The NFL seasons of many teams — both real and, in some cases, fantasy — were derailed by major injuries to star players in 2017. But those players are on the mend this offseason with a lot riding on their recovery.
NFL Nation reporters update the status of many star players working their way back from injury and provide some insight on their chances for being ready for Week 1.
Injury: Suffered a neck/spine injury in October.
Where he stands: As with Kam Chancellor, the question isn’t whether Avril will be ready by Week 1 but whether he’ll ever play football again. Avril said in a recent radio interview that he plans to reassess his situation in the spring, at which point he’ll be about six months removed from surgery. Avril was considered a potential salary-cap casualty before his injury. So even if he does decide to continue playing and is medically cleared to do so, the Seahawks may release him and thereby save as much as $6.5 million against the 2018 cap. — Brady Henderson
Injury: Fractured left ankle in Week 5.
Where he stands: Beckham is in Los Angeles working out with his trainer Jamal Liggin again this offseason. He recently told reporters he’s doing well and fully expects to be ready for the start of the season. His concentration is on Week 1, not OTAs or the offseason program. — Jordan Raanan
Injury: Tore Achilles tendon in September.
Where he stands: Berry’s injury happened in the season-opener so he should have little trouble returning by the start of next season. The Chiefs lost linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive end Mike DeVito with similar injuries in the season-opener in 2014 and both were in the starting lineup when the 2015 season started. Berry’s agent, Chad Speck, posted a video on Feb. 9 of the Pro Bowl safety working out and wrote, “That achilles is looking good. He will be back better than ever.” — Adam Teicher
Injury: Suffered a neck/spine injury in November.
Where he stands: Coach Pete Carroll said at season’s end that Chancellor and Avril “are going to have a hard time playing football again” because of their neck injuries, though he later walked that comment back a bit and said that their futures are uncertain. Chancellor didn’t have surgery. The team has been vague about his injury, and Chancellor himself hasn’t publicly commented on his situation, making it difficult to further assess his long-term outlook. Chancellor posted a cryptic Instagram photo that could have been interpreted as a hint at retirement, but that doesn’t seem likely anytime soon for reasons explained here. — Henderson
Injury: Had surgery two weeks ago to repair a torn left ACL.
Where he stands: Conklin, who was voted to the AP All-Pro team as a rookie in 2016, is facing a tight recovery to be back by Week 1 of the regular season. He’s expected to begin training camp on the PUP list, and the Titans may need a solid backup option to step in for Conklin in September. The curveball to his recovery is the Titans are expected to transition to a zone-blocking scheme, which will require more movement and different blocking disciplines under a new coaching staff. — Cameron Wolfe
Injury: Tore his ACL in October.
Where he stands: General manager Rick Spielman said the Vikings have no reason to believe that Cook “won’t be stronger than he was before the injury” when he makes his expected return in time for training camp. The Vikings’ top running back returned to jogging in January and is on pace to be ready for the 2018 season. But with the possible departure of Jerick McKinnon in free agency, Minnesota will need to find a No. 3 rusher in case Cook isn’t 100 percent by Week 1 and Latavius Murray has to shoulder that load. Spielman likened Cook’s rehabilitation to that of Adrian Peterson‘s when the former Vikings running back returned from the torn ACL he sustained in 2011 and rushed for 2,097 yards the following season. “We don’t see any reason where he’s not going to be where Adrian Peterson was when he came off his knee [injury],” Spielman said. — Courtney Cronin
Injury: Fractured his right ankle in December.
Where he stands: Easton is still utilizing a scooter to get around after undergoing surgery to repair his broken ankle. He told ESPN during Super Bowl week that he anticipates being able to participate in some capacity during the Vikings’ offseason workouts and is undergoing intensive rehab so he’ll be ready in time for training camp at the end of July. Easton’s fracture was the first season-ending injury he has had in the NFL. He’ll become a restricted free agent in a couple of weeks but is expected to re-sign with Minnesota. — Cronin
Injury: Tore his ACL in August.
Where he stands: Edelman appears to be making solid progress. In the week after the AFC Championship Game, he showed that progress when working out in the team’s indoor practice facility. He then attended the Super Bowl and indicated that everything was on a positive course. While Edelman could be brought along with a cautious approach in offseason camps and maybe into training camp, there is little reason to think he wouldn’t be ready for the start of the 2018 season. — Mike Reiss
Injury: Had micro-disk surgery on his back in October.
Where he stands: Eifert made it back for training camp after undergoing a different procedure on his back at the end of the 2016 season. There’s no timetable for his return this time around, but Eifert said the doctors feel he will make a full recovery. However, Eifert is set to become an unrestricted free agent, and that could cloud his future in Cincinnati. — Katherine Terrell
Injury: Fractured his left ankle in NFC Championship Game.
Where he stands: Elflein underwent successful surgery on his left ankle the Monday of Super Bowl week. It’s still too early to tell what (if any) work he’ll be able to do with the Vikings this spring, but he’s expected to be on schedule to return at the start of training camp. — Cronin
Injury: Tore his pectoral muscle in October.
Where he stands: There haven’t appeared to be any setbacks in Hightower’s recovery, but that doesn’t mean the Patriots won’t adopt a cautious approach to have him ready for the 2018 season. Given some of the wear and tear that Hightower has endured, it wouldn’t be a surprise if there is a “less is more” approach adopted with him, but the target of having him ready for the 2018 regular season is realistic. — Reiss
Injury: Torn ACL in Week 7.
Where he stands: As with Andrew Luck, the Colts are not putting a timetable on Hooker’s return. The Colts’ 2017 first-round pick has been off crutches for several months and is continuing to go through the rehabilitation process. — Mike Wells
Injury: Fractured his left wrist in Week 1.
