The Ravens lost tight end Benjamin Watson to a torn Achilles and they are waiting for word on an MRI of rookie running back Kenneth Dixon’s injured knee, which makes it unsurprising that coach John Harbaugh used some of his time with the media on Saturday to lament preseason games.
Harbaugh said that he wasn’t a fan of preseason games before those injuries — he said his ideal number of games would be zero — and that he hopes that there will be changes to the way the preseason works to eliminate some of the risk involved in the four-week exhibition schedule.
“I know the league and the Players Association is working very hard and trying to figure out ideas to work out the preseason,” Harbaugh said. “These are big, fast, strong men running around out there. It’s not 25 years ago. … It went to four [games] in the 70s. It’s not the 70s anymore. These guys playing in these games, it’s tough, and they’re not meaningful games. They are important to get better, and they improve us. But we football coaches can find ways to get our guys ready and get our players evaluated without the kind of risk that a game necessarily entails. I’m really hopeful that the union and the league can get together and do something that’s good for everybody, especially what’s good for the players. And for the fans.”
Harbaugh has expressed other displeasure with the offseason schedule, particularly the limitations on how much players can work with members of the coaching staff. The league has also expressed its displeasure with the Ravens putting rookies in pads during a period in the schedule when that isn’t allowed by fining Harbaugh and the team.
There is a risk of injury any time players are on a football field, be it in a practice, scrimmage or game, but this year has seen a rising number of teams opting to severely limit playing time for established players if they put them on the field at all. That would suggest that other coaches share some of Harbaugh’s feelings about preseason football, although it remains to be seen if there will be any changes to the status quo.