NFC North Division: The Always Injured List

NFC North Division: The Always Injured List

Death, taxes and superior athletes getting hurt playing football.

It’s no secret, folks — injuries are a major part of every team’s journey to glory in the National Football League. While there are some ridiculous exceptions — former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre playing in 297 consecutive games, for one — the majority of professional football players miss games due to injury.

Some, however, are seemingly absent more often than they are present. Each of the following players represent the pinnacle of this sentiment as it pertains to the teams that makeup the NFC North division.

Chicago Bears: WR Kevin White

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

When the Chicago Bears selected wide receiver Kevin White with the seventh overall pick out of West Virginia in 2015, the expectation was for him to come in and fill a void left by Brandon Marshall opposite Alshon Jeffery almost immediately. White, who played in 23 games during his two years of college football, has since missed the entirety of his rookie season (stress fracture) and played in just four games in 2016 prior to being placed on injured reserve as a result of a serious injury (fractured fibula) suffered against the Detroit Lions back in Week 4.

For all his talent, White has yet to score his first professional touchdown and contributed just 187 receiving yards through two years in Chicago.

“It’s disappointing for him and for us but mostly for him,” John Fox said back in October (Chicago Tribune).

The Chicago head coach back-tracked a bit in stating that the injury is “mostly” disappointing for White, but it’s hard to ignore his placement of “us” in the above quote as it relates to a (potentially) growing frustration with his talented receiver’s inability to remain healthy.

Current Health Status: Injured Reserve — Fractured Fibula, High Ankle Sprain

Detroit Lions: LB DeAndre Levy

Credit: Detroit Free Press

Credit: Detroit Free Press

Linebacker DeAndre Levy came out of his shell in a big way in 2014, becoming a defensive cornerstone for the Detroit Lions en route to a second-team All-Pro nomination. Since then, however, it’s been a lot of pacing the sidelines for the veteran linebacker out of Wisconsin.

Levy, who played in 46 of a possible 48 games from 2012 through 2014, has taken the field in just two games since the beginning of the 2015 season.

Credit: Pro-Football-Reference

Credit: Pro-Football-Reference

The same guy who has recorded eight or more solo tackles in 18 of the 91 games he has played in (19.7%) has managed to muster a grand total of just one since the beginning of the 2015 campaign for Detroit.

Current Health Status: Did Not Practice during Week 9 — Knee, Quad

Green Bay Packers: CB Sam Shields

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Far-and-away the most difficult NFC North team to determine an “Injury All-Star” for, the Green Bay Packers have benefited in large part due to a relatively healthy roster over the past few seasons.

In 2016, however, the Packers have been every bit as susceptible to injury as the rest of the Black and Blue division’s teams. Green Bay, which was forced to convert wide receiver Ty Montgomery into a tailback due to injuries to primary rushers Eddie Lacy and James Starks as well as second-year running back John Crockett, has also seen its defensive secondary ripped to pieces by the injury bug.

Cornerback Sam Shields, a familiar name on the Packers’ injury report, blew a gaping coverage hole wide open when the team placed him on injured reserve in early October as a result of a concussion suffered during a Week 1 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Shields, while not nearly on the same level as White or Levy with regard to missing extensive amounts of time due to injury, missed eight games from 2013 through 2015 and has been absent from 24 of a possible 104 games since his career began back in 2010.

He has dealt with consistent concussion issues throughout his career along with a number of other nagging ailments, which has resulted in Shields’ longest active streak being just nine games throughout the duration of his career.

By comparison, Al Harris, who is widely regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in franchise history, was active in 80 consecutive matchups stretching from 2003 through 2007.

Current Health Status: Injured Reserve (Designation to Return) — Concussion

Minnesota Vikings: DT Sharrif Floyd

Credit: USA Today Images

Credit: USA Today Images

“He’s kind of out of sight, out of mind,” Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said of defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (Pioneer Press). “We feel good about guys we’ve got.

“He’s played (25) plays this year. He hasn’t played.”

There has never been a doubt regarding the talent of Floyd when he is on the field. Widely considered to be the best interior defensive line prospect available in 2013, Floyd fell right into Minnesota’s lap at 23 overall. Since then, however, he has managed to play in just one complete season (2013), as he has struggled to remain healthy on a regular basis for what feels like the vast majority of Zimmer’s tenure.

Floyd has participated in 28 of a possible 40 games since Zimmer’s arrival in 2014 and has essentially been a scheduled listing on Minnesota’s weekly injury report. His absence from the practice field and on game days due to a slew of ailments has frustrated the Vikings coach to the point that he has expressed discontent to the media on multiple occasions (see above quote).

The former Florida Gator most recently played against the Tennessee Titans in Week 1 this year, but he has been inactive ever since following a knee injury that ultimately required Floyd to have surgery.

While it remains possible that he will find his way back to the field in 2016, the frequent injury issues that have plagued Floyd’s career to date have resulted in just 25 snaps (Pro Football Focus) this season as well as a very difficult decision for Zimmer, general manager Rick Spielman and executive vice president Rob Brzezinski regarding the 3-technique’s contract situation this coming offseason.

Current Health Status: Did Not Practice during Week 9 — Knee


All provided statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference unless otherwise noted.

For more NFC North news and jargon, follow @NFCNBarroom and @ReidellNFL on Twitter.

NFC North Division: Week 9 Player of the Week

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