Training camp has started league wide and already we’re receiving the unfortunate news of some players being out for the season. As an NFL fan you know the bad news is coming, it’s the nature of the beast, you just hope it’s not a critical player for the team you root for. Even then, your heart goes out to a player that sees his dreams and goals crushed before the season even gets underway. Much debate can be had over how much preparation and risk should go into a team’s plans prior to week 1 of the regular season, but due to the violent nature of the sport it’s impossible to avoid that these things will happen. All you can hope for is to see these injuries reduced. Already out for 2014 are the following:
Kiko Alonso, WLB, Buffalo Bills
This is the biggest blow we’ve seen so far. Alonso as a 2nd round pick was the best defensive rookie in the NFL not named Shelden Richardson last season. Not many expected him to make such an immediate impact, but he was a home run draft pick for a franchise that’s only had one winning seasons since 2000. Losing him will not boost the morale of a fan base that’s already in the dumps. The impact on the field is huge as Alonso figured to be relied on even more this season.
Kendall Hunter, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Most gutting for Hunter is that he’s entering a contract year. Now instead of being Frank Gore’s primary backup in 2014 with a shot at garnering some league wide interest going into 2015, he’ll be rehabbing an ACL in preparation for free agency. Hunter has been an excellent change of pace back for Gore over the last three years and his loss is a big one. If there’s any silver lining here it’s that the 49ers have some depth at this position and they have to feel even better about drafting Carlos Hyde now. That said, they’ve also now lost LaMichael James for the forseeable future with an elbow dislocation and Marcus Lattimore has poor recent health history as well.
Tyler Gaffney, RB, Carolina Panthers
The 6th round pick from Stanford wasn’t a given to make the roster, but with Jonathan Stewart battling hamstring issues this was a terrific opportunity to get added reps for the backup backs in Carolina. Instead, Gaffney will spend this season dealing with his torn meniscus.
Carl Nicks, G, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Not only is he done for the season, he’s retired. Once upon a time the Bucs made Nicks the richest guard in NFL history. Unfortunately a long battle with foot issues that involved a terrible staph infection have cost Nicks his career at 29 years of age. The Bucs likely didn’t expect much from Nicks given how things had gone the last couple of seasons, but when you consider the expectations he had coming in this is bitterly disappointing for both the player and the organization.
Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Things are just unfair for Ballard. After rushing for 814 yards as a rookie in 2012, he tore his ACL in 2013 and missed the entire season. Coming back from such a devastating injury was tough enough, but based on the promise of his inaugural campaign many believed he could push for significant playing time (if not start). Unfortunately he won’t be pushing Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw as he’s ruptured his Achilles tendon.
Sidney Rice, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Maybe less of a factor than some since he plainly retired because injuries mounted over the course of his career and his heart was no longer in it. The Seahawks weren’t necessarily relying on Rice to produce in a big way, but they were certainly hopeful he could come in and contribute a bit. It’s surprising to see him call it quits prior to camp after courting several teams in free agency.