Not that this doesn't happen every year in the NFL, but the list of injuries and suspensions this offseason could prove to be catastrophic for some teams. Training camp is less than three weeks away and some teams are already scrambling to find replacements.
We've already seen the NFL's leader in receiving yards reportedly suspended for the year, the defensive rookie of the year blow a knee out and the NFL's sack leader from last season placed on a four game suspension.
Let's take a look at some of the biggest injuries and suspensions so far, and what that team will do to replace it's star.
WR Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
The NFL's leading receiver in yards last season is reportedly facing a season long suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Gordon is no stranger to the rule as he was suspended the first two regular season games last season for violating the policy. He reportedly failed another drug test to warrant the suspension. The third year player has an appeal set for late July on the matter. And things continue to get worse for the superstar. Gordon was arrested over the weekend for DWI after blowing a .09 in North Carolina.
In the meantime, the Browns front office has made some moves in case the star wideout is suspended for a lengthy period of time. They signed free agent wide receivers Miles Austin and Anthony Armstrong to try and help fill the void if need be. They had also brought in Earl Bennet, but was just recently waived by the team. Before any news of this, the Browns addressed the position by adding Nate Burleson and Andrew Hawkins as well. Still a very tough find to replace a high quality player like Gordon.
LB Kiko Alonso, Buffalo Bills
Alonso tore his ACL earlier this week while working out in Oregon. He's expected to miss the entire 2014 season and is a crushing blow to the Bills defense. Alonso registered a team high 159 tackles in his rookie campaign. That was good enough to land him defensive rookie of the year honors as he pulled in four interceptions as well.
The Bills will most likely have to turn to Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers, who were brought in via free agency. The plan was to move Alonso to weakside linebacker and have Spikes play where Alonso did. The Bills also drafted linebacker Preston Brown, who comes out of Louisville, and have fourth round pick from 2012 Nigel Bradham there as well.
LB Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys
The fifth year linebacker out of Penn St just can't stay on the field recently. Lee tore his ACL in late May in OTA's and is out for the entire season. Despite playing in just 11 games last year, Lee was second on the team in tackles and led the team in interceptions with four. His 2012 campaign was cut short as well with a toe injury after playing in just six games.
Lee will most likely be replaced by Justin Durant, who was also bothered by injuries last season. Durant was only able to play in ten games last year registering 24 tackles. The Cowboys also recently made a trade to pick up wonder man Rolando McLain. The Cowboys are hoping he can finally play up to his potential after retiring from the NFL two different times already.
LB Sean Witherspoon, Atlanta Falcons
Another crucial blow to a team's linebacking core. Witherspoon ruptured his achilles this offseason and is out for the year. He would have been the team's starting middle linebacker, but will have his season cut short for the second straight year. He missed ten games in the 2013 season.
Witherspoon will most likely be replaced with Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu. The two combined for 212 tackles and 5.5 sacks last season. The Falcons are transitioning to more 3-4 fronts, so maybe that will help take the load off the loss of Witherspoon.
Here are a few key suspensions to look out for:
- LB Robert Mathis, Indianapolis Colts (4 games)
- LB Dion Jordan, Miami Dolphins (4 games)
- CB Brandon Browner, New England Patriots (4 games)
- TE Fred Davis, Washington Redskins (Indefinite)
- LB Daryl Washington, Arizona Cardinals (season)
- WR Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars (indefinite)
- S Will Hill, New York Giants (6 games)
- OL Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles (4 games)
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