Every pre-season the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and all of the other 31 NFL franchises go through a dance of sorts with each other and the media. And it’s all centered around injuries, or the lack thereof.
Left tackle Donovan Smith hobbled off the practice field recently. Second year safety Justin Evans was carted off. Like, couldn’t walk off under his own power.
The reports are minimal. Smith could miss the season opener, but he might not. Evans is...ok? We think. He likely won’t play anymore in the pre-season, right? Or maybe he will. Nobody really knows. Not until right before the game.
Why is that? Well, for multiple reasons.
First, they don’t have to. Let’s be real for a minute. A lot of these players and coaches don’t talk to the media because they want to, they have to. The NFL mandates it. Marshawn Lynch is partially famous for his upfront disdain of the policies surrounding media interaction.
So, anytime a player or coach has a reason not to answer a question, they’re likely going to take it. For example, when coach Koetter was asked about injuries following the practice Smith and Evans both got wounded in, his reply was,
“What else? Guys I can’t talk about injuries alright. You can ask me every day but I can’t tell you. You’re just wasting time.”
Now, in the immediate sense, he was talking about discussing injuries right after practice.
He’s on the practice field, not in the medical room. Could he possibly have some information or updates? Maybe. But it’s more likely he’s been busy ensuring his players and coaching staff have been on task and will get updates on injuries during afternoon meetings.
Don’t blame anyone there for at least asking, but there’s a reason Koetter doesn’t know. He was working.
The final reason this time of year causes so much heartburn trying to get injury information? Again, they don’t have to, for a second time.
According to the NFL’s Personnel (Injury) Report Policy,
“It is NFL policy that information for dissemination to the public on all injured players be reported in a satisfactory manner by clubs to the league office, the opposing team, local and national media, and broadcast partners each game week of the regular season and postseason...”
Regular and post. Not pre. Simple, right?
A lot of fun was made about coach Louie Smith saying the Buccaneers were “Tennessee Ready” ahead of their 2015 regular season opener against Marcus Mariota and the Titans.
It turned out, they weren’t.
However, it doesn’t mean they weren’t preparing for them well ahead of seeing them. And you can bet Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints are paying attention to how Ryan Fitzpatrick is leading the offense, which running back is doing well, how is the pass rush improving, etc.
So, if they’re paying attention to those things then every drop of injury information gets the Saints just a little closer to being prepared for when Tampa Bay invades the bayou to start the 2018 regular season.
Why is Koetter being so evasive with his injury answers? Because he can and should.