Wes Welker, Willis McGahee and the NFL's 10 Best Injury Comebacks

Clay DefayetteCorrespondent IIINovember 28, 2011

Wes Welker, Willis McGahee and the NFL's 10 Best Injury Comebacks

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    The NFL is a game of injuries more than any other sport. Like it or not, coping with pain helps separate the good from the great much of the time.

    It's still very likely these players will feel the pain long into retirement, but they are playing well as of now.

    The list includes some gruesome injuries we've seen live, while others have had to deal with consistent nicks and bumps.

    The rankings only involve current players in the league.

10. Rob Gronkowski

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    I'm not talking about the fact that New England tight end Rob Gronkowski seems to get hit brutally hard at least once every single game.

    Gronkowski missed the entire 2009 college season while at Arizona due to back surgery. The procedure was serious and being a 6'6" target who's vulnerable to massive hits—to say the least—shouldn't help his case.

    There's no way Gronkowski continues his current playing style without missing games, but the Patriots will take it.

9. Marques Colston

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    Marques Colston has a tight end's frame at 6'4" and 225 pounds, which helps explain why he leaves himself vulnerable to hits—that and the jump balls he and Drew Brees connect on.

    Colston keeps coming back from injuries and he doesn't seem to miss too many games. It doesn't matter if he gets a serious knee or back injury, Colston is a gamer.

8. Wes Welker

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    Many skill position players have come back from torn ACLs but they haven't done it to the level of Wes Welker.

    Welker's game isn't built on speed but rather sharp cuts through the middle of the field. Knee stability is key when making defenders look stupid with juke moves like the Patriots' 5'9" receiver has.

    Hey, Welker is now burning people deep, as seen by his touchdowns in Weeks 1 and 11. 

7. Kenny Phillips

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    Kenny Phillips has been a decent first-round pick out of Miami for the Giants when he's been on the field. His career was seriously threatened and still may be cut short.

    Phillips has a condition called patellofemoral arthritis in his left knee and the ailment required surgery in 2009. It took him a while to get back on the field, but he's starting again, playing well for an alright New York secondary.

6. Anquan Boldin

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    Baltimore fans will never see Anquan Boldin perform on the same level as he did in his early years for Arizona, but he still provides a good option for Flacco when Baltimore needs tough yards.

    Having 40-plus screws inserted into your face is insane. Good luck downing food anytime soon.

    Boldin, being the beast he is, came back three weeks later.

    Add in the fact that Boldin is putting up numbers like he always has, and he's sure to make the countdown.

5. Jermaine Gresham

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    The 2010 first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals overcame a few obstacles to be selected where he was.

    Jermaine Gresham tore his left ACL his senior season in high school playing basketball and then tore his right ACL early in his senior campaign at the University of Oklahoma.

    It's extremely difficult for big guys to regain their previous form when it comes to knee injuries like this.

    While Gresham is still developing as a player in the NFL, the consistent progression can be seen and he's contributing to a surprising 7-4 Cincinnati Bengals squad.

4. Leon Washington

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    Leon Washington's compound leg fracture couldn't have come at a worse time. Not only was the then-Jets running back having a good day in Oakland, but he was also in his contract year. 

    The handoff to the left saw a devastating injury that left him with hard feelings towards the Jets' organization, but he's rebounded nicely in Seattle.

    Washington is back to being a dual threat, returning kicks and punts while getting a few carries.

3. D'Qwell Jackson

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    Not enough people know about Cleveland's middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson but to their defense, it's hard to sit through a Browns' game.

    The former Maryland Terrapin has 100 total tackles on the year, which is impressive adding in the fact that Jackson only played six games the past two seasons.

    He first tore his pectoral muscle in 2009 and then he blew out his other pectoral six games into 2010 when he was leading the Browns in tackles.

    What makes this a "comeback" is that Jackson led the NFL in tackles in just his third season.

2. E.J. Henderson

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    E.J. Henderson, middle linebacker for the Vikings, isn't the best in coverage nor has he ever been pre-injury, but coming back from the broken left femur he sustained is amazing.

    The 2011 Pro Bowl saw Henderson make it to Miami. That accomplishment alone is enough to make the list.

1. Willis McGahee

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    The 2002 Fiesta Bowl saw this terrible injury. It's even worse tearing three knee ligaments in college because of no financial security, but Willis McGahee recovered and he's now toting the ball in the backfield for the Denver Broncos.

    The leg simply isn't made to bend like that.