There are a handful of things you can count on just about every NFL season. The Patriots will be among the Super Bowl favorites. There will be some sort of overblown drama in Dallas. Cam Newton will have a press conference meltdown. The list goes on and on.
While those things may or may not happen, one thing is a certainty — injuries will have a major impact on the season for a number of players and teams. Injuries can be hard to predict, but here is a list of players least likely to make it through the entire 2017 season unscathed.
1. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
It wouldn’t be fair to call Big Ben “injury prone,” but he does tend to miss at least a game or two almost every season. In fact, Roethlisberger has played in all 16 games just twice since 2008, in 2013 and 2014.
His injury troubles over the years even caused him to contemplate retirement during the offseason before ultimately deciding he’d be back for the 2017 campaign. Still, considering his recent history, there is a good chance Roethlisberger won’t be able to suit up for every single game this season.
Even the Steelers themselves have recognized this. The team signed Roethlisberger’s backup Landry Jones to a new two-year contract during the offseason, and they also drafted Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs in the fourth round this spring.
2. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
One of the biggest surprises of the 2016 season was the Dallas Cowboys, and a big reason for that was the outstanding play of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. He and running back Ezekiel Elliott both benefited from working behind one of the best offensive lines in the league, and Prescott’s injury-free season kept Tony Romo on the bench.
With Romo now retired, what if Prescott were to go down with a season-ending injury? After all, the same thing happened to Romo in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson has even wondered this aloud, speculating on whether Romo would return to the team if Prescott were to go down.
3. Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
Hopes are high for Williams, who the Chargers selected with the No. 7 overall pick in this year’s draft. Yet there is already some concern about the player, who suffered a back injury during the offseason that has caused him to miss some organized team activities.
There are many different types of back injuries, but none of them are a good thing for an NFL player. The Chargers’ brass are concerned Williams is now behind the curve and playing catchup when it comes to learning the offense. But the larger concern should be his back, which can be a tricky injury to completely recover from.
That’s not particularly good news for the Chargers, although it is something they’ve dealt with in the recent past. Star receiver Keenan Allen missed significant portions of the past two seasons with various injuries.
4. Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
Mariota is one of the most promising young quarterbacks in the league, but the season-ending broken leg he suffered on Christmas Eve late last year has to have Titans fans concerned, to say the least.
It appears Tennessee is easing Mariota back, limiting his activity during offseason workouts. One of Mariota’s strengths is his mobility, which can be a blessing and a curse for a quarterback. His speed and vision can help him buy more time in the pocket, but it also leaves himself more open to getting hurt.
Indeed, the website Sports Injury Predictor lists Mariota as the NFL quarterback at most risk of getting injured this season.
5. Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings
The former Raiders running back was supposed to be one of the Vikings’ big offseason signings, but that was before it was known he would need a serious procedure on his ankle, which he took care of in March.
Murray is still recovering and will miss all the team’s offseason workouts. He recently told the St. Paul Pioneer Press, “The goal is just to try to be available during training camp at some point.”
That comment doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that Murray will be at 100 percent when the season starts. Further, if and when he does return, he’ll be running behind what was one of the worst run-blocking offensive lines in the league in 2016.
Again, injuries are hard to predict, and it’s very possible that all five of these players go on to play all 16 games this season. That said, based on each player and team’s recent history, there is a solid chance that won’t be the case.