Because of the NFL lockout, much of the offseason media coverage about player injuries was shrouded in uncertainty. Sources said Terrell Owens had surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in June. It was in April, if you believe his agent, or even earlier, if you believe an NFL player who's "known about it for months." Owens injured the ACL while taping his reality show; no, it was during a personal workout. His career might be over; no, he will be healthy enough to play by Week 1 for a team to be named later.
In a normal NFL offseason, intrepid beat reporters would notice an injured player's absence at organized team activities and inquire about it with coaches and team officials. Furthermore, after news of the injury or surgery came out, these same reporters would be asking constantly about the player's progress in rehab. Instead, we have Michael Crabtree becoming the first NFL player in memory to blame an injury-related absence on new shoes and there being little if any journalistic recourse to verify or refute it.
It's common knowledge that gamesmanship infiltrates NFL injury reporting during the season. This offseason, however, things have been orders of magnitude more opaque. With all the lockout-induced injury uncertainty, far be it from us to engage in rank speculation. Instead, aside from one Sharpie-wielding exception, here are our top 10 injury situations to watch based primarily on the facts.
10. Ty Warren, DE, free agent
Injury: Torn labrum in right hip
Warren missed all of last season after tearing the labrum in his right hip. In the Patriots' 3-4 defense, the left end's primary responsibility is as a tackler and gap filler against the run, and Warren is one of the best in the league. New England had an above-average run defense in each of his first six seasons as a starter. During Warren's absence in 2010, the Patriots fell to 23rd after finishing ninth in 2008 and 13th in 2009. All indications are that he will be fully healed by the time training camp starts. However, he's 30 years old and has now had hip, groin and hernia surgeries in the past two calendar years, so optimism should be cautious. That lack of optimism may have been one reason that the Patriots dealt for Albert Haynesworth.