Pats have ways to make up for Edelman's absence
Louis Riddick breaks down how New England is set up to withstand losing WR Julian Edelman to injury.
Because the NFL's most notable players were safely tucked away in Week 4, let's use this opportunity to review the top 10 (or so) injuries since the start of training camp -- and examine their longer-term implications. Late-breaking Week 4 injuries -- most notably, Cincinnati Bengals rookie receiver John Ross's knee ailment of unknown severity -- will be updated as warranted.
Injury: Torn left ACL
Date injured: Aug. 3, in practice
Looking ahead: Tannehill will miss the season, but the Dolphins rebounded about as well as could be expected by luring Jay Cutler out of retirement. It's reasonable to think that Cutler, still young at 34, could perform at about the same level as Tannehill would have in 2017. Tannehill should be able to resume his role in 2018, but it's worth noting that the Dolphins could release him in March while absorbing a modest $4.6 million salary-cap hit.
Injury: Torn right ACL
Date injured: Aug. 25, in preseason Week 3
Looking ahead: Edelman will miss the season, robbing quarterback Tom Brady of his favorite target from the past four seasons and a player who has accounted for a team-high 195 first-down receptions during that span. The Patriots are fortunate to have one of the deepest groups of experienced receivers in the NFL, from Danny Amendola to Chris Hogan to Brandin Cooks to Malcolm Mitchell. Tight end Rob Gronkowski also made it through the preseason healthy. But there is no denying the unique nature of the Brady-Edelman connection.
Injury: Torn left ACL, MCL
Date injured: Aug. 27, in preseason Week 3
Looking ahead: Meredith was the Bears' leading receiver in 2016 (66 receptions, 888 yards), and there was every reason to think he would build off of that performance. Injuries have hampered the Bears' attempt to deepen their receivers group. Free-agent acquisition Markus Wheaton underwent an emergency appendectomy at the start of camp and then broke his pinky finger Aug. 13 in practice. Another free agent, Rueben Randle, was placed on injured reserve because of a hamstring injury. Wheaton should be ready for the season, but the key to this group will be 2015 first-round pick Kevin White. Now is the time for him to emerge as a No. 1 receiver.
Injury: Bulging disc in neck
Date injured: Aug. 5, in practice
Looking ahead: Enunwa needed surgery and will miss the season, removing from the lineup one of the few genuine threats in the Jets' passing game. (He averaged a team-high 14.8 yards per reception in 2016.) When you add in the free-agent departures of Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, and the season-ending ACL tear suffered by Devin Smith this spring, you don't see many offensive playmakers remaining on the roster.
Injury: Torn right PCL, LCL
Date injured: Aug. 19, in preseason Week 3
Looking ahead: Tearing a PCL is relatively rare and extremely serious in terms of maintaining a professional football career. Ware will miss at least this season. If there is good news for the Chiefs, it's that rookie Kareem Hunt -- a third-round draft pick from Toledo -- has been impressive this summer and is relatively ready to jump into Ware's role.
Injury: Torn ACL in right knee
Date injured: Aug. 18, in preseason Week 2
Looking ahead: Losing a left tackle for the season is almost always a major setback for a team, and it's no different for the Seahawks. No matter what optimism you hear about second-year player Rees Odhiambo, Fant's likely replacement, rest assured that most NFL teams are lucky to have a good first option at left tackle, let alone a competent backup. To be sure, Fant had plenty of work to do himself in order to become an upper-tier player. But he had gained 25 pounds in the offseason and had a full season of starting experience under his belt. At the very least, quarterback Russell Wilson's blind side will be in inexperienced hands.
Injury: Broken foot
Date injured: Aug. 13, in practice
Looking ahead: Kelly had surgery in mid-August and was projected at the time to need six to eight weeks of recovery time. That would put him back on the field before midseason but still leave the Colts without an important player for an extended period of time. For now, they've replaced him with undrafted rookie Deyshawn Bond. Inexperience at center often leads to offensive struggles, especially early in a season.
Injury: Torn left Achilles tendon
Date injured: Aug. 13, in preseason Week 1
Looking ahead: It's not easy to replace an interior disruptor that erupted for eight sacks last season, and the Lions will have the extra burden of doing it without one of Hyder's key backups. Defensive tackle Jordan Hill went on injured reserve this week because of a biceps injury, in essence leaving the Lions without two of their top five interior defenders before the season starts. They also have spent the summer without defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, who has been on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list because of an undisclosed injury. Ansah is expected to be activated soon, but it's not reasonable to expect him to be at full strength right away.
Raekwon McMillan, LB, Miami Dolphins
Injury: Torn right ACL
Date injured: Aug. 10, in preseason Week 1
Looking ahead: The Dolphins had hoped McMillan, their second-round draft choice, would be their Week 1 middle linebacker. Instead, he was lost for the season before taking a single defensive snap. (The injury occurred on punt coverage.) Veteran Mike Hull started in preseason Weeks 2 and 3, but the Dolphins also signed free agent Rey Maualuga for insurance.
Injury: All of them
Date: All summer
Looking ahead: It will be quite an accomplishment if the Ravens have a winning season after the most completely messed up summer of injuries anyone has seen in a while. In total, 10 players have been lost for the season due to injury, suspension or retirement. The two biggest names on that list are tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) and running back Kenneth Dixon (knee). The Ravens also have gone the entire summer without quarterback Joe Flacco (back) taking a single snap. And they got minimal practice time for their past three first-round draft choices: receiver Breshad Perriman (hamstring), left tackle Ronnie Stanley (undisclosed) and cornerback Marlon Humphrey (hamstring). If the goal of training camp is to bring a team together on the field, the Ravens couldn't get close to accomplishing it.