“Woe is us” doesn’t apply to the Green Bay Packers as far as injuries anymore.
So far in training camp, the Packers have (reportedly) lost two players to season ending injuries: offensive lineman Don Barclay and wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, both with torn ACLs. While losing depth at both positions is not good, neither one is likely to be a starter to open the year.
After Green Bay fought major injury epidemics the past two season however, it’s understandable why fans will be concerned they’re in for another battle. Losing two players this early is never a good sign.
This year the Packers aren’t alone in dealing with major injuries in training camp. While players go down in camp every year around the league, teams seem to be getting harder hit this year than in the past.
Look at Green Bay’s archnemesis, the San Francisco 49ers. They’ve already lost running back Kendall Hunter and defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey for the year with a torn ACL and torn biceps, respectively. Hunter wasn’t the featured back, but he was depth at a critical position. Dorsey was a starter and hurts the 49ers’ tough front seven.
What has been behind the outbreak of injuries? Is it a result of changes to the practice schedule thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) enacted in 2011? Are players not taking proper care of themselves in the offseason? Or could it just be bad luck?
It’s likely all of the above, but the new CBA is probably the most critical. Packers coach Mike McCarthy has mentioned multiple times how difficult the new CBA has made creating a practice schedule. It’s already evident in that McCarthy has not disclosed how many practices Green Bay will be holding in pads.
The rules behind the new CBA in terms of changing amounts of practices was meant to help keep players fresh but so far it seems to be doing the opposite, especially with the Packers given their injuries the past two seasons. Teams are struggling to adjust offseason programs as a result and it is showing up on increased amounts of players on injured reserve.
Some players meanwhile have likely taken advantage of the new CBA and not cared for themselves as well as they should have in the offseason. Programs that were once mandatory are not and some are likely skipping out on those to extend a vacation. Most players don’t, but it’d be interesting to see how the two tie together.
Then there is the luck factor. Could all these injuries fall into the “stuff happens” category? Possibly. Landing on your feet wrong doesn’t signal poor conditioning nor is it the fault of the CBA. Injuries are part of the game of football and are never fully preventable.
If most injuries were from non-contact, then it would easy to blame conditioning and the CBA. Since they occur in a variety of ways, it’s impossible to pin them down to one cause with certainty.
One thing is certain, however. Packers fans will holding their breath on every single play this season thanks to injury issues the past two seasons.
For 2014 however, if training camp is any indication, they will be joined by fans of the other 31 teams in the NFL.
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke