Just a year ago, the Cowboys were one of the healthiest teams in the NFL, as measured by the number of players on Injured Reserve. That has changed this year.
One year ago, almost to the day, we had a post up on BTB titled "Cowboys have second fewest players on Injured Reserve", in which we looked at the Cowboys' injury situation after Week 12, 2011 and compared it to the rest of the league.
Today we're revisiting that post and comparing how things have changed since then. We've detailed the Cowboys injury situation extensively here on BTB over the last two weeks, so I'm not going to rehash which player has which injury and how long he's out for.
Instead, we'll look at the official numbers reported in the NFL transactions report and see where the Cowboys are ranked in terms of players sent to Injured Reserve. Looking only at the IR list obviously has its limitations. For example, the IR list bunches all players together, regardless of how important they are to the team - missing DeMarco Murray for six games undoubtedly hit the Cowboys harder than having rookie ILB Caleb McSurdy out for the season, yet Murray doesn't factor into the IR list while McSurdy does. But at least the IR list provides a uniform accounting standard across all teams for season-ending injuries.
After Week 12 last year, the Cowboys had only three players on IR, the second lowest total in the league at the time. K David Buehler, OL Bill Nagy and WR Raymond Radway were the only players out last year. That's not much, and none of those players would be considered mission-critical.
This year, the Cowboys have nine players on IR, among them starters like Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Barry Church, Kenyon Coleman and Chris Jones. Those nine injured players rank the Cowboys tied for 21st in the league among the least injured teams - or joint 9th among the most injured teams.
Of note, this year's NFL-wide tally of players on IR is 235, down from the 257 a year ago. This may run counter what you had expected, but keep in mind that these are only season-ending injuries, and our ranking doesn't contain the plethora of other injuries teams appear to be suffering this year.
Those 235 NFL players on IR average out to 7.3 players per team, which means that the Cowboys' nine injuries, from a purely quantitative point of view, are just slightly above average. From a qualitative perspective, that may be a different issue entirely.
By far the leading reason cited for putting players on IR are knee injuries, making up almost a third of all injuries: 72 players, slightly up from 69 last year, suffered some type of knee injury (42 general knee injuries, 27 ACL or MCL tears, 3 Patellar tendon tears). 35 players are out with some type of foot or ankle injury, 33 players saw their season end early with a soft tissue injury (e.g a pulled hamstring, torn muscle etc.), 27 players on IR were reported to have suffered undisclosed injuries. Achilles tendon injuries are down from 17 to 11; unfortunately though, two of those are Cowboys injuries.
Here's how the league stacks up in terms of players on IR through Week 12:
|Players on IR through Week 12, 2012 vs 2011|
|Rank||Team||IR 2012||IR 2011||Rank||Team||IR 2012||IR 2011|