photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
By Ryan Surmay
Week 2 of the National Football League season was one of the league’s weirdest in recent memory.
It seemed as though in every game, a key starter went down with a significant injury.
These injuries will have a severe impact on this season, as many teams lost key players and are forced to adjust game plans for the rest of the year.
The most notable injured players included Saquon Barkley, the running back for the New York Giants, and Nick Bosa, the San Francisco 49ers’ reigning NFC Rookie of the year.
Both suffered from season-ending ACL tears.
Christian McCaffrey, who amassed nearly 2400 yards from scrimmage last year for the Carolina Panthers, suffered a high ankle sprain and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.
The list goes on, with other notable players such as Jimmy Garoppolo, Drew Lock, Bruce Irvin, and Courtland Sutton all expected to miss significant time.
The 49ers seemed to be hit the worst with the injury bug in their game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
In the first half, San Francisco lost Bosa and Soloman Thomas, the team’s two starting defensive ends, on back-to-back plays.
They both were carted off the field with knee injuries. It was later revealed that they both tore their ACL.
Then, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, which kept him out of the game after halftime.
Running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman also suffered knee sprains. The 49ers lost five starters on Sunday, while already being without others such as starters George Kittle, Richard Sherman and Jason Verrett.
After the game, the NFL launched an investigation on the turf at MetLife Stadium after members of the 49ers claimed that the turf was “sticky,” which would explain all the lower-body injuries because of the abnormal movements in their legs.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan backed his players, saying, “I know that’s as many knee injuries and ankle stuff and people getting caught on the turf as I have ever been a part of.”
“From what I saw, the other team did, too,” Shanahan said. “I know our players talked about it the entire game, just how sticky the turf was. It was something our guys we’re concerned about right away and the results definitely made that a lot stronger.”
The NFL said that it performed all the required testing on the turf, and found that it was up to code and safe to play on.
These injuries were not just a factor in this game, but a trend around the league.
Some may attribute injuries to the fact that the league had no preseason games for the first time since 1977, and while that can be a factor, it is not the only possible explanation.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL was forced to make changes to its offseason plans in order to be ready for the season to start on time.
One of the biggest adjustments to this was the shortening of training camps. Players reported to camp this year on July 28, while during the 2019 season, they had to report by July 17.
While it may only be roughly a two-week difference, there was no optional, team-led practices in the offseason like there normally is.
The combination of a shortened camp and no preseason games forced all the players to speed up the process of getting ready for the season.
Their bodies were not acclimated to all of the hits and abnormal movements they were taking, which may have caused them to suffer more soft tissue injuries.