NFL: The Injuries and The Injured

As we all know, football is a physical sport that requires a lot of mental strength as well as physical strength and sometimes during the season, players break. Starting the 2022-23 season, there were many players coming back from injury, most notably Saquan Barkley, Derrick Henry, Deandre Hopkins, Khalil Mack, JJ Watt, and Christian McCaffrey. In their return all players performed differently, some picked up where they left off and others fell off. 

On the offensive end, the running backs Derrick Henry and Saquan Barkley, both former pro bowlers, came off injury for their respective teams’ first games of the season. Henry suffered a broken foot during the Titans’ week 8 matchup against the Colts in the 2021 season, and Barkley has had a career riddled with injury, having a season-ending ACL tear in 2019 against the Bears and struggling to get back in pro bowl shape. Deandre Hopkins and Christian McCaffrey, both former all-pro players, have also come back from devastating injuries. Hopkins suffered an MCL injury against the Rams in 2021 which sidelined him for the entirety of the 2021 season, while McCaffrey suffered 2 injuries during the 2021 season, the first was a hamstring injury against the Texans which had him missing 5 games, and the second was a season-ending unspecified ankle injury. So far, by week 13 all the offensive players have had incredible bounce-back seasons. Derrick Henry has had far from one of his best seasons but is still having an all-pro season, leading the NFL in rush attempts and having the 3rd most rushing yards with 1,078. Saquan Barkley is arguably having a better season than Henry, although having fewer rush yards with 1,055, he has 16 fewer rush attempts but more yards per attempt at 4.4 to Henry’s 4.2. Deandre Hopkins has had a great year so far only playing 6 games with 574 yards averaging 95.7 yards per game with a 76.6% catch rate, having his second-most yards per game season and his best catch % season, he has a good chance to be an all pro this year. McCaffrey has had a historical year with a triple crown (receiving touchdowns, rushing touchdowns, and passing touchdowns) in his 2nd game with the 49ers accomplishing a feat only done 3 other times. He also has accumulated 1,259 scrimmage yards being the 7th leading player in scrimmage yards and having a pro bowl season after being traded to the 49ers.

On the defensive side of things, JJ Watt and Khalil Mack both former Defensive Player of the Year suffered season-ending injuries in the 2021 season. Mack had an unspecified toe injury, he suffered it during a week 3 matchup against the Browns but continued to play 4 more games before having season-ending surgery. Watt tore his labrum, bicep, rotator cuff and dislocated his shoulder during a week 7 matchup against his former team the Texans. On this end, the bounce-back results are different than the offensive side. Khalil Mack has had a mediocre year to his standards only having 7.0 sacks, 10 quarterback hits , and 10 tackles for loss, clearly having exited his prime now. JJ Watt has had an equally poor season only having 6.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hits, and 8 tackles for loss. In his 12th season, father time might’ve already caught up to the future Hall of Famer.

Although a lot of the stars who had injuries recovered fairly well, this year has already had a cluster of stars injured, including, Aaron Donald,  Jonathan Taylor, Elijah Mitchell, Trey Lance, and Kyle Pitts just to name a few. We’ll have to wait until next season to see how this batch of stars recovers.