There has been a ridiculous spate of offensive line injuries thus far in the regular season – so many that we thought it would be worthwhile to compare all of them using Football Relativity. We’ve compared the significance of these injuries (to the players’ teams more than to the physical well being of the player himself), with the most damaging injury on the 10 level and the least significant injury on the 1 level.
If I missed anyone, leave a comment and we’ll include them. We have included everyone who has been placed on injured reserve and everyone who was listed as out on the mid-week injury report this week. We’ve also noted below which players have gone on injured reserve and are thus out for the year.
10 – ORT Shawn Andrews, Eagles (back, IR) – Andrews, who was supposed to team with his brother Stacy this year to provide the Eagles massive beef on the right side of the offensive line, instead will miss the season. Winston Justice, who is much lighter and less accomplished than Andrews, will try to fill his massive shoes.
9 – none
8 – ORG Randy Thomas, Redskins (right triceps, IR) – Thomas, the Redskins’ starter at right guard, suffered a right triceps injury and will miss the season. That’s a huge blow for the Redskins, because none of Washington’s backup offensive linemen played even a snap in 2008. It’ll be hard for the Redskins to replace Thomas’ solid run-blocking presence on the interior of their O-line.
7 – C Nick Hardwick, Chargers (ankle) and ORG Louis Vasquez (knee) – Hardwick hurt his ankle in Week One against Oakland, and he will miss at least eight weeks. That’s a big blow for the Chargers, who showed some cracks on the interior both against the Raiders and the Ravens. Vasquez also missed Week 2 and could have to sit this weekend as well. Hardwick’s replacement, Scott Mruczkowski, hadn’t played center in the NFL until this offseason, which only makes Hardwick’s injury more significant.
6 – none
5 – ORT Brad Butler, Bills (right knee, IR) – Butler, the Bills’ starting right tackle, suffered a knee injury that will cost him the rest of the season. That’s a big deal because Butler was one of just two OL starters in Buffalo with game experience prior to 2009. Given how frisky the Bills’ offense has looked thus far, this is a pretty significant blow.
5 (con’t) – OLT Jammal Brown, Saints (hip) – Brown, who was emerging as an elite left tackle, suffered a preseason hip injury and will miss approximately six games. Brown’s absence hasn’t slowed the Saints down yet, but it is a problem, because keeping Drew Brees upright is vital for New Orleans.
4 – OLG Chester Pitts, Texans (right knee, IR) – Pitts has been a dependable blocker for Houston, starting 114 consecutive games – which is every game in team history. The Texans have been working on improving their offensive line, which was abysmal early in their history, but depth is still a concern. OL coach Alex Gibbs, who was with Denver during their late-1990s Super Bowl wins, will have to work wonders with Pitts’ backup Kasey Studdard, a third-year player who has played in just seven games without a start so far.
4 (con’t) – OLT Chad Clifton, Packers (ankle) – Clifton will miss at least two games after getting hurt against Cincinnati in Week 2. His injury is a big deal, because fill-in Daryn Colledge was absolutely worked by Antwan Odom for three sacks. The Packers have to get Colledge better prepared or find a better answer if they’re going to survive Clifton’s absence and still move the ball offensively.
3 – ORT Andre Smith, Bengals (foot) – After Smith finally ended his lengthy contract holdout, he almost immediately suffered a foot injury that has kept him from making his NFL debut yet. The Bengals were relying on Smith to start right away, but so far Anthony Collins has been an OK starter.
3 (con’t) – OLG Robert Gallery, Raiders (broken fibula) – Gallery, who has developed into a solid guard in Oakland, suffered a broken left leg and will miss at least a month. His injury forced Chris Morris to move over from center and put free-agent signee Samson Satele in the lineup. That’s not a bad backup plan, but the Raiders will still miss Gallery.
2 – OLG Todd Herremans, Eagles (foot) – Herremans, slated to be the Eagles’ starting left guard, suffered a foot injury in the preseason that so far has cost him the first three games of the season. Herremans’ absence, coupled with the season-ending injury to Shawn Andrews, puts a dent in a unit that the Eagles have tried to focus on making their team’s strength.
1 – OLT Sean Locklear, Seahawks (ankle) – Locklear, who was filling in for Walter Jones at left tackle for Seattle, suffered an ankle injury in Week 2 and will miss at least Week 3. The Seahawks might have caught a break with timing, though, because Jones appears as though he will be able to play this week vs. Chicago. Center Chris Spencer, who has missed the first two games with a quadriceps injury, also appears ready to go. So even with Locklear out, the Seahawks are actually getting healthier up front.