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Injuries can put serious hurt on playoff hopes of NFL teams


    Seattle Seahawks defensive back Earl Thomas (29) leaves the field after breaking his leg against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game on Sept. 30 in Glendale, Ariz.

NEW YORK >> Injuries are never an excuse. Not for players. Not for coaches. And not for fans.

Still, the NFL teams that have the most success almost always keep their best players on the field.

For some teams such as Atlanta, Jacksonville and Cincinnati, injuries were a factor in derailing their seasons.

Others, such as the defending champion Eagles, have dealt with several injuries to key players and have managed to stay in the playoff race going into the final week of the regular season.

Some key players, such as Dallas center Travis Frederick, have missed most, if not all of the season, and the Cowboys found a way to clinch the NFC East title.

And other players, including Kansas City’s Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the Chargers’ Hunter Henry, and Chicago’s Kyle Long, were injured early on and are just starting to make their way back to possibly return for the playoffs.

Here are some of the key long-term injured players from all around the league:

>> AFC East: New England (Isaiah Wynn, Jeremy Hill); Miami (Frank Gore, Jakeem Grant); Buffalo (Russell Bodine); New York Jets (Marcus Maye, Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell, Brandon Shell, James Carpenter).

>> AFC North: Baltimore (Alex Collins); Pittsburgh (Marcus Gilbert); Cleveland (Christian Kirksey, Ricardo Louis); Cincinnati (Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Carl Lawson).

>> AFC South: Houston (Will Fuller, Demaryius Thomas, Seantrel Henderson); Indianapolis (Jack Doyle); Tennessee (Jurrell Casey, Delanie Walker, Logan Ryan, Jack Conklin); Jacksonville (Cam Robinson, Brandon Linder, Andrew Norwell, Jermey Parnell, Marqise Lee, Corey Grant, Austin Seferian-Jenkins).

>> AFC West: Kansas City (Laurent Duvernay-Tardif); Los Angeles (Hunter Henry, Denzel Perryman); Denver (Chris Harris Jr., Emmanuel Sanders, Jeff Heuerman, Jake Butt); Oakland (Gabe Jackson, Mike Nugent, Brandon LaFell).

>> NFC East: Dallas (Travis Frederick, Geoff Swaim, Terrance Williams); Philadelphia (Jay Ajayi, Derek Barnett, Corey Clement, Ronald Darby); Washington (Alex Smith, Colt McCoy, Jordan Reed, Brandon Scherff, Jonathan Cooper); New York (Landon Collins, Jon Halapio).

>> NFC North: Chicago (Kyle Long, Bryce Callahan, Sam Acho); Minnesota (Nick Easton, Mike Hughes, Andrew Sendejo); Green Bay (Geronimo Allison, Davon House, Jake Ryan, Muhammad Wilkerson); Detroit (Ezekiel Ansah, Kerryon Johnson, Marvin Jones Jr. ).

>> NFC South: New Orleans (Dez Bryant, Cameron Meredith); Atlanta (Ricardo Allen, Devonta Freeman, Andy Levitre, Keanu Neal, Ito Smith); Carolina (Greg Olsen, Matt Kalil, Shaq Thompson, Fozzy Whittaker, Graham Gano); Tampa Bay (Kwon Alexander, Vernon Hargreaves, O.J. Howard).

>> NFC West: Los Angeles (Malcolm Brown, Dominique Easley, Cooper Kupp); Seattle (Earl Thomas, C.J. Prosise, Kam Chancellor); San Francisco (Jimmy Garoppolo, Pierre Garçon, Jerick McKinnon); Arizona (Mike Iupati, Christian Kirk, Robert Nkemdiche, Phil Dawson)

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