Preseason's most significant injuries

Losing Dennis Pitta for the season was a big blow for the Baltimore Ravens. Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Adam Schefter answers reader questions in his mailbag once a week during the NFL season. Have a query of your own? Submit it here.

Q: Do you think the New York Jets should start Mark Sanchez this season? I feel like we should give Geno Smith a chance to prove his worth, and if we lose there are always good QBs coming up in this year’s draft. Right? -- Colin (New Jersey)

A: It's tough to say either quarterback should start when neither has played a preseason game yet, Colin. Right now, through the first couple of weeks of camp, it appears Sanchez has a slight lead. But it will surprise no one if Smith overtakes him in the next four games to start Week 1. However, here’s the deal: Once the Jets turn to Smith, they can’t go back to Sanchez; if they start with Sanchez, they always can go to Smith. Keep in mind this week that their preseason opener is on the road, and it’s easier to start Sanchez under those circumstances. Next week the Jets play at home, where it might be easier to start Smith. But the fact is, one of these quarterbacks has to win this job this summer, and it’s too early to say who deserves it.

Q: Adam, it seems like there are more injuries this offseason than in previous years, or maybe just at a faster rate. Which is the most significant so far in your mind? -- Geoff (Nevada)

A: They all hurt in their own ways, Geoff. But the two worst to me are Dennis Pitta in Baltimore and Bryan Bulaga in Green Bay -- and this doesn’t include Michael Crabtree, who was lost for an indefinite period before the preseason even began. Pitta was Joe Flacco’s favorite red zone and third-down target, especially with Anquan Boldin in San Francisco. Former Colts GM and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian called Pitta’s loss a “stake in the heart,” which gives quite the depiction of the injury’s significance. Bulaga’s loss also was big. Yes, Aaron Rodgers was sacked 51 times last season, but that was when Bulaga missed nine games. This season, the Packers had moved him over to left tackle to try to upgrade their line. Now they might have to depend on a rookie fourth-round draft choice, David Bakhtiari, to protect the blind side of one of the most important players in sports. He might be able to do it, but it’s certainly not an ideal situation.

Q: Adam, where would you put Adrian Peterson in the list of greatest running backs of all time if he had another 2,000-yard season? No other RB has had back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons. -- Travis (North Dakota)

A: It's hard to anoint a running back the greatest of all time before his career is over and we can examine his full body of work, Travis. Saying that, another 2,000-yard season instantly would catapult him into that discussion. Most people believe Jim Brown is the greatest running back of all time, with people also considering Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders and others. Peterson has talents that place him in that category already. What’s impressive about his numbers is that he’s done it coming off a significant knee injury and at a time when the league is geared toward throwing the football. Peterson probably already would be in the discussion of some of the greatest all-time backs. But another 2,000-yard season would win him more respect and push him up the list.

Q: The reports coming out of KC camp are that Dexter McCluster is poised for a breakout season, and that our rookie tight end, Travis Kelce, is ready to top the depth chart as well. With the defense in place, and some solid weapons for Alex Smith, do you think my Chiefs have a shot at dethroning the Broncos in the West? -- Andrew (South Carolina)

A: Andrew: Correct me if I’m wrong, but haven’t we heard about McCluster being poised to break out in every one of his seasons in the league? He never has. Not that he can’t or won’t this season, but I’ll believe it when I see it. But whether or not McCluster finally emerges, the Chiefs are poised to have a significantly better season than they did last year. Remember, at this time last year, many were picking them to win the division -- and instead they finished with the No. 1 overall pick. With a new head coach and a new general manager, they have changed the culture there and improved the roster. Most important, they’ve added a quarterback and added hope. My sense is the Chiefs will compete for a wild-card spot this season.

Q: The Tennessee Titans are a team that doesn’t seem to attract much national attention, but could be interesting this year if Jake Locker starts to play well. What do you think are reasonable expectations for them? -- Kyle (Arizona)

A: You just hit on the key questions, Kyle. Will Locker play well? He has been inconsistent at best so far. If he can be a consistent and successful starter, there’s enough talent around him to compete for a wild-card spot in Tennessee. But I don’t see the Titans being as good as the Texans or the Colts right now. Of course every season there are surprises, and maybe this season the Titans will be one. But if they are, Locker is going to have to elevate his play, because Tennessee’s success this season depends on it.