A good number of casualties have resulted for various reasons through Week 3 of the short NFL season. Some players landed awkwardly, others just got hit too hard. The lockout may have something to do with the number of injuries, but how well can a player prepare to basically get in a car-crash collision?
The writing is on the wall for more players to make it on the injury report and, worse yet, the injured reserve. Because of factors including play-calling, small physical build, and being overworked, these six players are unlikely to see action in all 16 games.
If Jay Cutler isn't able to play the entire season, it won't be because of his toughness.
Mike Martz likes to call deep plays and Cutler's arm strength doesn't discourage the offensive coordinator from doing so. It's almost as if Martz reasons himself into the long-developing plays because he figures Cutler with his mobility can get out of harm's way.
The fact is that the offensive line cannot hold up long enough for deep strikes to Devin Hester and Johnny Knox (speaking of Knox, he should be starting). Matt Forte is Cutler's oxygen while he's lying on the hospital bed while Martz is constantly switching off the respirator.
Andy Reid also likes to run DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin on post routes because of the two young receivers' speed. And when covered, it doesn't help that Michael Vick holds onto the football about as long as any other quarterback, including Ben Roethlisberger, but the problem is that Vick weighs at least 50 pounds less than Pittsburgh's thrower.
Maybe Vick gets illegally hit more than others, as he drew more 15-yard penalties on defenders last year than anyone else. The solution could be to have Vick run outside the pocket more because staying around big bodies with no running momentum is dangerous for someone who resembles an average man more than an NFL player.
Running the quarterback option with Vick and LeSean McCoy isn't recommended, but McCoy could certainly get more burn on runs and screen plays. Every offensive line would rather move forward than backwards.
Plaxico Burress won't be out of games because he shoots himself again. He's a tall receiver who's already experienced leg problems in preseason practice, not to mention that Burress is a much more willing blocker for the Jets than he was for the Giants.
The Jets should sit Burress whenever more potential harm can be done to an injury. New York has other options that can be serviceable for a game or two in Burress' place, including Derrick Mason.
As in the picture above, defensive backs will be going after the lower half of Burress.
The Atlanta Falcons ranked fifth in rushing attempts in 2010 despite having the fifth worst yards per carry average in the league.
Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey should not get discouraged from calling running plays throughout games this time around, though, as the Falcons have managed 4.8 yards per carry, sixth best throughout the NFL.
Matt Ryan has been sacked 12 times in three games despite allowing just 23 in all of 2010. The NFL landscape has changed, but less passing yards for Ryan may be better for his health and the team.
Frank Gore ranks fifth in total carries while averaging just 2.5 yards for each one. This isn't an indictment on Gore as much as it is the poor offensive line play in San Francisco.
Coach Jim Harbaugh will keep pounding the ball because the 49ers' top two receivers, Michael Crabtree and Braylon Edwards, can't stay healthy. Alex Smith isn't exactly stretching the field deep either. Gore's career has been hurt significantly by injuries and a serious knee injury forced him to fall in the NFL Draft coming out of Miami.
Gore has an ankle injury that may keep him out of San Francisco's Week 4 matchup against Philadelphia. If he cannot give it a go, rookie Kendall Hunter may play well enough to take a significant amount of Gore's carries when the veteran does return to the offense.
Peyton Hillis' style hurts the bruising running back more than anything. His production has been steadily declining, averaging no more than 3.5 yards per carry against the Bengals and Colts in the Browns' first two games. Hillis missed last week against Miami with a strep throat, an ailment that shouldn't be counted against him.
Cleveland has second-year running back Montario Hardesty who missed all of 2010 due to a knee injury. He may have to play productively because Hillis cannot be counted on to play a full, 100 percent 16 games.