The NFL isn't all about the talent on the roster. It's more about the healthy talent on the roster, because at any time, your team's superstars can fall to an injury and the season can quickly go down the toilet.
The 2011 NFL season has been no exception to the rule. Exceptionally talented teams have been decimated by injuries and some have even gone from Super Bowl contenders to bottom feeding pretenders.
Whether or not your team is on this list, we can feel seriously sorry for the players—especially those included on this list—management and fans of these teams who have to deal with the most tragic aspect of sports—injuries.
Even though the NFC East isn't as strong as in past years, no team can afford to lose their starting quarterback for an extended period of time if they want to compete for the division title. The Eagles had that exact situation placed on them when Michael Vick suffered a concussion on Sunday night in Atlanta.
After Vick exited, the Eagles blew their lead and Matt Ryan led the Falcons to a fourth quarter comeback. That's one loss that can already be attributed to Vick's absence from the lineup and I expect another loss to come this weekend, when Philadelphia takes on the Giants at home.
This injury can end up carrying on much longer with the Eagles' strict policy on concussions. The Eagles do have some lose-able games coming up if Vick is out because backup Vince Young is still trying to come back from a hamstring injury and Mike Kafka isn't exactly a great option at quarterback.
The first blows to the Giants came on the defensive side of the ball. Terrell Thomas (injured reserve), the team's best cornerback, tore his ACL and is out for the season. He is one of the top playmakers on the defense so his presence has been felt quite a bit, especially in Week 1 when Rex Grossman picked the Giants apart.
Rookie cornerback Prince Amukamara also faces a lengthy recovery from a foot injury that occurred in the preseason, which makes the loss of Thomas hurt even more. Other losses on the defensive side of the ball include those of Jonathan Goff (injured reserve) and starting defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, both of whom will return to the lineup in the near future.
Receivers Hakeem Nicks, Domenik Hixon and Mario Manningham have struggled to stay healthy as well. Hixon and Manningham suffered injuries on Sunday night and the timetable for their injuries is unsure at this time.
The Chiefs don't have a lengthy list of injured players, but it does contain some some high quality contributors to this football team. Running back Jamaal Charles (injured reserve) is now added to a list that already contained safety Eric Berry (injured reserve) and tight end Tony Moeaki (injured reserve).
Charles is the best player on this team and the playmaker that makes this offense run. Without him, the Chiefs are doomed for the season due to relatively little consistency in the passing game. Dexter McCluster and Thomas Jones are serviceable backups, but they are not nearly the elite back that Charles is.
The loss of Eric Berry will extensively hurt the Chiefs' defense. Berry was on his way to becoming one of the NFL's elite safeties and this is a huge obstacle in that road. He has as many physical skills as any safety in the league and his talent will be sorely missed.
Without Peyton Manning, the Colts have crumbled. It has become realized how much this team relied on the field general and Manning's value should be more evident now than ever with this debacle by the Colts.
Manning did more than just deliver the ball as well as any quarterback in the league. He orchestrated an offense that lacked in talent in the backfield and on the offensive line, yet they were able to rank among the league's best, year in and year out.
I don't believe a return by Manning should be forced this season. By the time he is healthy enough to return, the Colts will be well out of the playoff race. If he is able to return within a month, it may make sense, but otherwise it will be a risk with no reward.
Middle linebacker Gary Brackett, the leader of the defense, is also on the injury list right now and defensive ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney have also battled injuries this season.
Following a 2010 season where any playoff hopes were tempered by key injuries at nearly every position, the Carolina Panthers are the most dinged up team in the NFL, once again.
This is their current injured reserve list (Bold denotes starter):
- LB Thomas Davis
- LB Jon Beason
- G Duke Robinson
- T Garry Williams
- WR David Gettis
- T Geoff Schwartz
- TE Gary Barnidge
- C Zack Williams
- CB Cletis Gordon
- DT Ron Edwards
Thomas Davis was having a great return from two ACL tears, but re-tore his ACL once again in a loss to the Green Bay Packers. Jon Beason is one of the elite defensive players in this league, but an Achilles injury will have him sidelined for the remainder of the season.
WR David Gettis was expected to be a major contributor in the pass game and he's been missed. His replacement, free agent Legedu Naanee, has been less than stellar so far.
Defensive tackle Ron Edwards was a key free agent signing as a run stuffer in the heart of the defense, but his absence has made the interior of the Panthers' defensive line into a weakness. Green Bay and Arizona both had reasonable success running down the throat of the Panthers' defense. However, part of that must be attributed to the losses of Davis and Beason.