The Complete 2013 NFL Preseason Injury Recap

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In the preseason, any qualitative analysis of a game — or even a practice — will hopefully begin with one sentence: “No one got hurt.” Training camp and the month of faux games in the leadup to the regular season are useful for teams with new coaching staffs or a significant turnover in personnel, but even for them, the most important aspect of August is getting through it with the roster intact. The more significant training camp injuries began with Dennis Pitta and Jeremy Maclin, and they haven’t slowed. Nearly every team has one or more players likely to miss at least some of the regular season, and this time of year, it can get a little tough to keep track of who’s lost whom.

Whether it be for your fantasy draft or just your preseason research, we’ve compiled a list of who is still nagged with injuries and how each team plans to deal with them. These are exclusively starters (or de facto starters, like third defensive ends or nickel corners), and the list excludes players with injuries that you know about (Rob Gronkowski, on the PUP list, likely to be back a few weeks into the season; Ed Reed, likely to be back by Week 1).

Atlanta Falcons

Player: Mike Johnson, RT
Injury: Dislocated left ankle, broken fibula
Prognosis: Out for season
What it means: With Tyson Clabo now in Miami, Johnson, a fourth-year player from Alabama, was in the mix to be the Falcons’ starting right tackle. Johnson’s injury means Lamar Holmes, taken in the third round last season out of Southern Mississippi, is now working with the starters. The offensive line continues to be a major (really, the only) area of concern for the Falcons’ offense.

Baltimore Ravens

Player: Dennis Pitta, TE
Injury: Dislocated and fractured right hip
Prognosis: Out indefinitely (though maybe not for the full season)
What it means: Pitta is seeking another opinion about his hip, one that may mean a course of action that won’t keep him from missing the entire year. Either way, though, Pitta will miss most of the season. The solution would’ve been to slide Ed Dickson, someone who’s seen plenty of action with the Ravens in the past, into the starting role, but Dickson is also out for the time being. It’s unlikely that he’ll be ready for Week 1 because of a hamstring issue, and Baltimore has responded by bringing in Dallas Clark and Visanthe Shiancoe to compete at tight end. Without Anquan Boldin, Pitta was likely going to be an even more important part of the Ravens’ offense than he’s ever been, a reliable third-down target for Joe Flacco. Now, Baltimore will have to look elsewhere for a complement to Torrey Smith.

Player: Ed Dickson, TE
Injury: Hamstring
Prognosis: Likely out until at least Week 1
What it means: See above.

Chicago Bears

Player: Kelvin Hayden, CB
Injury: Torn hamstring
Prognosis: Out for season
What it means: The 30-year-old corner was slotted as the Bears’ starting nickelback, but his injury means that Isaiah Frey, taken in the sixth round last season out of Nevada, will likely slide into the role. Frey has been a bright spot in Bears training camp, but he spent most of last season on the practice squad.

Dallas Cowboys

Player: Jay Ratliff, DT
Injury: Hamstring
Prognosis: Likely ready for Week 1
What it means: Ratliff is on the list more as a heads-up than anything. Jerry Jones and the Cowboys’ coaching staff have said over and over they expect Ratliff to ready for Week 1, and really, he’d better be. Dallas has no depth behind Ratliff and Jason Hatcher (both very good players) at defensive tackle.

Player: Anthony Spencer, DE
Injury: Knee surgery
Prognosis: Likely ready for Week 1
What it means: The situation is similar for Spencer and the Cowboys defensive ends. The former first-round pick, whom the Cowboys franchised this offseason, underwent knee surgery earlier this summer, but he should be ready for the season opener.

Player: Nate Livings, G
Injury: Knee surgery
Prognosis: Questionable for Week 1
What it means: Livings’s knee has been bothering him all offseason, and the Cowboys’ starting left guard had yet another surgery on it earlier this month. The timetable at that point was two to four weeks, so it’s possible that he’ll be ready for Week 1, but it’s not a guarantee. What compounds the problem is that several players further down the depth chart on Dallas’s offensive line are dealing with their own injury issues. The job would’ve fallen to Ronald Leary, in his second year out of Memphis. But yesterday, it was announced that he needed surgery. That leaves third-year pro David Arkin, who’s yet to play in a game. The Cowboys tried to bring in former Jets guard Brandon Moore, the best player available in free agency at any position, but Moore elected to retire.

Denver Broncos

Player: J.D. Walton, C
Injury: Complications from ankle surgery
Prognosis: On PUP list, out indefinitely
What it means: Walton underwent ankle surgery in June, and the best-case scenario is that he’ll be back with the Broncos in late October or early November. Denver signed former Patriot Dan Koppen as a temporary replacement, but then he went down with a torn ACL. The Broncos are now on their third center, Manny Ramirez, and if Walton hits any snags as he rehabs, Ramirez may be the guy all season.

