Look for These NFL Stars to Have Strong Bounce-Backs from Injuries Last Season

By Patrick Hayes   September 10, 2021 

Look for These NFL Stars to Have Strong Bounce-Backs from Injuries Last Season

Injuries are a part of every NFL season, and every team has to manage missing key players at different points in the season.

Some injuries hurt far more than others, though, and a handful of players who missed some or all of last season drastically changed the outlooks of the NFL futures market and their respective teams.

A new season started this month, and with it came a few healthy stars getting back on the field and bringing hope for competing for playoff spots back to their teams. Here are three players who could be primed for big seasons after recovering from major injuries.

Nick Bosa, defensive end, San Franscisco 49ers

Jul 28, 2021; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) runs during training camp at the SAP Performance Facility. Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

In 2019, Bosa had nine sacks, won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, and anchored a 49ers defense that made it all the way to the Super Bowl.

In 2020, he barely saw the field. He tore his ACL in week two, missed the rest of the season, and the 49ers fell to last place in the NFC West.

San Franscisco had other issues besides missing Bosa – injuries were a them for them on both sides of the ball. But Bosa is clearly the motor of their defense and one of the best in the league at getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. That’s particularly important in a division where he’ll face Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, and Kyler Murray a combined six times this season.

Teammate Fred Warner described Bosa as a “game wrecker” in an Associated Press story, and Bosa himself expressed major excitement about what he can do on the field this season in the same story.

“It’s like riding a bike,” Bosa told the AP. “The first day I was out there I was hitting moves that felt like I had been practicing for a while. Once you’ve taken as many reps as I have in college and pros, it kind of comes back to you quick. Obviously, you need to rep it to make sure it’s ready for the season. But it came back pretty quick.”

Bosa is expected to be ready for the team’s season-opener against the Detroit Lions on September 12.

Dak Prescott, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys

Sep 9, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) runs the ball against Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (9) during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys weren’t exactly off to a great start when Prescott went down with an injury in the fifth game last season, but Prescott himself looked great. Dallas was 2-3 in the five games Prescott played, but he was completing a career-best 68 percent of his passes for almost 1,900 yards and 9 touchdowns in those games. 

There’s also no doubt that the production at the quarterback position fell off a cliff when Prescott went down. The Cowboys had no stability at the position, which left them unable to take advantage of a historically weak division even though they probably had the most talent of any team in the NFC East even without Prescott.

Prescott and the Cowboys looked good in their season-opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers and his return should make the Cowboys the sure-favorites in the division. Dallas will have to be careful with him this season, though – they plan to have him do an MRI at least bi-weekly throughout the season.

Saquon Barkley, running back, New York Giants

Aug 29, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) warms up before the game against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants were another team in the NFC East that, with an extra win here or there, could’ve won the division last season. Missing Barkley put them at a huge disadvantage.

Barkley had more than 1,400 combined rushing and receiving yards in each of his first two seasons. With a young quarterback in Daniel Jones, having Barkley’s pass-catching ability as a safety valve is a huge asset, and Barkley’s absence is a big reason Jones didn’t make the leap last season many were expecting him to. 

He played in just two games last season, and the Giants have been careful with him in the training camp and preseason, but they are clearly itching add his playmaking back to their offense.

“Trust me, I was on the other side with this guy, and he’s one of those dynamic players, both in the running game and the passing game,” offensive coordinator Jason Garrett told NBC Sports. “He’s one of those players who can make a three-yard run and a four-yard run and a two-yard run or a one-yard run. And then he catches a screen and goes for 65 yards. We’ve lived that, trying to stop him. It’s great to have him on our side. We’ll try to give him opportunities.”

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