The first few weeks of training camp 2013 have resulted in an unprecedented rash of ACL injuries.
“[T]here have been more ACL injuries than ever,” Falcons CEO and Competition Committee chair Rich McKay told Jim Corbett of USA Today.
For now, the league won’t do anything about it. Eventually, an effort will be made to determine whether there’s something more than coincidence at play.
“We have to let the data play out over the six weeks of preseason and training camp to figure out if there is some trend,” McKay said. “Then let the experts look at it.”
Some experts, both medical and football, are offering theories anyway.
“August is the peak month for ACL tears,” Dr. Neal ElAttrache told Corbett. “There are a lot more players on the field, and guys are trying to make the team. So you have less predictability in practices because of that.
“The majority of ACL tears are non-contact tears. So being in pads, during hitting or without, does not affect the instance of ACL tears much. ACL injuries in August are not mitigated by non-contact drills or new CBA rules.”
The so-called “football guys” suspect that practicing at less than full speed could be contributing to the problem. Then again, the “football guys” despise the 2011 reductions in practice time and intensity, making them inclined to blame anything they can on it.
Regardless, more than a year or two is necessary before any patterns can be determined or causes identified. Even then, good luck getting the players to agree that they’ll be better protected by practicing more frequently and more intensely.