NFL teams are all too familiar with injuries and plenty of clubs will be holding their breath hoping that injured stars in 2009 return to the field in 2010 without any lingering effects. Even if there are still issues with some players, plenty of teams have taken measures to ensure that they are not without contingency plans at important positions. Whether it be the addition of a free agent signing or a trade to acquire a seasoned veteran just in case the unforeseen should happen, teams are bracing for the ‘what ifs’ of the NFL landscape.
In Michigan, the Detroit Lions are a team with a promising young nucleus, but much of that young core was beaten up in 2009. 1st round tight end Brandon Pettigrew tore the ACL in his left knee during the Thanksgiving Day game with the Green Bay Packers. Pettigrew has been able to take part in organized team activities (OTAs), but will still likely be handled with care by the Lions before rejoining them for full practices. Detroit traded for Tony Scheffler from the Denver Broncos this offseason as a nice backup option if Pettigrew has any setbacks on his road to recovery. The Lions also lost their young running back Kevin Smith to a torn left ACL in week 14 and he too has been participating in OTAs. Maurice Morris picked up the slack for the missing Smith to finish out 2009 and he still remains with the club, but the Lions also drafted speedster Jahvid Best late in round one of the NFL Draft to give them an added dimension at the position. Detroit appears to have taken all of the necessary precautions in fighting the injury bug in 2010 as far as depth is concerned.
For the Minnesota Vikings, Brett Favre isn’t the only big story this offseason as the team has not one, but two critical pieces recovering from season ending injuries in 2009. Both linebacker E.J. Henderson and corner Cedric Griffin were injured last year with devastating leg injuries. Henderson fractured his left femur during the team’s week 13 game with the Arizona Cardinals and will be hampered with a permanent titanium rod in his leg for the rest of his career. He has started running at full speed, but the timetable of one year was originally given after the injury took place. It wouldn’t be a shock if the team had to rely on his backup Jasper Brinkley to begin the 2010 season. As for Griffin, the Vikes corner tore his left ACL in the crushing overtime playoff lost to the New Orleans Saints in January so it is hard to imagine him being fully healthy to begin the year. For some insurance, Minnesota added veteran Lito Shepard to their roster and drafted Chris Cook early in round two just in case Griffin is forced to miss some time in the coming season.
Those are just two teams facing some key injury questions coming into the 2010 season, but several others are undoubtedly double checking their depth charts to insure that the injury bug doesn’t bite too hard. Forecasting just what may happen during the coming year is next to impossible in terms of injuries, but trying to combat those carrying over from the previous season is a task that must be handled with care. Both the Vikes and Lions hope that they are able to avoid any catastrophic setbacks this year that will further derail their win/loss records in 2010.
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