Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Armpits Hanging From Trees

I was over at a good friend's house this afternoon. Her one year old is just learning to walk. She's getting pretty good at walking (the one year old, my friend is already an accomplished walker) but running still eludes her, and the many battle wounds on her cheeks and forehead are testament to her perserverence. When I later got home I flipped on the intertubes and saw that Bronco linebacker Nick Greisen got knocked out for the year with some kind of knee issue. I suspect that running was involved.

I'm not particularly opposed to NFLers running about. I've read that running is quite healthy, in general. While injuries in the NFL happen to be well correlated to running, they are only well correlated in the sense that football games are well correlated to Sundays. Obviously, injuries are more about the collisions and the kicking and the biting with the metal teeth and the hurting and shoving. A predictable outcome when ~ 2500 two hundred and fifty pound men crash into one another for hours and days at a time.

but this isn't so much about that

Less than a week into official for real NFL practice, for most teams out of pads, there have already been a few injuries that will significantly impact their respective teams' fortunes. Let's take a look.


Okay, the Broncos probably won't miss Greisen all that much but I needed an excuse to link his website which - much like Greisen's NFL career - hasn't been updated in three years. Greisen probably couldn't have been counted on to contribute much to the Broncos this year anyway, but his loss does cut into their depth - already dangerously thin due to the scorched earth policies of Xander and McDaniel. The Broncos already brought in Braxton Kelley as a replacement. SI describes Kelley as "undersized and very slow shedding blocks ... marginal in coverage" so it sounds like Denver will be just fine.

Tarvaris Jackson

I know, I know. He's just dinged up a little. I just think it's funny that so many of the Viking faithful are knitting nooses already. The downside to this injury is that it isn't serious enough to prevent Jackson from returning in time to start under center. packerfan and bearfan titter in their sleeves.

Stephon Heyer, Randy Thomas, Mike Williams

These three players constitute 40% of the Redskin starting offensive line, with the runner up in reserve. Washington released Jon Jansen and gave Heyer Jansen's spot at RT, Williams is also competing there. Thomas is penciled in at RG. None of these injuries appear to be season threatening, but they are debilitating and portend further injuries as the season progresses. Futhermore this seriously limits Zorn's ability to build line continuity, a lacking that prevented any complex pass-blocking schemes in '08. Washington is my pick to bottom out. This is a terribly old, terribly thin team that has suffered a lot of bad personnel decisions over the last few years, along with the tragedy to Sean Taylor. In 2008 they were the second oldest team in the NFL and were unusually healthy for a team that old, losing 13 starts to injuries by their offensive players. Their offensive line appears particularly vulnerable. They only have two younger players who figure to contribute meaningfully, Heyer at 26 and 2008 third rounder Chad Rinehart at 24 (already being called a bust). With Heyer, their other starters appear to be Samuels (32), Dockery (29), Rabach (32) and Thomas (33). Behind them is a wasteland of undrafted free agents and veterans who have kicked around the league. Last year Washington was awful in the games that Samuel missed with injury and he - along with several others - are at an age where injury is a part of their season. This team is one major or a few minor injuries away from disaster and they are already getting nicked up.

Adam Terry

Starting to get into the more significant injuries. Terry was competing with Oher for the starting RT gig in Baltimore before getting IR'd today with microfracture. Oher is going to have to grow up in a hurry now. If he struggles there really is no one in reserve to spell him, even for a few series, unless Baltimore tracks down a former Bengal for the second straight year. The demand for Levi Jones will probably increase as training camps continue and injuries mount. Chris Chester and Oniel Cousins are now the only people standing between the Ravens and a paper-thin offensive line.

Stewart Bradley

This is a big one. Bradley is overrated by Eagle fans (what's new?) but he is still an effective MLB in Philadelphia's 4-3. The real problem is that the Eagles really don't have a replacement for him on the roster. 6th rounder Joe Mays inherits his spot but it is unlikely that Mays can be the same type of playmaker as Bradley, who accounted for 151 tackles last year. Perhaps more importantly, Bradley was the primary signal caller for the defense that also lost veteran leader Brian Dawkins.


