Following an abnormal off-season due to the pandemic, the 2021-2022 NFL season saw an alarmingly high number of injuries. Teams had to battle health and safety protocols in addition to the normal wear and tear of an NFL season. Some clubs suffered more than others. Several lost multiple impact players, or were forced to test their depth after a position group became depleted. A few notable players played through injuries in pursuit of that elusive Super Bowl title.
As training camps open up, here is a look at some of the most impactful players coming off an injury.
Former first-round pick and five-time Pro-Bowler Ramsey played through AC joint injuries in both shoulders to become a Super Bowl Champion last season. Ramsey only needed surgery on one of his AC joints this offseason, and is expected to be ready to go Week 1 after avoiding the PUP list to start Training Camp.
Since coming into the league in 2016, Ramsey has been regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Throughout his career, he has never been shy about vocalizing his opinion on the matter to anyone who will listen. In 2020, Ramsey became the highest paid defensive back at that time signing a five-year 100 million dollar contract with the Rams. Many would agree that he has earned every dollar of that contract due to his 15 interceptions, 74 pass deflections, and now Super Bowl title.
The Rams are in great shape to defend their title after making Aaron Donald the highest paid non-Quarterback in NFL history and with a healthy Ramsey essentially taking away half of the field. Throw in an innovative young head coach and a juggernaut offense, and continued success is almost inevitable.
Garoppolo has been in the headlines constantly over the past few seasons. Despite above average play on the field, he can’t seem solidify himself as a franchise QB. It all began when the Patriots traded him away in hopes of enjoying Tom Brady for a few extra years, and continued when the 49ers drafted Trey Lance.
It seems like a foregone conclusion that two-time Super Bowl Champion will be wearing new colors this season. As the football world anxiously waits to see where he will end up, Garoppolo has been granted permission to search for a new home for this upcoming season.
He is coming off of shoulder surgery and was recently cleared to start throwing Garoppolo is expected to be cleared for practice by mid-August. Once his health concerns are resolved, Garoppolo is expected to perform well under center… wherever that may be.
Once considered a Top 5 WR, Thomas is coming off an ankle injury and hopes to re-solidify his place in the minds of the football community. Thomas holds several Receiving records including; most receptions by a player through their first five seasons (510) and the single season reception record (149).
Thomas has racked up 32 touchdowns and nearly 6,000 receiving yards in his five seasons played in the NFL. It is well documented that Thomas had the benefit of catching most of these passes from future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. With less stability at the QB position for New Orleans, Thomas looks to return and lead the Saints in the post-Brees era.
Still battling ankle issues, Thomas enters camp on the PUP list. Although Thomas may not be available at the start of the season, the Saints are hopeful that he will make his return during the 2022 season.
Since entering the league, White has been a stand out. The former first-round pick was the fifth cornerback selected in the 2017 draft. One could argue that he has has a better career than all of the corners picked in front of him. White is a two-time Pro-Bowler, and led the league in interceptions in 2019.
White is recovering from an ACL tear on Thanksgiving Day last year and is entering training camp on the PUP list. Despite not being able to participate in offseason activities, the Bills are remaining optimistic that he will be ready to play Week 1.
The Bills are a Super Bowl contender, and White will be a necessary piece to put them over the top. Josh Allen and that high powered offense will benefit from White’s ball hawking and open field tackling ability.
The Green Bay Packers have had an interesting last couple of seasons. Of course the majority of the controversy has been around the Aaron Rodgers saga. Rodgers has enjoyed being protected by Bakhtiari for the better part of a decade, and without him up front Rodgers’ performance has noticeably regressed.
When healthy, Bakhtiari is widely regarded as one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL and the anchor of the Packers offensive line. The three-time Pro-Bowler just might be the missing piece that keeps Aaron Rodgers from hosting jeopardy.
Bakhtiari is coming off an ACL tear in 2020 and has seen limited action since the injury. Although he is currently on the PUP list, it is likely a precaution to ensure that he fully healthy for the season.
The former second-overall pick is looking to live up to the hype of being a potential “generational talent” this season. After a storied career at Ohio State, Young came into the league on a terror. In his rookie campaign, Young played in 15 games and racked up 44 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles.
Year 2 was shortened by an unfortunate ACL tear, but Young was well on his way to another great year. In just 9 games, he recorded 26 tackles, and 2 forced fumbles despite facing almost constant double teams. When healthy, Young is widely considered one of the best young defensive players in the league.
Young is ready to take his career to the next level as the Commanders enter into a pivotal season for the rebranding of their franchise. Based on his rehabilitation progress, he should be ready for Week 1 despite likely being on the PUP list to start camp.
As the season draws near and player health is paramount, one can only hope that these playmakers can stay healthy and on the field. As Brian Dawkins once said, “ The best ability is availability.”