Branch: Injuries potentially on rise

In a wide-ranging piece in the Albany (Ga.) Herald, receiver Deion Branch's work in his hometown is highlighted along with his thoughts on the NFL lockout and offseason.

One of the things that caught the eye was Branch's prediction of what could happen when the lockout ends.

"There is a difference between being in shape and being in football shape," Branch tells reporter John Millikan. "Trust me, we are going to be very sore, and there are going to be a lot of things that will be going on. If the lockout ended today and we started tomorrow, there will be a lot of guys getting injured. We have to work our way back into football form. We are all in shape. I can sit here and lift weights and run. That’s stuff that you can manage and control. Stuff that is uncontrollable is when you get out there and compete with guys."

Branch's thoughts have been echoed by some players, and surely this is something coaches like Bill Belichck have considered when mapping out training camp plans.

Traditionally, Belichick has opened camp with a series of full-pads practices to acclimate players to hitting, and it makes sense to think that could be altered this year because of the lack of team-based organized workouts.

As for the possibility of injuries on the rise, I think Logan Mankins' 2010 season provides a good counter-argument.

Mankins missed 2010 training camp and didn't show up until the week before the Patriots' eighth game of the season. He played that week (eased into the rotation) and never looked back.

Not every player is as gifted and committed as Mankins, but his case shows that a player doesn't necessarily need to be part of team-based offseason workouts to remain healthy and have a successful season if his practice schedule is managed correctly.

Today's question: Do you anticipate injuries to be on the rise in 2011?