Injuries are a commonplace in football, and part of the sport has become what teams can manage them best and what players can step up in others’ absences. However, it gets a bit unfair when teams are facing loads of injuries in the first few weeks of training camp and the preseason.
So far, key players like Washington’s Junior Galette, San Diego’s Stevie Johnson, New England’s Rob Ninkovich, and Detroit’s Tim Wright have all suffered serious injuries, with Galette, Johnson, and Wright already out for the entire season. Ninkovich went through a serious scare with a torn triceps, which will keep him out until likely October or November. The Patriots also had another brief nightmare with star receiver Julian Edelman, which turned out to be a minor hiccup and he returned to practice the next day.
The list may seem small for now, but injuries are bound to happen in the next few weeks of the preseason. Last season, injuries ruined what could’ve been an amazing football season, and took out absolute studs that could’ve changed the landscape of the league. Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster, Le’Veon Bell, Julian Edelman, Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham, Peyton Manning, Steve Smith Sr., Joe Flacco, Tony Romo, Andrew Luck, and Andy Dalton. All big names that were forced out for multiple weeks of last year because of injuries, and that doesn’t even put a dent in the full list.
I’ve seen plenty of people suggest changes to the preseason schedule to help avoid injuries before the season even truly starts. Some have said to shorten the preseason to two games, and some have suggested to just take away the preseason all together. The latter is just a lazy approach to the problem, while the first makes some sense.
However, the preseason is a chance for young players and those on the cusp of making the roster to prove themselves and possibly earn a job with an NFL squad. Taking away two to four whole games to prevent the league’s top players from getting hurt would prevent the growth of young talent, and prevent new stars from being born. Names like Danny Woodhead and Edelman may not be around if it wasn’t for the preseason, so taking away their opportunities to prove themselves would just hurt the league in the long run.
Football is a physical and dangerous sport, and it’s time to just face the facts. Injuries are a part of the game now, and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. It has turned into a game of luck when it comes to injuries, and teams just have to hope nothing severe happens in the weeks leading up to the regular season, and luckily have those weeks of preparation to build up young talent to be ready to replace their top players if necessary.