There are always a few notable injuries during minicamps and other “organized team activities,” and it seems like this year draft picks have been especially susceptible. So we decided to compare these injuries using football relativity, with 10 as the most significant and 1 being a mere footnote. Note that we will update this comparison until training camps begin in August.
10 – CB Walt Harris, 49ers – Harris, a 13-year veteran, tore the ACL in his right knee in minicamp and will miss the season. The former Bears first-round pick has 15 interceptions in his three seasons as a 49er and has started all but two games the past two years. In fact, he has 35 career picks, and he started at least 12 games in all but one of his 13 seasons. (He served as a regular nickelback in that campaign.) Harris provided veteran wile for the 49ers, and it will be missed. It will be too bad if this is how Harris’ solid if unspectacular career ends.
9 – OT Robert Brewster, Cowboys – The third-round pick injured his biceps in June, and it was announced just before training camp that the injury would cost Brewster the season. Brewster was slated to be a backup in Dallas in 2009, but losing a year of such a high draft pick is a blow to any team.
8 – WR Derrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders – Heyward-Bey, the seventh overall pick in the draft, suffered a hamstring injury May 9 that appeared minor, but all the way into June it was keeping him out of OTA work. Again, this is an injury that probably won’t matter much physically in September, but the lack of reps could matter in Heyward-Bey’s development. That’s especially true at receiver, which is usually a position at which rookies struggle. This hamstring injury could end up making it even harder for Heyward-Bey to contribute right away for the Raiders, who desperately need his big-play ability.
8 (con’t) – DT Peria Jerry, Falcons – Jerry, a first-round pick, got dinged up with a knee injury. It looks like more of a scare than a long-term factor, but his status as an expected impact starter pushes him up the chart of this comparison. The Falcons need Jerry if their defense is to be playoff-caliber, and so missing time to develop in the offseason matters.
7 – CB Terrence McGee, Bills – McGee is a standout returner and an emerging corner who will play a prominent role in Buffalo now that Jabari Greer is gone. McGee and Leodis McKelvin could potentially combine to be a top-level CB duo. McGee injured his arm trying to cover Terrell Owens in practice in May, and the injury cost him the rest of the Bills’ minicamps and OTAs. That was enough to put a big scare in the Bills, because McGee is a vital player for the Bills this season.
6 – LB Stanley Arnoux, Saints – The Saints viewed Arnoux as a possible starter at weak-side ‘backer and as a special-teams dynamo, but now he’ll miss the year with a ruptured left Achilles. It will be interesting to see if Arnoux’s absence affects his former Wake Forest teammate and current roommate S Chip Vaughn’s adjustment to the pros. For a team as short on draft picks as the Saints, losing a fourth-rounder this early hurts.
5 – ILB Tyrone McKenzie, Patriots – McKenzie, a third-round pick, suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in minicamp. He wasn’t expected to start this season, but his long-term prognosis as Tedy Bruschi’s eventual replacement is murkier now because of the injury that will knock him out for ’09.
4 – DE-OLB Clint Sintim, Giants – Sintim, a second-round pick, pulled a hamstring in OTAs. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said the injury, which isn’t serious, still wouldn’t help either Sintim or the team. This kind of injury sets back a rookie’s development, and because Sintim is trying to move from playing linebacker in a 3-4 defense at Virginia to becoming a pass rusher at the end and as a ‘backer in the Giants’ 4-3, he needs all the reps he can get. The Giants can only hope Sintim is ready to go in training camp and that the on-the-job training he’s missing doesn’t set him back too much.
4 (con’t) – QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers – Roethlisberger suffered a June knee injury that knocked him out for just a day, but the fact that a Super Bowl winning quarterback got dinged up is still worth a mention. He doesn’t need the reps, but he does need to be 100 percent going into training camp, given the beating that quarterbacks take and the still tenuous status of the Steelers’ offensive line.
4 (con’t) – WR Anthony Gonzalez, Colts – Gonzalez, who is moving up to the No. 2 receiver spot for Indy this year, injured his right leg in early June, which cost him half a week of work. While Gonzalez should be OK come training camp, his absence highlighted the fact that the Colts are painfully thin at receiver. Now that Marvin Harrison is gone, Reggie Wayne and Gonzalez are the only two proven receivers that Indy has. While that’s a really good duo, an injury to either Wayne or Gonzalez would make Peyton Manning’s job a lot more difficult because he would have to rely heavily on rookie Austin Collie or holdovers Pierre Garcon, Roy Hall, or Sam Giguere (who has missed offseason work because of a broken leg he suffered in an earlier minicamp). This means that, although he’s still a young, emerging player, Gonzalez might actually be one of the more indispensible players in the league given the Colts’ roster.
3 – WR Isaiah Stanback, Cowboys – Stanback suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee, and the resulting surgery and rehab will knock him out of action until the start of training camp. Stanback has just 2 catches and 13 kickoff returns since joining the Cowboys as a fourth-round pick in ’07, but with Terrell Owens leaving there’s room for someone like Stanback, Miles Austin, or Sam Hurd to step up and serve as a No. 3 receiver behind Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton. Stanback was already a longer shot than Austin or Hurd, who have both had their moments, and this injury certainly won’t help his case.
2 – none
1 – CB Morgan Trent, Bengals – Trent suffered a foot injury that will shelve him until training camp. That won’t help his chances of making the team, which is no sure thing for any sixth-rounder like Trent. But this injury won’t damage the Bengals long term.