Wes Welker And Top 15 Players Who May Miss NFL Regular Season Opener

Mihir Bhagat@mihirbhagatSenior Analyst IIIAugust 18, 2010

Wes Welker And Top 15 Players Who May Miss NFL Regular Season Opener

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    NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 30: Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots looks on against the New Orleans Saints at Louisana Superdome on November 30, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    There's no doubt that each NFL franchise wants to start the new season strong with all of their players fully energized and ready to go. 

    Unfortunately that's not always the case, as injuries and other absences can derail a team from playing at their maximum potential. 

    With that in mind, here's my ranking of the top 15 players who may be unavailable for the 2010-2011 season opener in order of the impact their loss could have. 

    Note: Most of the players on this list will miss time due to injury, and their rehibiliation period is a mere estimate. I also didn't include players who are projected to miss time well into the regular season. 

15. Marcus Spears

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    ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 9:  Marcus Spears #96 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts in the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game at Cowboys Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Ge
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Dallas Cowboys starting left end Marcus Spears suffered an MCL sprain in practice earlier this month. The injury is expected to sideline him for at least four to six weeks, which makes it very probable that he will miss their season opener against the Redskins.

    If that were to be the case, it would be his first game missed in his five seasons in the league. 

    Jason Hatcher will replace him in the starting lineup.

14. E.J. Henderson

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 04:  Linebacker E.J. Henderson #58 of the Minnesota Vikings defends against the San Diego Chargers at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on November 4, 2007 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Chargers 35-17.  (Pho
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Minnesota Vikings' middle linebacker, E.J. Henderson, fractured his left femur last season and some believed the injury could be career-threatening.

    The good news is that he will be able to play again. Even better, he may see limited action in preseason. 

    The bad news, though, is that few are seeing a return by their season opener against the New Orleans Saints a legitimate possibility. 

13. Marshawn Lynch & Fred Jackson

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    ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21:  Marshawn Lynch #23 and Fred Jackson #22 of the Buffalo Bills talk during the game against the Oakland Raiders on September 21, 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    The Buffalo Bills' running backs, Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson, both suffered injuries that will sideline them for most, if not all, of the preseason. Depending on the rehabilitation process, they could also miss some a few games in the regular season.

    With a shaky quarterback situation at hand, the team was expected to heavily rely on a their rushing attack. 

    However, this setback, will force them to have their first-round pick C.J. Spiller take the majority of the workload. Looking at this from an optimistic perspective, this gives them a great opportunity to test his capability of being a feature back. 

12. Percy Harvin

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    CHICAGO - DECEMBER 28: Percy Harvin #12 of the Minnesota Vikings runs after a catch against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 28, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Vikings 36-30 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Ima
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin is, once again, suffering issues with migraines.

    Anything could happen in the next few weeks, and it's a big question mark as to whether he'll be able to play in their much anticipated Week One matchup against the New Orleans Saints. 

    Even though he has returned to practice, head coach Brad Childress had this to say regarding the issue:

    "He's feeling better, or he wouldn't be here. Migraine free? I don't know if you can ever say that."

    I think Harvin could become Bob Sanders 2.0—a talented playmaker who could frequently miss time due to nagging injuries. 

    On a side note, teammate Sidney Rice appears to be progressing smoothly from his hip injury and should be ready for the start of the season.

11. Marc Colombo

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 11:  Marc Colombo #75 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on during warm-up prior to the NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadiumin on October 11, 2009 Kansas City, Missouri. The Cowboys defeated the Chiefs 26-20 in o
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The Dallas Cowboys, right tackle Marc Colombo suffered an injury to his right knee that required surgery. Luckily, he is only projected to miss two to four weeks.

    Replacing Colombo will be the inconsistent Alex Barron, who was traded for earlier this offseason. 

    This could pose a serious problem against the Redskins' relatively stout defensive line. 

10. Darren McFadden

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    NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 15: Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during the NFL pre-season game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field August 15, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Raiders running back Darren McFadden's two years in the league have been filled with injuries. Now, his latest hamstring issue only adds to that list.

    McFadden and Michael Bush are currently competing for the starting role in Oakland, and this injury gives a clear road for Bush to claim it. 

    Both of them will be depended on throughout the season to help along Jason Campbell get accustomed to the system. 

9. Dez Bryant

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    OXNARD, CA - AUGUST 14:  Wide receiver Dez Bryant #88 catches a pass during Dallas Cowboys Training Camp at the Marriott Residence Inn Oxnard River Ridge on August 14, 2010 in Oxnard, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    The Dallas Cowboys have been bitten by the injury bug, and several players including first-round pick wideout Dez Bryant have been victims.

