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For the second time in an unusual NFL preseason marked by questions about the value of training together, a game ended early Saturday night due to a frightening injury that rocked players and coaches.
Miami Dolphins rookie wide receiver Daewood Davis was carted off the field with a head and neck injury midway through the fourth quarter of a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and taken to the hospital. Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel, Jaguars coach Doug Pederson, and the teams’ NFL Players Association officials decided to call off the game.
“Our boys are injured but relieved,” McDaniel said, his voice cracking at times. “You could see in the collective faces of both teams that their thoughts were not on football at all. That’s why I felt it was inappropriate to play football.”
Davis had movements in his extremities and initial medical evaluation was positive, McDaniel said. On Sunday morning it was dolphins announced He had been discharged from the hospital and would be traveling to Miami with his teammates.
Just a week ago, the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers called off the remainder of their game after Patriots cornerback Isaiah Bolden was hospitalized on a stretcher with a similar injury. Bolden also had movement in his extremities and was released the next day to return to New England with his relieved teammates.
Patriots special team captain Matthew Slater praised coach Bill Belichick, who showed “no hesitation” in deciding to quit the game, as did Packers coach Matt LaFleur. “Look, this isn’t the AFC championship. We don’t play for records,” Slater said. “It’s pre-season game 2. When you have an injury like that, it affects a lot of players in different ways. Obviously our team was devastated by what happened.”
In contrast to previous years, some coaches have also given up joint training with other teams. For years, joint exercises have been part of the everyday practice of teams that want to break the monotony of the training camp and show fringe players more realistic game situations. The Packers and Patriots had held joint drills before their game, but following the Bolden injury, the Patriots, who were scheduled for another round with the Tennessee Titans last week, decided to call it off ahead of the teams’ meeting Friday night in Nashville.
“It just felt like we had some time after the game in the dressing room to look at the situation and decided it would be best for the team to come back.” [to Foxborough] and not go to Tennessee,” Belichick said. “It was a difficult decision.”
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The New York Jets and Carolina Panthers canceled plans for joint training sessions, one of 19 training sessions in the league, due to bad weather, while the Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints decided last week to cancel training sessions ahead of Sunday’s preseason finals. Houston coach DeMeco Ryans said his players are “a little jaded” from training together and a pre-season game against the Dolphins earlier this month.
A series of arguments at team work and joint practices that typically occur in the pre-season heat — some this summer have involved high-profile players like Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce — could also be a factor in some of the cancellations. The Eagles’ only joint practice session with the Indianapolis Colts last week ended after a second scuffle within 20 minutes when Kelce knocked Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin to the ground and a brawl ensued.
“I let my feelings take over,” Kelce said. “You try to keep things polite on the field and being a guy who keeps the level of emotion and the game out there I let my feelings take over.” It certainly doesn’t belong on the field. [I’m] I’m a bit embarrassed it’s come to this.”
Former NFL offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth told USA Today that joint drills put players “in a position that I don’t like because it’s not a real field.” There’s no real breaks with the umpires and things like that. Being defeated in such scenarios is different than in a real game. [With] the crowd, the energy of a stadium, the clock – you just move on to the next game so quickly you don’t have time to react. If you are in one of these practices, the entire team will respond. They cheer and cheer because you got hit and the boys feel a little embarrassed. It becomes “I’m going to fight” to prove I’m not just someone who’s going to get this done in front of everyone.”
Jets coach Robert Saleh and the Packers’ LaFleur pointed to the possibility that anger between the teams over training together could affect subsequent preseason games. Because the NFL is staying out of any decisions about restricting or canceling joint workouts, the decision is left up to the coaches.
“I like one [joint practice] for security reasons,” Saleh recently told reporters. “I never like two training sessions because a second training session usually results in injuries.” And then, at the second training session, the team, knowing that they were somehow beaten, go to their briefing rooms and the coaches are yelling at them. And then they come out and play a little more edgy, and that pisses off each other and all the fisticuffs happen.”
LaFleur, who alongside Belichick was instrumental in defining the game between the Patriots and the Packers and oversaw joint drills between the teams, which at times became hostile, said He saw “a certain benefit in just having a single” practice session between teams.
“I think it just depends on the situation, but I agree that after two days of practice, obviously after day one, there could be some tension,” LaFleur said. And these can become “a little brittle”.
Source : www.washingtonpost.com