I’ll admit it. A single season of football would cripple me. Probably even a single game. I’m 6’3″ and a whole 175 pounds of nothing. You think A.J. Green looks fragile? He’s almost thirty pounds heavier than me, and can probably beat me in the 40-yard dash doing back-flips the whole time.
Unfortunately even football players, with all of their physical talents, builds, and training, can’t dodge a season-ending injury here and there. It’s why NFL contracts are so top-heavy with signing bonuses galore. Some players, like these, don’t even make it to the regular season.
Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck may have already been crowned as the next football prince of Indianapolis, but the Colts are still constantly stressing that their run game will be an integral part of their offense. In the past two years, the Colts have picked up Ahmad Bradshaw and traded draft picks for Trent Richardson, but these moves seem like band-aids for the player they want on the field as long as possible until his annual injury eventually sidelines him: Vick Ballard.
Last year, Ballard didn’t even last a full game before tearing his right ACL and finishing the season on injured reserve. This year, Ballard didn’t even last a full week of training camp before tearing his left Achilles tendon and ending his season. He will not, however, be placed on injured reserve until the waiver period of training camp ends because the Colts want to see how long it takes Ballard to be injured next season.
Aaron Ross, Baltimore Ravens
Aaron Ross has had a pretty long, fulfilling life in football years. He may not be in the Twitter Wars with Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson, and Darrelle Revis for the title of “Greatest Cornerback in the NFL… Today,” but Ross has been part of a secondary that stopped Tom Brady of the Patriots from making his usual fourth quarter comeback, to help the New York Giants win the Super Bowl. TWICE.
This season, Ross found himself in Baltimore as the Ravens scramble to rebuild a defense that hasn’t been the same since Ray Lewis and Ed Reed departed. It may have been a good fit, but we may never know. Ross tore his Achilles tendon at the beginning of training camp. What’s even crazier is that the injury didn’t happen during a practice, or even position drills. It happened during a conditioning test. Obviously, Ross wasn’t in very good condition. Test: failed. We’ll see if he gives it another shot next year.
Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys defense was the worst last season. No, really. Statistically the worst in almost every team category. Total yards? Last. Yards per game? Last. Points? Seventh to last. Points may seem important, but it’s also important to know that all those yards mean that offenses worked them down the field all the time to earn those points.
This season, the Cowboys look to be even worse. Defensive end sack machine DeMarcus Ware left for Denver. No big deal, right? The Cowboys have some young, up-and-coming talent, right? The punchline is that one of those talented players, linebacker Sean Lee, blew out his knee during OTAs in May, ending his season before training camp even started.
Kiko Alonso, Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills have been pushing out a great defense these past few years, like all AFC East teams that aren’t the Patriots. It seems that everyone has the same idea: stop Tom Brady, and a win will come. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet as the New England Patriots are favored to win the division yet again.
One of the stars of the Bills defense is second-year linebacker Kristian “Kiko” Alonso, who broke into the NFL last year as a second round draft pick and ended the season as the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately, this year isn’t starting off so good as Kiko finds himself done for the year after tearing his ACL during off-season workouts.
Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers
The good news for the San Francisco 49ers is that Frank Gore is happy and healthy. I’m sure he would be happier if the 49ers won a Super Bowl so that he could do his own version of a Marshawn Lynch contract negotiation but, for now, Gore seems happy.
The bad news is that no one seems happy and healthy behind Frank Gore at the running back position. Their 2012 draft pick Marcus Lattimore still has yet to practice one time in the past two years due to a knee injury. Now Kendall Hunter is out for the season after tearing his ACL at the beginning of training camp. The back-up role now falls to rookie Carlos Hyde, until he joins the injury list as well.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.