Injuries are part of the game. But not only that, they often shape how the NFL season turns out for many franchises. One false step or bad block can doom a franchise for a year and send their fans into a year of misery.
The 2011 season has been a season of high-profile injuries. Some have blamed it on the lockout while some have chalked it up simply to chance and the physical game these men play. But either way, these injuries have shaped and shifted the power of teams in the league and will play a key role in who we see at the top of the draft in April.
What follows is a list of the most injury-plagued teams thus far in the 2011 season
The Rams have not only been one of the league's most disappointing teams this season, they may also be the one hit hardest by the injury bug.
On offense, their three players of most significance have all been fighting injuries all year. In the season opener, running back Steven Jackson had to leave the game following his first carry with a quad injury. That injury held him back a few weeks and he is just now getting back to full strength. The same cannot be said for wide receiver Danny Amendola. Amendola dislocated his elbow in that very same game and is out for the year. He was their leading receiver in 2010 and many were expecting big things from him in 2011.
Franchise quarterback Sam Bradford has also been battling injuries this season. In Week 1, he bruised his finger pretty badly but was able to play with it, and heading into Week 7, he is questionable with a sprained ankle he suffered in their matchup against Green Bay.
All that is just on the offensive side of the ball. The defense has also been hit hard with injuries. Just take a look at their secondary, where they have lost six defensive backs for the season.
The season for the Rams has been seemingly doomed from the start, turning the training room into a who's who of Rams players.
The biggest injury for the Raiders has been one of the biggest stories in the news this week. Not only did Jason Campbell's broken collarbone send Raider Nation into a tizzy over what their season would look like going forward, it changed the face of their future as well.
As you have probably heard by now, the Raiders went out and traded for Carson Palmer. They traded a first-round pick and a conditional second-round pick to the Bengals to pry Palmer away from Mike Brown's death grip. In doing so they may have mortgaged the franchise's future to a degree in an attempt to make a run this year.
No injury will be more scrutinized and analyzed as the season goes on than the Campbell's. But no matter how this trade turns out, let's give them credit for not letting their season go down the toilet and for doing everything they possibly could to get themselves to the playoffs.
Jamaal Charles blew his knee out in Week 2 of this season in what marked the Chiefs' season as doomed from the beginning. Charles was expected to build upon his breakout season of 2010 and become the featured back in the Kansas City running game. Chief fans will have to wait until next season for that.
In addition to Charles, young stars Eric Barry and Tony Moeaki were placed on injured reserve with serious knee problems. These key injuries have been a factor in the Chiefs having such a down year following their breakout year last season in which they made the playoffs and won the AFC West.
No team has fallen faster into an immediate tailspin following an injury than the Indianapolis Colts have this season without Peyton Manning.
Once we found out that Manning was going to miss significant time, it was obvious they were going to struggle. For some reason, seeing Manning watching the games this season from the sidelines just doesn't seem right. Not having the Colts be relevant makes it seem like something is missing.
It has not only been the loss of Manning that has plagued this team, there have been injuries all over the place. Starting running back Joseph Addai lived up to his flimsy reputation and has missed time, as has their top cornerback Jerraud Powers and tackle Anthony Costanzo.
The Giants were the team everyone was talking about in the preseason about getting hit with injuries before they even had played a game. But unlike most of the teams on this list, the Giants have been able to weather the storm and are on the top of their division.
Heading into Week 7, the G-Men are expecting to welcome back Pro Bowl guard Chris Snee, Brandon Jacobs and Justin Tuck to the lineup. Getting these three guys back will help in getting the team back to 100 percent health-wise.
On top of having to deal with those injures, they still have many more issues on their plate. They still have yet to see their first-round pick, Prince Amakamura, make his debut, but he should be back in the lineup within a couple weeks. Pretty soon Ramses Barden and Adam Koets will be back from the PUP list and be able to jump into action.
The biggest issue with all of these players returning to the lineup from injury is how they will fit in. The team is playing well and getting their mojo back. The Giants are just hoping they will be able to add to that.
The Atlanta Falcons are another team that has had a disappointing start to the season.
Rookie wide receiver Julio Jones, whom the team gave up the farm to get, has been struggling in recent weeks with a hamstring injury. Defensive end John Abraham has also struggled with injuries thus far in the season and missed a game two weeks back. Their ability to defend the run (ranked 27th in the league) has been shattered due to the injuries of Jon Beason, Thomas Davis and Omar Gaither on their defensive front.
The Falcons do not seem to be the same team they were last season and much of that is due to bumps and bruises to key spots in the lineup.
For as much criticism the Cowboys have taken this year for not quite achieving what some expected of them, this team has had to deal with its fair share of adversity on the injury front.
In Week 2, Tony Romo stepped up and won the Manliest Man of the Day award when he came back in the game with a broken rib and punctured lung to lead the Cowboys to a comeback win against the now 5-1 49ers. As much as he is getting killed in the media this year, this is one tough dude, and I would love having him as the signal-caller of my team.
In addition to that, their dynamic wide receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin have been hobbled with leg injuries. Austin even missed two straight games heading into the bye. They also lost running back Felix Jones for up to four weeks with an ankle sprain last week.
Hamstring is a dirty word in Houston.
The well-publicized injury to Arian Foster's hamstring not only had Texans fans frustrated, but it was making fantasy owners everywhere weep in the corner seeing him start the season on the sideline. He has since come back after missing significant time to start the season and looks to be at full strength.
Since then, All-World wideout Andre Johnson has gone down to a similar hamstring injury. He went down during a game against the Steelers and had many people fearing it was much worse of an injury than it turned out to be. When Johnson has missed time the last couple seasons, the Texans' passing game has really struggled, so getting him back as soon as possible will be imperative.
The issue with these hamstring issues is they can always come back and bite again. These are often lingering issues, so keep an eye on how these two studs hold up as the season goes on.