NFL preseason is well underway now. The top rookies are starting to make a name for themselves, quarterback battles are beginning to show who should be starting and injuries are also beginning to appear.
Perhaps the most noteworthy injury to date was the ankle sprain suffered by Odell Beckham Jr. in the Giants’ Monday night loss to the Browns.
On the play, Beckham jumped in the air to make a first-down catch. When he was in the air, Browns defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun hit Beckham in the legs when he went up for the catch. You could tell Beckham was frustrated after the play based on his reaction to flipping the ball and crouching down in pain.
Giants fans and fantasy owners everywhere rejoiced after finding out he only suffered an ankle sprain and not any significant leg injury or concussion.
I am not going to debate whether or not the hit by Boddy-Calhoun was clean or dirty, although I do think it is a valid question to ask if they can’t hit high or low, where are they supposed to hit?
I am also not going to debate whether or not Odell Beckham Jr. is a diva and his reaction was just him trying to draw a lot of attention to himself. Other analysts can debate that.
What I want to talk about is based on a scary play like this, should the NFL eliminate its preseason entirely?
Injuries happen all the time in preseason. Some happen to star players and some to third-string linemen. Some injuries knock these guys out for a short amount of time, a week at the most maybe. But others have suffered much longer time off, including season-ending injuries.
Beckham isn’t the only big name to get injured this preseason. Seahawks left tackle George Fant suffered a torn ACL in his right knee and will miss the entire season. Seattle was counting on Fant, who started 10 games last season, to help elevate their line play.
Bengals starting safety Shawn Williams also dislocated his right elbow this preseason. It will not require surgery, but he will miss four to six weeks.
With injuries like these, why should the NFL have a preseason? The players don’t really get paid for it. The owners don’t need the extra money preseason can generate since they are already filthy rich. Why risk a star player like Beckham’s health?
The purpose of preseason
Let’s remember what the preseason is for.
We know how good the stars are, so it is not really for them. Preseason can help the starters get back in the swing of things. It gets them playing in full pads against other talent around the league. It also usually lasts for a quarter, more or less.
The main reason for preseason is to evaluate your backups. Some teams have legit battles at different positions. The Browns are one of those teams that have a quarterback battle. Will it be Brock Osweiler or DeShone Kizer? The preseason can help coaches see how well these guys can play in a game situation.
There are also other battles within the depth chart. It gives free agents an opportunity to get game snaps with their new team in a new system. New coaches also get the benefit of seeing their new team on the field and if their strategy is working. Rookies also get a taste of the NFL action so they aren’t just thrown in on week 1.
With all the changes that occur in an NFL roster from year to year, preseason is an opportunity for teams to enter the season more smoothly. It gives current players an opportunity to shake the rust off and new players an opportunity to learn and transition.
Preparation can help eliminate injuries
As crazy as this sounds, the preseason can also help prevent injuries along the way. Workouts, training camp and preseason are all in place to get the players back in shape and ready to go for the actual season. The MLB does this with spring training and the NBA also does this with summer league and their own preseason.
Let’s flashback to the 2011 NFL lockout. During this time, players did not get the preparation they needed due to the lockout. There was a boost in injuries during the start of the season.
There were 10 players who suffered ruptures to their achilles tendon before the first preseason game even was played. At the time, an average of eight achilles ruptures occurred in a full season.
Lions rookie running back Mikel Lashoure missed his whole season due to a ruptured achilles. Panthers linebacker Jon Beason only played in one game that season due to the same injury. Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles also went down due to torn knee ligaments.
Now not all of these injuries happened in preseason, but the principle still remains. If you do not prepare, you are only going to hurt yourself. Preseason helps players get in rhythm for the actual season.
Teams benefit from the preseason a lot.
Financially, they each host two games. Die-hard fans go to these games after not watching football since last winter. They are eager to get their fix after such a long wait. These games also get on TV, bringing in more money and publicity for the league.
Based on all of this, the NFL won’t be eliminating preseason anytime soon. Teams and players just benefit from it too much. If players are worried about injuries, maybe they should just play limited time like Tom Brady.
Honestly, if injuries are such a big concern, why even play football? Injuries don’t stop after preseason. They continue on. You never know what is going to happen on the football field.
Featured Image by AP Photo/Ron Schwane
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