With 30 teams yet to kick off their preseason slate, several are nonetheless already dealing with significant injuries.
The injury bug started early, with Panthers defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu and Bengals tight end Reggie Kelly suffering season-ending Achilles injuries on the same day. Kemoeatu's injury was particularly painful for the Panthers, who were already dangerously thin along their defensive interior.
The reigning Super Bowl champions weren't immune to the rash of injuries. With right guard Darnell Stapleton out at least two weeks following a knee scope, the Steelers worked out a pair of centers - journeyman Alex Stepanovich and undrafted rookie Alex Derenthal - because Stapleton had been filling in for ailing Justin Hartwig.
And a number of players were carted off with an assortment of injuries last week that leave their status for the start of the regular season in doubt.
With only one preseason game in the bag, the string of early training camp injuries has to give even further pause to coaches concerned about how best to utilize their key players during exhibition games.
On one hand, you don't want to lose a starter for the season in games that don't count. On the other hand, they could be left more vulnerable to injury if they're not in sync with the speed of the game.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wondered aloud last week whether he would have avoided the hit that ended his season in Week 1 had he seen some preseason action.
So this year he intends to be on the field during August games.
"Yeah, I think I'll play," Brady said Friday about the exhibition season. "I mean, last year it wasn't like I wasn't supposed to play. I would have loved to have played. Just some circumstances came up where I couldn't. I think it's really important for a quarterback to be out there playing. If you're the leader of the offense, you have to be out there leading in the preseason and the practices. I'm excited for those games, because I think we can make improvements in those games."
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