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Deshaun Watson has plenty of company on the list of franchise quarterbacks on injured reserve,
Deshaun Watson has plenty of company on the list of franchise quarterbacks on injured reserve,
Photo by Eric Sauseda

The NFL's All-Injured Reserve Team Is Astounding and Depressing

At one point during Sunday's game between the Houston Texans and the San Francisco 49ers, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney — the Texans' last bastion to potential 2018 Pro Bowl participation (not named DeAndre Hopkins) — went down in a heap holding his right hip. For Texan fans, given the injury plague of 2017, it was a familiar sight, a player sprawled out on the carpet receiving medical attention, just with a different number this time.

So desensitized to it we are that when it happened, I got text from a media member buddy of mine asking "Is that Clowney who is down on the field?" I replied back "Yep," to which he said "What the hell is going on?" My reply back to him — "Sunday, that's what." In other words, this is just what we've come to expect, a weekly car crash with medical attention being as big a story as third down conversions.

While we wallow in our own pity here in Houston, just know that we are not alone. Injury misery loves company, and there is plenty of it around the league, and when J.J. Watt tweeted this after Philadelphia QB and MVP candidate Carson Wentz went down with a torn ACL on Sunday...

... it got me thinking — could we amass a Pro Bowl roster with the players on injured reserve this season? I mean, there are at least a half dozen positions where arguably the NFL's BEST player at that position is on the injured reserve list.

So, for sake of perspective, let's go through this exercise and scour the injured reserve list, shall we? (Yeah, this won't be depressing at all.)

Quarterbacks
Carson Palmer, AZ
Aaron Rodgers, GB
Deshaun Watson, HOU
Andrew Luck, IND
Carson Wentz, PHI

COMMENT: Full disclosure — Rodgers, who is the best quarterback in football, when healthy, will likely be returning before the end of the regular season, but was still on injured reserve when I typed this. As for the other four guys, all of them either spent time as a top five candidate for MVP at one point this season (Wentz, Watson, both ACL tears), or have been in the MVP mix over the last couple years (Palmer, Luck).

Running Backs
David Johnson, AZ
Jeremy Hill, CIN
Spencer Ware, KC
Dalvin Cook, MIN

COMMENT: A case would have been made for Johnson as the best running back in football coming into the season, but he got hurt early. Hill was a rising star in Cincinnati, and has now been replaced by Joe Mixon. Spencer Ware's knee injury in the preseason ruined fantasy owners everywhere, and Dalvin Cook might have been a Rookie of the Year candidate, had he not torn his ACL.

Wide Receivers
Allen Robinson, JAC
Julian Edelman, NE
Brandon Marshall, NYG
Odell Beckham, NYG
Pierre Garcon, SF

COMMENT: Robinson got hurt in the season opener against the Texans on the first series of the year (you guessed it, torn ACL!). When healthy, Beckham is in the conversation, along with Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and (this season) DeAndre Hopkins, for best wide receiver in all of football. He is arguably the most valuable non-quarterback in the entire league, given what he means to that offense.

Tight Ends
Tyler Eifert, CIN
Martellus Bennett, NE
Coby Fleener, NOLA

COMMENT: I've come to grips with the fact that Eifert will just never be healthy, which is too bad because the former high school wide receiver has huge potential as a middle class man's Gronnk/Kelce-style tight end. Martellus Bennett's injury saga with the Packers, where he would up getting waived and picked up by the Patriots, is one of the more underrated stories of the season.

Offensive Linemen
Joe Thomas, CLV
Jason Peters, PHI

COMMENT: Joe Thomas might be the best left tackle of this generation. How strong is the injury force of 2017? Thomas had not missed a SNAP in his career until he sustained an arm injury this season.

Defensive Linemen
Shaq Lawson, BUF
Derek Wolfe, DEN
Haloti Ngata, DET
J.J. Watt, HOU
Nick Fairley, NOLA
Cliff Avril, SEA

COMMENT: J.J. Watt, when healthy, is not only the best defensive player in football (at least before multiple back surgeries), but he is a fantastic human being and fundraiser. Also, reportedly, his leg broke because his ACL was SO strong that it transferred the force of the cut on which he was injured to his lower leg, something that virtually never happens. (I'm not a doctor, I'm just going off what they wrote about him when he won Sportsperson of the Year.)

Linebackers
Jamie Collins, CLV
Whitney Mercilus, HOU
Dee Ford, KC
Donta Hightower, NE
Ryan Shazier, PIT

COMMENT: This might be the best collection of injured talent at one position in the entire league.....

Defensive Backs
Jimmy Smith, BAL
Adam Jones, CIN
Malik Hooker, IND
Eric Berry, KC
Jason Verrett, LAC
Janoris Jenkins, NYG
Richard Sherman, SEA

COMMENT: .....no, wait. THIS might be the best collection of injured talent at one position in the league. Berry and Sherman are arguably the best safety and cornerback of this decade. Incredible.

Kickers
Sebastian Janikowski, OAK
Caleb Strugis, PHI
Dustin Hopkins, WAS

COMMENT: Kickers are people, too. They bleed, they hurt.

The moral of the story? If you're going to become a football player, kids, become a punter.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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