By Zack Peñalva, Sports Editor
Injuries, Injuries Everywhere
The preseason is a necessary evil. Players need to get back into the rhythm of actual gameplay, and bodies need to adjust to full-speed contact after an offseason of light workouts. Without at least a little bit of work in the preseason games, players bodies would be destroyed after the first game back in the regular season.
With that in mind, it doesn’t make the preseason any less miserable. It doesn’t change the fact that coaches are likely wringing their hands on the sideline every game. Knowing that a glorified scrimmage could cause one bad hit or off-balance landing that could sideline a star player and jeopardize a team’s season before they even play their first official game.
Such is the case in Green Bay, where the Packers’ #1 wide receiver, Jordy Nelson, is set to undergo a series of tests to see if he did in fact tear his ACL during the team’s game against the Steelers.
The situation wasn’t much better for the Steelers and Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey. Pouncey came out of the locker room on crutches and sporting a cast after Green Bay’s Clinton-Dix rolled into his leg and caused his ankle to buckle under him. It’s being reported by the team that he’ll likely require surgery and would keep him out a minimum of eight weeks.
All told, teams have reported over 60 different players injured and no one has played a meaningful down.
Chance to impress
While the injury risk is high, the preseason does allow some fresh faces a chance on the field to impress. While this may be helpful for the coaches, it definitely doesn’t do anything to make fans want to tune in.
Hey Colts fans, have you met the new third string quarterback Bryan Bennet? He’s 6’2! He went to Southeastern Louisiana! Do you want to see him lob some passes to other practice-squad players before he’s put into his full-time position as benchwarmer?
But there is always the chance for a star to be born. In San Francisco, the 49ers newest acquisition, Jared Hayne, has used his time in the preseason to prove he belongs. Hayne got his start playing rugby league in Australia, where he was considered one of the sport’s best players and a winner of multiple Player of the Year awards. When he first came to the US in the hopes to join an NFL team, many were skeptical of his ability to translate his rugby talent into NFL ability.
After turning his 18 touches of the ball this preseason into over 200 total yards, Hayne has made an extremely strong case to act as the 49er’s primary punt returner. Without a preseason, it would have been difficult to know whether Hayne’s physical skills; speed, elusiveness and catching would allow him to compete in a much different game than the one he had previously made a name for himself in.