There’s only been one regular season game, and already, the rolls of players lost for the 2009 season are already filling up. We’ve been hearing all week that the marquee matchup between the Bears and Steelers is marred by significant injuries to All-Pro S Troy Polamalu (lost for 6 weeks) and LB Brian Urlacher (lost for season). The standard doomsday questions abound: are the Steelers in danger of losing their spot atop the AFC North? (If they are, it’s not because of this.) Will this mean the Bears and Jay Cutler will run wild? (Highly unlikely.) With Urlacher out, are the Bears still Super Bowl contenders? (No, Peter King, but they never really were.) Will the Bears’ misery ever end? (Oh, I hope not.)
Well, now there’s news coming out of San Diego today that Chargers DT Jamal Williams has been placed on injured reserve with a triceps injury. Like the Packers, the Chargers run a 3-4 defensive scheme, and an injury to the big man in the middle is going to put the Chargers in an even tougher spot than they already were going into this week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Unlike the Bears and the Steelers, the Chargers have few viable backups to plug into their defensive line without a major downgrade in the entire line. Williams’ replacement is Ogemdi Nwagbuo, who was on the practice squad last year. Did I mention that, with backup DE/DT Travis Johnson out with a groin injury, Nwagbuo is currently the only other DT listed on the Chargers roster? Ouch. The team has promoted another practice squad player to the active roster, but Andre Coleman can’t possibly fill the 350 lb hole in the defense left by Williams’ injury.
Aaron says this busts the AFC West wide open. The fans on Chargers SB Nation Fanblog, Bolts From The Blue, are concerned about their post-season chances. Joe Flacco (and Baltimore’s center) may be breathing a sigh of relief. Fantasy football players may be trying desperately to decide whether they should start the New Orleans defense instead. But, all joking aside, there are now 3 playoff-caliber teams with potentially devastating injuries to key members of their defenses. Say what you want about “it’s football and they prepare for this,” these injuries change the chemistry within each defensive unit. The Bears and the Steelers look to be fine, but I expect that the Chargers will miss Williams dearly before they’ve recovered their defensive footing.
(If you’re looking for full injury reports for Week 2, the NFL’s got you covered.)
In less somber news, it’s clear that I caved to peer pressure and am trying my hand at this blogging thing. As I’m covering the 31 teams not named the Green Bay Packers, you can expect to see regular posts on upcoming opponents, games worth watching, and the goings-on around the league. You can find me and the blog updates on Twitter. If there’s something you’d like to see here, please let me know.