When you look around the NFL and assess the early carnage, it’s easy to understand why head coaches are so reluctant to play their starters for extended periods during the league’s pointless exhibition season.
Players are going down all over the league, and many for the entire season. The dreaded ACL injury has been a particular scourge, taking out several regulars with season-ended knee tears. The Packers, who have one offensive tackle (Bryan Bulaga) recovering from ACL surgery and another (David Baktiari) nursing a sprained ankle, didn’t play Aaron Rodgers at all in the preseason opener.
If Bills fans want reasons for optimism, the team has been remarkably free of serious injuries. They’re among the healthiest teams in the NFL at this point, with only minor tweaks to lesser players. The Bills were pretty healthy a year ago, too, which speaks well for the conditioning staff that Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane brought to Buffalo.
Fantasy owners are already anguishing over the loss of a rookie who was being taken in the first round of drafts. The Redskins’ Derrius Guice torn an ACL in Thursday’s preseason opener and is lost for the year. The Colts also lost rookie wideout Deon Cain in the opener with a torn ACL. Cain had been looking good as a promising target for Andrew Luck this season.
Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett, who missed last season with an injury, tore his Achilles in a workout the day before camp. He’s gone. LA, a chic pick in the AFC West, is dealing with a host of ailments, both major and minor.
The Titans lost safety Johnathan Cyprien to a torn ACL in practice. Out for the year. The same goes for Arizona center A.Q. Shipley, another ACL casualty. Carolina right tackle Daryl Williams tore his MCL and dislocated his kneecap. He’ll be out until at least midseason, taking a major protector away from Cam Newton.
The Chiefs lost safety Daniel Sorenson with a torn meniscus and broken leg. He’s out several weeks, at the least. Tampa Bay’s rookie defensive tackle, Vita Vet, is out a few weeks with a strained calf. There’s a long list of minor injuries. And to think, we’re only one week into the preseason.
So the next time you whine when a bunch of no-names are running around the field in August, remember that the risks are great, and the coaches’ real concern is keeping their guys healthy for the grueling 16-game season ahead.
Hey, maybe the Bills luck didn’t end with the Andy Dalton miracle. Maybe the grid gods are looking down on them and sparing them major injuries. Considering the lack of talented depth on the roster, they’d better hope so.