One of the reasons that the NFLPA pushed so hard to structure training camp in such a way that it allows for a gradual ramp-up period of conditioning work, followed by light practices, before working up to full-contact padded practices, was a concern about an increase in the rate of injuries as a result of the lack of physical activity players will have experienced this offseason because of the pandemic.
With the first day of padded practices, however, we already saw a number of injuries flood the NFL news wire, including some very significant in terms of their longevity. Even the Pittsburgh Steelers already have a few players watching from the sidelines, but their issues are considered minor.
The most significant injury of the day affected the Dallas Cowboys, with veteran defensive tackle Gerald McCoy being lost for the season. Shortly after adding Everson Griffen to the front seven, they now lose one of their key offseason additions with a ruptured quad tendon.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jalen Hurd was feared to have suffered a torn ACL in yesterday’s practice, and that fear was later confirmed, meaning he will be lost for the season. The second-year former third-round draft pick, and had already spent most of his rookie year on injured reserve.
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Robert Alford is yet another player whose season is ending prematurely, suffering a pectoral injury that will put him on the shelf for the entire year. The 2013 second-round pick already missed all of the 2019 season with a broken leg, accounting for the first two years of a three-year, $22.5 million deal he signed last year.
For the Baltimore Ravens, second-year cornerback Iman Marshall has already been placed on injured reserve after suffering a serious injury in yesterday’s practice. In addition, wide receiver Chris Moore suffered a finger injury that will sideline him for a bit.
The Cincinnati Bengals saw A.J. Green leave practice early yesterday after the former Pro Bowler already missed all of last season and most of the previous year. His injury was classified as a hamstring and his exit precautionary. Nevertheless, given his recent history, it’s not what you want to see.
Keeping in the AFC North, the Cleveland Browns are monitoring Nick Chubb for a concussion after taking a hard hit from second-year linebacker Mack Wilson.
Josh Oliver, a third-round tight end a year ago for the Jacksonville Jaguars, spent half of his rookie year on injured reserve and played little. Heading into a season in which he was regarded as a potential breakout candidate, he suffered a broken foot in practice yesterday, and is out indefinitely.
For the Kansas City Chiefs, Eric Fisher suffered a concussion, while tight end Ricky Seals-Jones was carted off the field with a leg injury, the extent of which is not clear as of this writing. Cornerback Alex Brown suffered a torn ACL and was placed on injured reserve.
These are not the only injuries. I didn’t even mention Javon Hargrave yet, who is expected to miss multiple weeks with a pectoral injury that he suffered in yesterday’s practice, his first in pads with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Perhaps it should not be surprising that we saw a pretty significant wave of injuries—and serious ones—on the first day of padded practices. Perhaps the Steelers should consider themselves fortunate with their own relative health right now.