It’s like Christmas morning for football fans as every NFL team has started their training camp. However, the big fear of Christmas in August – the equivalent to getting a lump of coal in your stocking – is that major injuries to key players can get the season off to sour start.
NFL training camps are barely 48 hours old as I write this, and one team has lost two starting running backs to injury. The Denver Broncos lost Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter to injuries that occurred about 10-minutes apart while performing the same drill. Moreno seems to have suffered the more series injury – torn hamstring – while the perennially injured Buckhalter pulled a muscle in his upper back.
Actually, the ESPN.com account has Buckhalter injuring both his leg and his upper back. So now Bronco fans start to worry about their running backs and they haven’t even played a pre-season game yet. The luxury of a quarterback controversy – Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton or Brady Quinn – will take a backseat to the possibility of dealing with a lack of quality running backs.
Granted it’s early, and it looks like Moreno’s hamstring is pulled and will keep him out just 3 weeks, but after you’ve been spooked by an injury it’s never too early to start worrying. Football is a nasty game and nothing illustrates this reality better than these early season injuries.
Modern day football players are finely tuned machines – with some exceptions like Fat Albert Haynesworth of the Redskins – and come into training camp ready to go. Gone are the days when guys used training camp as a way to “play themselves into shape;” what a quaint notion.
But regardless of how fantastic an athlete’s preparation is for the season there is no way for a football player to protect themselves from all the dangers that are part of playing the game. As guys have gotten bigger, faster and stronger, and as a result pushed the envelope of performance and punishment, they can do less to mitigate against the dangers inherent in the game.
Keep this in mind as you follow your favorite team and keep your fingers crossed that your favorite team’s key players stay healthy.