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Ben Margot/Associated Press

The beginning of training camp did not prove kind to San Francisco 49ers running backs LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter, both of whom went down with injuries on back-to-back days earlier this week.

According to Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News, Hunter suffered a torn ACL and will miss the entirety of the 2014 season. It comes as no surprise, as reconstructive ACL surgery almost always requires seven to eight or more months of rehabilitation, essentially eliminating the chances of the young back meaningfully contributing this year.

The prognosis for James, though, sounds more promising—despite initial grim reports from NFL.com's Mike Coppinger and others stating the running back required a cart to leave the field after going down. In fact, CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco tweeted Wednesday that the 49ers expect the former Oregon Duck to be ready for Week 1:

In other words, it seems James thankfully avoided serious damage in or around his joint. As always, a closer look at the anatomy can help explain the positive turn of events.

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USA Today

The trade deadline is always an exciting time around baseball, but if you look closely, team health feeds the deadline. Teams are replacing players they expected to have. They're buying expensive pitchers to soak up innings that young pitchers can't handle. They're valuing prospects not just on talent, but risk. 

Front-office types will be burning up the phone. Scouts will be watching and reporting. Medical staffs will be called in to check files and physicals will be taken. With everything that is measured in baseball now, they're still left guessing in many situations about injuries, risk and value. 

Again, we have an asymmetrical situation. Some teams will have more information or analyze it more accurately. Some teams will miss something or ignore an element they shouldn't have. A trade will succeed or fail based on an injury. Go ahead—look at some of the deals from a few years back and tell me how many injuries you see.

There's no area in baseball untouched by sports science and sports medicine, but too many teams leave those areas underserved and underfunded. The injuries of tomorrow might have been noted today, but from out here, we'll probably be left to guess. Maybe the trades that weren't made were successes because an injury acquisition was avoided. 

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Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Earlier this year, New York Giants running back David Wilson underwent spinal fusion surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. The procedure aimed to fix lingering neurological symptoms that did not improve with rest, which the Giants considered a "long shot" to begin with, according to the New York Post's Paul Schwartz:

The operation—and the Hospital for Special Surgery's Dr. Frank Cammisa, who led the surgical team according to Schwartz—rejuvenated Wilson's career. In fact, the running back himself announced his medical clearance for "everything" earlier this month.

Everything proceeded according to plan until Tuesday, when Schwartz tweeted that a "burner" forced the young back from practice. Newsday's Tom Rock added that Wilson underwent tests at the Hospital for Special Surgery later that night.

It goes without saying that the entire NFL community hopes for nothing but the best.

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AP Images

On a 100-plus-degree day, the sweat is dripping down the face of the football players. The heat and humidity has worked on them through the drills and the runs. Their feet feel hot with the reflections coming up off the turf. The water breaks help, but some still vomit. One takes a knee and in moments shuts down. 

Sometime in the next month, someone will die. As NFL camps open, followed by college, high school and youth practices, the temperatures will often creep above 100 degrees, with humidity and equipment adding to the issue. Despite nearly universal awareness, the problem still exists and the downside isn't a strained muscle or a missed game, but death. 

In the last five years, 18 players around the country have died—the highest level since these statistics were collected. Even one is too many, but the increase is terrible. The problem is much more widespread than most imagine. Over 9,000 athletes were treated for heat illness symptoms in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 75 percent of those were football players.

Heat illness is still poorly understood, but the management of conditions like this makes it a fixable issue. For less than $20, a team could have the materials needed to keep an athlete from significant problems due to heat illness, including brain damage and death. While some programs are beginning to use ice baths for competitive and recovery reasons, they could be lifesavers.

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Getty Images

NFL training camps are underway, and as the season inches closer, injury reports are becoming clearer with the help of the physically unable to perform (PUP) lists.

While the regular season does not kick off for well over a month, some players already face extended absences from the playing field in 2014. Others, though, are speeding down the road to recovery and should take the field Week 1.

Let's take a look around the league at the latest updates as of early Saturday morning. Please note that due to the sheer volume of injuries throughout the NFL, this list is not comprehensive.

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Getty Images

Brady Aiken will go down as one of the most intriguing draft stories in the history of the MLB, no matter how it goes. Like most draft picks, it will be years before we know whether the Houston Astros missed out on a top talent (or three) or whether they dodged a bullet.