Green Bay Packers

Player: Bryan Bulaga, T
Injury: Torn ACL
Prognosis: Out for season
What it means: In an effort to better protect Aaron Rodgers, the Packers flipped the sides of their offensive line this offseason, moving former first-round pick Bryan Bulaga and Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton to the left side. Now, Bulaga is done for the year, and David Bakhtiari, a rookie fourth-round pick from Colorado, has taken over as the team’s left tackle. Green Bay seems pleased with his progress, but overall, the situation is yet another blow to the Packers’ offensive line. Former first-round pick Derek Sherrod still hasn’t returned from a broken leg he suffered at the end of the 2011 season, and Marshall Newhouse, whom Bakhtiari was slated to replace eventually, was moved to the right side for a reason.

Player: Jordy Nelson, WR
Injury: Knee surgery
Prognosis: Likely for Week 1
What it means: Nelson warrants inclusion on this list mostly because he hasn’t been able to stay healthy since arriving in Green Bay. Apparently this latest surgery, which happened earlier this month, was to correct a nerve issue that has bothered Nelson his entire career. He should be ready by Week 1, according to Mike McCarthy, but even if he isn’t, Green Bay has shown it can get by.

Player: Jerel Worthy, DT
Injury: Torn ACL
Prognosis: On PUP list, doubtful for Week 1
What it means: Worthy is another high Packers draft pick (second round in 2012) who may not be a factor this year because of injuries. Worthy tore his ACL in Week 17 last season, and it’s unlikely he’ll be ready for the start of the season. Worthy figured to be a backup even if healthy, with Datone Jones, Ryan Pickett, and B.J. Raji making up the starting defensive line for Green Bay.

Player: Casey Hayward, CB
Injury: Hamstring
Prognosis: Week to week
What it means: Hayward, who came on the scene as a rookie last year and may have been the best slot corner in the league, has missed all of training camp with a hamstring issue. The Packers are hopeful that Hayward will be ready for Week 1, but what originally seemed like a minor concern is now becoming more serious.

Houston Texans

Player: Wade Smith, G
Injury: Knee surgery
Prognosis: “Undetermined amount of time” (which always turns out well)
What it means: Smith, who along with Duane Brown made up one of the best left sides of an offensive line in the NFL last year, underwent knee surgery earlier this week and will be out presumably past the start of the season. The concern for the Texans is that the right side of their line last season struggled at times, with players being rotated in and out as the coaching staff searched for the right combination. Ben Jones, who lost the starting right guard job to Brandon Brooks this offseason, will fill in for Smith.

New Orleans Saints

Player: Kenyon Coleman, DE
Injury: Pectoral tear
Prognosis: Out for season
What it means: Coleman had been working as the starter in the Saints’ new 3-4 defense before tearing his pectoral muscle a couple weeks ago, and with him out, it looks like Akiem Hicks, who played his collegiate career in Canada after recruiting violations made him ineligible to play at LSU, will be the starter.

Player: Victor Butler, OLB
Injury: Torn ACL
Prognosis: Out for season
What it means: Butler was the first injury victim of the offseason, tearing his ACL during OTAs. Losing him is a significant loss for New Orleans mostly because Butler figured to play a large role in the Saints’ transition to Rob Ryan’s defense. Butler, who played for Ryan in Dallas, likely would’ve been the starter at outside linebacker, and without him, New Orleans is thin at its pass-rushing spots. Junior Galette, the starter on the other side, will be left to carry a lot of that load.

Oakland Raiders

Player: Jared Veldheer, T
Injury: Partially torn triceps
Prognosis: Out indefinitely
What it means: The Raiders’ promising left tackle, entering his third year as the starter, tore his triceps earlier this week. At first, it was unclear whether the partial tear would require surgery, but Veldheer elected to have the procedure, and the recovery time is reportedly about three months. Alex Barron, a former Rams first-round pick who’s had an NFL career that I’d best describe as “rough,” now has a chance to slide into the starting role. Barron hasn’t played an NFL game in two full seasons. Losing Veldheer means that the Raiders are without probably their best player — on either side of the ball. A former third-round pick out of Division II Hillsdale College, the 6-foot-8 Veldheer had developed into a very good player, and without him, the Raiders’ outlook is even bleaker than it was before.

Philadelphia Eagles

Player: Jeremy Maclin, WR
Injury: Torn ACL
Prognosis: Out for season
What it means: Replacing Maclin will likely be Riley Cooper, who’s had an unfortunate training camp in an entirely different way. The Eagles will undoubtedly miss Maclin, who’s had at least 850 receiving yards in each of his past three seasons, but as Bill Barnwell noted when the injury happened, the worst part for Maclin is that he was entering a contract year. A member of the 2009 wide receiver class that included Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Crabtree, Kenny Britt, Percy Harvin, and Hakeem Nicks, Maclin was in the final year of his rookie deal and was needing a big season as he moved on to his second contract. This isn’t Maclin’s first ACL injury — he suffered one before his freshman season at Missouri — and it’s likely a team could find a bargain in free agency next year if Maclin comes back healthy.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Player: Matt Spaeth, TE
Injury: Foot surgery
Prognosis: Out indefinitely
What it means: Spaeth’s injury comes at an inopportune time for the Steelers because they were already thin at tight end. Heath Miller remains on the PUP list after tearing his ACL at the end of last season, and without Spaeth, Pittsburgh is down to 2012 second-round pick David Paulson. The reported plan is to take Miller off the PUP list before Week 1, but that only means Pittsburgh expects him to be ready before Week 7 (the first time a player who starts the season on the PUP list can play in a game or practice).

