Training Camp Injuries, Time to Panic?

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We are just over a week into training camp and have seen significant injuries pop up again in a similar fashion to years past. What is going on with this team?  Is it something particular to this team or is it just bad luck? It’s hard to say exactly what is going on, but there are theories from the logical to just the bizarre.  On top off all of this, Paul George of the Pacers suffers a horrific accident during a televised Team USA training bringing up the notion of Indy being cursed.  Back to the Colts, they have been hit particularly hard with injuries, not just under the Grigson Era, but also the Polian Regime.  Can we draw any conclusions?  That’s what I’m trying to find out here.

Since camp opened we have had the following injuries:

Vick Ballard:  Tear Achilles tendon-out for season

Donald Thomas:  Re-injures Quad-out for season

Both of these injuries come less than one year after their initial injuries, also both in non-contact drills.  It seems interesting that both were medically cleared to practice and participate by the Colts medical staff.  Look, it could be a complete coincidence, but in their cases, it’s probably more of rush to get back on the field.  I’m not willing to blame the medical staff, because injuries in the NFL seem to be handled differently than just a couple years ago.  The standard prognosis for an ACL tear was about 11 months just a few years ago.  Some were even longer, but Adrian Peterson changed everything after he shattered how quickly a person can recuperate from this type of injury.  Now it seems more and more players come back faster and push for less restrictions.  That’s what I think is happening on some of these injuries.  Players are getting on the playing field too fast and aren’t properly working their way back.  It’s hard to blame them, after all the League seems to follow “a what have you done for me lately” notion.  Again, these are my thoughts…

Fili Moala: Re-tears ACL during OTA, contact with another player.

This one is similar to the other two injuries except Moala didn’t even make it to training camp.  During OTA’s in June, Moala was involved with a collision with a teammate causing his knee to buckle which in turn caused a partial tear of his ACL.  The same knee injury that he suffered in November 2012.  This one had more than a year between injuries, but the same knee and injury again leads you to believe that it’s not a coincidence.  Maybe the incident was a freak occurrence but the result again appears to show that maybe these type of injuries lead to a greater probability of re-injury.  It seems like nothing probably could have been done to avoid this type of injury short of not getting on the field.

Here’s is what Pagano told CBS’s Jason La Canforna about the injuries,

“We had a plan for all of those guys, sometimes, it’s simply bad luck. Some things are unavoidable in a game like football. Some of them were non-contact, freak things. We’re doing our due diligence.”

Grigson elaborated on the the players’ injuries,

“They did everything they possibly could to be in great shape for camp, and then their season is gone on one play in camp.”

So it seems more and more that really all of these injuries probably were unavoidable-in that the players didn’t have any major accidents, other than Moala, and his seemed to be just an ordinary collision.  I think the nature of the game is subtly causing players to work harder and shorten their normal or recommended rehabilitation time.  But at the same time, then we have players like: LaRon Landry and Vontae Davis who have not practiced because they are dealing with “Soft Tissue Injuries”. Many have questioned how injured the pair really are.  Landry elected to skip the voluntary workouts, whereas Davis just signed a big new contract which leads many to question how much he is willing to work now that he got paid.

Coach Pagano seemed irritated with some of the slow rehab and addressed it in his Wednesday Presser,

We want them back, like we’ve talked. We need them to get out there, they need to get out there. They need to start practicing. They’re doing a great job with the rehab, the trainers are pushing them. They’re very, very close.” 

Pagano seems to be trying to walk the fine line between not calling players out with legitimate injuries but also seems to be saying that some should be out there now.  The inference seems to be that some are content rehabbing instead of pushing themselves a little harder after they have made enough progress.  With the injuries to Thomas, and Ballard it now seems that players may be more inclined to protect themselves-which is understandable but also frustrating to the coaching staff.  But, then you have someone like Reggie who pushes himself harder and harder and seems to be back to his normal self in a incredibly fast time for a 35 year old.  The coaching staff is letting him work hard or normal for Reggie, but is also giving him plenty of rest to protect himself from himself.

I guess it boils down to the individual and how they recover from injuries.  Some have injuries and will heal fast and others tend to heal slow.  Just because one player heals fast and another takes longer to heal we shouldn’t try to apply transitive thinking to them.  I think the same can be said for injuries, sometimes there really is nothing that can be done about them.  They crop up when they do, and you just have to deal with them.  Unfortunately, the Colts have a history of players and injuries and that tends to make us who observe the team from the outside question if something is happening inside the facility to cause this, but there really isn’t anything to suggest it.  One thing that should be noted is that the team has been willing to take a chance on players with some injury histories.  Maybe this is one of the factors, but many teams take similar chances.  If they didn’t they could miss out on a player that could be the next sure thing.  Injuries will continue and the team will lose more players this year, that’s part of football, so it seems. There doesn’t really seem to be any major patterns that I can see as a cause.  So, I guess injuries are just a part of the game and the sooner we accept them, the sooner we can learn to not panic, sort of.

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