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What Can Go Wrong: Injuries

I don’t know what the average number of injuries, their severity and to what positions is typical for an NFL team, or even if that information would be informative. I do know that when a team suffers an injury to a starter, their replacement is usually worse. So when I say that the Seattle Seahawks were abnormally lucky with injuries in 2007, it’s not because I know that they suffered fewer or less severe injuries than should be expected. It’s because when the team lost Chuck Darby, Shaun Alexander and Mack Strong, each was replaced with a superior player. We cannot expect a similar turn of fortune in 2008.

Predicting injuries can be dicey. Older players are typically more susceptible to injury than younger players, but certain members of Seattle’s geriatric have an out. Walter Jones is a future Hall of Famer whose play, ability to protect his body and resulting excellent and consistent health is alike his enshrined peers. Matt Hasselbeck has enjoyed good health most of his career, and the injuries that commonly befall quarterbacks are decidedly of the freak, unpredictable type. As for the rest…

Rocky Bernard: Turned 29 April 19, Bernard is not “old” for a defensive tackle. He has a lengthy recent history of minor injuries. Bernard missed the final two games of 2007, but mostly as a precaution. In the past two seasons, Bernard has transitioned from a quick single-gap tackle to more of a run stuffing two-gap tackle. That’s not unlike “old player skills” in baseball.

My Guess: Will miss time, could suffer lingering ineffectiveness.

DT Depth: Excellent

Bobby Engram: Engram is an old 35, having turned 35 before Seattle’s season even ended. Engram enjoyed/endured a career high in receptions in 2007. The last time he surpassed 70 receptions in a season (1999), he played only three games the following season. Good overall health most of his career, he’s missed time in only 6 of 13 seasons.

My Guess: Will miss significant time in 2008.

WR Depth: Poor

Patrick Kerney: He doesn’t turn 32 until December 30. Kerney missed 7 games in 2006 after suffering a torn right pectoral muscle tackling tight end Steve Heiden—the only 7 games Kerney has missed throughout his career. Only 12 injury mentions in 9 year career, Kerney is known for his excellent conditioning and health.

My Guess: Will not miss time.

DE Depth: Very Good

Julian Peterson: It’s hard to believe he will turn 30 July 28. Peterson is among the most athletic players in the NFL. He missed 11 games in 2004 after tearing his Achilles tendon and was visibly slowed in 2005. Peterson plays a little fast and loose, sometimes putting his body in dangerous spots.

My Guess: Should age gracefully, could miss significant time.

LB depth: Very Poor

Brian Russell: Russell turned 30 two days after the Giants won the Super Bowl. Both facts are a little hard to believe. Russell entered the league in 2001, having none of the tools that get a player drafted, much less invited to the combine. But unlike so many fast, quick, muscular busts, Russell has parlayed a good work ethic and some football savvy into a respectable career. Unfortunately, when age hits the tools, the tool-less are especially crippled. Russell’s extremely conservative play might spare him excess wear and opportunities for injury, but should Russell get hurt, he could quickly slide into an Alexandrian late-career black hole.  Non-contact, running strains, like hamstring or groin pulls, could be enough make Russell a true liability.

My Guess: Should avoid injury; can’t afford not to.

S Depth: Average