We’re merely one week into the preseason and NFL injuries are continuing to pile up. Here’s the latest group of players to suffer serious or season-ending injuries and how their teams will have to cope with the loss:
Danario Alexander, Chargers – This is a tough break for Alexander, who could have been poised for a big season, but also for the Chargers, who had Alexander penciled in as a starter and were expecting a lot from him in 2013. The Chargers don’t appear to be in a rush to check out the free agent market to fill the void left by Alexander, so they’ll have to get more than they expected from guys like Malcolm Floyd (who may be facing a serious injury himself), Vincent Brown, and Robert Meachem. Rookie Keenan Allen could benefit the most, as he now as ample opportunity to push for a starting spot right away. Of course, none of the receivers mentioned are sure things to be productive and reliable options, which means the loss of Alexander could loom large for San Diego in 2013.
Bryan Bulaga, Packers – It’s never a good thing to lose your starting left tackle, but that’s the position Green Bay is in after Bulaga’s knee injury. First in line to replace him is rookie David Bakhtiari, who the Packers picked up in the fourth round. Not many believed Bakhtiari would be a left tackle in the NFL heading into the draft, and so not only does he have a lot to prove to critics, but he is also responsible for protecting the blindside of one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Derek Sherrod is on the PUP list and should be out a while, so unless they find someone in free agency, the Packers will have to live with Bakhtiari at left tackle and hope they don’t suffer any more injuries along the offensive line. He was fine in pass protection during his first preseason game, but obviously things are going to get tougher for him during the regular season, so it should be a while before the Packers feel completely comfortable with their pass protection.
Joe Morgan & Kenyon Coleman, Saints – The Saints will be forced to make adjustments on both offense and defense due to the loss of Morgan and Coleman. Morgan isn’t a starter, but he was their third best receiver and incredibly dangerous as a deep threat, averaging 38 yards per reception last season. Without Morgan, depth becomes an issue for New Orleans, as they’ll have to look to younger guys like Nick Toon, Chris Givens, or rookie Kenny Stills to make significant contributions. As for Coleman, he was going to be a starter and brought a lot of experience to the table. Without him, youngster Akiem Hicks will likely take his place at defensive end. Hicks was previously working at nose tackle for New Orleans, so the injury to Coleman will force them to shift around their defensive front, which could create some issues if they’re unable to find the right combination.
Arrelious Benn, Eagles – Benn doesn’t seem like a huge loss, but after losing Jeremy Maclin for the year and all the issues surrounding Riley Cooper, losing another wide receiver for the season is significant for Philadelphia. The Eagles now have little depth at wide receiver, even if they choose to hang onto Cooper. At least Benn was a player they were familiar with, and now the Eagles will be forced to go with young unproven players or search deep into the free agent pool to find receivers that can learn Chip Kelly’s offense and be productive for them.