I can’t remember the last time there were so many devastating injuries in the NFL preseason. With all the talk over the past few years of extending the regular season to 18 games, this was a year that the conversation popped up even more. To see key guys go down in a game that doesn’t matter, let alone week 3 or 4 when starters don’t play much, it’s something to consider.
One of the most glaring cases of keeping in a key guy too long came in week 3. Mark Sanchez has been the New York Jets starting Quarterback for the past four seasons, for better and for worse. Entering his 5th year, their was a question of whether he’d get the call, or if this years 2nd round pick out of West Virginia, Geno Smith would get the nod to start the 2013 season. Smith started the game against the Giants, and three picks and took a safety. He was taken out after 3, and that’s when Head coach Rex Ryan put in his possible starter in the 4th. And then the injury bug struck. Sanchez went down hard on his shoulder, and now is doubtful week 1. Ryan took a lot of flack for the move, and provided no explanation as to why he would put Sanchez in at all, let alone so late in the contest. Smith also suffered an ankle injury in the preseason, but of showed no ill-effects in game 3 or 4.
The Jets also lost outside linebacker Quinton Coples to an ankle injury, but is hopeful to be back no later than week 2.
With the season set to start on Thursday with the Ravens/Broncos, there’s still no word who will get the start for the Jets when they open up Sunday against Tampa Bay.
The Jets weren’t the only team in New York to have a troubling preseason. Their MetLife roommates went just 1-3 and lost a few key pieces. The Giants are looking to rebound from a second half collapse, causing them to miss the playoffs a year after winning the Superbowl.
Their first big injury came week 1, when starting RT David Diehl broke his hand (he’ll be out at least 6 weeks). It marks the first time Diehl wont be starting for New York since 2002. The injury forced a shuffle on the offensive line, and means 1st round pick Justin Pugh will get a chance to start right away. Diehl wasn’t the only causality, WR Victor Cruz hurt his heel in game 2, and he was unable to go the rest of the preseason. He remains questionable for the opener in Dallas.
Then in week 3, Big Blue lost second year Free-Safety Stevie Brown to a torn ACL, who led them in interceptions in his rookie year. Then in their finale with the Patriots, backup running back Andre Brown, who fractured his leg (the same injury that forced him to miss the finale month of last year).
New York teams weren’t alone in needing to reshuffle and rethink starting spots. The Giants division foes, the Philadelphia Eagles, lost 3 players to ACL injuries in training camp alone. While the dolphins lost former jets TE Dustin Keller for the year. Dallas couldn’t escape without some minor injuries. Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff hurt his hammy, while end Anthony Spencer underwent knee surgery. Both could suit up against New York week 1. Guard Nate Givings also underwent knee surgery and is questionable for the opener.
And up in buffalo, the bills had to go 3 deep for their starting QB after 1st round pick EJ Manuel and Kevin Kolb went down. Undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel should get the ball in week 1, though Manuel did return to practice Sunday and could still get the start. Kolb suffered a concussion, something he’s dealt with since entering league. This time around, the concussion could be career ending. The pats released TE Aaron Hernandez after murder charges surfaced, and were possibly going to place their other star TE Rob Gronkowski on the PUP list, but Gronk was placed on the active roster, meaning the Pats feel he’ll be ready before week 6.
Year after year the Jacksonville Jaguars find themselves at the bottom of the league, and losing their starting QB won’t help them this year. Third-year starter Blaine Gabbart fractured his thumb in week 2 and didn’t play in weeks 3 or 4. While the injury didn’t require surgery, as a Jags fan, you have to hope the injury doesn’t linger, as the thumb plays a key role in accuracy.
Perennial powerhouse Green Bay suffered a blow on the offensive line, losing tackle Bryan Bulga for the season to a torn ACL.
The Saints lost two pieces on a defense which looks to bounce back from a dreadful 2012. Defensive End Kenyon Coleman torn his pectoral muscle and Outside Linebacker Victor Butler was another victim of a torn ACL. Both are out for the year.
San Diego got hit a Wide-Receiver losing Denario Alexander for the year and Malcolm Floyd is week-to-week with a knee strain. Linebacker Melvin Ingram out the year with an ACL.
The Seahawks, a Superbowl favorite for many, lost off-season acquisition Percy Harvin due to hip surgery for at least the first six weeks of the season.
Baltimore saw two tight-ends go down in the preseason. The reigning Superbowl champs lost Dennis Pitta to a dislocated and fractured hip, and could return sometime in the second half of the season. Ed Dickson injured his hamstring but could play week 1.
The 49ers fell to the Ravens in last years Superbowl, and will be without wide-out Michael Crabtree and cornerback Chris Culliver as they look to get back to the big game.
Final rosters were cut down to 53 on Saturday and there were many notable names.
QBs: David Carr (NYG), Vince Young (GB), Greg McElroy (NYJ), John Skelton (CIN), Dennis Dixon (PHI), Brady Quinn (SEA), Matt Leinart (BUF), Jimmy Clausen (CAR) and Tim Tebow (NE)
RBs: Jonathan Dwyer (PIT), Bob Rainey and Delon Carter(BAL), Ryan Torain (NYG), Leon Washington (NE)
WRs: Austin Collie (SF), Robert Meachem (SD), David Gettis (CAR), Jordan Shipley (JAC)
CBs: Antonie Windfield (SEA) , Marcus Troufant (JAC)
TEs: Tony Moeaki (KAN), DJ Williams (GB), Clay Harbor (PHI), Jake Ballard (NE)
Ks: Dan Carpenter (NYJ), Shayne Graham (CLE)
OTs: Michael Bamiro (PHI)