
Correll Buckhalter has played in 88 games over nine seasons, averaging less than ten games per year. He has played in all 16 games once.
Chad Pennington has won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year twice, in 2006 and 2008. This says a lot about his knack for getting injured and the talent he displays when healthy. In 2005, Pennington missed 13 games and played abysmally in 3 due to a tear in his right rotator cuff. He came back in 2006 to start 16 games for the first time in his career and 3,352 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions.
He led the Jets to a wild card loss against the Patriots. In 2007, several injuries--including a high ankle sprain--led Pennington to play in only 9 games, most of them poor performances. He bounced back again in 2008, throwing for 3,653 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. He played three games in 2009 before he tore a shoulder capsule in his right arm and missed the rest of the season.
Pennington has played in 88 games in ten seasons, averaging not quite 9 games per year. He has played in all 16 games twice.
"Fragile" Fred Taylor started off his career on a high note, remaining healthy and rushing for 1,223 yards and 14 touchdowns as a rookie. However, a bout of injuries--including a hurt hamstring--led him to miss 23 out of 48 games from 1999-2001. Taylor then had two 16-game seasons in 2002 and 2003, and remained injury free until the last two games of 2004, when he hurt his knee. He then missed 5 games in 2005.
Taylor managed to stay healthy during both the 2006 and 2007 seasons. In his last season as a Jaguar, Fred Taylor played in 13 games before missing the last 3 with a hurt thumb. As a Patriot in 2009, Taylor played in the first four games, and then missed all but the last two games with an ankle injury.
He has played in 146 games in 12 seasons, averaging just over 12 games a season. He has played in all 16 games twice.
From a rookie season shortened by foot and knee injuries to missing all but two games in 2009 with an arm injury, the two time all-pro safety has been a walking chandelier in the NFL. Bob Sanders consistently displays tenacity against the run and aggressive pass defense, but he simply can't stay healthy.
His first serious injury occurred in 2006, when "the eraser" missed 12 games with a hurt knee. He did, however, comeback and excel during the 2006 postseason. He remained healthy during 2007 and was rewarded with the AP Defensive Player of the Year award. He then missed all but six games in 2008 with a high ankle sprain early in the season, followed by another knee injury. In 2009, Sanders played two games before being placed on injured reserve with an arm injury, missing the rest of the season.
He has played 47 games in six seasons, averaging less than eight per season. He has never played in all 16 games.