Player: Cortez Allen, CB
Injury: Knee surgery
Prognosis: Should be ready for Week 1
What it means: Allen is worth mentioning because he had a good 2012 season, and there’s little depth behind him at cornerback for the Steelers. He had what was described as a “minor” knee surgery earlier this month and should be ready for Week 1.

San Diego Chargers

Player: Danario Alexander, WR
Injury: Torn ACL
Prognosis: Out for season
What it means: Losing Alexander, who figured to be the team’s no. 1 receiver after putting together a great 10-week stretch last season, is significant for the Chargers, but personally, football matters less in this instance. This ACL tear is Alexander’s fourth — the previous three came during his time at Missouri — and it comes just as it looked like Alexander had finally caught on with a team and started to show off the endless potential he’s often displayed.

Player: Malcom Floyd, WR
Injury: Knee strain
Prognosis: Week to week
What it means: Just a few days after San Diego lost Alexander for the season, fellow starting wide receiver Malcom Floyd also went down. Originally, the Chargers feared that Floyd had suffered the same fate, but luckily, it was just a strain. He’ll miss the rest of the preseason, but Floyd will hopefully be back in the early weeks of the regular season. Across from Floyd when he does return will be Vincent Brown, who showed flashes in 2011 before missing a majority of 2012 with an injury of his own.

Player: Melvin Ingram, OLB
Injury: Torn ACL
Prognosis: Out for season
What it means: The Chargers’ first-round pick from a year ago suffered the first of the team’s three knee injuries when he tore his ACL very early in training camp. San Diego signed Dwight Freeney this offseason for pass-rushing help, and it will likely be Freeney and veteran Jarrett Johnson manning the outside linebacker spots for the Chargers.

Seattle Seahawks

Player: Percy Harvin, WR
Injury: Hip surgery
Prognosis: Out indefinitely
What it means: Seattle trading for Harvin was the biggest move any team made this offseason, but the scary part is that the Seahawks managed to finish first in weighted offensive DVOA last season without him. I was looking forward to seeing what an offense with Russell Wilson and Harvin would look like, but losing Harvin until at least late November doesn’t change all that much about Seattle’s outlook. He figured to be a special weapon, but the Seahawks still have the same offense that put up 50 points in two separate games down the stretch last season.

San Francisco 49ers

Player: Michael Crabtree, WR
Injury: Torn Achilles
Prognosis: Out indefinitely
What it means: The more significant wide receiver injury in the NFC West is in San Francisco. Crabtree, taken 10th overall in 2009, toiled for his first three and a half seasons with the 49ers, but when Colin Kaepernick took over in the middle of last season, we started to see the Crabtree San Francisco had been hoping for. His numbers with Kaepernick prorated over all of last season would have totalled 98 catches for more than 1,400 yards and 13 touchdowns. That’s an All-Pro player that the Niners will now be without. To make matters worse, Mario Manningham, who figured to start alongside the recently acquired Anquan Boldin in Crabtree’s absence, also won’t be ready to start the season, and last year’s first-round pick, A.J. Jenkins, has been something of a disaster during training camp after barely seeing the field a year ago.

Player: Chris Culliver, CB
Injury: Torn ACL
Prognosis: Out for season
What it means: The 49ers’ third corner, Culliver played on the outside in nickel situations for San Francisco a year ago, and without him, Perrish Cox and Nnamdi Asomugha will be left to vie for the role.

St. Louis Rams

Player: Rodger Saffold, T
Injury: Dislocated shoulder
Prognosis: Two weeks
What it means: Saffold should be back for the regular season, but his injury is worth mentioning mostly because he’s shifting to the right side this season to make room for Jake Long.

Washington Redskins

Player: Adam Carriker, DT
Injury: Quadriceps surgery
Prognosis: Out indefinitely
What it means: Carriker will likely be out for most of this season after a third surgery on his right quadriceps tendon since the beginning of last season. Carriker has played well for the Redskins since coming over from St. Louis, where many had considered him a failed first-round pick. But at this point, Washington is used to life without him. Elsewhere on the defense, rookie safety Phillip Thomas will also miss the season. Thomas was working with the starters while Brandon Merriweather works back from offseason surgery, but he was likely to be a backup when the regular season began.

Filed Under: NFL, Robert Mays

Robert Mays is a staff writer at Grantland.

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