How Two Major Receiver Injuries Will Impact The Upcoming NFL Season
Hopefully you haven't already had your fantasy draft.
There is an ongoing debate about whether the preseason should be shortened or even eliminated, and that conversation is heightened every year when meaningful injuries occur in these meaningless games. Considering the fact that it seems far-fetched at this point to think an agreement will happen that, for example, lengthens the regular season but shortens the preseason, teams must deal with the battle of how to treat playing time in these games.
As it does each year, preseason injuries have already begun to wreak havoc for some NFL teams, especially the Packers and Panthers. Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin have both suffered ACL tears, with Benjamin's injury occurring at practice.
When it comes to Green Bay, the loss of a number one receiver is always a difficult adjustment, but if it was to happen to one quarterback, the best option to sustain a productive offense would be Aaron Rodgers.
In 2014, Jordy Nelson was the target for 151 of Rodgers' 520 regular season passing attempts. In comparison, Randall Cobb had 127 targets, but it then drops heavily with Davante Adams occupying only 66.
Nelson had 98 total receptions for 1,519 yards and that is not easily replaced by any means, but having a quarterback like Rodgers gives the city and the team some hope of still having an extremely successful season.
The 2014 MVP still has his second option in Cobb, while players like Adams and Jeff Janis have a chance to prove themselves and take advantage of a massive opportunity. The tight ends will likely also be asked to be much more involved in the passing game and the Packers have two capable TE's in Richard Rodgers and Andrew Quarless.
Though this is a near devastating blow to the Packers, they will still retain the NFC North title, but only by a small margin as both the Lions and Vikings have improved and will be difficult opponents.
However, the same feeling does not carry over to the playoffs since many had the Packers as their Super Bowl pick. They will win their first round matchup but get sent home in the second round, showing truly how important Nelson is to the offense.
The Carolina Panthers do not have many offensive weapons as it is, therefore losing a number one receiver is a disastrous situation for the team and quarterback Cam Newton.
Kelvin Benjamin earned 1,008 yards on 73 receptions, making an immediate impact in his rookie year, helping Cam Newton by giving him a big, productive target. Now that Newton again lacks that, it will be a difficult season considering the Panthers do not have an elite running game.
The team will need veterans Jerricho Cotchery and Ted Ginn, Jr. to step up, but it is a difficult proposition. Cotchery was never extremely productive and Ginn, Jr. is more of a return specialist, so Cam Newton will really have to be on his game both passing and rushing. A wild card in the situation is Devin Funchess, a 6-4 rookie that has the potential to stand out this season during the absence of Benjamin.
The Panthers are now limited on offense and with the Saints and Falcons looking to bounce back along with an improving Tampa Bay team, Carolina will miss out on the 2015 playoffs.
The conversation about preseason will happen every year, and it does not look like change is imminent. These teams will both have to adapt to these injuries as other players get an opportunity to prove their worth.