Where he stands: All signs point to Johnson being completely healed and ready to go for Week 1. He was out of a cast by the end of last season, but he said multiple times last season that the only thing holding him back was movement and flexibility in his wrist. Photos on various social media platforms show he looks to be fully functional and ready to play Week 1. — Josh Weinfuss
Injury: Coming off ankle surgery in 2016, Long played last year with a torn labrum in his shoulder and a finger injury, until he underwent neck surgery in December that ended his season. Long also recently underwent a procedure to repair the torn labrum that he originally suffered in the 2016 preseason.
Where he stands: There is no official timetable for Long’s return, but Bears general manager Ryan Pace said last month that he was confident Long’s health was headed in the right direction. Long downplayed the severity of all of his injuries during a recent appearance on ESPN 1000. Long could still be ready by the start of the regular season. — Jeff Dickerson
Injury: Right shoulder surgery in January 2017.
Where he stands: GM Chris Ballard, while optimistic, has maintained his stance that there’s no timetable on Luck’s return. He has not thrown a football since the middle of October. He spent six weeks in the Netherlands rehabbing his shoulder in November and December. What’s key at this point for Luck, who said he expects to take part in the team’s offseason workouts in April, is that a second surgery is not needed on his shoulder. The quarterback, who missed all of the 2017 season, is working with a throwing expert in California. — Wells
Injury: Tore his ACL and MCL in October.
Where he stands: Peters is moving around well. One player leading up to the Super Bowl said he saw Peters working out and that he looked like he was ready to play in the game. He should be good for the start of next season, and coach Doug Pederson has already made him the favorite to be his left tackle in 2018. — Tim McManus
Injury: Suffered a neck injury in late November.
Where he stands: There hasn’t been an update on the condition of his neck, but Peterson said in December that he needed rest to fully recover and that’s what he has been getting. While he may be healthy for Week 1, it’s unsure who he’ll be playing for since it’s possible the Cardinals may release him before the start of free agency. — Weinfuss
Injury: Tore his left ACL in Week 1.
Where he stands: Robinson is on pace to be able to play in the 2018 season opener. He began running with his full weight earlier this month and has been working with weights to strengthen the muscles above and below his knee since the end of last season. The biggest question right now is about Robinson’s contract. His rookie deal expires March 14, so the Jaguars have to either sign him to a new contract or use the franchise tag on him (first day that can happen is Feb. 20). — Michael DiRocco
Injury: Ruptured his Achilles in November.
Where he stands: Sherman’s prospects of returning for Week 1 appear strong based on his comments and the typical recovery period for his injury. He is out of the walking boot and off the knee scooter he was still using at season’s end, and he told ESPN.com recently that he expects to resume running in mid-April or early May. He’s also having a minor cleanup procedure to remove bone spurs from the same part of his other foot, which has to wait until his surgically repaired Achilles is sufficiently healed. “I could probably be fully ready to go in minicamp, but they won’t let me do anything,” he said. “So I’ll probably have to be out there running and training … but they won’t let me practice until training camp.” — Henderson
Injury: Tore the ACL in his left knee.
Where he stands: After surgery in late August, Tannehill attended practices and meetings while working through his rehabilitation program. He was throwing 40-yard passes pregame in December. Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Tannehill will be the starter in 2018, barring any setbacks.
Injury: Tore his triceps tendon in October.
Where he stands: Thomas said his rehab is going well and is the “easiest” rehab he has had because it basically consists of lifting weights, something he’d be doing anyway. Thomas is on track and should be ready for the 2018 season opener — if he’s playing. Thomas continues to ponder if he will return for his 12th season or retire. — Pat McManamon
Injury: Suffered left knee injury in September
Where he stands: Chargers GM Tom Telesco said Verrett has started running and should be healthy enough to participate in the team’s offseason program when it begins in the spring. Verrett reinjured the same knee he had ACL reconstructive surgery on in October 2016. However, Telesco said that Verrett did not tear his ACL again. Verrett said his knee feels much better after the second surgery and he’s hopeful to return to his Pro Bowl level as a player. — Eric Williams
Injury: Tore his right ACL in November.
Where he stands: Watson is ahead of schedule in his rehab, according to coach Bill O’Brien, and on Feb. 5 ran for the first time since his November surgery. The quarterback was initially given a timeline of eight to nine months before he could be back on the field, which would have put him back by training camp. Now, Watson has the chance to participate in some capacity during the Texans’ OTAs, which go from mid-April to mid-June. Even though he will not be 100 percent healthy by then, that will give him plenty of time to be ready for Week 1. — Sarah Barshop
Injury: Broke his left leg in Week 5.
Where he stands: In mid-January, Watt ran for the first time since his October surgery and is still on schedule to be back on the field by training camp. There’s a chance the three-time Defensive Player of the Year could be on the field during OTAs, but the Texans won’t push him to be back by then, as they want to give their star defensive end as much time as he needs to heal. — Barshop
Injury: Tore his left ACL and LCL in December.
Where he stands: Wentz has ditched the cane and is walking under his own power but was still wearing a brace at last check. Wentz intends to be ready for Week 1. Whether he’s able to fulfill that goal depends on how rehab goes from here on. It could be close. — McManus
Injury: Fractured left ankle in September.
Where he stands: Yanda, one of the toughest players in Ravens history, will be ready for the start of the 2018 season. He was walking around the locker room without any limp by the end of the season, when he was still rehabbing the injury at the Ravens’ facility. “I won’t do anything with Marshal until training camp, probably,” coach John Harbaugh said a day after Baltimore’s season ended. “But Marshal will be ready long before that, and he’s already moving and doing some things.” — Jamison Hensley