A shorter NFL preseason equals less injuries

August 11, 2009 - 9:03 am

Another franchise player, another preseason injury. Haven't we seen this before? Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers wide receiver, left Monday's practice with a right shoulder injury. Initial reports from Smith's agent Derrick Fox indicated he will be out a minimum of two weeks but we all know how that goes. Smith tangled up with cornerback Chris Gamble yesterday evening in a workout without pads. Losing Jake Delhomme's No. 1 target (1,421 yards and 78 catches in 2008) would be a huge blow for Carolina if the injury persists. Last week Carolina also lost starting defensive tackle Maacke Kemoeatu for the season with a torn achilles. Over the weekend Tampa Bay Bucaneers receiver Antonio Bryant opted to get arthroscopic knee surgery after not being able to participate in practice because of a torn meniscus in his left knee suffered last season. So as most teams head into Week 1 of preseason games, the question that is posed every August is posed yet again: should the NFL preseason be shortened to prevent more injuries? As of Monday there were roughly 100 players listed with injuries, with about 65 on the physically unable to preform/injury reserve list. That's only an average of three injured players a team but some teams like the Lions and Saints have as many as seven players listed with injuries. While most are minor hamstring strains or sore shoulders, it still leaves a player vulnerable for the unpredictability of the preseason game. So what's the resolution? Well Tom Brady didn't play any of the Patriot's four preseason games last year because of a right foot injury and we all know what happened in the first quarter of his first regualr season game last year. Yet Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer broke his nose in a game last preseason that required him to undergo surgery and Redskins defensive end Jason Taylor injured his knee in a blowout preseason loss last August. Yes, the NFL is a contact sport. Yes, there are going to be injuries (Smith's, after all, took place on a practice field). But can the NFL  prevent some preseason player losses by shortening the schedule? Does a pro-football player really need four preseason games to get adjusted to the game time situations even with the intensity of training camp and team scrimmages? While the scrimmages do not possess the same game time atmosphere and preparation, most starters don't even enter the third quarter of a preseason game. If the NFL preseason were shortened to two games with a majority of starters on the field for the entire game, would it not create the same results as partially playing in four games albeit in a more efficient manner?