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Pro Football Weekly's Eric Edholm brings you hot news and the inside scoop about the NFL.

Eagles, Panthers stung by early injuries

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    Eagles LB Joe Mays

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Updated Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:27 p.m.
By Eric Edholm

It happens all the time in journalism, though less now that the print world has given way — in many ways — to the online universe.

But it goes like this: you write something and less than a day later, something happens to undercut it.

Such was the case with our very good feature in this latest issue, which went to press on Sunday, detailing all 32 franchises' 10 most important players. We took into consideration the player's talent and value to its respective team, plus what would happen if they got hurt and the team had to turn to its backup.

Out NFC South guy, Dan Parr, wrote of DT Maake Kemoeatu, his No. 6 most important Panther: "Plugs up the middle; D-line morphs into turnstile without him"

I cover the NFC East, and of MLB Stewart Bradley, my fifth-most important Eagles player: "Played near a Pro Bowl level [last season] and anchors a strong run defense."

Well, those two teams almost certainly will have to find out what life will be like without them. Kemoeatu tore an Achilles tendon. Bradley tore an ACL. Both likely are gone for the season.

Whose loss is bigger to his respective team? As much as I love Bradley — and I very much do; I named him my Eagles defensive MVP in our preview magazine — I believe the Panthers will suffer the most without their 340-pound anvil in the middle of the defense.

Need a reminder of his worth? Flip on a replay of the Week 16 game against the Giants up in the Meadowlands. The Giants gashed the Panthers for 300 rushing yards without Kemoeatu in the lineup, and three weeks later when he returned in the playoff loss to the Cardinals he essentially was a non-factor. The way to pressure QB Kurt Warner is right up in the A-gaps, and Kemoeatu wasn't able to get any push up front. Predictably, Warner went off.

I believe Joe Mays could be a solid replacement for Bradley. But who in the heck fills in for Kemoeatu? Nick Hayden? Third-rounder Corvey Irvin? Actually, undrafted rookie Marlon Favorite was the one taking the snaps with the first team for a bit in the first practice after Kemoeatu went down. Scary.

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