    Bryant suffered a high ankle sprain that is expected to keep him out for at least four to six weeks, making him doubtful for their season opener against the Redskins.

    The rookie is currently trying to beat out Roy Williams for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart behind Miles Austin, and this injury will hinder him from doing so.

8. Dunta Robinson

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    FLOWERY BRANCH, GA - JULY 30:  Dunta Robinson #23 of the Atlanta Falcons runs drills during opening day of training camp on July 30, 2010 at the Falcons Training Complex in Flowery Branch, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Atlanta Falcons No. 1 cornerback, Dunta Robinson, is currently dealing with a hamstring issue that could sideline him for at least a few weeks.

    Similarly to Fitzgerald, he is expected to be back in time for their regular season matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, we also do know that hamstrings can turn into serious problems if not treated correctly.

    Losing Robinson, who signed a six-year, $57 million contract earlier this offseason, would really hurt their defense. 

7. Al Harris

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    GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 22: Defensive back Al Harris #31 of the Green Bay Packers is taken off the field on a cart after an injury against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field on November 22, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the 49e
    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    Al Harris, cornerback for the Green Bay Packers, suffered a torn ligament in his left knee that required him to undergo major knee surgery this offseason.

    He's said he does expect to play this upcoming season and will be returning to practice sometime this following week.

    At the same time, the 35-year-old's availability for their season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles is questionable. 

6. Eli Manning

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 27:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants passes against the Carolina Panthers at Giants Stadium on December 27, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Monday night, in a meaningless preseason game, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning suffered a nasty hit that resulted in a gash in his forehead that required 12 stitches to seal.

    Manning did undergo X-rays that indicated no damage to his head. 

    "I'll be back as soon as I can," he said. "It's really not an injury. Nothing serious. I really feel like I could go back out and play right now if I had to."

    While it doesn't appear to be too serious of an injury, there is a slight chance that it could cause him to miss the season opener against the Carolina Panthers and end his impressive streak of 87 consecutive starts. 

5. Jeff Saturday

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 23:   Center Jeff Saturday #63 of the Indianapolis Colts walks off the field with an injury in the first half during their NFL Game at Qualcomm Stadium on November 23, 2008 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Indianapolis Colts' starting center, Jeff Saturday, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last week in order to remove a "loose body."

    Even though those procedures usually take about two weeks to recover from, Colts owner Jim Isray stated it could keep him out of action for up to six weeks. 

    Until he returns, Jamey Richard should take over at center.

4. Wes Welker

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    HOUSTON - JANUARY 03:  Wide receiver Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots is tended to by medical personnel after injuring his leg against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    In a Week 17 game against the Houston Texans last season, New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker injured his left knee, forcing him to undergo surgery this offseason. 

    The timeline for his return has been shifty, and some are speculating that he may be back in time for the season opener.

    However, there's still a strong chance that will not be the case.

    Welker, the most dominant slot receiver in the game, is an integral part of the Pats' offense as he ultimately compensates for their weak rushing attack. 

3. Larry Fitzgerald

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    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 16:  Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Louisana Superdome on January 16, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints won 45-14.  (Photo by R
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Arizona Cardinals star wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, suffered a sprained knee that may sideline him for the remainder of the preseason.

    While reports are indicating that he will not miss any regular season action, it is still a definite possibility.

    If that were to be the case, it would be disastrous for their offense.

    Note, their season opener is against the St. Louis Rams, which should ease some concerns.

2. Darrelle Revis

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    SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17:  Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets runs with the ball against the San Diego Chargers during AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Cornerback Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets has clearly displayed his interest to be be given a raise, to say the least.

    In fact, his demands are so adamant that today was his 16th day of a holdout that doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon. 

    According to reports, both sides are far from getting a deal done, and this may drag on into the regular season. 

    Losing him, immediately eliminates any chances of them remaining a Super Bowl contender. 

1. Brett Favre

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    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24:  Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings adjusts his helmeti against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints won 31-28 in overti
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Brett Favre has decided to make headlines, with yet another installment of his retirement saga. 

    Earlier this month, there were reports that the future HOF-er was planning on retiring from football...for the third time. 

    However, as many expert analysts and members around the organization have speculated, there's no way that he doesn't return for his 20th NFL season. 

    On the other hand, considering the soon-to-be 41-year-old did get ankle surgery over the offseason, could Favre actually be serious this time?

    Note: According to reports, he's officially announced his return today. Here's my article on his return.