I have no feel whether there have been an unusual number of injuries so early in camp. There have been other, more minor injuries to Brandon Marshall, Ellis Hobbs, Beanie Wells. Braylon Edwards has been out for a week but so far no word on the extent of his injury. Albert Haynesworth missed time to get some needlepoint done on his knees. It will be interesting to see if this is a trend for a bad summer, or just an unusual couple of days.


  1. Greisen is an interesting player. He was Ray Lewis' backup in Baltimore; ahead of other faster, stronger players. When he was in the game, he would make all of Rex Ryan's play calls, the stuff that Ray-ray did.

    That's literally all I know about him. But I conclude that he must be a player of unusual smarts / leadership / whatever. The kind of guy coaches love; someone who is reckoned to make an impact beyond their physical ability.

    In Baltimore, it was considered a possibility that Oniel Cousins (not "Harris") was going to beat out Adam Terry for the backup RT spot. Supposedly Joe Reitz is in the mix too: they liked him last year, but wanted him to bulk up, and he has. Also Marshal Yanda has returned from knee ligament surgery, about 6 weeks early. He's the starting RG, but he started at RT in 2007, so he could be a stopgap. There was never any chance that Terry was going to start ahead of Oher: they plugged in Oher the moment he walked in the building.

    Not trying to argue that losing Terry is a good thing. Even if he were a guy they were going to cut, you'd still want to have the choice. But last year's OL was held together with spit and baling wire. Even without Terry, the Ravens are ahead of last year (so far).

    Ah, Redskins. Every year they sign the megastar and ignore their infrastructure. It'll be fun, as always, to watch it crumble beneath them. The weird thing is, I almost wonder if that team could be completely fixed, by 2 drafts of like fullbacks and guards and live bodies to play spec teams. You get a bunch of young healthy no-names in there to do some of the dirty work, and that team might blossom.

    Will never happen. Not on Little Napoleon's watch. I'm looking forward to seeing his stricken, stern face at next year's press conference.

  2. I pulled all that Terry stuff out of my rear before even thinking about reading 24X7. I see some stuff I didn't know but I also thought it a little interesting that my mini-analysis mirrored the whole thread, right down to the Levi Jones conjecture.


    I mixed up Oniel Cousins with Orien Harris, a DT in the Lions camp who played for the Bengals last year.

  3. I don't see any Viking fans around here getting the noose for Jackson, for what it's worth. Most are seeing it as either "eh, Rosenfels was gonna get the job anyway" or "another year, another Jackson injury, whatever."

    If there's a noose for Jackson, the only reason I can think of is that fans are pissed at him for opening the door to another round of over-hyped "FAVRE IS GONNA BE A VIKING!!!!!!!" stories from the media.

  4. Rosenfels should start but I keep seeing Texan backers claim that he folds like a [something that folds easily, like cake batter] under any kind of pressure.

  5. Napkin, maybe? Rosenfels folds easier than that. I liken him to a QB version of Clarence Moore. Lots of talent, could be special, if he weren't afraid to touch the ball. But he is, so instead, he's bagging groceries. Rosenfels might not be far behind.

    The Terry injury really hurts our depth. Cousins would probably have beaten him out anyway, but Oher's a rookie and Gaither was hurt last year, and Cam liked the unbalanced line formations which relied on third OTs (Terry, last year) to play a big role. If one of the OTs go down, the issue is that we won't be able to run that unbalanced line.

  6. Napkin is too obvious. I was looking for something more incongruent and evocative, such as 'folds like a man with his bottom two ribs removed'.

    Yeah. Rosenfels folds like that. Otherwise he's a hell of a quarterback.

  7. Folds like Phil Helmuth... Still too obtuse I guess.

    Rosenfels actually reminds me a lot of Elvis GrBac. Look at his stats. They're actually pretty good (other than his INT rate, which is attrocious). But other than that? 62.5% completion rate, 7.4 YPA, 5.3% TD rate... On paper the guy looks solid. In the game though, he's a killer.


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