Last Sunday in the NFL, there were a total of 62 players who were listed as "out" due to an injury that curtailed their ability to play. Based on 30 active teams (Arizona and Washington were idle), 1.9 players per team sat out, which is below the three players per team lost due to injury in 2010. The New Orleans Saints sat down four players due to injury, while their opponent last week, the Atlanta Falcons, sat down three. Both teams were consistent with the 2010 man games lost numbers.
The Green Bay Packers had the most players out for week 10 with six, while eight teams noted no players out on last Friday's weekly injury reports. Those teams on the healthy list included the Bucs, Rams, 49ers, Chargers, Vikings, Dolphins, Bears and Panthers.
If you consider the fact that an NFL team can carry a 45-man roster on game day, then the Saints lost 8 percent of their work force due to work-related injuries. The Packers lost 13.3 percent of their respective work force last Sunday.
The ankle injury lead the way in the NFL as the No. 1 game-limiting injury for week 10 with 16, followed by its upstream neighbor - the knee - with 13 injuries. I have always wondered just why so many players never choose to wear any knee protection much less thigh pads that seem to be another endangered species of armor protection. It seems that the common belief among players is that speed will be compromised by wearing too much protective gear. Better to sacrifice one's body than foot speed.
We are now starting to move to a point in the NFL season where more and more players will play hurt as the potential playoff picture starts to develop. I think it is important to examine just how players deal with the one common denominator, pain, in all sports, especially pro football.
Pain is a great moderator of human performance. Many players just learn to play with pain rather than face any down time associated with surgery or rehabilitation to alleviate said pain. However, pain is a messenger that some part of one's body is calling out for help. Pain is designed to get your attention. The key is to recognize the source, determine the cause, determine if the pain can be tolerated without further injury to the individual, and then alleviate the pain to allow for participation, if medically approved.
One mechanism that is used quite frequently by NFL team doctors to address appropriate pain management is Toradol, a potent non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, which can be taken orally or injected. "Toradol can be beneficial in reducing inflammation and treating short term or acute pain common in sports," according to Eric Lonseth, director of the Pain Management Institute at East Jefferson General Hospital.
While athletes turn to the use of Toradol administered by a doctor to treat frequent aches and pains prevalent in competitive sports, it is not without a downside. "Toradol has not been studied long term in athletes. It may cause kidney problems, gastric ulcers, and prolong bleeding time," Lonseth said.
Speaking of pain management, last Sunday three NFL QBs were knocked out of their respective games with concussions. Joining Bears QB Jay Cutler on the concussion list were Eagles QB Michael Vick, and 49ers QB Alex Smith.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger looks like he will also be out for week 11 with an injury to his shoulder. Who says QBs are babied in the NFL?
Last Sunday against the Falcons, the Saints lost cornerback Corey White, who left the game with a left knee injury. White did not practice Wednesday.
Over in Oakland, where the Saints play this Sunday, the Raiders had their share of damage control. Four players (Darren McFadden, ankle; Shawntae Spencer, foot; Richard Seymour, knee; and Mike Goodson, ankle) were out for week 10. Then, during the game against the Ravens, Raiders tight end Brandon Myers suffered a concussion, while linebacker Travis Goethel sustained a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. In addition, safety Matt Giordano suffered a concussion; cornerback Michael Huff sustained a calf injury; and safety Tyvon Branch sustained a neck injury in the loss to the Ravens.
There is not enough Toradol in the world to prevent a loss to the Saints this Sunday.
As of Wednesday, the Raiders had nine players that were either limited in practice or did not practice at all. Basically, they are a mess. Three Raider players - tight end Richard Gordon, wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey, and fullback Marcel Reese - are all suffering with hamstring injuries.
Of note is the left groin strain to their kicker, Sebastian Janikowski. I suggest that they check him for a sports hernia while addressing his treatment plan to return to action. On Thursday, Janikowski was listed as limited in practice.
The same can be said for Saints right tackle Zack Strief, who also suffered a groin strain but in week 9. My concern for Zach is based on his elevated body weight as a lineman and the associated strain of that weight on his injured groin, such that I would definitely want to rule out a sports hernia, a torn labrum in the hip, and/or a lower abdominal strain. Stief did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.
Defensive end Junior Galette has been hampered by an ankle injury and was inactive for week 10 against the Falcons. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Wideout Courtney Roby, who has been inactive since week 8 with a shoulder injury, was limited in the Wednesday practice with full participation Thursday.
Lastly, Saints running back Darren Sproles, who suffered a broken bone in his left hand, was limited in Wednesday's practice but was "full participation" on Thursday.
All games in the NFL bring their share of pressure to both the competitors. But - based on the Raiders' poor physical health - the Saints should have a standout game against a team that is a physical mess. Let's hope so.