Preseason games and the playoffs generally aren’t compared to one another, but there was a definite link for at least one former NFL executive.
"Watching preseason games can be as nerve-racking as the last two minutes of a playoff game sometimes … (I) was at the edge of my seat or having to run downstairs just to keep from pulling my hair out", explained the former front office exec when asked about seeing players go down with serious injuries during training camp or in a preseason game.
This year has been no different as, after just one full week of preseason action, at least 10 teams have watched players be carted off the field faster than wannabe American Idol contestants.
Here is a list of teams that have been putting in as much overtime checking Ace bandages and ice bags as they have X's and O's.
They received a big scare because of the Achilles injury suffered by starting safety Mike Brown, who is known for his great instincts and intangibles. In 2004, he missed most of the campaign with a right Achilles tear, but this latest injury is considered to be only a minor setback.
The Bears traded veteran backup safety Mike Green to Seattle before the NFL draft in April, so rookie Danieal Manning will step into the starting lineup for the rest of the preseason. However, the coaching staff believes that Brown will be back at full strength for the season opener against Green Bay.
Dallas has had a rash of injuries at the top of their wide receiver depth chart with Terrell Owens (hamstring), Terry Glenn (feet) and Patrick Crayton (ankle) all hampered by leg injuries over the past two weeks. Glenn and Crayton played in the team's preseason opener, which is where Crayton got injured, following an early touchdown catch. He has improved greatly over the past two years, solidifying himself among the team's top 3-4 receivers.
Undrafted rookies Sam Hurd and Jamaica Rector will gain extended reps the rest of the preseason, but expect the Cowboys to check the waiver wire following the first round of cuts. In addition, there’s a possibility of shipping linebackers Kevin Burnett or Scott Shanle to acquire either a wide receiver or offensive lineman.
On the defensive side of the ball, converted defensive end Junior Glymph, who recorded a pair of sacks against Seattle in the preseason game, has taken full advantage of the playing time missed by both Rocky Boiman (thumb) and Bobby Carpenter (knee).
Defensive end Courtney Brown is facing a month of rehab after having surgery to repair some of the swelling and pain in his chronically injured left knee (three surgeries since 2002). While he recorded just a pair of sacks in 2006, the Broncos were hopeful that he could bump up his stat total this season, as pressuring the quarterback was one of the team's primary goals of improvement this past offseason.
Veterans Kenard Lang and Ebenezer Ekuban started the team's first preseason game. Rookie pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, who led the NCAA in sacks last season, should see most of the additional reps available to the team's backup defensive ends as Denver looks to find a situational pass rusher off the bench.
The Lions appear to be sending a final and clear-cut message to underachieving former No. 2 overall pick, wide receiver Charles Rogers, who had already fallen to third-team on the depth chart earlier this summer.
Rogers, who sat out of both practice sessions on Tuesday because of sore knees, later stated that while he was a little sore there was nothing wrong with him to keep him out for an extended period of time. If the Lions are limiting his time on the field to keep him from getting hurt -- since he has a history of injuries in his three-year career -- they are narrowing their options. Most teams seem content to just wait-and-see if the Lions will be forced to release either Rogers or Mike Williams later this summer.
When you consider that Jerry Porter (Oakland) and Ashley Lelie (Denver) are currently on the trade market, it is not likely that the Lions could get more than a conditional draft choice for either Rogers or Williams at this point.
The Vikings have already lost a pair of potential starting defenders, safety Tank Williams (knee cap) and outside linebacker Chad Greenway (knee). Williams was sidelined two weeks into training camp, and rookie first-round pick Greenway is out for the year after suffering a season-ending knee injury while running down to cover a kickoff against the Oakland Raiders on Monday night.
The loss of Greenway could lead to Dontarrious Thomas, who is currently the backup to Napoleon Harris at middle linebacker, getting more reps as a potential challenger to weak-side linebacker E.J. Henderson. It will also likely cause them to search the free agent market for players such as Jamie Sharper, who has recently also drawn interest from New England, and is the brother of Vikings All-Pro safety Darren Sharper.
The Vikings plan to take a long look at veteran Willie Offord, as well as rookie Greg Blue at the backup safety spots, although some felt Blue could also be converted to outside linebacker. Second-year linebacker Heath Farwell, who led the team with nine tackles in the preseason opener, benefits greatly from the loss of both Greenway and Williams, as he could now secure a spot on the final roster thanks to his special teams ability.
New York Giants
They’ve already lost backup running back Derrick Ward (foot) and starting offensive guard Chris Snee (knee) for 2-3 weeks each, while a number of other key starters, including linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee), tight end Jeremy Shockey (concussion) and defensive tackle William Joseph (leg), have all missed practice and preseason game action.
In addition, several receivers have missed practices because of leg injuries: Amani Toomer (hamstring), David Tyree (ankle) and rookie Sinorice Moss (quad), who has not practiced since July 29. Speedy veteran Tim Carter, who seemed destined to be on the team's final cut list, has made a very good impression by not missing a practice, while showing better hands at receiver this summer.
