Several teams that have lost offensive stars are now surging, and are among the ranks of the 11 teams with winning records.
Carolina was devastated to lose second-year receiver Kelvin Benjamin this summer to a season-ending knee injury. He was
After some patches of turbulence, Seattle has resumed the pattern of winning every week — and that's with running back
Pittsburgh has the
Denver has thrived without quarterback
Although the Patriots have lost two games in a row, so their arrow is pointing down at the moment, Tom Brady is in the familiar role of turning no-name players into standouts, especially after losing running back
Maybe the most improbable turnaround was executed by Kansas City, which staggered to a 1-5 start and lost running back Jamaal Charles, who had accounted for nearly one-third of the
Or so it appeared.
But, in a U-turn that should earn
Particularly when a team has veteran leadership, there's something about losing a key player that can galvanize a team and cause it to better focus on the task at hand.
"When you lose a guy like Jamaal, everybody's hearts go down in the tank right then and there," linebacker
Good coaching is obviously a major component of keeping a depleted team on track. But there's also the behind-the-scenes work of a personnel department that consistently stocks the shelves with solid starters and capable backups who can step into those replacement roles.
In Seattle, undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls has done more than soften the sting of losing Lynch, who is recovering from abdominal surgery. Rawls has rushed for more than 100 yards in four of his six starts this season, including 101 in the
Like Lynch, Rawls thrives on running over defenders.
"I have never run out of bounds," Rawls said. "It's just my makeup. It's my whole mentality. I think I would feel less of a person just running out of bounds instead of being physical, showing toughness and [having] a different mentality at the running back position."
Arizona, which at 11-2 has the
Losing a key player can shake a team to its foundation. But as the Cardinals and others have shown, a loss doesn't always result in an L.