Wednesday August 24th, 2011

The Giants lost a potential breakout player in Terrell Thomas to a torn ACL, but they're hardly the only team to have a tough offseason. (AP)

The consensus heading into the NFL preseason was that the injury tally would be higher due to the lockout. What we didn't know is that all of those injuries would befall the Giants' defense.

New York lost Terrell Thomas, Brian Witherspoon and Marvin Austin for the season after the trio suffered injuries during Monday's preseason game against the Bears. That's on the heels of first-round pick Prince Amukamara breaking his foot and backup cornerback Bruce Johnson tearing his Achilles.

Concern about the Giants was already high in the Big Apple as August rolled in, because they more or less stood pat this offseason while the Eagles dominated the free agent market (N.Y. losing Steve Smith to those Eagles, and Kevin Boss to the Raiders, didn't help). The Giants missed the playoffs last season after finishing 10-6 but didn't make any major upgrades beyond keeping in-house talent around.

Now, just two weeks before the regular season, they're scrambling to piece together a healthy defense.

They're not alone in their frustration, though. Here's a look at six other teams suffering through the worst offseasons so far:

Minnesota Vikings: If you want to play the glass-half-full card with Minnesota, go right ahead. Adrian Peterson's still there, the defensive front four can still get after it like few groups in the league and Donovan McNabb's arrival could lend some stability to a QB situation that saw Brett Favre and Tarvaris Jackson make a mess of things last year.

But the Vikings finished 6-10 last season and lost Jackson, Sidney Rice, Ray Edwards, Ben Leber, Frank Walker, Madieu Williams and even overweight Bryant McKinnie to other teams. Making matters worse? Minnesota has to deal with a division that hosts the defending Super Bowl champion Packers, a sturdy Bears group and the upward-trending Lions.

Plus, there are injuries already -- potential starting right guard Scott Kooistra was placed on injured reserve with a neck injury, and big DT Kevin Williams had to visit a foot specialist.

There are always high hopes in Minnesota, but it'll be hard to reach them this year.

Tennessee Titans: No matter what happened, this was going to be a trying transition period for the Titans, given the departure of head coach Jeff Fisher after 17 years.

The issue still looming here is Chris Johnson's status. The superstar running back has been holding out in search of a more lucrative contract. He's scheduled to meet with the Titans' brass Wednesday, but if no progress is made there, Tennessee faces the possibility of entering the season without its best player.

The Titans also played it close to the vest in free agency, nibbling here and there but not taking any big bites, aside from handing fading veteran Matt Hasselbeck a three-year, $20-million deal to start while rookie Jake Locker matures. Hasselbeck's a great locker room presence and a battler, but neither he nor any of the Titans' other acquisitions look like game-changers in a tough division.

Speaking of which ...

Indianapolis Colts: Look, the Colts are going to be in the postseason (and possibly Super Bowl) mix if Peyton Manning can come back 100 percent from offseason neck surgery.

There are growing concerns that will happen by Week 1 -- the Colts signing Kerry Collins Wednesday could be a bad sign -- and this preseason has just further proven that this team isn't all that good without Manning. Sure, preseason results are meaningless, but the Colts have been outscored by a combined 49-13 in two games and looked totally impotent on offense.

The regular season may still be a great one for the Colts, but they must be seeing their lives flash before their eyes with Manning on the sideline.

Oakland Raiders: Taking Terrelle Pryor in the supplemental draft could either be a stroke of genius or the icing on the cake of a disappointing offseason in Raider Nation.

The Raiders are coming off an 8-8 season -- their first at .500 or better since going 11-5 in 2002. This should have been an offseason to load up to try to keep that momentum going forward.

Instead, they got rid of controversial head coach Tom Cable, then watched all-world cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and leading receiver Zach Miller depart via free agency. Oh, and they can't play the 49ers in the preseason anymore, because the two franchises' fans turned last week's game into a bloody, violence-marred debacle.

Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer told the Bengals he'd retire if they didn't trade him. Cincinnati refused to budge and Palmer, while not officially retired, has shown no signs of giving in.

The good news is that the Bengals drafted Andy Dalton and can start him at QB. Right? Not so fast -- in two preseason games, Dalton's thrown no touchdowns and three interceptions, and generally looked like he'll need some time before he's ready to produce at the NFL level.

Unfortunately for the Bengals, their other QB options are Bruce Gradkowski and Jordan Palmer, Carson's less-talented brother. It's no wonder, then, that free-agent CB Johnathan Joseph bailed in free agency.

Cincinnati went 4-12 last year. It looks even worse on paper this season.

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins tried and tried and tried to wriggle Kyle Orton out of Denver via trade. Just as training camp opened, all those efforts fell apart -- Orton's since been named the No. 1 QB in Denver.

Meanwhile, back in Miami, the onus fell on highly criticized quarterback Chad Henne, who saw pretty clearly what his franchise thought of him. He was greeted at camp by booing fans and chants of "We Want Orton," which led coach Tony Sparano to chastise the Dolphins faithful. As it stands now, Henne's still the guy at QB, while Reggie Bush is supposed to handle an every-down load at running back, something the oft-injured player has never done (meanwhile, second-round RB Daniel Thomas has  disappointed thus far). Tuesday's signing of Larry Johnson won't put Miami over the top.

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