ProFootballDoc: NFL Injury Rates Hold Steady Despite Limited Training Time

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With the lack of offseason programs and limited training camp, there was concern that the NFL injury rate would be higher in 2020. Overall, that does not seem to have been the case.

Of course, this is a small sample size with only one year of data. As always, numbers can be manipulated to “lie,” but my take is the numbers are relatively consistent with previous years.

The full discussion was on ProFootballDoc Podcast. 

Using concussions, ACL and MCL tears as the metric, the overall incidence of injury did not change much at all last season.

Of course, without the normal four preseason games, the in-game preseason injury totals were zero and that translated into some lower numbers for concussions, but the regular season numbers were consistent with previous years.

Regular season ACL tears were slightly higher, but with fewer preseason ACL tears, the total was about the same. Indeed, there seemed to be the “acclimation” shift we worried and wrote about all year. The injuries that would normally happen in the preseason with ramp up got transferred into the early regular season. MCL sprains followed the same pattern, fewer in the preseason given the absence of games but caught up in the regular season to be similar to the five-year average.

One cannot draw comprehensive conclusions off of one year’s data and three charts, but a dramatic increase in injuries was not seen. 

Thankfully, this is another instance where COVID fears did not play out fully as some worried. Of course, this bolsters the NFLPA claim that staying away from OTAs and limiting preseason games is a good thing. 

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

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