Injuries are up this season, but the perception is even higher. As teams lose player after player and the attitude of "next man up" is tested tome and again, NFL teams and fans might wonder why.
Losing talents like Reggie Wayne, Julio Jones and Percy Harvin for the bulk of the season costs not only a lot of dollars for the players, but a lot of opportunities. Some of those could come in January.
It's difficult to discern any patterns in all the injuries we've seen, especially this close to it. Traumatic injuries make up the bulk of NFL injuries by design. There are fewer wear-out injuries than in baseball and, less predictability, than in the NBA. Reduction and prevention are watchwords rather than elimination.
There's always some injury that seems to be more recurrent. A couple seasons ago it was Achilles tears. Those still happen, but it's less noticeable for some reason (unless you're Vince Wilfork). This year seems to belong to the ACL, with many taking the simple route of blaming the excessive punishment on hits to the head. The problem with that is that the bulk of knee injuries are non-contact or happen almost randomly rather than as the result of targeting.
There aren't easy answers when it comes to reducing the number of injuries in the NFL, but the defeatism and anti-science bias has to be overcome. While injuries are part of the game, they can and must be reduced. The first team to do that is going to have a significant advantage, and once it's carried out to the rest of the league, we all get a better product.
American sports have always been about bigger, stronger and faster; it's time that we add smarter and healthier into that mix. In the meantime, let's take a look at some of the injured players who we've lost for the season and see what we can learn.