The NFL injury rate was significantly more pronounced last season than it had been in recent years. According to nflfastR, a website which describes it as “a set of functions to efficiently scrape NFL play-by-play data,” the league saw a roughly 14% rise in injuries in 2020 from the previous decade as noted in an article published by Sportico last January.
Some of the more notable injuries were Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott sustaining a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle against the Giants in Week 5. Giants running back Saquon Barkley tearing the ACL in his right knee in Week 2. And Cincinnati Bengals rookie QB Joe Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft, tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee. All three returned to start Week 1 of this season. The Philadelphia Eagles were the team with the highest number of player games missed due to injuries and COVID-19 in 2020 with 128.1.
Even before this regular season began, several teams saw their Super Bowl aspirations become substantially less attainable due to players being lost for the season. Perhaps none more so than the Baltimore Ravens. Last Thursday in a span of minutes, Ravens defensive back Marcus Peters and running back Gus Edwards, a product of Tottenville High School on Staten Island and Rutgers University, suffered torn ACLs that ended their seasons. Both are key members of a Ravens club that had the requisite talent to be a strong championship contender.
The team had already lost second-year running back J.K. Dobbins, who had a promising rookie campaign, for the year to a torn ACL on Aug. 28 in a preseason game versus the Washington Football Team in addition to running back Justice Hill, who will also be sidelined for the entire season after injuring an Achilles tendon on Sept. 2.
“I think you mourn for a day, and we fight today,” said Raven head coach John Harbaugh one day after Peters and Edwards went down. “We got a really good team, a lot of great players. We can move forward. The train is moving fast.” The Ravens began their 2021 regular season with a 33-27 overtime loss to the Las Vega Raiders on the road on Monday.
The Jets are also among the teams hit hard. Left tackle Mekhi Becton is expected to be out at least six weeks after dislocating his right kneecap on Sunday in the Jets 19-14 defeat to the Carolina Panthers. Even before Sunday, the Jets were placed in a deficit when defensive end Carl Lawson, who was being counted on to provide a major impact after signing with them in March as a free-agent for three-years and $45 million, ruptured an Achilles during a joint practice with the Green Bay Packers on Aug. 19.