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NFL Training Camp Injuries May Be On the Rise This Year

Drew Brees and his teammates stretch in efforts to avoid injury during New Orleans Saints Training Camp in August 2011 at their Metairie, La. facilities (Photo: Parker Waters).Drew Brees and his teammates stretch in efforts to avoid injury during New Orleans Saints Training Camp in August 2011 at their Metairie, La. facilities (Photo: Parker Waters).

Are Drew Brees and his NFL brethren more vulnerable to injuries this preseason? (Photo: Parker Waters)

The New York Times published an interesting article on August 9 discussing NFL training camp injuries and whether the shortened camp due to the lockout has had anything to do with the injuries.

One of the most amazing statistics the article cited was that in the entire 2010 preseason, nine players suffered Achilles' tendon tears. In a full season, the NFL usually averages about eight per year.

In less than two weeks of training camp this year and before a snap was taken in any preseason games, 10 players have sustained Achilles tears. This injury is repaired through surgery and is considered season ending.

There have already been many less serious injuries such as muscle pulls or strains that have the ability to linger on throughout the season if not treated and rested properly.

As many of you who keep up with professional football know, injuries were a major topic of concern heading into training camp. Due to the lockout, players could not participate in organized off-season workouts or the ability to work with the team's strength and conditioning coaches. This left it up to the individual players to get into shape on their own time. They now have to cram a few months worth of conditioning into a couple of weeks.

As you can imagine, some players are more dedicated than others and came into camp in great shape while others are trying to play their way into shape throughout the preseason and hope to be ready for the regular season.

With the preseason games are now underway, I would keep an eye out for injuries around the NFL to potentially increase rapidly. There are reasons for my concern.

First, take the players that came into camp in great shape. Even they could not prepare for full contact hitting and game speed. Off-season workouts would normally help them to gradually get ready for preseason, whereas now they have to walk on the field and immediately hit their stride. The muscles will tend to be unprepared for the intensity of the workouts and there is potential for these leg muscle tweaks that can really hamper their ability to perform.

Moreover, players on the offensive and defensive lines -- who are often already overweight -- are especially at risk. Their cardiovascular system may be strained and their endurance may be limited well into the regular seaso. Add in the increased weight to make ankle and knee joint injuries more prevalent. In addition, these larger players may be more prone to heat-related illnesses.

What does it mean for NFL teams? For one, their training staff will probably be busier this year compared to previous years. It also means that teams with depth may be the most successful as the injuries and overall player fatigue sets in. As injuries occur, coaches are going to depend on second and third string players more than ever.

With all the player movement during the past month's frenzied free agent signing period, the season looks to be really interesting on the field. Keeping up with the injuries may make it even more intriguing, but not in a good way.

 

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