Knee Injuries Plague the NFL at the Beginning of Preseason
Week 1 of the NFL preseason not only brought back the excitement of football, but it also reminded us of just how grueling this sport can be. Every year, there are numerous injuries with each team during the preseason. This year is no different. However, what sticks out among all of these occurrences is the rash of devastating knee injuries. One of the most notable knee injuries during the opening week of the preseason came during the Washington vs New England game.
Washington’s rookie 2nd round draft pick, running back Derrius Guice, suffered a torn ACL and was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Saturday, August 11th. Guice was drafted out of LSU, where he was one of the top backs in all of NCAAF. Washington had high hopes for Derrius and their running game with Guice leading the charge. Now, they will have to turn to Thompson, Perine and the maligned Kelley to pick up the load.
More Knee Injuries
One of Green Bay’s top linebackers Jake Ryan suffered a torn ACL and is also out for the season. Ryan was expected to be the starting inside linebacker in the Packers defense under new DC Mike Pettine. This loss will force the Packers to turn to less experienced players to fill the void.
Tennessee Titans starting safety Johnathan Cyprien tore his ACL in practice and has forced the Titans to look for a potential replacement in free agency where they signed Kenny Vaccaro to take Cyprien’s spot.
The Carolina Panthers lost two offensive linemen this month when right tackle Daryl Williams tore his MCL and dislocated his patella. The Panthers are expected to place Williams on injured reserve but will designate him as a possible return later this year and not shelve him for the entire season. Right guard Amini Silatolu tore the meniscus in his left knee and will miss time. Carolina is hoping to get him back early in the season.
The Chiefs are going to be without safety Daniel Sorensen as he suffered a broken left tibia, torn meniscus and damage to his MCL during a special teams drill at practice. It’s unclear when Sorensen can return. The team is hoping that he will be back sooner than later. However, these injuries could force him to miss at least the first month of the regular season.
The Cardinals suffered a massive blow to their offensive line when they lost starting center A.Q. Shipley to a torn ACL during practice. The veteran offensive linemen started all of the Cardinals games for the last two seasons.
What is a Torn ACL?
The knee joint is where three bones merge: the femur (thighbone), tibia (shinbone) and the patella (kneecap). Ligaments are required to connect all of these bones within the knee joint. There are 4 major ligaments that help to connect the bones and stabilize the knee joint:
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
- Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)
- Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL)
- Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL)
The MCL and LCL are categorized as collateral ligaments and are located on the sides of the knee. The LCL is on the outside of the knee and the MCL is on the inside. They are responsible for controlling the knee’s side to side movements.
The ACL and PCL are categorized as cruciate ligaments and are found on the inside of the knee joint. They cross each other, forming an “X”, and are responsible for controlling the knee’s back and forth motion. Specifically, the ACL runs diagonally through the middle of the knee joint and prevents the tibia from shifting out of the joint and in front of the femur. It also provides stability for rotational movement.
A torn ACL requires surgery as it can’t heal on its own. There was a time when a torn ACL used to mean the end of a player’s career. Nowadays, torn ACL’s can be healed within 6 months depending on the success of the surgery and the football player.
These teams mentioned above will be forced to find replacements and create new plans based on the loss of their key players. However, these examples above were only focused on knee injuries. There are many other players missing significant time due to other preseason injuries like torn Achilles, fractures, concussions and neck issues.
The gravity of these torn ACLs is what keeps most NFL coaches up late at night trying to find the right balance of preseason action with protecting key players from devastating injuries before the regular season starts.
Week 2 of the NFL season starts on Thursday. We’ll see if there are any other teams that suffer catastrophic losses due to knee injuries.
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