There are too many players in the NFL that have been labeled "injury-prone" to count, and it's a safe assumption that every team has at least one of those guys. Buffalo Bills fans ask me all the time about such players, since the Bills seem to have so many; as such, I thought it would be interesting to rank those players in terms of risk the team is taking keeping them around in their specific roles.
Yes, this list includes a couple of free agents, and yes, it also includes players that may very well not be around much longer. Still, I consider seven players on the team injury-prone, and a further three as worthy of that label, but at least debatable. On to the list - and you're of course free to disagree not just with the idea that the player is injury-prone, but the risk assessment, as well. The list is after the jump.
10. Reggie Torbor. Yes, Torbor is injury-prone, having missed the team's last 22 games due to two stints on IR. At his peak, however, he was a fill-in outside linebacker pressed into action because of the team's lack of options. The impending free agent carries no risk to the team, and likely won't be back.
9. Roscoe Parrish. For a time, Parrish was a vital cog in Chan Gailey's passing attack. That time was brief, however, as Parrish has played in just 10 games in the past two seasons. Another impending free agent, there's still an argument to be heard regarding re-signing Parrish, I believe, but only that line of thought makes him a risk to the club.
8. Marcus Easley. The former fourth-round pick carries no risk to the club moving forward, as his two seasons on IR have left him on the periphery of wide receiver discussions. The fact that Easley is a former fourth-round pick, however, makes his injury issues slightly more severe, given that he comes from the first draft class of GM Buddy Nix.
7. Aaron Williams. I don't even considering Williams injury-prone - not yet, anyway. His rookie season was marred, however, by chest and leg injuries that kept him out of seven games; it goes without saying that missing that much time will really hinder the development of a player as young as Williams. So while he's not necessarily worthy of the injury-prone label, he's a potential candidate - and the team's likely going to be relying on him defensively. That makes him a potential risk worth monitoring.
6. Shawne Merriman. If this post were written last year, Merriman would obviously have been at the top of it. By the team's own admission, however, the pass rush is their biggest need, and as Merriman's still on the roster, they're obviously no longer counting on him to fix it. That lowers his risk substantially. Man, it'd be nice if this guy just had one healthy season left in him.
5. Kraig Urbik. The second of three players that don't necessarily carry the injury-prone label, Urbik has nonetheless missed time with various minor ailments over the past two seasons; he landed on IR both seasons, although in 2011, it was a minor knee injury suffered at the tail end of the season that did him in. An important figure as a guard and reserve center, there is some risk involved with building around Urbik, with the potential for more.
4. Eric Wood. Sandwiched between two rough season-ending knee injuries in 2009 and 2011, Wood missed two games in 2010. Wood is one of the more prominent known injury risks on the team, and as the Bills are counting on him to lock down the center position for the foreseeable future, there's more risk involved here than most fans are willing to admit.
3. Nick Barnett. Having had such a strong debut season in Buffalo, it's easy to forget that a major part of the reason Barnett was available last summer in the first place is his injury history. Barnett landed on IR in 2008 (knee) and 2010 (wrist). He did, however, make it through 16 games in 2009 and 2011. Barnett ranks so highly on this list because of his tremendous importance to the team's defensive plans, as he is their only true every-down linebacker.
2. Demetrius Bell. Bell missed half of the season in 2009 with a knee injury, was eased back into action in 2010 because of the same injury (though he did appear in all 16 games), then lost nine games to shoulder and knee issues this past season. Still, there is rhetoric that the team would like to bring Bell back at the critical left tackle position, and the majority of Bills fans seem down with the idea (including yours truly).
1. Terrence McGee. Because of his playing style, McGee has always been a player that would miss a game or two and was forced to play through nicks. That reached a boiling point over the last three seasons, when McGee missed a combined total of 22 games. He was injured on the defense's first play from scrimmage this past season, returned, then tore his knee up and landed on IR. He's scheduled to make $3.6 million this year and $4.6 million next year; the Bills would be taking the biggest risk of all paying McGee that type of money to fulfill any type of role defensively.