Losing top players in meaningless games has become a hot topic in the NFL again after Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson suffered a season-ending knee injury and Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey broke his ankle in the same preseason game on Sunday.
Is there anything teams can do to lessen the risk of players going down in the preseason?
"If there was something that you could do, as far as -- I’m talking about how a head coach approaches practicing [for] games -- if there was something you could do, if there was some science that told us that this would help with injuries other than the 20 percent on grass versus turf, you would do it," Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Sometimes guys get hurt out here in half-speed drills -- as we’ve seen before -- and sometimes they get hurt in full-speed games. It’s just so unpredictable with the injuries."
The Ravens lost two top backups -- safety Matt Elam and defensive end Brent Urban -- to potentially season-ending biceps injuries. Both were considered fluke occurrences because they happened in low-contact drills in training camp.
In Saturday night's 40-17 loss in Philadelphia, injuries continued to pile up for Baltimore, especially on the offensive line. The Ravens had three offensive linemen go down with injuries -- left tackle Eugene Monroe (hand) and offensive tackles James Hurst (concussion) and De'Ondre Wesley (leg) -- after not suiting up six linemen.
"As a coach, [what] you really have to focus on is making sure your team is good enough, making sure they’re the best they can be and you come out and practice and understand that [injuries are] an unfortunate part of the game," Harbaugh said. "That’s really the best you can do right now as a coach."
Some have suggested in recent years that the NFL needs to reduce the preseason.
"If you’re asking me about preseason and all that kind of stuff, I don’t really have that answer right now, but it’s a fair question," Harbaugh said.