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Saturday, November 14, 2009

How Battered is Your Favorite NFL Team?

The Philadelphia Eagles are beaten up, and their roster has taken some big hits.

For example:

Going into the season, here is what their offensive line was projected to look like:

RT Stacy Andrews
RG Shawn Andrews
C Jamal Jackson
LG Todd Herremans
LT Jason Peters.

But Stacy Andrews, a somewhat big free-agent signing, hasn't materialized. Shawn Andrews went on injured reserve with a bad back, and some surmised that he wasn't fully recovered from the bout he had with depression last season. Herremans missed about 5-6 games recovering from foot surgery, and Peters has been banged up here and there.

RB Brian Westbrook hasn't fully recovered from his bad ankle, and he's missed a few games because of a concussion. MLB Stewart Bradley had a bad knee going into training camp and then blew it out in a pre-season practice at Lincoln Financial Field. Starting LB Chris Gocong missed last game with leg injuries. The injuries at LB were bad enough, but then neither Joe Mays nor Omar Gaither established himself in the middle, and then Gaither suffered a Lisfranc sprain to his foot (a very painful injury that requires surgery), so he's on the injured reserved list and out for the season. The team then traded for career outside linebacker Will Witherspoon, who's a bit undersized for the middle, to play the middle (this after former MLB Jeremiah Trotter, out of football for 2 years, came back and proved that he's a few steps too slow to play regularly). So, with Gocong hurt, you saw backups Tracy White and Mose Fokou get more playing time. Fokou had two huge penalties against Dallas last week -- one on an interception return and one on a kickoff (the latter negated a TD runback by Ellis Hobbs).

So now we get to the secondary, where Joselio Hanson is on the shelf for four games for taking a diuretic that's on a banned list as a steroid. That's bad enough, but Hobbs just went onto the injured reserve list, as he'll need neck surgery. Those two develops prompted the signing of a free-agent cornerback and the elevation of a cornerback from the practice squad.

And, of course, QB Donovan McNabb got hurt in the first game of the season and then missed the next two games. WR Kevin Curtis has missed the entire season with injuries (fortunately for the Eagles, rookie Jeremy Maclin has made the team all but forget Curtis).

All of the above, of course, are only the publicized injuries. You can only imagine what "smaller" injuries -- contusions, bone bruises, sprains, lacerations -- that each player is dealing with to some degree.

Got all that?

And the team has only played half of its games. When the Eagles went to the Super Bowl in 2004, I recall that only two players went on the injured reserve and that the team was very healthy for the entire season. A season or two later, 11 players ended up on the I.R.

So, as you watch the NFL during the second half of the season, look for a correlation between a team's health and happiness. The healthier the team, the happier it's players and fans will be with its results.


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