Aiken's physical cost him an agreed-upon $6.5 million as he elected to walk away. That's confidence or folly, and no one knows which.

The reason, however, is known. Aiken was found in the physical to have a smaller-than-normal UCL. That's the ligament that would be replaced in Tommy John surgery.

Many compared Aiken's situation to that of R.A. Dickey, who lost a bonus when he was discovered to have no UCL at all. The situation is different; it's not apples to apples, it's apples to no apples.

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Getty Images

Offseason injury news throughout the NFL often comes in bits and pieces, based more on media reports and press conferences rather than official injury lists. As such, fans might sometimes be left wondering which injuries are troublesome and which aren't.

In other words, a particular player's prognosis might remain a bit of a mystery for quite some time.

Sometimes, though, it's painfully clear—literally. During the early portion of the 2014 offseason, a number of serious or season-ending injuries dotted the NFL landscape.

With training camps opening soon, let's take a look at five of the most damaging injuries that took place this offseason, ranked from least to most concerning based on a rough composite of injury severity and potential impact if the injury on the player's respective NFL squad.

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USA Today

There's seldom good news when a player is ruled out for the rest of the season. For CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees, there's actually very good news in the announcement that he'll miss the remainder of the 2014 season due to impending knee surgery, as noted by Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.

Sabathia has been out since mid-May with knee problems. He made a rehab start and had a setback. Instead of heading back to Dr. James Andrews, Sabathia checked in with several surgeons, leading many to expect Sabathia to have microfracture surgery. Instead, the Yankees announced that Sabathia will have an articular cartilage debridement, which is a cleanup and smoothing. This type of procedure is far less problematic than microfracture

Sabathia saw several surgeons, but when it was announced he was seeing doctors that did not specialize in microfracture, such as Dr. Dick Steadman, who pioneered the procedure, there was some hope. After seeing Yankees team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad and Rangers physician Dr. Keith Meister, Sabathia chose to go with Dr. Neal ElAttrache

All are qualified surgeons, but ElAttrache has a great track record with knees. One of ElAttrache's best known cases is not in baseball, but the return of Tom Brady after an ACL reconstruction is one of the best results we've seen. ElAttrache also put Zack Greinke's collarbone back together aggressively, getting him back on the mound quickly, and repaired Kobe Bryant's ruptured Achilles.

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Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

Last month, New York Giants linebacker Jon Beason went down with a foot injury—specifically, a sesamoid bone fracture and a torn ligament in his foot. NFL Network's Kimberly Jones and New York Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano reported the extent of Beason's injury the day after it occurred.

Both Jones and Vacchiano cited sources who believed the linebacker would need surgery—or likely would, at least. However, Giants writer Michael Eisen later reported that foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson—the same surgeon who performed quarterback Eli Manning's arthroscopic ankle surgery—recommended a conservative approach of rest and immobilization.

To make better sense of Beason's diagnosis—and prognosis—it helps to take a closer look at the underlying anatomy of the injury. After all, the last time anyone sang the "hip bone's connected to the leg bone" song, the sesamoid probably didn't come up.

Multiple sesamoid bones—a general term for a bone lying within a muscle tendon—exist in the body. Beason's case involves one in his foot—specifically, under the base of his big toe.

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AP Images

This is the All-Star team of sports medicine. After consultation with people around the world of baseball and sports medicine, I've compiled a list of 10 "Super Surgeons."

This is my version of this kind of list, and I believe it remains important. The fact is that while these 10 physicians are stars in the sports medicine world, they are largely unknown to sports fans. While we all worry about the epidemic of arm injuries in baseball, it's ironic that we know so little about the men who attempt to heal those same injuries.

While many would recognize the name Dr. James Andrews, few know how he got to where he is. Did you know his athletic background is not in baseball or football, but track and field? (He was a pole vaulter.) Do most super surgeons come from the same background or top medical schools? Not at all. 

Their stories are as individual as the athletes they help. Most played sports and came to love them, but topped out and found a new way to keep their passion for competition alive after medical school. (That's a pretty good plan B, after all.) All are exceptionally qualified and passionate about their profession. They are athletes and most are younger than expected.