Some Teams Stars are back, but will they be better than ever?

Published on May 14, 2009 by     

matt-hassebeck-motioning-the-offensive-receiversFree agency, the draft, trades. They’ve created the buzz this offseason because those are the means most teams use to re-tool or get that missing piece or two to put them over the top. Yet looking outside of the roster might not be the best way some teams improve.

Think the Vikings aren’t looking forward to getting back sledgehammer middle linebacker E.J. Henderson after he missed most of last season with a foot injury? The Patriots get back quarterback Tom Brady and they felt good enough about his recovery from two knee procedures to trade his ’08 replacement, Matt Cassel, to Kansas City.

Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh didn’t have the best running game in the world but that could change for the better with the return of tailback Rashard Mendenhall, the talented rookie who missed most of last season with a fractured shoulder.

It should never be assumed that a player will be what he once was before he suffered a devastating injury, but if some players who missed substantial time or were slowed by injuries last season have fully recovered and can produce to their potential, the in-house upgrades may be all that’s needed to help their teams contend.

Here’s a look at some teams that stand to gain ground with the return of injured players:
New England Patriots

The Patriots won 11 games without Brady but failed to make the playoffs. They’re seemingly more confident not just in him, but that his surgically repaired knee (follow-up procedures were needed to clear out infection) is healthy enough to push them back to the Super Bowl. Besides dealing Cassel, the Pats are rolling the dice with inexperienced backups Matt Gutierrez, Kevin O’Connell and rookie Brian Hoyer, which shows they feel extra comfortable with the status of Brady’s knee — and his arm.
Pittsburgh Steelers

Running backs Willie Parker (knee, shoulder) and Mendenhall missed 16 games between them, with Mendenhall, the team’s first-round draft pick, managing just 19 carries in four games before going on injured reserve with a fractured shoulder. The Steelers finished 23rd in rushing as a result. That could change this season if the pair stays healthy or at least one of them stays well enough to relieve the other. A rotation of the two might ease the physical burden and allow Pittsburgh to establish a fearsome two-headed monster.
Seattle Seahawks

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck missed nine games with a back injury and threw five touchdowns and 10 interceptions when he did play. All-Pro defensive end Patrick Kerney missed nine games (shoulder). The receiving corps was decimated. The offensive line was banged up, too. Any wonder why Seattle won just four games? If Kerney can create the havoc he has created most of his career, Seattle’s defense, with the addition of linebacker Aaron Curry, could make life a little tougher on the defending NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals. Hasselbeck is healthy so far and he — as well as the ‘Hawks — could flourish with T.J. Houshmandzadeh at wide receiver if he is sheltered by the offensive line.

Dallas Cowboys
Running back Marion Barber missed just one game with a toe injury but it clearly was a hindrance for the hard-charging runner as he averaged a career-low 3.7 yards per carry. As much as a healthy Barber could impact the Cowboys’ running game, the return of Felix Jones from a serious toe procedure that landed him on injured reserve could provide the Cowboys the breakaway threat they lacked out of the backfield and in the return game. Of Jones’ 30 carries, four went for 20-plus yards. He also averaged 27 yards on his 16 kickoff returns, including one he took to the house. Throw in gutsy RB Tashard Choice and not as much demand will be placed on QB Tony Romo.
Minnesota Vikings

With all the talk about Brett Favre and Percy Harvin, the cog of the Vikings’ defense — Henderson — will be back and hungry after missing 12 games last season after a foot injury. Henderson is a playmaker who will be counted on more than ever with the possible four-game suspensions of defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, who tested positive for banned substances in 2008. Henderson also could solidify a defense that released veteran safety Darren Sharper, its cerebral playmaker.
Green Bay Packers

Defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins could ease the transition to a 3-4 scheme and make life easier for outside linebackers Aaron Kampman and Clay Matthews. Jenkins missed 12 games last season with torn pectoral muscles. With his physical style, Green Bay’s front could be radically more effective, especially since he’s just as capable applying pass pressure as he is holding up against the run. Safety Atari Bigby, who played in just seven games last season because of injuries, could emerge as an enforcer in the new defense. The most effective 3-4 defenses allow safeties to excel and the teeth-rattling tackler could be a different-maker if durability issues don’t resurface.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fair Use Notice This website may at times present copyrighted material, the use of which might not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understandings of democratic, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. The author believes that this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U. S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the articles published on this website are distributed without profit for research and informational purposes. In most instances a link is placed to originator of Article and it is never expressly mentioned as written by, we use published by certain entities who write or publish for this said Blog..

Tell Us What's On Your Mind (0)

WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing




Defense Dominates

It’s rare to see a bucket of Gatorade dumped on a coach after a regular-season game, but as ...

Russell Wilson agrees to be girl’s godfather shortly before her death

Russell Wilson's involvement in the Seattle community is no secret. He regularly sets aside time to visit patients in ...

Strong Safety Kam Chancellor Reports to Seahawks

Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor returned to the team Wednesday after sitting out the first two games of the ...
in the 2015 NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field on January 18, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Packers 28-22 in overtime.

Kam Chancellor returning to Seattle Seahawks

The Kam Chancellor holdout has come to an end.The Seahawks safety is rejoining Seattle with or without a ...

Seattle Seahawks players are getting fed up with Kam Chancellor’s holdout

Seattle Seahawks star safety Kam Chancellor's holdout has now lasted all of training camp, preseason, and two regular ...
Seahawks Packers Football

Seahawks Say 0-2 Start is “Nothing to Panic About”

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin had a lengthy, three-part answer ready as soon as the question left a reporter’s ...
Packers Seahawks Football

Aaron Rodgers vs. Seahawks Pass Defense & Other Key Matchups

[caption id="attachment_29109" align="aligncenter" width="499"] Packers Seahawks Football[/caption] The Seahawks’ tough opening stretch of the 2015 season continues in Week ...
Seahawks Rams Football

Seahawks Defense Believes Week 1 Struggles can be “Easily Corrected”

By allowing the fewest points in the league for three straight seasons and the fewest yards for two ...

Shop for 2014 Seahawks Gameday Gear at

Shop for 2014 Seahawks Gameday Gear at





Enter your Email

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz