Preseason is here. Football is back. After months of waiting and some serious down time, things are starting to pick back up. Training camp is in full swing, the first game has been played, now it's time to get everyone else under the lights and get the season going. The first preseason game usually features starters for a short period of time, followed by the bench squad. As the preseason moves along and teams get more games under their belts, the starters play more time, usually culminating in about a half of play in the 3rd game. With more game time comes increased reps and a chance to smooth out the kinks in an offense or defense. But with more live action, there's also more of a chance for injury.
It seems every year a big name or two gets hurt in a preseason game and everyone starts clamoring for less preseason games and more regular season games. But would that decrease the chance for injury?
We all know where I'm headed with this one. We've seen some big names over the last 24-48 hours go down with injuries, and nary a snap has been played. Antonio Bryant of our Tampa Bay Bucs is set to miss 3-4 weeks. Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers has a shoulder/arm injury that as of this writing is undiagnosed. Donnie Avery of the St. Louis Rams is out for 4-6 weeks. Besides being wide receivers, these guys all have one thing in common; They haven't played a snap of football yet.
Injuries are gonna happen in any sport, it's impossible to avoid. Unless you're Steve Smith, rarely do you go after a teammate and try to injure him. These are guys that you want on the field for you, why try to take them out on the practice field? But the injuries still occur. Yes, they do happen in the preseason games also, and it's a shame, but it's part of the game and part of having depth.
You might be able to hypothesize that more injuries would occur if we shortened the preseason and prolonged the regular season. Why you ask? More "real" games means more "real" hitting. Starters typically getting a total of 3-4 quarters of work over the whole preseason, followed by approximately 64 quarters (16 games, 4 quarters) but if we extend the regular season, then instead of 3-4 quarters over a whole preseason, they may only get 2 quarters, but with 2 more games on tap, thats 72 quarters of regular season. We've just upped the amount of real games and opened up players to more injuries.
Again, I'm not a doctor, so I have no idea what percentage the chance of injury would go up with two more games of wear and tear on an NFL player. But I think the argument is there that more games means more opportunity to get hurt. Look, I'm all for player safety, and I don't want to see any player, particularly a Buc get hurt in what amounts to a meaningless game, but playing the "shorten the preseason" card doesn't make any sense.