NFL's All Injury-Prone Team
It is a dubious honor, but inevitably some players trip over themselves --- occasionally, literally --- on the way to the All Injury-Prone NFL team. Here they are, starting with Steve Smith, who fractured his left forearm while playing flag football on June 19. Despite often getting banged up, Smith still shows up and fights through his injuries for big numbers (except when he missing the 2004 season with a knee injury). He's expected to recover from his latest injury in time for the season opener.
The good news is Chad Pennington has won the Comeback Player Of The Year award. The bad news is he's won it twice. That says a lot about how often he's been hurt. Coming off shoulder surgery and a career of persistent shoulder injuries, Pennington's career clearly is reaching its end.
Is Marlin Jackson's career in jeopardy too? Coming off back-to-back seasons that ended with devastating knee injuries, Jackson signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the Eagles in March 2010. Just weeks later, he ruptured the Achilles tendon in his right foot, which could be a career-ender.
His nickname could just as well be, "When Healthy ..." When healthy, Shockey is among the best of the best. But a broken fibula in Week 15 and subsequent ill-will ended his Giants career in 2007. In 2008, he suffered a sports hernia injury. Last year, he was productive on the Saints' Super Bowl run, but oft-injured or hurting again.
We all know Ben Roethlisberger has big problems beyond the injuries that have haunted him throughout his career. Still, his list of injuries reads like a nursery rhyme -- head, shoulders, knees and toes. And thumb. And don't forget the appendicitis and motorcycle wreck. Hickory, dickory, dock ... Big Ben's in danger of falling apart.
For a player who's made such a name for himself nationally, Bob Sanders doesn't play much. He's been compared to Ronnie Lott. Yet entering his seventh NFL season, Sanders has played more than six regular-season games exactly TWICE. His latest flame-ups have been knee and elbow problems.
Matt Hasselbeck's bouts with injuries began in 2006 with the Seahawks, when he missed four games because of an MCL sprain suffered when Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson rolled into his leg. In his return against the Packers, Hasselbeck broke a finger in his non-throwing hand but did not miss any time, leading the Seahawks to the divisional round of the playoffs. He played in only seven games in 2008 after being diagnosed with a bulging disk in his back that also affected a nerve that weakened his leg. And last season, he was out for two games after fracturing two ribs against San Francisco.
It's pretty evident that for all the talent, Reggie Bush has been more dud than electrifying. He came in with a Heisman and a splash, but the burst and speed that defined his young career are diminished. He had microfracture surgery in January 2009 and battled an assortment of injuries last season, finishing with career lows in every major category.
The wear and tear clearly is catching up to Polamalu. After a spectacular start to the 2009 season, Polamalu suffered a knee injury that he later re-injured. The Steelers oft-injured stalwart himself has spoken of the next big knee problem perhaps being a career-ender.
After Michael Turner's explosive and productive 2008 season, the high ankle sprain that derailed his 2009 season is the kind of ailment that can linger. All reports are that he'll be fine, but the Falcons already are talking about limiting his carries. The big test will come in training camp, when Turner's knee must respond in back-to-back practices.
He is a certain Hall of Famer who consistently shows up for the opening whistle. That does not mean, however, that Reed is not riddled with injuries. He is. And in the latter stages of his career, problems with his hip, neck and groin don't bode well for a full 16-game ride in 2010.
One of the most versatile players the league has known, Westbrook is coming off his least productive season since his rookie year, playing in just seven games in 2009. A concussion and other injury issues have potential suitors apprehensive about signing him.
Perhaps his nickname should be Willie "Pipp." Injuries forced Parker to give way to Rashard Mendenhall, who took over the featured job at Pittsburgh. Now at Washington, Parker must prove he has some tread left on his oft-injured body.
Gonzalez has gone from potential star to a potential seat on the Colts bench. Coming off a couple of injury-riddled seasons, Gonzalez sat out 2009 and underwent major knee surgery. Now, he's slowed in camp again. Meanwhile, Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon are entrenching themselves as go-to targets.
After a huge rookie season in 2008, during which Slaton actually gained more yards from scrimmage than Titans tailback Chris Johnson, Slaton spent 2009 suffering from a neck problem that helped contribute to seven fumbles and a drop in production. When you can't hold onto the ball because of injuries, you're in trouble.
He plays one of the most violent positions on the field, is coming off microfracture surgery, which has ended many a career, and some say his knee condition is arthritic and degenerative. Uh-oh.
A spectacular college talent, when McFadden was slowed greatly by turf toe as a rookie in 2008, most figured he would be fine by 2009. But barely a month into the season, he suffered a torn meniscus in his knee. Two seasons, two injuries. That's no way to instill confidence.
As productive as Urlacher has been, it's come at a price. He had back issues in 2007 and reported "minor" neck surgery a year later. For a linebacker, the back and neck are relatively important. Then, Urlacher dislocated his wrist in the 2009 opener. How much longer can he hold it all together?
He's dented a lot of defenses, but paid the price. Jacobs' per-carry average dropped significantly in 2009, and after he missed eight games over the 2007 and 2008 seasons, it could be time to wonder if those bruising thighs have any punch left.
Williams may not be at the end of his career, but no doubt you can see it from here. After 13-years of Williams plugging holes and taking a beating physically, it's not just the legs that should worry Broncos fans. The persistent triceps problem he has had makes handling offensive lineman much more difficult, especially considering he tore them in the first game last year and missed the rest of the season.
By the time OTAs roll around, you don't want to hear your star running back announce that he's still, "a ways" from 100-percent. But that's what Ronnie Brown did. There's no question he can still dominate a game, but missing 19 games over the past four years is not exactly promising. Who would you add to the list? Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.