Ravens, Panthers already in world of hurt

Updated: September 20, 2004, 11:45 AM ET
By Steve Muench | Scouts, Inc.
Atlanta's fans had high expectations for the 2003 season. After all, QB Michael Vick led the Falcons to a playoff victory and earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl a year earlier. Then the unthinkable happened. Vick injures his leg in a preseason game and misses 11 regular-season games. The Falcons finish with a 5-11 record and head coach Dan Reeves is fired before the end of the regular season.

Although few injuries impact a team the way Vick's impacted Atlanta last year, injuries happen every week in the NFL. A team's ability to overcome those injuries often plays a big role in its success. Last year's New England Patriots are an excellent example. Of course, depth is an issue, but some players are impossible to replace. It's hard to imagine the Patriots winning the Super Bowl without Tom Brady under center.

Here is a list of eight injured players, their prognosis and who is expected to replace them. There are also projections for how the injuries will affect the respective teams this weekend as well as down the road.

Steve Muench played four years of Division I-AA football before joining Scouts Inc. in 2002. He has evaluated both NFL and college players for Scouts Inc., but his current focus is on the NFL draft.