NFL injuries: Why are players getting hurt so badly so early in training camps?

July 30, 2013

Jeremy Maclin won’t be playing after tearing his ACL. (Matt Smith / AP)

For the second time in three days, the Philadelphia Eagles lost a player to a season-ending injury in training camp Monday when linebacker Jason Phillips tore his right anterior cruciate ligament.

Jeremy Maclin is watching and awaiting surgery. (Michael Perez / AP)
Maclin is watching and awaiting surgery. (Michael Perez / AP)

The injury is the same one that will sideline wide receiver Jeremy Maclin as the inaugural week of NFL training camps exacts a toll before real contact has even begun. On Monday, Chicago Bears defensive Turk McBride suffered a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, joining the lengthening list of players whose season has ended before camps really began.

They’re in stellar company. The Baltimore Ravens lost Dennis Pitta to a dislocated hip, the Denver Broncos’ Dan Koppen tore an ACL and the Seattle Seahawks’ Percy Harvin has a hip ingury that may require surgery.

In addition, the Washington Redskins lost backup linebacker Keenan Robinson to a torn pectoral muscle, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Armon Binns tore his ACL and MCL, New York Jets backup cornerback Aaron Berry tore his ACL, Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford tore his Achilles tendon and San Diego Chargers backup linebacker Jonas Mouton tore his ACL.

What exactly is causing this rash of season-ending injuries before hard hitting even begins? Most likely, it’s because, well, stuff happens, even though it’s unusually early in the season.

“I just think it’s a fluke,” Oakland General Manager Reggie McKenzie told CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman. “What we’re doing in the OTAs and offseason and minicamp … it’s not overworking. It’s not nearly like it was in the years before. That’s when you banged a whole lot more, yet the injuries were not there.

“Maybe it’s competition, with some of these players being a little more feisty. There’s so much turnover yearly with head coaches and players, maybe players are trying to show something; trying to really impress, and sometimes that leads to [injuries].

“But as far as training and medical differences … medically, you’re doing a whole lot more and better stuff, like better stretching. Plus, I’ve seen how much better the weight lifting is now, where it’s core training and different movement — a lot of prepping before practice. No, this is better. It’s got to be a fluke.”

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren · July 29, 2013