New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is blaming an uptick in NFL injuries on recently implemented limits on off-season practice time.
“I’m in favor of total preparation for the players for the season,” said Belichick, the three-time Super Bowl-winning coach, according to The Associated Press
. “And I think that’s been changed significantly and, I would say, not necessarily for the better when you look at the injury numbers.
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The injury numbers, though, are inconclusive. While the number of NFL players who finish the season on the injured reserve list has shot up over the past 14 seasons, they are down this year. The new limits on off-season practices were adopted in 2011.
According to the AP, the number of players finishing a season on injured reserve hit a high of 353 in 2010, before the new rules came into effect. There are 288 players on the injured reserve now, the lowest total since the 287 in 2008. The Patriots, however, have been particularly hard hit this season with six starters on the injured reserve list, including tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Under the rules negotiated two years ago, teams are prevented from holding two-a-day practices during training camps. Players also are limited in how many times they can practice in pads throughout the year. And spring team activity was reduced from 14 weeks to nine.
“Personally, I think that’s taking the wrong approach. ... We get a lot of situations that players just aren’t as prepared as they were in previous years, in my experience anyway,” Belichick said.
In an interview with the Boston Globe, Belichick talked about other challenges facing every team in the NFL
“This game, this league is so even,” he said. “All the teams are so evenly matched. Every team has good players, good coaches, good schemes, they work hard, they have experienced guys, they have guys that are explosive and playmakers.
“Every week we line up across from those challenges. If you don’t move ahead and meet the next one, if you sit back there and spend too much time feeling good abut what you did in the past, then you’re going to come up short the next turn at bat.”
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