There are always injuries in training camp, it is unavoidable no matter how cautious teams are. This offseason though there seems to be a particularly large number of season-ending ACL injuries, 15 total in fact.
“[T]here have been more ACL injuries than ever,” Falcons CEO and Competition Committee chair Rich McKay told Jim Corbett of USA Today.
“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.”
It could be something that is out of the NFL’s control.
“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.”
A lot of those guys on the field are long shots to make the team and are over eager trying to impress coaches. Hitting though isn’t the major cause of the tears.
“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.”
“It may be that you’re reacting to a defender, and that’s a little different than when you’re just running your offensive plays because you’re trying to avoid a hit,” ElAttrache said. “That probably plays a lot into it.”
“The non-contact ACL tear results when you’re doing something that your brain hasn’t planned or patterned, so you misstep. Or, unexpectedly, a blocker gets pushed into you with your foot planted.”