Each and every year the NFL is riddled with injuries. Lineman and defensive players get hurt all the time, but we don’t hear about it. What we hear and care about are the stars. The big names who we want make all the big plays, but can’t stay on the field enough to make them.
The most frustrating players are the ones with all the talent in the world, but not the body to support them. Every team has one. That guy we all get excited about, has all the talent in the world, but never gets to use it. Year in and year out, these guys come in with high expectations to shake the injury bug, and it all comes crashing down again and again. Some guys are the small injury type, missing a game here and there. While others miss big chunks, we’re talking torn ligaments and broken bones. In 2016 we saw Adrian Peterson and Keenan Allen go down as early as week one. In 2017 we will see at least two more big names go down just as early.
With preseason coming up fast, these injuries are already piling up. The same names seem to circulate every offseason regarding who is recovering and who is already banged up. 2017 will be no different and the stars that we have become so accustomed to being hurt will start dropping like flies. Here are the 15 NFL stars most likely to catch the injury bug again in 2017.
15 Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski is an absolute beast. We all know the Gronk is the best tight in in football. The issue is not his talents, it’s his health. Injuries have become second- nature for Gronk, and he hasn’t played a full 16-games since 2011. Gronk has had three back surgeries, a broken forearm, a torn ACL and a number of other small tweaks.
In 2016 his season ended short on account of another back surgery, his third. While he seems to have made a full recovery, we can’t help but worry about him missing another half- season down the road in 2017. If he stays on the field, Brady’s favorite target will once again be one of the most dangerous players in football. But I’m willing to bet that won’t happen.
14 Ben Roethlisberger
Let’s be honest with ourselves, Big Ben Roethlisberger isn’t playing 16 games. In 14 seasons in the NFL, he has only done so three times. When he finished last year, his knee required surgery and we fully expect something similar at some point this year.
While Big Ben’s name suggests that he would be a tough guy to hurt, quite the opposite is true. Just like teammate Le’Veon Bell, we have come to expect some missed games on Ben’s behalf. The Steelers already realize that they will be lucky to get 13 starts out of him, so we should to. As long as Ben is around for most of the year and the playoffs, we can live with whatever time he has to miss. Maybe this is why he’s considering retiring?
13 C.J. Anderson
C.J. Anderson has only been in the league four years, but that hasn’t stopped his body from breaking down. Just about every year we come into the NFL season expecting big things from Anderson, only to be let down. The main culprit is the injury bug. Anderson has never played a full season, and last year tore his meniscus in Week 7 to keep the trend going.
As we enter 2017, expectations are high again. Anderson’s biggest competition just Devontae Booker just went down with a wrist injury, leaving the reigns in Anderson’s hands. If he remains healthy, he should get a large workload considering the youth Denver has at quarterback. But based on previous seasons, we would expect C.J. to miss at least a handful of games.
12 Jordy Nelson
Let’s face it, older guys in the NFL get hurt. And having a prior injury list doesn’t help any. Jordy Nelson is a proven stud with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. And he’s even got a pretty strong bill of health over the years, considering. But Jordy has had some issues staying on the field of late.
In 2015 Nelson missed the entire season due to an ACL tear. And after having another tremendous year in 2016, he broke two ribs in the NFC playoffs. While Jordy isn’t necessarily injury prone like other guys on here, he has had some nicks. And at 32-years-old, those old bones aren’t always going to be so friendly. Jordy is more likely to stay on the field than most guys on this list, but that doesn’t mean I’d bet on it.
11 Marshawn Lynch
Marshawn Lynch is named “Beast Mode” for a reason. The bruiser is not a guy who’s had a ton of injuries in his career. However, his circumstances are not exactly normal this season either. The last time we saw Lynch was in 2015 when he missed nine games due to a sports hernia. Lynch then retired, missing the entire 2016 season, literally watching from his couch(probably).
Now that he has returned in Oakland, expectations are pretty high for Lynch. But no matter how you slice it, he’s a 31-year-old coming off of retirement, and playing the roughest position in the sport. This doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for good health. Don’t be surprised if we see this version of “Beast Mode” be a whole lot less beastly.
10 Sammy Watkins
After being drafted No.4 overall in 2014, wide receiver Sammy Watkins had a very productive rookie year. In 2015 he was even better, but starting racking up a number of injuries. At first, he was mostly hindered by small hip, groin and rib issues. But before the 2016 season Watkins broke his foot and went on to miss eight games during the year. He had two surgeries on the foot and appears to be ready to go for 2017.
As talented as Watkins has proven to be, it’s hard to ignore the growing amount of injuries. Watkins is entering a contract year and desperately needs to play a near- full season. If he does, he will finish as one of the better wide receivers in the league. However, I’m not too sure just how likely that is at this point.
9 Carlos Hyde
I really should just copy and paste C.J. Anderson’s bio in Carlos Hyde’s. The three year back out of Ohio State has proven he’s got some skill. But like Anderson, the dude just cannot stay healthy. In the last two seasons he has missed 12 games with foot and shoulder injuries.
