There's no doubt that key injuries have prevented the Indianapolis Colts from having a successful 2011 season. The team has lost players on both offense and defense, crippling their chances of winning and resulting in poor play. Five players have really affected the Colts and if they return for the 2012 NFL season, there is a better chance at victory and an eventual return to the playoffs.
Since 1997, the Indianapolis Colts have relied on their all-star quarterback to provide proficient passing, team leadership and the skills to reach two Superbowls. A nagging neck injury forced a preseason surgery that has left him on the sidelines all season.
After starting 0-11, Manning's importance was clearly proved more than ever. Hopefully when he returns, he can shake off the surgery rust and get back to playing excellent football.
The Colts offensive line is known for Dwight Freeny and Robert Mathis, but Eric Foster is another driving force. There was nothing more exciting than seeing his swinging arm stomp after sacking a quarterback.
During the NFL Week 4 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Foster broke his ankle in a painful tackle and had to be carted off the field. Showing his true spirit and dedication to the Colts, he was driven off as he riled his teammates up and encouraged them to keep playing.
Even if the offense is not at its peak, losing Dallas Clark for the second season in a row is not a good sign. Dallas Clark has not had the production that he is used to, but he still remains one of the most talented tight ends in the league.
Jacob Tamme is a good replacement, but Dallas Clark has been on the Colts for so many years that his presence on the field alone makes a huge difference.
The on and off injuries of Joesph Addai just add confusion to the running game. His injuries have made him inconsistent and the offense is struggling because of it. The Colts have resulted in swapping out multiple back-ups, but it looks like the postseason needs to consist of revamping the RB situation and possibly getting rid of Addai for good.
For the past two seasons, Melvin Bullitt has played in a total of six games due to injuries. The safety had a couple of stellar years with the Colts, but these past injuries have hindered his production greatly. Hopefully in 2012, Bullitt will come back and become an integral part of the Colts defense.
Alan Donahue is a huge fan of the Manning brothers. He follows both the Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants with passion. He has written several articles on the NFL.
More from this contributor: