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Mailbag: Are rules contributing to injuries?


I realize that we are talking about professional athletes and that their level of physical fitness is far greater than the average man, but I tend to think that some of the NFLPA's rules are causing more injuries. Maybe if these guys were required to at least do some on-site mandatory conditioning rather than having an entire month off prior to camp, these injuries wouldn't be as common. I'm all for protecting athletes, but could some of these rules be contributing to more soft tissue injuries?John Adams/El Paso, TX

Nick Eatman: I really don't think you can prove these injuries are happening because of those rules. Are we sure there wouldn't have been 10 more injuries had they not had so much time off before camp? Sure, we've seen 4-5 players banged up in the first week. I don't think it's more than usual. And also, what we see is guys leaving practice and rehabbing over the next few days. That's a training-camp mode right now because we've got so much time before the start of the season. This is certainly the time to be overly cautious and patient. I think the spirit of these rules is to make sure these guys are not overworked and also ready to go for camp. 

Kurt:It's a tough balance, for sure. In the pursuit of keeping players healthier over the long term, are we in some ways subjecting them to a greater risk of injury in the short term? Given the grind of the upcoming season, players need those weeks of time off to rest and rejuvenate. Sure, all of them continue to work out during the break, but once training camp begins, it's full throttle. Despite being in the best of shape, these players are seemingly going from 0 to 60 again when it comes to both football activities and simply competition, which is when those strains and other soft-tissue injuries always start popping up. So what's the answer? Should the first few days be nothing but running and stretching? Throw the footballs to the side and just get the body ready? That doesn't seem realistic. And the thing is, we'll be having a similar conversation when the regular season gets underway. With only 10 padded practices in training camp and the starters playing very little in the preseason matches, will the players be ready when the games (and the hitting) count for real? It is what it is. Perhaps the silver lining lies in that every team has to deal with these same issues, so it's at least a level playing field for all in that regard.

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