Should NFL Starters Be Playing in Preseason Games?
By Joel Deering
As more preseason games are played, more preseason injuries are piling up for several NFL teams. Injuries are always going to happen in the NFL. There’s no way of eliminating injuries, but it pains me to see injuries in the preseason. This is why NFL teams should be very cautious about playing their starters in preseason games.
Preseason is a part of the NFL, so every team has to have players out there, but in my opinion, teams should only be playing their younger players who are either pretty new to the NFL or are backup players. These type of players are trying to prove themselves so they can make an NFL roster. Starters typically don’t have anything to prove in the preseason.
If you look at the above picture, you’ll find a picture of Eagles QB Carson Wentz getting wrecked by two defenders. Carson Wentz hasn’t played in the preseason this year, but I used this photo to illustrate what you don’t want happening to your starters, especially to your starting QB, in a preseason game that means nothing.
Some notable starting players who have been injured this preseason are Jaguars WR Marqise Lee, Cowboys RG Zack Martin, Chargers CB Jason Verrett, and Panthers RT Daryl Williams. Those are just a few notable names among many other NFL starters who have suffered injuries. Some of the injuries being sustained aren’t season ending, but they’re still injuries, which you want to try and avoid at all costs.
Let me ask you this. Did any of those players I just mentioned have anything to prove by playing in a preseason game? No, not a single one of them did. Lee, Martin, Verrett, and Williams are all NFL veterans who have proven to us what they can do. Not all of them are superstars, but they’re at least solid players who can significantly contribute to the success of their team.
It makes sense to want to get your players game reps after they haven’t played a game all offseason, but it doesn’t make sense to potentially lose a starting caliber player for the season in a game that means absolutely nothing. I’m willing to bet that most NFL veterans and starters could go an entire preseason without playing a snap, and then could step in Week 1 and perform like they played in every preseason game.
Sorry for putting another Cowboys reference in one of my posts, but since I’m a fan I know what’s going on with them. Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t played a snap in preseason, and he likely won’t play any snaps in the Cowboys last preseason game. Despite not playing in preseason, I don’t think Elliott’s going to have any problems in the season opener. Dallas has protected Ezekiel Elliott in the preseason because he’s vital to their success during the regular season. They should have taken that same approach with almost all of their starters. Dak Prescott is done for the preseason now because they’ve seen several injuries to their guys and don’t need any sort of injury to their starting QB.
Unfortunately it’s a little too late for a lot of guys who have been injured. Don’t get me wrong here, some starters need to play. Redskins RB Derrius Guice was the projected starter, but he’s a rookie and he needed to get reps in the preseason. Unfortunately he got injured and is out for the year, but he’s an example of a starter who needed to play in preseason. With those players who have already proven themselves in the NFL, teams have to play them at their own risk. If it were me, I wouldn’t play my starters in meaningless games at all, but that’s just me.
Some of these players who have been injured in the preseason could have sat and been ready for the regular season. Maybe they would have been hurt in a regular season game, but at least then it would have been in a game that actually mattered. I’m glad there’s only one more week of preseason, and I’m really hoping NFL teams don’t choose to player their starters.