There is not a part of everyday life that has not been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, and it’s no surprise that the NFL’s season thus far has been disrupted. The season opener featuring the Texans’ visit to Kansas was the first time since Super Bowl Sunday that players took to the field in full uniform, meaning that the usual four-week round of preseason games was junked in favor of a longer training camp.
Games have been postponed, and others have gone ahead under the strangest of circumstances, particularly for Broncos practice squad WR Kendall Hinton, whose first NFL action came as his team’s emergency starting quarterback against the Saints. As can be seen below, it went as well as can be expected.
One way in which the crisis may have affected the professional game is in the high injury toll that has been experienced by playing squads up and down the country. While a wider study will be necessary to attribute a reason to the season-ending and -shortening injuries suffered by some of the game’s stars, the clubs affected by the worst of these injuries will be counting the cost right now and wondering what lessons can be learned. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest names to fall victim, and see what conclusions can be drawn as of now.
Bosa loses sophomore season to ACL tear
Last season, Nick Bosa was chosen second overall in the NFL Draft and played a huge part as the San Francisco 49ers went all the way to the Super Bowl. For his nine-sack, one-interception debut season, Bosa was rewarded with the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, and looked set to add to his story before a torn ACL in Week Two against the Jets. The defensive end, brother of Chargers star Joey, looks on target to be ready for 2021’s big kick-off. Until he has played a few games, questions will however be asked as to whether he can be the same dominant force he looked set to become.
Bengals’ Burrow sees dream start turn to nightmare
The one bright side of just how bad Cincinnati were in 2019 was that, in April, they had a free run at the graduate class. To no-one’s surprise, they selected Ohio State triggerman Joe Burrow, and he repaid their faith with thirteen touchdowns through the air and another three on the ground. While these stats, added to 2,688 passing yards through Week 11, would have had Bengals fans researching how to watch ESPN ahead of December 21’s showdown with the Steelers, they’ll need to reconsider now. A horror injury against Washington sheared his ACL and MCL, as well as damage to PCL and meniscus; with luck he’ll be back early in the 2021 season, but in his absence the Bengals looked anemic in Miami most recently.
ACL injuries at a peak
At the present time, the NFL lists 33 players as being out of contention for at least the next game with anterior cruciate ligament injuries. These include both of the above players and Cleveland stud Odell Beckham Jr. Indeed, soft tissue injuries as a whole are up, something that is being attributed to a lack of on-field practice leading to muscles and ligaments having less elasticity. A similar issue was noted in German soccer when their players returned back in April, with serious injuries occurring at a rate previously unseen. Football is back, and we’ve had an intriguing season on the field thus far – but the biggest story of the NFL in 2020 may yet be what comes out of the treatment rooms.