It happens to me every year in early December.
Still feeling the effects of working extensively on Pro Football Weekly’s annual team-by-team injury rankings — one of our website’s featured attractions in the past week — the league’s various aches and pains continue bombarding my brain.
For the sake of this rant, I couldn’t help stealing a pertinent little quote I saw in my paper this morning from Bears WR Brandon Marshall while gulping down my daily pot of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (yes, I still read a newspaper every morning instead of just going on my laptop because I am old and hopelessly set in my ways, but I digress).
“I don’t think there’s one guy who’s 100 percent in the NFL right now,” Marshall said. “Maybe a kicker. Maybe (Bears PK) Robbie (Gould). But other than Robbie, everybody is banged up.”
Yes, Marshall is exaggerating. But the injuries really do just keep coming and coming coming, while more and more team’s hopes of going to the playoffs becoming fainter by the minute.
• Multipurpose WR Percy Harvin is placed on injured reserve, and — for all intents and purposes — down go the Vikings.
• Perennial Pro Bowl OLT Jake Long is placed on injured reserve, and — for all intents and purposes — down go the Dolphins.
• Other key players placed on I.R. after Week 13’s action include Cowboys C Phil Costa and Bills DE Chris Kelsay.
• Then there are players who weren’t placed on I.R. but are pretty nicked up just the same with the final month of the season about to get under way. The Bears and Packers in particular come to mind, with Chicago losing MLB Brian Urlacher (hamstring), CB Tim Jennings (right shoulder) and WR Earl Bennett (concussion), among others, in its loss to Seattle, and Green Bay losing RB James Starks (knee) and WR Jordy Nelson (reaggravated hamstring) in its win over the Vikings.
I'm sure I'm forgetting some other noteworthy injury calamities.
What weighs most heavily on my mind is the extent to which a number of key players around the league who have been sidelined for a while can effectively return to action for all the all-important stretch drive.
• Can “Big Ben” Roethlisberger possibly pick up where Charlie Batch left off this Sunday after missing the past three games with rib and shoulder injuries (check status for the game vs. San Diego)?
• How about Ravens defenders Ray Lewis, who supposedly could be close to coming back from a triceps injury, and Terrell Suggs, who is supposedly going to try to soldier on despite nursing a torn biceps?
• Can Packers S-CB Charles Woodson, who could be back in the lineup this Sunday after missing the last five games with a broken collarbone (check status), and OLB Clay Matthews (hamstring), who is expected back sooner than later but not this Sunday, knock the team’s industrial-sized injury bug down to a more manageable size?
• Can Urlacher (hamstring) return for the playoffs?
• Can QB Kevin Kolb (ribs) still come to the rescue for the crippled Cardinals?
Suffice it to say, it takes a lot more than 60 seconds to size up an ongoing injury epidemic in the NFL that could end up setting the stage for the upcoming postseason more than any other single factor.
I'm done. My head hurts.