Several teams spent the offseason coping with injuries to key players, including headliners like RGIII and Darrelle Revis. With training camp just over the horizon, there are plenty of questions about whether or not those players will be ready to go when teams put on pads next month. Here’s a look at the biggest players recovering from injury, and where they stand with just over a month until camps open.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the bold move to trade their 2013 first round pick for the cornerback in hopes he’d be the missing part to their defense. The did so despite being unsure of his future situation, following an ACL injury in 2012. It was a reactionary move by Tampa Bay, but a vital one considering the Bucs play in a division boasting Roddy White, Julio Jones, Steve Smith, and Marques Colston — all 1,000-yard receivers.
Revis has been putting in overtime to be ready for training camp, according to Sports Talk Florida — which puts him ahead of early projections. Initially there were questions whether Revis would be ready for the start of the regular season, with camp being an outside possibility.
Tampa Bay’s secondary has struggled since parting ways with Aqib Talib, and the longer Revis is involved to the installation of the defense the better. In a team that relies on running the football and playing tight defense, he could be Tampa Bay’s ace in the hole.
An ACL injury helped knock the Redskins out of the playoffs, but 2012′s rookie of the year is looking to make an early comeback. According to a report from USA today, RGIII has been throwing since late April, and continues to work on his surgically repaired knee.
Griffin’s father said the Redskins’ quarterback is ahead of schedule, based on the recovery he made while playing for Baylor. The quarterback sustained a similar injury in college, which raised questions about his durability at the NFL level. What’s more encouraging than him working out is the nature of the throws Griffin has been making, as the quarterback alluded to working on rolling out and throwing on the run via his Twitter account.
This is important because it rules out RGIII solely doing arm work up to this point. He was unable to participate in Washington’s minicamp, and unlike the team’s handling of him in the playoffs, they’re reticent to push him now. There’s a tacit understanding that Griffin is the team’s future, and if making him ready for the start of the regular season would jeopardize his long-term health, it’s unlikely the Redskins will risk it.
Playing though pain is an accepted part of the NFL. The Giants‘ defensive end took it to the next level after it was revealed he dealt with pain and discomfort due to a herniated disk in his back in 2012.
Pierre-Paul underwent back surgery in early June, and continues to recover on a path with an estimated 12-week recovery time. He was unable to participate in the team’s minicamp, and is certain to be ruled out from the team’s training camp in a month.
The 2012 season was a disappointing one by Pierre-Paul’s standards, finishing with 6.5 sacks, the lowest since his rookie year where he played a rotational role. There hasn’t been any link between the injury and his lowered production, but it’s likely given the pain he played though.
Pierre-Paul told the media that the surgery should enable him to be pain-free in 2013, hopefully allowing him to return to his 2011 form. In that season he finished with 16.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
It’s been a difficult off-season for the Patriots‘ star tight end, as he recovers from the same injury Pierre-Paul dealt with. His off-season surgery was the second herniated disk repair Gronkowski has suffered, after sustaining a similar injury at Arizona.
His timetable for return is less clear than Pierre-Paul’s, as NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that Gronkowski will begin preseason on the Patriots’ PUP list. However, it’s important to note that New England have always been reticent about providing accurate injury information to the media, which could put his recovery sooner than expected, or push it back into the regular season.
The Carolina Panthers became the butt of jokes when they elected to sink over $80 million into running back extensions. Stewart has struggled with leg issues since being drafted in 2008, routinely missing reps in training camp — despite being available during the regular season.
Stewart underwent surgery on both ankles this off-season, trying to finally make him pain-free for the start of the season. Earlier this year it was expected he’d miss the Panthers’ OTAs, but be ready for training camp — however a recent report from the Charlotte Observer indicated that general manager Dave Gettleman was non-committal on whether the running back would be ready for the team’s training camp in July.
DeAngelo Williams is a capable back, but lacks the every-down ability to move chains. The pressure will be on Cam Newton to pick up hard yards — which could hurt the offense to start the year.
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