Typing this hurts, because after the first week of football that featured amazing finishes and numbers usually only achieved in Madden, we all want to focus on football highlights, football matchups, and anything else that involves the use of the word “football” in a positive, exciting context. We want to forget about the lockout, and those hellish days.
So I’m just going to close my eyes and do this: at what point does the lockout begin to get blamed for the rash of Week 1 injuries?
Anyone who’s cool is in the St. Louis training room. A nasty collision with the turf dislocated Danny Amendola’s elbow, and Steven Jackson continues to be talented but old and creaky. Now Denver’s MRI room is equally congested following their loss Monday night to the Raiders, with important position players on both sides of the ball making appointments.
Defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who missed all of last season with a torn pectoral muscle, left the game with a strained shoulder. He returned later and cycled in and out during a rotation that developed with Jason Hunter. Although that indicates the injury isn’t serious, Dumervil was clearly slowed and bothered by a nagging strain. He later told the Denver Post that he first suffered the injury earlier in the week during practice.
Champ Bailey also strained a muscle and left the game, pulling his hamstring while chasing Darren McFadden in the fourth quarter. Brandon Lloyd suffered a similar fate and was seen stretching out a tight hammy. Lloyd insisted that he isn’t hurt, but his name still landed on John Fox’s post-game injury report. Lastly and mercifully, starting running back Knowshon Moreno joined the latest Denver trend in the fourth quarter, leaving the game with a hamstring strain. He jogged lightly after being examined, but didn’t return.
All four players will have MRIs today, and it’s likely the Broncos will discover that the injuries are minor and are of the nagging, hobbling variety. That’s the worst kind though, especially one week into the season when there’s plenty of time left for that small tweak to grow into a more serious injury that zaps a player of his burst and athleticism.
What’s troubling about the rash of Week 1 injuries is that many of them have been strains, pulls and muscle problems, which can be avoided or at least minimized through offseason conditioning and general preventative maintenance with team trainers. That’s the case with all four Denver injuries, while Jackson may miss a week or more from a quad injury that occurred when he wasn’t touched by an opposing defender.
Jon Beason’s offseason surgery may have been a factor in his torn Achillies, but that’s also an injury that would have received more attention in the offseason if players were allowed to have contact with trainers and access to team facilities. Same goes for Dez Bryant, the Cowboys receiver who was brilliant Sunday night before getting a helmet to his quad in the first quarter during a punt return and then spending more time stretching than catching for the rest of the game. Bryant struggled with injuries and conditioning throughout his rookie season, and needed an offseason around team headquarters for more than just disciplinary reasons.
We expected a plethora of strains and pulls early in the season, and getting into proper September form is now a matter of quite literally working out the kinks.