Injuries are a part of the game in the NFL, but they should be prevented before the season starts. The NFL preseason is just what it sounds like— a time period when teams play games to test and prepare starters, rookies, and fill out rosters. The problem with preseason games is that they include full contact which can lead to injuries. Over the years, there have been many injuries during the preseason that have led to greater problems for teams in the regular season. J.K. Dobbins, featured running back for the Ravens, is the most recent victim of preseason injury. Dobbins is the Ravens featured running back, so losing him to a torn ACL is very costly. The Ravens then lost their second running back, Gus Edwards, to a torn ACL. The Ravens losses from the preseason have already negatively affected their season. In week one, against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Ravens running game was ineffective and the team was forced to  to rely on their passing game, which is not one of their strengths. 

This isn’t the first time household names have missed most or all of the regular season because of preseason injuries. In 2003, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick suffered one of the biggest preseason injuries to date. Vick suffered a broken fibula and missed the next ten games. The Falcons had gone 9-6 the season before and Vick shattered multiple records. Because of Vick’s injury, the Falcons finished last in the division and went 5-11 in 2003. Another huge preseason injury victim was rookie Running Back Stafon Johnson. Johnson was drafted in 2010 by the Tennessee Titans and was looking very promising as a rookie running back until he was badly injured in a preseason game against the Seahawks. He suffered a broken fibula, dislocated his right ankle, and, as a result, couldn’t play for the rest of the season. The Titans went 6-10 that season and finished last in their division. 

Preseason injuries also affect the careers of less well known players. Harry Willams, a special teams player trying to make the Houston Texans roster, got the opportunity to play in a preseason game against the Cowboys. Two minutes into the game, Willams was running to make a tackle when he collided with one of his teammates. After lying on the ground motionless for about 20 minutes, he had to be carted off the field and taken to the nearest Dallas hospital. Willams had suffered a fractured C3 vertebrae and devastating ligamentous injury to his neck. Thankfully, he was able to regain motion but because of that preseason injury he was never able to play football again.

Credit: Chron.com

Players around the league have been pushing for significant changes to the NFL preseason.   After a joint practice, Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff said, “This is definitely very competitive, and I prefer them over preseason games.”

It’s not just players, coaches are realizing that the preseason is causing injuries for pointless games. When San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shannahan was asked whether he saw more value in joint practices than preseason games for a 2019 ESPN article, he simply replied “ A ton more value yeah”. 

With the long history of serious injuries in preseason games affecting entire seasons for teams and careers for some players, it is time for the league to rethink how teams should prepare for the coming season. A growing number of players and coaches are calling for fewer preseason games and a focus on joint practices to prepare teams and players for the season. Reducing contact during the preseason could be the key to protecting players and teams

Posted by evan464

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