One of the benefits of heading into a new season is that all of the players are fresh and injury free. Well, they should be but the Jacksonville Jaguars are in a situation where it could be a cause for concern. The Jaguars had some key players go down with injury in the 2010 season and a few of the injuries could linger into the 2011 season.
I wrote very early in the offseason about the concerns with defensive tackle D'Anthony Smith's Achilles injury and if he'd ever make a full recovery. Quite frankly, we will never really know if his recovery is "full" or not because he went down extremely early in training camp in non-contact drills. I was standing right next to the drill was going on when the injury occurred, and you knew it was bad. All indications as it stands are that Smith is fully recovered and doing great, but all players coming off an injury in June are doing great.
Likely the biggest concern is that of defensive end Aaron Kampman who tore his ACL in practice after the Jaguars victory against the Dallas Cowboys. It was Kampman's second ACL tear in as many seasons (one in each knee), and even last season there was concern he wouldn't be ready for the season. Turns out Kampman was ready for the season and made an impact, but at 31 years of age and two ACL tears, it's a big question mark what you'll get from him. As always, it's June so his recovery is ahead of schedule according to the team.
Likely the biggest concern is running back Maurice Jones-Drew's knee injury, which surprisingly hasn't been brought up this offseason. Early in the season there were rumors that Jones-Drew had torn his MCL in his knee, but he flatly denied it. Quite frankly, we'll never know the truth of that because it was during the preseason and teams are not required to divulge injury information. Jones-Drew missed the final two games of the season and told Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union that he was playing "bone-on-bone" by the end of the year. There was vocal concern from fans early in the season that Jones-Drew looked slow and seemed to lack burst, and that showed up on the stat sheet. Jones-Drew had no carries of over 40 yards for the first time in his NFL career. Even on Jones-Drew's longest catch of the season, a 75-yard screen pass against the Cleveland Browns, he was caught from behind.
Lastly, quarterback David Garrard tore a ligament in his throwing hand against the Washington Redskins and missed the final game of the season. A few months ago there were reports that he still couldn't make a fist on his right hand, but I've heard absolutely nothing concerning it coming out of player organized workouts. I would think that if it were bothering him, it would have been noticed. Then again, media haven't really been allowed to observe the practices. I wouldn't really worry that much about it, but if it's a problem in training camp that would be a concern.