Now the 49ers have a new regime to call the shots, and Hyde may be on the way out. San Fran drafted rookie back Joe Williams, and Hyde’s injury bug is always a concern. If he manages to win the job, Hyde will be another league workhorse with a weak quarterback. But with his history, Williams might have the job by Week 5. At just age 26, Hyde is due for a breakout, but will his body really allow it?
8 LeSean McCoy
LeSean “Shady” McCoy is the king of being “dinged up”. While he has never suffered anything major or missed more than four games in a year, he always seems to be hurt. In 2016 Shady missed one game due to a hamstring injury and ended the year with a roughed up ankle. He constantly seems to be fighting an ankle, a knee or a hamstring throughout a given year.
In 2017 Shady will be playing his age 29 season. Not only that, but he has racked up over 2,000 touches in his eight year career. In other words, he’s got quite a few miles on those legs. In 2017, the Bills are likely to have Shady carry the load again. With a guy who gets banged up as much as he does, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him missing some games.
7 Doug Martin
When Dougie plays a full 16 games, he is a stud. In 2015 and 2012 Martin was among the league leaders in rushing. However, the other three years have been marred by injuries and he’s failed to play more than 11 games in any of them. A combination of shoulder, knee and hamstring injuries have severely limited his time on the field.
In 2017, Martin will be missing the first three games because of a suspension. Upon return, he will be expected to retain his workhorse role. But I have my doubts. After only being healthy in three out of five years, there is no reason to suspect Martin will be back to his normal self. Serving a three game suspension with no real game play doesn’t help his case either.
6 Alshon Jeffrey
Poor Bears fans. Bears fans finally got a talented, young wide receiver in Chicago. Unfortunately, that talent couldn’t stay on the field enough for them to justify spending on him. Alshon has two 1,000 yard seasons in his five-year career. In the other three, he’s failed to play more than 12 games.
Like others on this list, it’s often nothing serious for Alshon. No major surgeries or torn ligaments. But he has still missed 17 total games over his short career. Over the past two years, most of his missed time has come from bad hamstrings. The 6’3” wideout was a weapon that the Bears loved on the field, but they so rarely got him there at 100%. Now in Philly, Jeffery will look to shake the injury bug, but we’re not betting on it.
5 Le’Veon Bell
Le’Veon Bel might be the most dynamic man in the backfield currently in the NFL. He runs and catches better than just about any back in the league. Unfortunately, Bell doesn’t have that same inept ability to stay healthy. In four seasons he has been fully healthy for just one of them. In each of the past two seasons he has ended the year needing surgery, once on his knee and once on his groin.
In 2017 the Steelers plan to feature Bell again as their primary ball handler. If he stays healthy, he will almost surely have a career year. But as frustrating as it is to hear, it’s not all that likely. After All, he is just one for four on playing 16 games. Let’s just hope it’s the usual and he only misses a game or two at the end of the year.
4 Jordan Reed
Jordan Reed is the third ultra- talented and ultra- injured tight end on this list. If he were healthy, Reed would probably be quarterback Kirk Cousins’ favorite target. But the big man has started in only half of the possible games over the past two years. Each time we see him, he proves to be a monster from the tight end spot. But injuries have kept him from his full potential.
2017 will be no different. When he is on the field, we will be enamored with is talent level. He might even score 10+ touchdowns again in limited time. But he will undoubtedly be missing games. Our only hope is that he can limit it to six or eight games like in past seasons.
3 Keenan Allen
Over Keenan Allen’s last 16 games, he has posted 1,217 yards and eight touchdowns. But those 16 games have come across three seasons. After starting out strong in both 2014 and 2015, Allen’s seasons ended with a broken collar bone and a lacerated spleen. And in 2016, Allen tore his ACL in week one!
Allen has proven that he can be one of the better wideouts in the NFL. And most of his injuries have come on tough luck. But they are injuries nonetheless. If he can stay healthy in 2017, quarterback Philip Rivers will have his favorite target back. If not, he will be just another talented player who never could stay on the field. I have my doubts, but at least we can have some optimism for Allen, too.
2 Jonathan Stewart
Running back Jonathan Stewart is a model of consistency. He has consistently missed at least three games in each of his past five seasons. Stewart is constantly hampered with an ankle or knee injury it seems, leaving us very little confidence that he won’t be again this year. Last year he missed three games due to hamstring and ankle injuries, which we’ve come to expect.
To make matters worse, Stewart is now 30-years-old and entering his 10th NFL season. If there was ever a time for a running back to fall off the cliff (as if he hasn’t already), it would be now. Of all the players on this list, Stewart probably is the least likely to play more a full 16- games this year.
1 Tyler Eifert
We may as well call him Mini Gronk. Tyler Eifert is a towering 6’6” and has 18 touchdowns in his last 21 games. The issue here is that those 21 games are all that he’s played the last two seasons. Eifert played 15 games his rookie season, and since has played just one, 13, and eight. When he is healthy and playing, he is the ultimate difference maker for a quarterback. But he’s unhealthy more often than not.
Eifert missed the start of the 2016 season due to an ankle injury suffered in the Pro Bowl. After playing eight games, he was put on IR with a back injury that eventually led to surgery. Eifert is reportedly back and ready to go for the start of training camp. But he will be back on the trainer’s table before you know it, it’s just about guaranteed.