Which contenders hit hardest by injuries?
September, 16, 2013
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Getty ImagesAndre Johnson went down and DeAndre Hopkins stepped up.Watching running backs Ray Rice, Steven Jackson, Reggie Bush and Eddie Lacy depart Week 2 games with injuries delivered an early reminder of how pivotal pulls, tears, bruises and breaks can be during an NFL season. The day concluded with the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, arguably the NFL’s deepest teams, losing starters to injury. Left tackle could be a problem for Seattle after Russell Okung left due to a toe injury. Meanwhile, the 49ers' already tight rotation on the defensive line took at least one and possibly two significant hits as Ian Williams and Ray McDonald both went down. As injuries to key players piled up around the league Sunday, several contending teams woke up Monday morning looking for answers.
The Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers also suffered injuries of varying significance. All those teams went to the playoffs last season. All but the 49ers won Sunday after losing high-profile starters. But what will the cost be going forward?
Today we consider those teams' most prominent injuries on a case-by-case basis, with a look at longer-term implications. While injuries are never good, there can be a silver lining sometimes, and on Sunday we saw some glimmers of future potential. The Texans in particular had to like what they saw in their comeback OT victory.
- Texans WR outlook: Because of offensive philosophy and perhaps quarterback play, the Texans were supposedly not equipped to play from behind. Two comeback victories in the first two weeks will not permanently rebrand the Texans or quarterback Matt Schaub, but at least Houston knows Andre Johnson isn't the only difference-maker at wide receiver. Rookie first-round choice DeAndre Hopkins caught seven passes for 117 yards, including the game winner from Schaub in overtime. The Texans still need Johnson -- who left late in the second half with a concussion -- but Hopkins has already shown he can be more than a complementary player. His 183 yards through two games are the most by an NFL rookie since 2008.