Cam Newton, QB, Patriots
Newton has struggled to stay healthy the past couple of years. Repeat throwing shoulder injuries have caused a significant decline, and last year’s foot injury stopped his season in its tracks. While I’m not concerned about the foot injury after he had surgery, his throwing shoulder is a completely different story.
Newton has had 2 different surgeries on his right rotator cuff — a group of 4 muscles that is not only integral to our daily lives but vital in the throwing motion. If the rotator cuff is damaged, then even lifting your arms out in front is painful.
Cam has never had very good accuracy and over the past couple of years not been able to throw the deep ball well. Look for OC Josh McDaniels to deploy a short and intermediate passing game to suit Newton’s strengths.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
Roethlisberger is returning from Tommy John surgery, a reconstruction of the ligament in the elbow commonly seen in baseball pitchers.
Although an extremely rare operation for QBs, I fully expect Ben to come back with his throwing motion 100%. He might have better velocity after having to rework on proper mechanics in the offseason.
Don’t worry about his elbow.
Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks
A healthy Carson has been a workhorse for the Seahawks for the past couple of seasons. Unfortunately, he suffered a significant hip injury last year that has people worried — and for good reason. Although the specifics have not been revealed, I can deduce from the facts that he did not have surgery and that they called it a ‘fracture,’ that he had a stress fracture.
Considering his age and position, I’m very concerned about his hip and risk of re-injury. The risk of re-fracture is significantly high. And while he may be fine early in the season, the stress of repetitive pounding is likely going to cause a repeat injury. Something that could be potentially detrimental to his career. I’m concerned and staying away.
A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
Now on the wrong side of 30, Green has really struggled to stay healthy the past couple of years.
He suffered a significant foot and ankle injury last July and was never able to return. Presumably 100% heading into 2020, it remains to be seen how much gas he has left in the tank. I’m not overly concerned about his foot/ankle, but his overall health is definitely concerning.
Marquise Brown, WR, Ravens
Brown added approximately 23 pounds of muscle in the offseason and is currently tipping the scales around 180, much larger than he has ever played before.
Brown is coming off a solid rookie season, especially considering he played the entirety of that season with a screw in his foot. This screw was removed this offseason, so look for him to be even more explosive in 2020. Hopefully he’ll be able to withstand the rigors of the NFL season with the added muscle and appropriate offseason training. If everything comes together, this could be a breakout season for Lamar Jackson’s #1 WR.
Preston Williams, WR, Dolphins
Coming off an impressive, rather unexpected rookie season that was cut short due to a torn ACL, Williams has a chance to return as one of the main targets for the Dolphins.
Williams suffered the knee injury in early November, which puts him approximately 10 months out from his surgery. For a WR, it is possible for him to return and look very close to pre-injury form if he can avoid any setbacks. Think Cooper Kupp in 2019.
Williams’ importance has been further enhanced by WRs Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns opting out of the 2020 season.
Evan Engram, TE, Giants
Engram has been unable to stay healthy in any of his 3 NFL seasons. He managed to play in just 8 games last season due to a Lisfranc injury. This significant foot injury required surgery in the offseason, and Engram is not 100% yet.
The good news is that he avoided the PUP list to open training camp. Recent video is very supportive of his recovery. If he avoids setbacks, he’ll be a steal in 2020. A healthy Engram has top-5 potential and should be a large part of this offense assuming that he can regain the mobility that he lost secondary to this injury.