In part one of this series, I looked at what had happened in regards to the impact of injuries on the long term performance/potential of past Lions players. One plyer I didn’t point out (because he has spent more of his career as a Steeler, much of it injured, was Charlie Batch). Thanks to Ken for emailing and pointing that out. I’m sure that I missed others as well.
Injuries aren’t just for the short term — there are always minor injuries like a tweaked ankle, a pulled hamstring, or a stinger. It is when these injuries begin to pile up, one after and on top of another that players start to be weighed down for the long haul. Did Brian Westbrook of the Eagles ever practice for an entire month his whole career?
The present situation on the Lions has several key players recovering from major injury. Today, I will take a look at the impact (and potential impact) of those injuries; Part 3 will focus on the injuries that could be…
Matthew Stafford: Injuries to his knee and shoulder were definitely bothersome last year, and put the rookie signal caller on IR. Despite his gutsy re-entry into the Browns game to throw the game winner showing he can play through the pain, that doesn’t mean he’ll play his best. Stafford seemed to be improving last season until the injuries seemed to set him back a bit. After a minor knee procedure, and lots of rest and rehab, Stafford appears to be doing as well as ever. However, we won’t know until the hits start coming whether or not his shoulder/knee will hold up. Keep in minds, knees are very important to allow the QB to step into his throws. Also, the non-throwing shoulder is still a concern as when you are throwing, there is often reactive force to help velocity (one forward, one back) and pain there can cause accuracy issues. Stafford needs to come back totally healthy from all of these. Considering they were more painful than damaging long term, I think the prospects are good for a full recovery.
Kevin Smith: ACL’s are tricky things, and the recovery time typical of the injury means that, at best, Smith won’t be back to 100% or near it until at least halfway through the season. Smith never depended on his overall speed (so if he is slowed a little by this injury long term, it is not a big impact on his game). Smith is a tough runner, good hands out of the backfield, and an above average blocker – when healthy. He seems to have the mindset that tells me he won’t let this stay on his mind and still run 100%. Let’s not forget, however, that he also had problems with both shoulders last season as well. The cumulative effect on him may not be pretty. No matter how you slice it and dice it, I can’t see Smith having a big impact this season — and the Lions may be cautious and start him on PUP — we just don’t know. As it stands, I would hazard the running back tandem is Mourice Morris and Jahvid Best.
Brandon Pettigrew: On route to a record rookie year for a TE, his knee injury was a set-back for both him and the team. However, like Smith, speed is NOT the most important factor in his game. Pettigrew had the same injury – other knee – when he was younger. Pettigrews game is about a combination of being a great blocker, and being able to position his body for tough catches over the middle for first downs. He never was a stretch the field kind of player, but more of a solid safety valve. IF he can fully rehab this injury as he did in the past, he shoudl be able to pick up where he left off.
Ko Simpson: Ko had micro-fracture surgery this ifseason, and will not be back on the field for some time. This definitely hurts his chances in the Safety Derby for the starting spot next to Delmas. Simpson showed flashes of good – and flashes of awful – last season. He’ll need a quick rehab and solid camp to make an impact for the Lions this year.
Daniel Bullocks: Daniel is close to the definition of “when healthy” for this Lions teams. He showed flashes early in his career of being a solid (not spectacular) safety. Then his knee injury lingered, and he had another injury and surgery to top it all off. He’s had close to a year to rehab, and this is his last shot to make the Lions roster. Even more so than Simpson, Bullocks will need to have a strong camp and show coaches that he still has what it takes to be a starting Safety — or at least solid depth — in the NFL. As one of the few Millen picks left standing, it would be nice to see him pan out and contribute to the Lions after half his career has been spent on IR. Will he be an impact player, depth, cut? Good questions to which I do not have answers.
Jack Williams: He is also coming off an ACL and was brought in from Denver. He theoretically has good potential in the defensive backfield, but I haven’t seen enough on him to know. Seems more of a project than an impact this season.
Tony Scheffler: He currently is sidelined with a boot on his foot. The same foot that gave him trouble in Denver. While his lack of blocking/fit in the McDaniels offense was one reason the Broncos wanted to offload him, injuries were the other. He has been dogged by minor foot injuries his entire career. Still, even in 12-14 games next season he could make a major impact on the passing — especially with Pettigrew rehabbing — IF healthy.
Jared DeVries: After a sever injury cut his season off before it ever got started, DeVries has rehabbed his way back on the team — for now. His veteran pass rush on the Dline was missed sorely last year. Now with KVB and the improved line, is there still a place for him if healthy? Possibly — but more as a mentor and stopgap for younger players. Depending on how Avril, McBride, and Hunter play this season DeVries has one or two more years at best in a Lions uniform — and if they step up enough in camp, possibly zero? I see him making in impact as a solid veteran/rotation/depth guy this season, but there are still many questions at the end position and only some of them lie in Jared’s health.
Any others I missed? What are your thoughts on the recovering Lions? Look for thoughts on injuries and the future in Part 3 of the series.