Injuries are part of the NFL, but these guys are eager to make up for lost time.
After stints on injured reserve and time to rehabilitate, those who never got to finish last season are sure to come out ready to get to work.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest injuries from last season and the comebacks to watch heading into training camp ahead of the 2019 regular season.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
Torn ACL Sept. 23 against Chiefs
Jimmy Garoppolo was poised for a breakout season once he escaped Tom Brady’s shadow in New England, but a knee injury four weeks into 2018 cut that short.
Things didn’t exactly go as planned for the former Patriots quarterback and the 49ers after he signed the biggest contract in NFL history at the time, with his five-year, $137.5 million deal that carried a salary cap his of $37 million essentially going to waste for year one. He threw for 718 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions before being sidelined.
Now healthy again and equipped with some new weapons after the Niners added Tevin Coleman, Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, Garoppolo is primed to bounce back.
Earl Thomas, Ravens
Broken leg Sept. 30 against Cardinals
It’s hard to forgot the image of Earl Thomas flipping his Seahawks sideline the bird as he was carted off the field with a leg injury in his final game with Seattle.
But he has a new team after signing a four-year, $55 million deal with the Ravens that even he wasn’t expecting to get, and the veteran safety is expected to fill the void in Baltimore’s secondary left by departed Eric Weddle.
Though Thomas turned 30 in May, the six-time Pro Bowl selection still has plenty of gas left in the tank. He has the 10th most interceptions (28) of any active player in the NFL and ranks 23rd in the league in total combined tackles (684).
Greg Olsen, Panthers
Ruptured plantar fascia Dec. 2 against Buccaneers
Another veteran who refuses to go down without a fight, Greg Olsen won’t let his lingering foot injury force him into retirement early.
The Panthers tight end turned 34 earlier this offseason and many have raised the question of whether he can return to his prime form. He’s missed 16 games in 2017 and 2018 after breaking his right foot each time, on top of rupturing his plantar fascia. But he’s convinced his most recent surgery finally has solved the problem.
Olsen had more than 1,000 yards receiving every season from 2014-16 and, as a favorite target of Cam Newton, has a shot at doing it again if he can stay healthy throughout 2019. Carolina needs all the help it can get considering the team stumbled to a 7-9 finish after starting 6-2 in 2018.
Devonta Freeman, Falcons
Injured reserve (groin) Oct. 16
Devonta Freeman has been hampered by various injuries over the last two seasons, but the Falcons need him to be 100 percent this year.
The 27-year-old running back played in just two of the team’s first six games last season while slowed by knee, foot and groin injuries. With Tevin Coleman gone, however, the bulk of the workload will fall on Freeman going forward.
Freeman had consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2015 and ’16 before his numbers dipped to 865 yards on 196 carries with seven touchdowns in 2017. He had just 14 carries for 68 yards before landing on injured reserve — and later in the operating room — in 2018.
Andy Dalton, Bengals
Injured reserve (thumb) Nov. 26
After a promising start to 2018, things unraveled in Cincinnati after Andy Dalton went down with a thumb injury, effectively ending the team’s playoff hopes in the wide-open AFC North.
The Bengals started strong with a 4-1 record but dipped to 6-10 as their franchise quarterback sat out the final five weeks of the season. Dalton threw for 2,566 yards and 21 touchdowns with 11 interceptions before being shut down.
Pairing Dalton’s return to the field with wide receiver A.J. Green’s from a toe injury and tight end Tyler Eifert’s from an ankle injury will certainly give the team new life under first-time head coach Zac Taylor, 36.