5 Medical Red Flags Keeping NFL Teams on Edge This Offseason

Brandon Alisoglu@@BrandonAlisogluCorrespondent IJune 8, 2013

5 Medical Red Flags Keeping NFL Teams on Edge This Offseason

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    Injuries have an impact on every NFL season, but ailments don't limit themselves to September through February. There are already hurting players who have fans on edge.

    You can tell yourself that everything will be fine because kickoff isn't for a few months. But losing a star player in June can hurt just as badly as in October.

    Granted, not every player on this list is out for the season. On the contrary, many, if not all, will be back on the field at some point this year.

    Yet that doesn't mean there aren't concerns about the recovery timetable, or whether each player's production will be able to match the pre-injury output.

    So click through to find out which five players are causing an anxious flop sweat that isn’t due to the summer heat.

Rob Gronkowski

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    Rob Gronkowski has become known for three things: domination, partying and, unfortunately, injuries.

    He coasted through his first two regular seasons without missing any time, then things started to unravel a bit in the 2012 AFC Championship Game. During the second half, he endured an ankle injury that severely hampered him in the Super Bowl. That same injury would later require surgery.

    Gronkowski only played 11 games last season after breaking his forearm against the Indianapolis Colts. He returned for the season finale and then played against the Houston Texans in the playoffs, only to break the same forearm again. It's funny that no one seems to remember that the initial injury occurred late in the fourth quarter of a blowout. 

    Anyways, that same forearm still hasn't healed, as an infection required further operations.

    Oh, and just for good measure, there is an impending back surgery. Anyone who has had back problems can explain to you that they seem to return whenever they feel like it. Drew Rosenhaus, as quoted by ESPN, described the surgery as "preventative."

    How many people do you know who have had "preventative" back surgery? Exactly.

    The New England Patriots have played well in Gronkowski's absence in the past. But don't delude yourself into believing that they'll be fine without their best playmaker. 

Jason Pierre-Paul

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    Osi Umenyiora wanted to get paid, so he's gone. That leaves the onus on Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul if the New York Giants are going to restart their Super Bowl-worthy pass rush.

    Unfortunately, the likelihood of JPP running out with the starting defense for the season opener has taken a hit.

    Hopefully, his recent back surgery will be just what JPP needs to regain his former form. The fourth-year defensive end suffered through last season, and it showed on the field, as he accrued an underwhelming 6.5 sacks.

    But if there are any complications, things could turn ugly.

    Cullen Jenkins and Linval Joseph are capable of providing a respectable push in the middle, but the Giants will be relying on either Mathias Kiwanuka or rookie Damontre Moore to close the deal on the outside. That's not an enticing situation.

DeMarco Murray

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    Out of all of the players on this list, DeMarco Murray's injury is likely the least troubling. 

    However, out of all of the players on this list, Murray's track record for durability is likely the most troubling.

    In the past two seasons, Murray has missed nine games due to ankle and foot injuries. While he did return to OTAs last week, concern has to be rising.

    While it's not uncommon for players to miss practice due to hamstring issues, the hint of an injury for the Dallas Cowboys' featured back is cause for concern.

Darrelle Revis

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    Darrelle Revis' situation is the polar opposite of DeMarco Murray's. Until last year, when Revis injured his ACL in the second week, he had only missed three games in five years. Thus, his durability had never been a concern.

    However, the Dallas Cowboys didn't give up a first-round pick and either a third- or fourth-rounder for Murray. Nor did they give $96 million to a player coming off of such a concerning injury.

    The contract may be completely voidable, but it belies the importance of Revis to the team.

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expecting Revis to shut down half of the field as he did in the past. They're counting on him to elevate a secondary that gave up the most yards in the league last year.

    Revis believes he'll be ready come September 8. Here's hoping that his recovery isn't just quick, but complete. 

Michael Crabtree

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    No player on the San Francisco 49ers caught half as many passes as Michael Crabtree did last year. He and second-year starter Colin Kaepernick developed a chemistry that the Niners rode all the way to the Super Bowl.

    Unfortunately, when and if those two will be able to connect again in 2013 is unknown after Crabtree's Achilles tear. The injury requires a long recovery that will likely sideline the receiver until late in the season.

    The addition of Anquan Boldin eases the pain, but the rest of the receiving corps is filled with questions. Mario Manningham is coming back from an injury and only had one touchdown in 12 games last year. A.J. Jenkins rarely saw the field in his rookie campaign, and Kyle Williams has 35 receptions in three years.

    The kicker is that Crabtree was developing into a force. Hopefully, the missed time won't have a negative effect on that development.  


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