One of the most notable changes in Eagles training camp, other that the massive helmet pads all the linemen and tight ends are wearing, is the shorter practices, the increased number of walk-throughs and the joint practices the Birds are holding.
There are stats to back up why the winning teams are cutting back on beating down their players.
According to mangameslost.com, the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, and Philadelphia
Eagles were the least injured teams last season. All were playoff teams.
The most injured teams in the NFL during the 2021 regular season were the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens. Neither team made it to the post season.
Eagles second-year head coach Nick Sirianni was asked before the first day of training camp about first scheduled walk-throughs before the first pre-season game. Why do a walk-through as opposed to a practice?
“Well, this first one, it's all about player health, what went down last year, our numbers as far as the soft tissue injuries, right?” said Sirianni. “So our third day, which tomorrow would be our third day, they had hard conditioning yesterday. They're going to have an intense practice today. In our third day, numbers tell us not only on our team, but throughout the league that soft tissue injuries shoot up that day. So that's the reason for that.
“Then that is the same data that we're following for those other three walk-throughs that we're going to have. Is it different from last year? Yes. But the other thing you're getting is more high-volume days because of that walk-through there.
“We have a green day, a yellow day, and a red day. So, yes, we have a couple more walk-throughs than we had, but there are more green days now, which means there are more high-intensity practices.
"So, the distances of how much we're running at the skill positions, how much we are running at every position, is going to be more in this camp than it was last camp.
But it's just a different way of how we get there. It's all educated -- and that doesn't mean we're not going to get soft tissue injuries, right? There are probably going to be some.
"We're doing as much as we possibly can to prevent those things. My job is to make sure that team is ready to play. I have to listen to the experts. I have to listen to our doctors. I have to listen to the strength and performance staff. I have to listen to the trainers.
"But at the end of the day, I have to make sure the team is ready to play. So, it isn't just blind faith following. It's educated of how we're doing these things. And then like I said, I have to sometimes make hard decisions on what to do and what not to do.”
Eagles Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slays says he get it.
“It’s all about hard work,” Slay said. “But we have to protect our bodies. According to a lot of reports, soft tissues come with a lot running. Our coaching staff does a great job of keeping us focused. I believe we were the least injured team in the league last year. We’ve got to keep that going.
“Thant’s why we were playing good at the end of last year. Our best players were healthy. You’ve got to be healthy to win games.“
Interestingly enough, Eagles budding star left guard Landon Dickerson, who was plagued with soft tissue injuries at Florida State and Alabama, says he likes the longer practices.
“Rest is obviously key for players,” Dickerson said after Monday’s 80 minute (aprox) practice. “I’m a big fan of being on the field and getting reps. That’s how I like it. But everyone is different. Some guys learn in the meeting room. Some guys learn listening to stuff. I’m a practical guy. I like being out here on the field walking through, learning stuff on the field. I’m not going to say I don’t appreciate the rest time. Obviously, it’s a long season; your body likes some rest. It’s probably good for a lot of players out here to acclimate as we get into camp then get into the season.” *
The stats show the team is doing the right thing. If they Birds win the NFC East and host a playoff game, not one will remember how long the practices were back in August. *
Email al Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org