It is a problem that plagues the NFL year after year: the preseason injuries. One short play can ruin an entire season for a player. Coaches are faced with a difficult issue: do they allow starters to play in preseason games to practice for regular season? Or do they bench starters to keep them safe and healthy for regular season? In some ways, preseason is a conflict of interests. You have top players with their spots assured on teams playing against players battling it out to make the cut. That can be a recipe for injuries.
The Bears’ defensive tackle Henry Melton suffered a concussion in the first preseason game. Thankfully, he was cleared to play in the Bears’ season opener against the Bengals.
Vikings’ Kevin Williams suffered a knee injury in Sunday’s preseason game against the 49ers. Williams was hit with a low block by a Joe Looney, a back up guard for the 49ers. An MRI concluded Williams is suffering from a hyper extended and sprained knee, and his return for the season opener is questionable. Skeptics saw this as a dirty play on a defenseless player. However, Looney claims he did not purposely hurt Williams, he was just trying to finish a block.
Packers’ DuJuan Harris suffers from a similar issue. He re-injured it in the preseason game against Seattle. The Packers have running back Eddie Lacey to start in the September 8th game if Harris is unable to play.
Bears’ coach Marc Trestman is choosing to bench most starters in their upcoming preseason game against the Browns. This will both keep starters safe and allow the team to evaluate players on the bubble.
As preseason winds to a close, coaches will have to choose if playing starters is worth the risk.