In the NFL, a team’s performance is dependent on a number of factors, from the ability to pass the ball to efficiency in stopping the opposing team on third down. The factors that probably plays the largest role is the health of the team throughout the season. Last year, the New York Giants’ defensive line was banged up for most of the year, leading to a 9-7 record which barely pushed them into the playoffs. However, the line got healthy towards the end of the season, propelling Eli Manning and the Giants to their second Super Bowl ring in the past half decade. This season, one would expect less injuries with the additional changes to the player safety rules and the existence of an actual offseason for player to get acclimated to the NFL. However, there are already a ton of injuries around the league to some key players.
First we’ll start with the Rams, who have remained relatively healthy throughout the preseason.
Jim Thomas reported the return of G Harvey Dahl, S Darian Stewart, and DE Eugene Sims, meaning the Rams have all of their offensive players back from injury. All three of those players are major contributors, especially Harvey Dahl who was surprisingly pulled last second from the preseason finale against Dallas. The offensive line will rely heavily on the veteran leadership of Dahl and Scott the anchor the new band of starters. Darian Stewart is still battling Craig Dahl for the safety spot alongside Quintin Mikell, while Sims is the third man in the DE rotation, and will likely spot Quinn on run downs.
The news is not all good on the defensive side of the ball, with Jim Thomas reporting that DT Michael Brockers (ankle), DT Darell Scott (Knee), and DT Matt Conrath (Knee) did not participate in practice again on Thursday.
Fisher is known for his rotation at the defensive line, keeping the linemen fresh, and subbing in specialty players in run/pass situations. Scott and Conrath were both expected to be rotational players, especially with Scott now that an ankle injury will keep Brockers out for the foreseeable future. Jim Thomas also noted that Fisher says the ankle is improving, which is at least one good sign for the 2012 first-rounder.
As far as the season opener against the Detroit Lions is concerned, two of the Lions key secondary players have still not returned to the practice field. S Louis Delmas and CB Chris Houston are both likely to be game time decisions, which is extremely good news for the St. Louis Rams passing offense.
Some other key injuries keeping players out of practice from around the league:
Adrian Peterson, RB Minnesota Vikings: (Knee), limited participation
Arian Foster, RB Houston Texans: (Knee), limited participation
Brandon Jacobs, RB San Francisco 49ers: (Knee), did not participate
Trent Richardson, RB Cleveland Browns: (Knee), limited participation
Marshawn Lynch, RB Seattle Seahawks: (Back), limited participation
Jonathan Stewart, RB Carolina Panthers: (Ankle), did not participate
Ryan Matthews, RB San Diego Chargers: (Shoulder), limited participation
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Justin Blackmon, WR Jacksonville Jaguars: (Foot), full participated
Stevie Johnson, WR Buffalo Bills: (Groin), did not participate
Stephen Hill, WR New York Jets: (Finger), full participation
Owen Daniels, TE Houston Texans: (Elbow), limited participation
Marques Colston, WR New Orleans Saints: (Foot), limited participation
Ben Watson, TE Cleveland Browns: (Leg), limited participation
Jake Long, LT Miami Dolphins: (Knee), limited participation
David DeCastro, G Pittsburgh Steelers: (Knee), did not participate
Brian Urlacher, LB Chicago Bears: (Knee), did not participate
Antoine Winfield, CB Minnesota Vikings: (Personal reasons), did not participate
LaRon Landry, S New York Jets: (Heel), did not participate
Brian Cushing, LB Houston Texans: (Ribs), limited participation
Fletcher Cox, DT Philadelphia Eagles: (Knee), limited participation
Brandon Flowers, CB Kansas City Chiefs: (Heel), limited participation
James Harrison, LB Pittsburgh Steelers: (Knee), did not participate