5 NFL Camp Casualties.

Conor Philpott
By Conor Philpott
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The NFl season began in earnest last week as teams began training camp. The new collective bargaining agreement stipulated that full on contact would be introduced gradually to cut down injuries. That doesn't appear to be the case.

1. Denis Pitta - Baltimore Ravens.

Pitta fractured his hip in a practice session last Friday and has since been ruled out for the year. The Tight-end's loss comes as a massive blow to the Ravens offense. While their defence has arguably improved in the offseason despite the departures of Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe and Ed Reed, the offense looks a bit thin after Anquan Boldin was traded. Boldin had an average regular season last year but he was pivotal in the postseason. Pitta’s role in the Ravens offense grew as the season wore on and he looked set to become a major target for Joe Flacco. The Ravens are more likely to lean on the skills of Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce on offense. The role of Ed Dickson at Tight End will grow and Torrey Smith’s role in the team is now even more important. Some inexperienced players like Tandon Doss and Tommy Streeter will also be expected to contribute. Super Bowl hero Jacoby Jones will also need to show he has more to his game than pure speed, he must seize the chance and work harder (he failed the Ravens Conditioning test 1st time out and passed it on his second go). Pitta’s loss is a big blow and he was going to be crucial to the team this season.

2. Jeremy Maclin, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles

In a struggling Eagles team last year Maclin managed to put together a pretty good season. He finished with 69 catches and 7 TDs. The Eagles are likely to rely more on the run under new Head Coach Chip Kelly but Maclin was the Eagles best wide receiver, his loss will be a big blow despite having relatively decent depth. There’s never a good time to have a season ending injury but this particular cruciate ligament tear will be a big blow to Maclin. He is in his final season before he becomes a free agent. Had he posted similar numbers to his last few seasons he would certainly have been coveted by many different teams. He will also likely miss out on a bigger payday. Now it’s possible the Eagles will sign him on a one year “prove it” deal. He may find himself in a similar spot to Brent Grimes this year who after missing the 2012 season with the Atlanta Falcons signed a one year deal with the Dolphins, should Grimes show he is healthy and back to his previous play he will certainly get a new deal with the Dolphins or other suitors.


3. Santonio Holmes, Wide Receiver, New York Jets

It’s not definite or not whether the Jets’ leading receiver will miss the whole season. but it does seem likely he will miss a significant part of it. This is terrible news for a New York Jets offense that has had its struggles. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez will do well to hold onto his job after poor play last year, the infamous “butt fumble” probably demonstrates the freefall the Jets have undertook since their appearances in the 2009 and 2010 AFC Championship games. Holmes broke bones in the middle of his foot and his recovery has been quite slow such was the severity of the injury. The Jets will hope guys step up in his absence. Jeremy Kerley is an underrated receiver in the slot and was their best performer last year. Stephen Hill will be expected to show more in his second season while Free agent signings like Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow Jr. will be expected to play a bigger role as will Clyde Gates.


4. Percy Harvin, Wide Receiver, Seattle Seahawks.

Prior to his injury for the Vikings last year, Harvin was averaging 7 catches a game for nearly 11 yards a catch. He was traded to the Seahawks in the offseason for a 1st, 3rd and 7th round pick. Big things were expected of both the Seahawks and Harvin this year. The Seahawks have improved their already amazing defence by signing Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett with no losses of note. Harvin bolstered a decent receiving corps and improved the return game immeasurably. I also think it would have been possible to see him involved in the read option packages the Seahawks use as he is a major threat with the ball in his hands and we saw him rush quite a bit with the Vikings. Harvin has a labrum tear in his hip (it is thought it is only slight but would still see him miss significant time). He will more than likely miss the regular season, but if he is lucky he could make the last couple of weeks of the season. The recovery from an injury of this magnitude typically takes between 12-16 weeks.


5. Chris Culliver, Cornerback, San Francisco 49ers

Culliver is a pretty solid cornerback for the Niners who figured to be one of their starters at the start of the season. While his play has been relatively decent for the Niners, Culliver is perhaps mostly remembered for his infamous comments prior to last season’s Super Bowl where he said he would not welcome a Gay player into the team or the locker room. He has since made a U-turn on the matter but Culliver also courted controversy for misogynistic comments on instagram. On the field he would have been an important member of the Niners who had their struggles in the defensive backfield. Without great pressure they looked susceptible to getting burned and they did get burned a couple of times last year with the tail end of the playoffs where star defensive end Justin Smith was carrying an injury a key part of that. Culliver joins the list of many players who are have hurt their ACLs this year

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