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August 2, 2013

Many NFL teamps limping into the season

NORMAN — Sure didn’t take long for some significant injuries at NFL training camps — Philadelphia Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin, Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta, Denver Broncos center Dan Koppen, to name only three.

Immediately, some theories developed: Too much offseason work. Not enough. New labor-contract rules limiting padded practices to one per day, while generally seen as helpful, are hardly a cure-all.

Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher thinks some guys get hurt in camp because players are trying so hard to impress coaches and earn a roster spot or a starting job.

“You know now coaches are really evaluating you,” said Fletcher, whose teammate, second-year linebacker Keenan Robinson, tore his left pectoral muscle on Day 1 of training camp. “You’ve got guys with a competitive spirit and they’re looking at it, like, ‘My job’s on the line. I need to make a play’ and not realizing there’s going to be times to show that coaches that you can hit, you can make plays in preseason games, but you don’t want to have a guy go down because of something that happened in practice.”

Whatever the cause, severe injuries are increasing in the NFL lately. The number of injuries that forced a player to miss at least eight days jumped every year from 2009 to 2012, according to an analysis of NFL injury data released Wednesday. The study by Edgeworth Economics, based on information collected by the league, also shows that players with concussions missed an average of 16 days last season, up from only four days in 2005, while the length of time out for other types of injuries has been steadier.

“Severe injuries are increasing in frequency,” Jesse David, the economist overseeing the study, said in a telephone interview from Pasadena, Calif. “I know that’s a very important issue for both the players’ association and the league — trying to tweak the rules and the equipment to deal with that. But despite everything they’ve been doing, it’s still going on.”

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