NFL COVID-related injuries

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Photo Courtesy of Keith Allison

The now Injured Saquon Barkley in action against the Washington Football Team. Barkley tore his ACL against the Chicago Bear in week 2 of the 2020 NFL season

Those following the NFL this season or playing fantasy football have probably noticed that players have been getting injured at an alarming rate. Giants RB Saquon Barkley tore his cruciate ligament, Panthers RB Christan McCaffery has a high ankle sprain and 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo is out with a high ankle sprain as well.

The NFL came up with regulations and a pre-season schedule that shortened the time teams had to prepare for the season. Last year, teams started training camps on roughly July 20, giving them about a month and a half of full intensity training until the first games on September 8. This season, NFL players started training with their teams on August 3 during the “acclimation period” which was just strength and conditioning training with no live contact. Teams began to train with contact on August 17, less than a month before week one games on September 10. Another challenge was the lack of time players had on the field together, so on-field training was prioritized over strength and conditioning training.

Not all injuries were caused by a lack of strength training or preparation. Some were just caused by poor luck or nefarious work by an opponent. Seahawks RB Chris Carson and 49ers DE Nick Bosa’s injuries spring to mind; Bosa’s knee got caught underneath him and twisted when he was shoved onto a pile, while Carson’s injury was caused by the scummy work of Cowboys DT Trysten Hill who twisted Carson’s leg after the play was over. With the exception of those two, most of the injuries have been non-contact injuries. Jimmy Garrapolo was cutting when his knee buckled, Saquon Barkely’s injury was caused by a bad plant in an otherwise routine play and Christian McCaffery got his ankle hit by a diving linebacker on a routine run to the endzone. Would a longer pre-season have helped?

It’s really open to debate, “I think a full offseason program and a preseason may help,” former NFL offensive lineman Kyle Long said while on CBS.

On the other hand, ESPN Get Up! contributor and former NFL safety Ryan Clark felt differently.

“I think it’s good news, I think it’s smart, It’s not only about guys getting acclimated and being able to be in game-type conditioning, but to me it’s also about limiting the contact between people who aren’t in the same bubble or aren’t in the same area and haven’t been around one another more,” Ryan said.

Another place that the injuries are taking tolls is in Fantasy Football. Saquon Barkley had a high ownership rate in fantasy leagues so quite a few people had to find replacements for his roster spot and points output.

“I had Saquon until he got injured, and replaced him with Nick Chubb until he got hurt too, so now I have James Robinson as my starting running back,” sophomore Leo MacDonald said.

Injuries are a part of every season, but the rate of injuries this season has been alarming and will probably continue through the rest of the season.

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