Are NFL Rookie Mini-Camps Doing Too Much, Too Soon?


The NFL may be facing a new dilemma, and it’s neither the under-inflation of footballs, nor the ongoing concussion crisis. In the last 48 hours, two rookie players have suffered ACL tears when performing in their respective team’s rookie mini-camps.

First, the #3 overall pick in this year’s draft in the Jacksonville Jaguars Dante Fowler Jr. tore his ACL on Friday, only to have Denver Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman, a third round pick of the team, suffer the same injury this afternoon. It seems like a rather alarming trend, when teams’ rookie mini-camp practices are all largely non-contact:

It raises the question of whether after weeks of non-football activities, teams are asking their young players to do “too much, too soon” to get back into playing shape.

These are players, that for a lot of them, have been performing glorified track drills to post solid measurables for the NFL combine. Activities that are not always the same as the planting, explosion, and sudden change of direction that is required in actual football gameplay, contact or no-contact.

The purpose of the NFL Rookie Mini-Camps is still a good one, to get young players acclimated with their new coaches, teammates, and systems while also getting into better football playing shape. However, the NFL may need to consider slowing down the process a bit if such significant injuries keep occurring as a result.

The mini-camps are supposed to help young players after all, not risk them to season-ending injuries. For the Colts sake, let’s just hope that all of their young players participating in this weekend’s rookie mini-camp leave with a clean bill of health, while still learning a lot along the way.

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