The 2016-2017 NFL season is fast approaching. The first game is a Super Bowl rematch between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, on Thursday, September 8th, and for most fans, it can’t come soon enough.
Before that, though, millions of fans are speculating on everything NFL: Who should I pick for fantasy this year? How will my favorite team perform? Will injuries wreak havoc like last year? They’re all valid questions that fans will be discussing until opening night and beyond.
While the preseason brings a variety of injuries that are speculative in nature, at least in terms of how long they’ll hold a player out, there are several injuries that have a high certainty of impacting the NFL season. These are four of the high-profile NFL injury names to keep an eye on as September approaches:
1. Sammy Watkins
The Buffalo Bills #1 wide receiver is clearly a star in development. When he’s on the field, he’s electric. However, injuries have derailed him so far at times, with a broken foot putting into question Watkins’ readiness for week one. Recent news is optimistic though, as Watkins posted a video on Instagram of him running, while mentioning that his goal is to “get ready for the first game.” Even if he’s slow or a non-participant during training camp, Bills fans can likely expect him lining up for week one.
2. Tony Romo
The Dallas Cowboys’ franchise QB mentioned this offseason that he planned to play another five seasons, which is hopefully indication that his past clavicle fracture injury is in the rear view mirror. Romo hasn’t appeared in all 16 regular season games since 2012, being limited to four starts due to a collarbone injury last year. The injury-prone QB has found success when healthy and appears to be on track for week one — though Romo’s injury history and aggressive play style will make his injury status always one to keep an eye on.
3. Tyler Eifert
The Bengals’ Tyler Eifert emerges as one of the league’s elite tight ends last season, with his 13-touchdown season surely putting him among the top at his position, considering he had even more receiving TDs than Gronk last year! However, an ankle injury during the Pro Bowl led to offseason surgery in late May, which sets the timeline up for his week one debut to be questionable. He’s expected to open camp on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list, with the team unlikely to rush him back. It’s looking like Eifert could realistically miss the first week or two.
4. Joe Flacco
The 2015 season was not one to remember for Ravens QB Joe Flacco, who suffered both an MCL and ACL injury and saw his team miss the playoffs from the bench. Still, coach John Harbaugh said in April that Flacco was ahead of schedule, with Flacco remarking that he expected to “be out there the first day.” Joe Flacco’s health in 2016 is going to play a massive role in determining whether the Ravens are contenders or not.
In addition to these names, fans will also be monitoring players like injury-prone Darren McFadden, electric rookie Redskins WR Josh Doctson and Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu — all players that possess season-changing potential yet have injury concerns clouding their outlook.