By: Enzo Whetton
2020 has been a year full of unexpected occurrences around the world. In the sports world, the same is true. More specifically, the first quarter of the NFL season has its own plague sweeping through the league. The NFL has seen an unprecedented amount of injuries through its first four weeks, as many NFL stars have had to deal with an onslaught of season ending injuries. While there is no confirmed cause, many credit the lack of preseason games due to Covid-19 for the high volume of injuries. The most notable team dealing with injuries is the San Francisco 49ers. The reigning NFC champions lost their two star defensive linemen, Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas, to torn ACLs, a season ending injury. In the same game in Week 2 against the New York Jets, Dee Ford, another defensive lineman, injured his back and was ruled out indefinitely. The team signed Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah to replace the loss, but he suffered a torn bicep. The 49ers also lost key players Deebo Samuel (WR), Raheem Mostert (RB), and Jimmy Garoppolo (QB), though all three are expected to return soon. Tight end George Kittle suffered a knee injury against the Jets, though it was minor. Tevin Coleman, the team’s second running back, also sustained a knee injury versus the Jets. The following week, tight end Jordan Reed suffered a knee injury against the New York Giants. Both games were played at MetLife Stadium, situated in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Another team riddled with injuries is the Denver Broncos. Von Miller, the team’s star and main defensive asset, did not get to play in the season opener due to an ankle injury. He is expected to miss 12 weeks, if not all of the season. In addition to Miller, the Broncos lost newly acquired defensive tackle Jurrell Casey to a bicep tear and cornerback A.J. Bouye to a dislocated shoulder. Offensively, the Broncos have not fared better. The team’s top wide receiver, Cortland Sutton, tore his ACL against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2. In that same game Drew Lock, a 2nd year quarterback out of the University of Missouri, strained his rotator cuff in his right shoulder, though he is likely to return soon. Rookie wide receiver KJ Hamler and second year tight end Noah Fant both sustained injuries against the Jets in Week 4, the former suffering a hamstring injury, the latter an ankle injury. Finally, the Broncos’ running back Phillip Lindsay sustained a toe injury in Week 1, but is expected to make his return in Week 5 against the Patriots.
Other notable injuries include Atlanta Falcons strong safety Damontae Kazee out with a torn achilles, Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffery (RB) out indefinitely with a high-ankle sprain, Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen done for the season with a torn ACL, running back Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns, sidelined with an MCL sprain, Dallas Cowboys star quarterback Dak Prescott who suffered an ankle fracture, Indianapolis Colts’ Malik Hooker (FS) and Marlon Mack (RB), both out with achilles injuries, Anthony Barr, a linebacker on the Minnesota Vikings, who suffered a torn pectoral muscle, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas who endured an ankle injury, free agent Le’Veon Bell who injured his hamstring, Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekler and defensive end Joey Bosa out with a hamstring and tricep injury, respectively, and tight end O.J. Howard of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out with a torn achilles.
One major controversy to spring up from these injuries centers around MetLife Stadium, home to the Giants and Jets. The turf was redone during the offseason, and it has led to complaints from players, especially those in the 49ers’ camp. Raheem Mostert, the aforementioned running back of the 49ers tweeted, “ANOTHER injury at MetLife? Shocker. The turf is horrible!! Shut that field down, @nfl”, following injuries for the Jets in a Thursday night game against the Denver Broncos. After five injuries for the 49ers in their game against the Jets in Week 2, four of which related to players’ knees and ankles, the NFL launched an investigation into the turf. The following week Jordan Reed suffered his season ending injury at Metlife Stadium against the Giants. Some players said the field felt “sticky” following their Week 2 victory. In a Week 4 game between the Jets and Broncos, multiple Jets and Broncos players sustained injuries, though none compared to the severity of the 49ers.