The NFL entered its second week of play this past weekend and unfortunately for fans, there was a multitude of injuries that piled up, potentially ruining the season for some teams.
Injuries are a part of the game, but when so many happen at one time, it isn’t coincidence. The preseason is one of the most valuable assets a coach has on any level. Every year there is turnover on a football team, no exceptions, so when a new batch of players rolls in, coaches need to be able to evaluate players by more than just practicing.
Very rarely does a team practice full speed, considering most things have been made illegal at the high school level, while the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement has made it so players don’t have to practice as hard or as much. With COVID-19 being thrust into the mix, preseason was canceled and the effects that come with that are starting to rear an ugly head.
49ers defensive end Nick Bosa was a favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year before tearing his ACL against the lowly Jets. On the other end, New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley was a fan favorite as well to potentially win Offensive Player of the Year and now he has a torn knee. The NFL is not a star-driven league like the NBA, but with both teams losing their best players, the Giants’ and 49ers’ seasons are essentially over before they have really even begun.
Bosa was not the only loss for the 49ers. In all, five San Francisco players will be out for some time.
Not having a jamboree game or more opportunities to get reps has affected teams on the high school level as well. Benjamin Russell has been battling the injury bug constantly the first half of the season, becoming the leading cause for the Wildcats 0-5 start on the season. The Wildcats have been dealing with what San Francisco has to now, finding other guys to step up.
The Dadeville Tigers are a team that is looking at the first half of the season as a preseason before the region loaded back end of the season approaches. The Tigers are in their first season with head coach Roger McDonald and although the Tigers are sitting at a 2-2 record, you can’t help but feel like one if not both of those losses could have went the other way if McDonald simply had more time to evaluate his talent. Luckily for Dadeville, the pieces seem to be coming together and the Tigers are continuing to improve.
Coach Matt Johnson over at Reeltown had arguably the most turnover, with most of last season’s production graduating or leaving the program; with a shortened summer and no jamboree, Johnson is dealing with injuries while also trying to find players to plug in to replace the production that was lost.
With SEC football kicking off this weekend, it would be wise to expect the unexpected. No A-Day games means your favorite and most hated programs will most likely suffer the same way local high school teams and the NFL has. Heck, the teams just started practicing a couple weeks ago, so on top of not being in shape, guys are not going to have the proper timing, leading to sloppy play those first couple weeks.
Over the years, fans have complained four preseason games are far too many and need to be reduced and to that I say, bologna.
Getting players in football shape is the most essential job the preseason does outside of learning your respected teams scheme and playbook. The worst part is, the injuries are far from over. With everything going on, I hope owners and higher-ups in the league office realize how important those first couple games are to the integrity of the product. There is a reason starters start and bench players come off the bench; they aren’t as talented and leave much to be desired from the product.
Ryne Gallacher is a sports writer for The Outlook.