5 Injured NFL Stars Destined For Big Comebacks in 2016

STACK presents five NFL stars who are coming off injuries and are poised to have monster seasons in 2016.


The National Football League is a "what have you done for me lately?" business. Superstar players can fall from famous to forgotten rather quickly. You see it all the time—a top player gets injured and is forced to miss an extended amount of time, and they fall out of the public eye. The focus shifts to players who can play now, who can make a difference now, who can win games now.

But in the shadows, injured players are doing everything in their power to come back better than ever. Their rehab might not get them spots on SportsCenter's Top 10, but it's s a necessary step toward returning to elite status. With that in mind, let's look at five injured NFL superstars who are primed for major comebacks in 2016.

Tony Romo Will Return to All-Pro Form

Tony Romo

Tony Romo followed up the best year of his NFL career with an injury-plagued season. In 2014, the Cowboys signal-caller led the league in passer rating and was named to the All-Pro team for the first time. He got off to a hot start in 2015,  slinging 3 touchdown passes and 356 passing yards in a win over the Giants; but he shattered his left collarbone in the very next game. After rehabbing aggressively, he was able to return for two games in late November before once again fracturing his left collarbone. It was the third time he had fractured the same collarbone; he missed the final 10 games of the 2010 season with the same injury.

On March 8, Romo had what is known as a Mumford procedure, which entails shaving off or removing a piece of the clavicle to reduce stress and alleviate irritation. Ideally, this will make his clavicle less susceptible to future injuries. The procedure is fairly common for athletes, and Romo was given a recovery timetable of 6 to 8 weeks.

Why He Will Come Back Strong

For one, we've already seen Romo bounce back from a left collarbone injury. After the fracture in 2010, he successfully rehabbed and went on to post a career-high QB rating in 2011. Two, Romo recently sent an encouraging tweet about his progress:

My surgery has healed up nicely. Looking forward to OTA's and a full offseason. Let's go!

Three, Romo will return to an offense that features a great offensive line, a healthy Dez Bryant and the fresh addition of Alfred Morris. With plenty of time to recover and a bevy of playmakers at his disposal, don't be surprised if Romo has a fantastic 2016.

Jason Pierre-Paul Will Torment Quarterbacks

Jason Pierre-Paul

When it was first reported that Jason Pierre-Paul suffered a right hand injury in a fireworks accident last Fourth of July, football fans feared the worst. Although the full extent of the damage was kept under wraps (literally and figuratively) for several months, we now know what Pierre-Paul has to deal with moving forward. His right index finger and half of his right thumb were amputated, and he also suffered damage to his right middle finger. Even before his hand had entirely healed, JPP returned for the Giants' final eight games of 2015. He was forced to wear a massive club over the affected hand and his production dropped.

In addition to the amputations and other surgeries performed in the immediate aftermath of the injury, Pierre-Paul had another procedure performed in January. Done by the Giants' hand specialist, Dr. Robert Hotchkiss, it focused on returning functionality and grip strength to JPP's middle finger.

Why He Will Come Back Strong

Pierre-Paul was a shadow of his former self last season, but that was to be expected. In addition to being under-conditioned and out of practice, he had to wear that massive club on his right hand, rendering him unable to grab opponents—a  key skill for pass rushers. Now, his hand is fully healed and he believes he won't need any sort of club next season. "I'll be back to the regular JPP, just missing fingers, that's it," Pierre-Paul recently told The New York Post. Also, this off-season, he's been training like an absolute mad man with Florida-based trainer Michael Alessi. JPP regularly posts his workout videos on Instagram, and you can see that he is slowly but surely returning to his beastly self:

Add the fact that he signed a one-year "prove it" deal with the Giants, and there are ample reasons to believe a strong, motivated, well-conditioned JPP will again wreak havoc in 2016.

RELATED: Jason Pierre-Paul Prowler Pushes Over 600 Pounds, Looks Like a Beast Again 

Jamaal Charles Will Run Wild

Jamall Charles

After the Chiefs' first four games of 2015, Jamaal Charles looked to be well on his way to another strong season. At the time, the running back was on pace to record 1,224 rushing yards, 604 receiving yards and 20 total touchdowns. However, disaster struck in game five when Charles tore his right ACL.

Famous orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews performed ACL reconstruction on Oct. 21, with no reported complications. In addition, Charles had stem cells injected into his knee, both at the time of the surgery and six weeks later. A growing number of NFL players are using stem cells to help bounce back from injury, as they can help grafts heal quicker and stronger without risks of complication.

Why He Will Come Back Strong

First, Charles has already shown the ability to come back like a beast from a torn ACL. He tore his left ACL during the 2011 season, then went on to post a new career-high 1,509 rushing yards. Second, Charles's rehab seems to be going incredibly well. In February, he went on Twitter to show off excellent progress:

"I feel like if I can get bigger and stronger, and have fresh legs, I can come back like a freak," Charles wrote in a recent blog post.

Jordy Nelson Will Return to Elite Form

Jordy Nelson

It wasn't long ago that Jordy Nelson was counted among the the best receivers in the NFL. In 2014, the Packers receiver finished in the top five in the NFL in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He entered 2015 primed for another massive year, but a torn ACL in a pre-season game ended those aspirations in an instant. Although the Packers still made the playoffs, Nelson's absence in Green Bay's offense was painfully apparent.

Why He Will Come Back Strong

The timing of Nelson's injury meant he would have to miss the entire 2015 season, but it gave him an advantage for 2016. He's now had roughly seven full months of rehab, and according to Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, he's coming along great. "He's ahead of schedule. He's pushing it. They have thresholds they try to cross each and every time, and he's never been behind on anything. He's pushing it, and he looks great," McCarthy recently told ESPN. Given Nelson's legendary work ethic and no setbacks to speak of so far, he should have an incredible 2016.

Victor Cruz Will Rise From The Dead

Victor Cruz

Doesn't it feel like an eternity since Victor Cruz was relevant in the NFL? After exploding onto the scene with stellar numbers in his first three pro seasons, Cruz suffered a torn patellar tendon in 2014, forcing him to miss the majority of the season. Fans were encouraged when he returned from that injury in time for 2015 training camp; but shortly thereafter, he suffered a torn fascia in his left calf—a rare injury likely caused by Cruz's body overcompensating for the patellar tendon issue. It cost him the entire 2015 season. He had surgery last November and has been rehabbing ever since.

Why He Will Come Back Strong

This looks like a dude ready to return to the limelight:

On several occasions, Cruz has stated that he's feeling great and is excited to return to the field. We have yet to see a healthy Cruz work alongside Odell Beckham Jr., but the two could prove to be a terrorizing tandem. With OBJ helping to take pressure off Cruz, we could see lots of salsa dancing in the near future.

RELATED: Victor Cruz is Killing It in The Gym Once Again


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: FOOTBALL | INJURY RECOVERY