The 2013 NFL season was not a kind one to players in terms of injuries. It seemed that every week we saw another superstar go down with a serious injury that either ended or endangered their season.
There were so many injuries last season that some dubbed it the Year of the Injury. And that was before the season had ended.
With so many serious injuries (including some late in the season), many players will be watched as they battle back. Some will be held back, while others will bounce back. Here are the 10 most pressing injuries from last season.
WR Reggie Wayne, IND
Reggie Wayne played just seven games and was on pace for his ninth thousand-yard season before tearing his ACL in the middle of last season.
The Indianapolis Colts are hopeful that Wayne will be 100 percent by the time the season rolls around, and there's no indication to the contrary. He was held out of minicamp by coach Chuck Pagano, but Wayne said he was ready. He will likely participate in training camp as well.
Wayne is a future Hall of Famer, but he will turn 36 this season and is in the twilight of his career. It's tough to come back from substantial injuries like this one when you're as old as Wayne. But we've learned before that we should never doubt him.
C Maurkice Pouncey, PIT
The 2013 season didn't last long for Maurkice Pouncey. He tore his ACL and MCL in his right knee during the Pittsburgh Steelers' opening possession of the season.
The only good news for Pouncey was that his injury came early in the year. He's had plenty of time to recover, and the Steelers clearly think he still has a bright future ahead of him. The team signed him to a five-year, $44 million extension earlier this month.
He is now under contract with the team for the next six years and is the highest paid center in the league. You could say that the team has a lot invested in his health.
QB Tony Romo, DAL
Is any list about the NFL (injury-related or not) complete without Tony Romo? I don't think so.
But the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys is coming off season-ending back surgery that forced him to miss a winner-take-all game for the NFC East title against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17. The Cowboys lost that game with Kyle Orton under center.
Despite the surgery coming so late in the year, Romo appears to be on track for a full recovery. He's been trying to get more reps in practice, even putting on Orton's jersey to sneak onto the field with his teammates. It didn't work.
Nonetheless, Romo is coming off major surgery, and at 34 years old it will be interesting to see how it affects his play in 2014.
QB Aaron Rodgers, GB
Sure, Aaron Rodgers recovered from his injury in time to play in Week 17 and secure a playoff berth for the Green Bay Packers, but any time a former MVP and Super Bowl MVP is coming off an injury that forces him to miss seven weeks, it's a pretty big deal.
Rodgers is a perennial MVP candidate, but his 2013 was marred by a broken collarbone suffered against the Chicago Bears. All indications point to him being 100 percent, but he'll need to avoid reinsuring himself if he's going to help the Packers make another postseason run.
WR Victor Cruz, NYG
Victor Cruz is one of the most exciting receivers in football, but he had a terrible end to his 2013 season. He underwent an arthroscopic debridement of his left knee and suffered a concussion against the Seattle Seahawks, costing him the last two games of the season.
While these injuries aren't devastating individually, the fact that he has multiple ailments to receiver from that both took place so late in the season could be problematic.
While the New York Giants drafted Odell Beckham Jr. this year to play opposite Cruz, the team's passing attack needs its salsa dancer to be a real threat.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG
Speaking of injuries that hurt the G-Men last season, Jason Pierre-Paul was another player whose season ended a few weeks early because of injury.
After suffering a shoulder injury in December, doctors told JPP that his season should be over. While there was a bit of confusion on the part of head coach Tom Coughlin, who said that he didn't know if Pierre-Paul would play again.
However, he missed the last few games of the season as well, and the Giants will need him to be a leader on defense if they are going to make it back to the postseason.
WR Calvin Johnson, DET
Is there a better receiver on the planet than Calvin Johnson? Sorry, stupid question—of course there isn't.
Megatron remains the best wide receiver in football, but he's proven that he is human, and not the cyborg we thought he was. This offseason, Johnson underwent surgeries on his knee and finger to get back to 100 percent.
According to Detroit Lions GM Martin Mayhew, Johnson played most of last season with an injured finger:
"He played the entire season with a finger really that was pointing perpendicular from his body the whole season. He's trying to catch the ball like that. He would never complain about that, but certainly that was a factor, I think, in the way he played."
The finger injury led Johnson to put up a mere 1,492 yards and 12 touchdowns—nearly 500 yards less than the previous season and four touchdowns less than his 2011 total.
Megatron still looked elite last year, but now if he can come back at 100 percent he could show once again why no one else is as good as him.
RB Adrian Peterson, MIN
If you love the game of football (and I'm not sure why you're reading this if you don't), then you're probably hoping that Adrian Peterson is going to be back and stronger than ever after undergoing groin surgery this offseason.
This is the third year in a row that Peterson has needed surgery to repair something, but he doesn't think he's slowing down. In fact, he recently said that hitting the barrier at 30 like most running backs do, "doesn't apply" to him.
Looks like Peterson is confident that he will return healthy, but coming off three surgeries in three years is still troubling.
WR Percy Harvin, SEA
Percy Harvin could be just as electric as a Calvin Johnson or Adrian Peterson, but unfortunately injuries have taken a much heavier toll on him than the other two.
Harvin has played 16 games in a season only once since being drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, and last year was his worst by far. Harvin caught only one pass for 17 yards in the regular season. He then suffered a concussion in the Seattle Seahawks' first playoff game, limiting him to four receptions for 26 yards in the postseason.
However, he showed a flash of his brilliance in the Super Bowl by running for 45 yards on two carries against the Denver Broncos.
With a few more injuries last year, Harvin's path back onto the field is a long one, but if he makes it back the Seahawks could be even better than last year.
LB Clay Matthews, GB
Remember last year when Clay Matthews had to wear what looked like a club on his right hand because of an injury? Yeah, that's not an easy one to come back from.
Matthews needed surgery to repair his broken right thumb…twice.
One surgery is bad enough for most players, but Matthews is coming off of two on the same part of his body. His health will be vital in Green Bay's quest for another championship.