#24 – Chris Clemons

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Little late in the day, but I gotta do something to kill the 40 minutes before gametime.

Everyone knows Chris Clemons is injured.  He had ACL surgery, he’s been rehabbing for all of 2013, and he’s currently on the PUP list.  The hope is that he’ll be ready when it’s time to come off the regular season PUP list after week 6.  The crazy, batshit insane hope is that he’ll be ready for week 1.

Look, this team has a real depth problem along the defensive line.  Bruce Irvin is out for the first four games.  And, oh by the way, he’s also missing tonight’s pre-season game against the Chargers with some nagging thing or another.  Cliff Avril should be ready to go by week 1, but he too is dealing with injury issues.  We’re bringing in guys released from other teams, we’re shifting guys around in our linebacking unit, and the only guy you can really count on at the moment – knock on wood – is Michael Bennett.  I know everyone is in love with the guy, but if he’s so fucking great, then why were we able to get him so cheap?  Why didn’t some other good team snap him up to a big contract?

The best defensive end ON THIS TEAM is Chris Clemons.  Without a doubt.  That’s where it stands right now.  Things may shake out differently once the season gets going – someone or a few someones might surprise us along the way – but looking at this team pre-season, Chris Clemons is the man.  And he’s coming off of MAJOR surgery.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  bigtime knee injuries are fatal for lineman.  Every down, you’re pushing and torquing and twisting and grinding against a 300+ pound freak of nature.  Then, if you manage to get around that behemoth, you’ve got to collide with the ball-carrier and hope to bring him to the ground as he’s either running towards you or away from you.  Running backs (like A.P.) only have to worry about cutting (and, I guess, someone hitting your knee).  Linemen have all of that, plus about a million other things to worry about.  So, even IF Clemons is available to play in week 1, that’s no guarantee that he will remain healthy for the entire season.

Essentially, when you come back from this injury, you’re doing everything in your power just to get back on the field.  But, does that mean you’re really READY for game situations?  Are all the muscles there like they were pre-injury?  Did the doctor overlook something in the surgery that will quickly come back to bite you in the ass?  Is there a little more cleanup to be done that will end your season before it even began?

The point is, I’m never going to feel 100% confident in Chris Clemons this season.  Maybe if he gets double-digit games under his belt and isn’t constantly having to leave the game or get his knee injected with cortisone throughout the season, then I’ll let this thing go.  But, for now, I will worry about the guy.  We NEED him.  But, we can’t count on him.  He’s a little like the defensive version of Percy Harvin – a nice cherry on the sundae.  Except, unlike Harvin, Clemons was a huge part of our success last year.  Which means that other guys are going to HAVE to pick up the slack.  Guys ranked a little higher on my list.

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