NFL Injury Update: Could 2011 Be the Most Injury-Plagued Season of All Time?

Andrew McCluskeyCorrespondent ISeptember 28, 2011

NFL Injury Update: Could 2011 Be the Most Injury-Plagued Season of All Time?

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    When we realized that the NFL lockout was coming to an end this offseason, the questions began to be raised about the potential impact.

    One of the most common concerns was how the lack of a proper offseason conditioning and training camp would impact the players. There were expectations that injuries could play a huge role in the way the season plays out. 

    So far, we have seen some major injuries take place during the preseason and the first three weeks of the season. 

    While not all of the injuries have been season-ending, they are significant enough to impact the outcome of games early in the season. 

    Here are five injuries that have had a huge impact on their respective teams. 

Peyton Manning

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    This is by far the most obvious and most significant injury of the 2011 season. 

    Peyton Manning captured tons of headlines heading in to the season. They all revolved around whether or not he would be ready for Week 1.

    As it became clearer that Manning would not be ready for Week 1, we found out that he underwent cervical fusion surgery on his neck—which will likely keep him out of the entire 2011 season.

    The Colts have clearly not been the same without him. Kerry Collins came out of retirement to quarterback for Indianapolis, but after a 0-3 start, it is clear that he cannot fill Manning's shoes. 

    This injury will most likely cost the Colts the playoffs and raise questions about whether or not the front office should plan to draft a quarterback for the future. 

    Manning could easily return to form in 2012, but it is clear that having a "Plan B" is necessary. 

Kenny Britt

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    Kenny Britt went down this weekend—tearing both his ACL and MCL against the Denver Broncos. 

    Britt had been tearing up secondaries and appeared to be poised for another huge season. Unfortunately for the Titans, their offense is now much more one dimensional. 

    Britt was the main target for new quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Without him, it is likely that the passing game will suffer. 

    Chris Johnson has struggled out of the gate, and losing a threat like Britt in the passing game isn't going to make those running lanes any wider for Johnson. 

    Britt has had his off-the-field problems, but he is clearly an elite receiver. This is a huge loss for the Titans. 

Michael Vick

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    While Michael Vick has yet to miss a full game, he has missed parts of two. 

    Vick suffered a concussion during Week 2 and then injured his right hand during Week 3. He has always had the reputation for being prone to injury, simply because his style is tougher on his body. 

    What is clear is that the Eagles need Michael Vick in order to win. 

    Vick brings the talent and versatility that make the Eagles offense so tough to stop. Mike Kafka and Vince Young cannot fill his shoes. 

    Vick's status is still up in the air for Week 4, but, as of now, it is looking like he will play. However, if this trend continues, it won't be long before Vick suffers an injury that knocks him out for a significant period of time. 

    In a competitive division like the NFC East, losing Vick could cripple the Eagles. 

Aaron Hernandez

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    It is hard to imagine that the New England Patriots couldn't find a part to replace Aaron Hernandez. 

    Hernandez suffered a knee injury during the Week 2 game against the Chargers that caused him to miss the Bills game this past Sunday. It is possible that he will miss the next four to six weeks. 

    Hernandez was off to an incredibly hot start, along with fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski. 

    While the Patriots still put up huge passing numbers against Buffalo, it was clear that they had to compensate for the absence of Hernandez's skill set. 

    He is essentially a massive wide receiver. This makes him a nightmare matchup for defenses. 

    It is hard to say whether or not his presence in Sunday's game against the Bills would have been a deciding factor. 

    However, we do know that he is a huge part of what makes New England's offense so dangerous, and, without him, they simply aren't at their best.

The Dallas Cowboys Offense

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    The Dallas Cowboys have been one of the most injury-plagued teams thus far. 

    Tony Romo battled through a fractured rib during Monday Night Football against the Redskins. Felix Jones injured his shoulder in Week 2 and aggravated it again on Monday night. 

    Miles Austin is dealing with a hamstring injury that will most likely cause him to miss Sunday's game, as well as Dez Bryant battling a number of small injuries. 

    The core of the Cowboys offense is torn to shreds right now, but, surprisingly, they have still managed to put together a 2-1 start. 

    Dallas has enough talent to make it to the playoffs and be a serious contender. However, these injuries will eventually catch up with them. 

    They are in for a lot more bumps and bruises over the course of the season. If they can't get healthy now, then their injuries may just end up being too much for them. 

    Several stars around the league have gone down so far this season and there will be more to come as we move further into the year. The Cowboys offense is just one example of how injury-plagued the 2011 season is shaping up to be.