Arrington's knee has some wondering if this will be a lingering issue for the former All-Pro. He had a pair of knee surgeries the past two years to clear out cartilage.
Reserve offensive lineman Rich Seubert, a starter a few years back before suffering a leg injury, had taken over for Snee in the starting lineup and has been taking some second-team snaps at center. However, he has since been dealing with a turf toe injury of his own.
The Giants lack ideal depth at both tight end and defensive tackle, although the coaching staff plans to get an extended look at players like Damane Duckett, Barry Cofield, Marcus Green and Sir Henry Anderson against Kansas City this week before looking at the players available on the waiver wire. Keep an eye on free agent Grady Jackson, who would fill their void quite nicely.
If Moss were to return to action soon, and Michael Jennings, who returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown last week, continues to show consistency on special teams, there is a chance the Giants could look to trade a reserve wide receiver to a team that might have a journeyman-type interior defender available.
New York Jets
Quarterback Chad Pennington (shoulder) has recovered enough from shoulder surgery to receive playing time in last week's preseason opener, but running back Curtis Martin (knee) has yet to even practice, and could be on the verge of being put on the PUP list.
The Jets tried to trade for Cleveland Browns backup running back Lee Suggs, but he failed his physical. Without many attractive potential every-down backs on the market, New York might have to raise the ante with a third- or fourth-round choice plus someone like defensive back Derrick Strait, linebacker Victor Hobson or former starting wide receiver Justin McCareins, who has slipped behind second-year pro Jerricho Cotchery on the team's latest depth chart. Cotchery is a better down-field blocker and has taken advantage of every chance he has been given to impress the team's new coaching staff, which has put him in prime position to be a starter in Week 1.
The team's secondary has also been under duress with starting safety Erik Coleman (appendectomy), rookie cornerback Drew Coleman (knee) and reserve defensive back Jamie Thompson (knee) all missing several practices.
If the Jets continue their pursuit of adding another running back, the names to watch for include Cedric Cobbs (Denver), Artose Pinner (Detroit), T.J. Duckett (Atlanta), Marcel Shipp (Arizona) and possibly even William Green (Cleveland), who is a native of New Jersey, and has shown a few glimpses recently of being the back that shined at Boston College. A perfect fit for the Jets’ needs and scheme would be Mewelde Moore (Minnesota), but even with the addition of Chester Taylor via free agency and the fact that they have Ciatrick Fason and veteran fullback Tony Richardson are competing for time, it seems unlikely the Vikings would move Moore at this time.
Backup running back Michael Turner could become the team's primary return man, but rookie cornerback Cletius Gordon, who has flashed natural skills as a returner in the early weeks of training camp, now has a legitimate chance to earn a roster spot. Undrafted rookie wide receiver Gerran Walker and a pair of reserve running backs, Ray Perkins and Larry Croom, who until Sproles' injury would not have had much of a chance of sticking on the active roster, will now see extended playing time over the next two weeks with the ability to land a role on the team.
A rash of injuries to both sides of their line, which was a strength during their Super Bowl run last season, is now causing them to spend hours reviewing the waiver wire and free agent lists.
Starting center Robbie Tobeck (elbow), offensive guard Floyd Womack (hamstring) and defensive tackle Russell Davis (foot) are all expected to miss most of the rest of the preseason games. Davis, who tore the plantar fascia in his right foot, could miss up to 4-6 weeks if he does not respond early to his rehab. Tobeck, who had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow, will be replaced by Chris Spencer at center, while rookie Rob Sims, moves into the starting lineup at left guard – theoretically replacing the departed Steve Hutchinson.
Veterans Chris Cooper, Craig Terrill and undrafted rookie Alex Guerrero will receive extended playing time in the absence of Davis with William Henry and Pat Ross gaining more reps along the offensive line the next few weeks.
The Seahawks were already dealing with depth issues in the passing game as wide receivers Darrell Jackson (knee) and D.J. Hackett (hamstring), and tight end Jerramy Stevens (knee) have missed all or most of camp. All three are not expected back on the field until the team's final preseason game on August 26, although Hackett could return to practice sometime after next week's contest.
The Redskins might have suffered the biggest blows this past week, as starting running back Clinton Portis (shoulder) and starting cornerback Shawn Springs (groin) could both be forced to miss the start of the regular season. Portis will miss the rest of the preseason, which will force the team to take a long look at backup Ladell Betts, who is a very good fit for offensive coordinator Al Saunders' offensive scheme.
Meanwhile, the news is not so good for the secondary, as the team acquired versatile but inconsistent defender Mike Rumph from San Francisco. He or current nickel back Kenny Wright could start opposite Carlos Rogers in the season opener against Minnesota. That does not bode well for the Redskins, as the Vikings have several wide receivers with above-average speed, including Koren Robinson, Marcus Robinson and Troy Williamson.
If you remember back to late last season, Springs missed parts of both playoff games due to a groin injury, so this latest setback, which required surgery this week, could be a season-long issue, considering he is now in his 11th season.
A new issue came up on Tuesday when starting defensive end Phillip Daniels was removed from practice because of a bout with back spasms.