We’ve heard this story before – a team’s starter gets hurt in the preseason and goes down for the season.
In the past, we’ve seen veterans such as Tony Romo, Jordy Nelson, and Sam Bradford all go down during a preseason game and lose their entire season to injury. Just last season, rookie Derrius Guice tore his ACL in a preseason game. While not a starter, now Nate Sudfeld has been ruled out 6 weeks from an injury suffered in the Eagles’ preseason opener. At what point does the NFL make a change to reduce the chance of injury during preseason?
The truth is, it’s hard to prevent injuries. What you have to understand is that most players playing in preseason are rookies trying their hardest to make the roster. They will hit as hard as they can to impress coaches and make the team. It’s easy to tell a team to just not play its starters, but considering the fact that it’s been almost 7 months since the last time anyone took a competitive snap of the football, it’s nice to let players get back in the groove of it by playing a drive or two. That’s why the most effective method would be to reduce the number of preseason games to two.
By reducing the number of preseason games, coaches would automatically give priority to rookies and roster bubbles over the starters, seeing as how coaches already know how good the starters are. This would give players who are not locks to make the team 8 quarters of football to make the team, which would be more than enough.
In place of those two preseason games, teams should participate in conjoint practices with another team as they already do. So, while not a regulated football game, coaches would still get an idea of how their players stack up against another team.
If the NFL wants to protect its players, they need to take action about this issue. 4 preseason, which is almost one-fourth of the regular season, is too much football for games that have little to no meaning. While they’re at it, they need to consider scrapping the hall of fame game.