Despite the eight-week layoff because of the players' strike, there was no epidemic of injuries as play in the National Football League was resumed yesterday.
Most teams reported nothing more than the usual bumps and bruises. In Atlanta, four players were sidelined. One was Carl Eckern, the Los Angeles linebacker, who suffered ligament damage likely to require knee surgery.
Marshall Harris of Cleveland was one of the minority voices when it came to talking about the effects of the layoff. While most players downplayed the effects, Harris admitted: "I was worrying about dying. I was worried about my heart and lungs giving out."
And Cleveland linebacker Dick Ambrose said the strike changed his outlook. "It's more like a business," he said. "The fun part of the game is totally lacking."
Quarterback Richard Todd of the New York Jets said the intensity was as great as ever. "The only members of the team who seemed to have trouble were the receivers and running backs. "They were winded at times when they normally wouldn't have been."
Lynn Dickey, the Green Bay quarterback, had a bruised hip, but that could have been attributed to the eight sacks by the blitzing Minnesota Vikings.
Cincinnati quarterback Ken Anderson said he "felt comfortable out there but you never really get used to guys hitting you." And his counterpart on the Eagles, Ron Jaworski, said he "could feel the rust. Considering the layoff, I rated the play on both sides as sporadic. But if that wasn't NFL-caliber football, seeing all that hitting and contact, I don't know what is."