The team that wins the Super Bowl sometimes isn’t the best, but the healthiest. FOX Sports Senior NFL Writer Alex Marvez analyzes the impact of the 20 biggest player injuries so far during the 2014 season.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY SportsRon Chenoy
St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford (knee)
There wasn’t another Kurt Warner-type Cinderella story waiting to unfold in St. Louis. The 2014 Rams were doomed when Bradford reinjured his knee in the preseason, leaving the team to play mediocre backups Austin Davis and Shaun Hill.
Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer (knee)
Palmer had regained his form as one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks until reinjuring his left knee during a Week 10 loss to St. Louis. Arizona now has to prepare for a playoff run with backup Drew Stanton.
Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III (ankle)
Griffin’s 2014 season got untracked in Week 2 by a dislocated ankle suffered against Jacksonville. Although he has recovered from the injury, Griffin’s Redskins career is mortally wounded. RG3 was benched last week for journeyman Colt McCoy.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY SportsGeoff Burke
Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles (clavicle)
The assumption was that Foles would return as the starting quarterback when recovered from his fractured collarbone suffered against Houston in Week 9. That may no longer be the case with Mark Sanchez posting a 3-2 record in Foles’ absence.
Getty ImagesBob Levey
Minnesota quarterback Matt Cassel (foot)
Cassel knew that he was a placeholder until rookie Teddy Bridgewater was ready to play. But Minnesota had to scrap its plan to bring Bridgewater along slowly when Cassel was injured during a Week 3 loss to New Orleans.
ASSOCIATED PRESSRogelio Solis
Indianapolis running back Ahmad Bradshaw (leg)
Even though Trent Richardson was starting, Bradshaw was the Colts’ best running back until breaking his leg in Week 11 against New England. Bradshaw still leads all NFL running backs in touchdown catches with six.
Getty ImagesJoe Robbins
San Diego running back Danny Woodhead (leg)
The Chargers lost their most versatile offensive weapon in Week Three when Woodhead fractured his fibula and ankle in Buffalo. Woodhead was especially missed when starting running back Ryan Mathews missed seven games with a knee injury.
New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (knee)
Giants quarterback Eli Manning only got a small taste of how productive Cruz and rookie wideout Odell Beckham Jr. could be playing together because of injuries to both. Cruz tore his patellar tendon in Week 6 against Philadelphia.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY SportsEric Hartline
Cleveland center Alex Mack (leg)
Mack had never even missed a snap in six-plus NFL seasons before breaking his fibula in Week 6 against Pittsburgh. Cleveland’s running game is far less consistent since Mack was lost.
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY SportsAndrew Weber
Atlanta tackle Sam Baker (knee)
A second year of injuries that have ravaged Atlanta’s offensive line began when Baker tore his patellar tendon in the preseason. Rookie Jake Matthews is now entrenched at left tackle, which means Baker will play another position in 2015 unless released during the offseason.
Buffalo linebacker Kiko Alonso (knee)
One of the NFL’s top rookies in 2013, Alonso was going to become Buffalo’s defensive lynchpin at weak-side linebacker under new coordinator Jim Schwartz before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during an offseason workout.
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY SporTimothy T. Ludwig
San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis (toe)
Rookie Chris Borland has done a brilliant job replacing Willis. But the 49ers defense would be even more effective if Borland was playing alongside Willis rather than Michael Wilhoite in San Francisco’s 3-4 scheme. Don't forget NaVorro Bowman has also been missing all year.
A sports hernia and illness also have kept Clowney out of games and off the practice field during his rookie campaign. Now he's on IR. In retrospect, maybe the Texans should have gone in another direction with the No. 1 overall pick in last May’s draft.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY SportsMatthew Emmons
Indianapolis linebacker Robert Mathis (Achilles)
The NFL’s reigning sack champion (19.5 in 2013) never got the chance to defend his crown. Mathis tore his Achilles during a workout while serving a four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
New England linebacker Jerod Mayo (knee)
Although still flourishing without him, the Patriots may miss Mayo’s savvy and production in the playoffs. Mayo, who tore his patellar tendon in Week 6 against Buffalo, has now finished the past two years on injured reserve.
Jacksonville linebacker Paul Posluszny (pectoral muscle)
Another terrible year for the Jaguars got even worse when Posluszny tore his pec in Week 7 against Cleveland. A Pro Bowl selection in 2013, Posluszny was on track to lead Jacksonville in tackles for a fifth consecutive season.
Getty ImagesRob Foldy
Arizona linebacker John Abraham (concussion)
The Cardinals placing Abraham on injured reserve only three weeks into the season reflects the serious nature of his head injury. Considering that and his age (he turns 37 next May), the NFL’s active leader in sacks with 133.5 may have played his final down.
Getty ImagesChristian Petersen
New Orleans safety Jairus Byrd (knee)
A porous Saints defense misses the team’s prized offseason free-agent signing. Byrd, who signed a six-year, $54 million contract to leave Buffalo, appeared in only four games after suffering a torn lateral meniscus during an early October practice.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportDerick E. Hingle
New York Jets CB Dee Milliner (Achilles tendon)
The Jets were hoping that Milliner could follow in the footsteps of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie as their top shutdown corner. Instead, New York’s thin secondary was dealt a crushing blow when Milliner went down in Week 6 against Denver.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsBrad Penner
Baltimore cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot)
The Ravens lost their top cover corner to a Lisfranc injury in Week 8 versus Cincinnati. Without Smith, the Ravens surrendered a combined 720 passing yards against Pittsburgh and New Orleans in two of their past three games.