Why So Many Preseason Injuries for the Cowboys?

“Dropping like flies” is a term that is often used to describe the Cowboys players during preseason last season and this season too. Of course injuries are a part of football as it is a contact sport. However many of the injuries are occurring for Dallas before they even begin contact so can anything be contributing to them?

While eliminating all of these injuries isn’t possible, I do believe a few things can be done to reduce them perhaps.

2012 Injuries:
Last season did it seem like Dallas was the most injured team in the NFL? Injuries devastated the defense as they lost LBs Bruce Carter and Sean Lee. Well it turns out they weren’t the most injured team but they were pretty close to it. Only Washington and Greenbay had starting players miss more games than the Cowboys during the season. Is that an excuse to miss the playoffs? No since the Redskins and Packers both made the playoffs which may say more about their depth. NFL INJURIES.

The least injured team in the NFL by far in 2012, was the SF 49ers who made it to the super bowl. What are they doing that the Cowboys aren’t doing to keep players healthy? I think the 49ers are a good place to look for answers.

While the Cowboys certainly need to get younger as a team, often the non contact injuries have been to rookies and younger players too. For example, last season rookie Matt Johnson missed the season after pulling a hamstring in preseason camp. Age could play a part but it doesn’t appear to be everything.

Dynamic Stretching versus Static Stretching:
Do you recall in the Super Bowl there was a significant delay due to a power outage? At the time of the outage, the Ravens were leading the 49ers 28-6 and in control of the game. When play resumed, the 49ers rallied appearing more ready to play than the Ravens. While the 49ers ultimately fell short in the end, they clearly handled the delay better.

NFL.com analyst Akbar Gbajabiamila points out that during the delay, the Ravens were applying static stretching while the 49ers were applying dynamic stretching techniques.

One thing I saw that likely played a big part in the shift of momentum: Many of the Ravens players were doing static stretching, a type of stretching that elongates the muscles and is meant to cool your body down after exercise. This probably made it extremely difficult to be explosive. The 49ers, meanwhile, were doing dynamic stretches, which simulate athletic movements. These keep the muscles explosive and ready to play.”

Keep in mind, I have already submitted facts showing the 49ers players were injured less than any other team in 2012.

More and more evidence is supporting the belief that static stretching before activity, can actually decrease the power of muscles while increasing the probability of injury.

This page points to an article published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” which recommends static stretching after exercise activity and dynamic stretching before.

While looking at the video of the recent Cowboys Blue/White scrimmage, I noticed that before the scrimmage the Cowboys were engaged in some old school static stretching. Lying on the field stretching their hams for all they’re worth. I think it is time for Jason Garrett to bring in an expert at dynamic stretching and see if it can benefit his team. It can only help them.

Conditioning Test:
At the beginning of preseason camp, Jason likes to conduct a conditioning test for all players which evidently consist of timed sprints. This year DT Jay Ratliff and guard Mackenzy Bernadeau injured their hamstrings during the test. Both players have been missed a great deal and Bernadeau has just recently returned to practice.

The test is administered before the preseason camp begins and weeks after their OTA workouts so players tend to be cold. I can’t see any real benefit from giving the conditioning test but the risks are very apparent. There is evidence that Jason doesn’t hold as much value in these tests as before anyway. HERE

It’s time to eliminate this out dated procedure which only offers players an opportunity to pull something before practice even begins. Enough Jason.

Climate in Oxnard Ca.:
Summers in Oxnard tend to be much cooler than many areas of the country with temperatures lingering in the 60s aided by ocean breezes. Now don’t get me wrong, I think Oxnard would be an excellent place to live and visit with wonderful weather and low crime rates too. However it may not be the best place to hold a preseason camp in the NFL.

Players conduct OTAs in the Dallas area with hot summer temperatures but then go to Oxnard for camp where the temperatures can be 30 degrees cooler. That’s a huge difference and could possibly lead to cooler muscles which may result in pulls. A pulled hamstring can be a very nagging injury that takes a long time to heal. Once it occurs in preseason, it can be an issue the entire season. (See Miles Austin for proof.)

In the past, the Cowboys have also conducted camp in the Alamo Dome of San Antonio, Tx. Maybe it’s worth a try to see if things go better indoors with a controlled temperature that offers comfort without a dramatic difference. Just a thought.

Final Take: My suggestions are as follows,
1. Dynamic stretching before practice and static after.
2. Eliminate pre camp conditioning test.
3. Move camp to San Antonio.

Any other suggestions to help reduce injuries would be welcomed in the comments section. And by all means, let’s get these to Jason right away.