Training camp injuries: Which season-ending ailment will have most impact?
It has been a brutal start to training camps across the NFL, with at least 10 players already down for the count with season-ending injuries. That’s on top of the usual list of bumps and bruises, which currently includes a troublesome foot for Buffalo’s Mario Williams, a mild ankle issue for Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert and plenty of other knocks.
And we are not even counting players like Percy Harvin, Michael Crabtree or Arian Foster, all of whom were hurt before camp opened.
So, which of the major camp injuries will set teams the furthest back in 2013?
8. Aaron Berry, CB, Jets (knee): New York was not counting on much from Berry, who also finished 2012 on injured reserve. This is actually his third trip to the I.R. — he landed there in 2010, too, while with Detroit. Berry’s uninspiring career also has included multiple arrests, so this could be close to the end of the line for him.
7. Darius Fleming, LB, 49ers (knee); Jonas Mouton, LB, Chargers (knee); Keenan Robinson, LB, Redskins (pectoral): A trio of depth players who have been unable to stay healthy. Fleming has yet to make it out of camp, having torn his ACL for the second consecutive summer.
Both Mouton and Robinson played sparingly in 2012, but Robinson tore his right pectoral late in the year (he injured his left pec this time around) and Mouton sat out all of 2011 with a shoulder injury. All of these players would have been fighting for snaps, both on defense and special teams.
6. Armon Binns, WR, Dolphins (knee): Word out of Miami was that Binns excelled during OTAs and minicamp, giving himself a chance to swipe some snaps from Brandon Gibson. Instead, the 23-year-old Binns will spend the year on I.R. before becoming an exclusive-rights free agent before 2014.
Binns caught six passes for the Dolphins late last season after Miami claimed him off waivers from Cincinnati. He had 18 grabs in seven games with the Bengals.
5. Jason Phillips, LB, Eagles (knee): The second Eagle to fall with a season-ending knee injury in about a 48-hour span from Saturday to Monday, Phillips, unsurprisingly, carried the label of being a bit injury-prone when Philadelphia signed him in March (he also landed on the I.R. in 2011).
He still had a chance to chip in at linebacker in the Eagles’ 3-4 defense, behind starting inside linebackers Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans.
4. Tyrone Crawford, DE, Cowboys (Achilles): A third-round pick in last year’s draft, Crawford saw more than 300 snaps during his rookie season. The Cowboys were counting on him at DE this year, too, as help for Anthony Spencer at left end in the team’s new 4-3 scheme.
This one could sting well into the regular season if the Cowboys cannot discover some additional depth on the edge. Spencer’s also out right now, following knee surgery, but he’s expected back before the start of the regular season.
Even so, Crawford’s absence leaves Spencer, DeMarcus Ware, backup Kyle Wilber (an OLB in the Cowboys’ 3-4) … and not much else at defensive end.
3. Dan Koppen, C, Broncos (knee): That’s two centers down for the Broncos, who only re-signed Koppen after projected starter J.D. Walton needed another surgery on the ankle that he fractured way back in Week 4 last season. For now, Denver has shifted Manny Ramirez to center, though another veteran could be added to the mix before long.
2. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles (knee): Maybe Chip Kelly can gameplan around the loss of Maclin or someone like Riley Cooper will be a breakthrough star. The more likely reality is that the Eagles will be unable to replace their talented receiver, who was ticketed for a key role in Philadelphia’s new (and improved?) offense.
Aside from DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant, the Eagles do not have any receivers that have proven themselves to be consistent NFL producers. Worse yet for Maclin, his injury came at the onset of a contract year, meaning he’ll hit free agency off the heels of a lost season.
1. Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens (hip): Joe Flacco’s best friend on the Ravens and possibly his No. 1 target in the passing game this season, Pitta appeared to be on the verge of joining the NFL’s group of elite tight ends. His loss is twice as painful for Baltimore because the team opted to trade Anquan Boldin to San Francisco this offseason in a salary cap-related move, thus depriving Flacco of another reliable weapon.
Pitta would have been used in a number of ways within Baltimore’s offense this season, from blocking in front of Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce to splitting out in the slot on passing downs. He did all that and more en route to 61 catches last season.
Like Jackson, Pitta’s also set to be a free agent after the 2013 season. Both players may have to settle for one-year deals, before trying to cash in, in 2014.