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Training room loneliest place in camp

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The training room during camp is the loneliest place on earth in the NFL. You wake up early and go to bed late. You spend any amount of free time that's allotted by the coaching staff in an ice tube, in the weight room trying to recover and strengthen the muscles around your injury or just laying there on a training-room table willing it to miraculously disappear.

But that never happens, and the one that disappears is you – like a ghost.

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Tarvaris Jackson's(notes) injury may have paved the way for Sage Rosenfels(notes), above.
(Bruce Kluckhohn/US Presswire)

You don't exist anymore, you aren't part of the routine and you find yourself in the film room trying to stay awake because, well, you don't appear on the big screen at the front of the room.

Maybe, just maybe, if there's a play that ends up near the sideline, you might appear – standing there in a hat or visor. But that's it.

Yes, training camp is hard, it's tough and, in fact, it might just define the word "brutal" when you think about practicing twice a day and growing a beard because you just can't find five minutes to shave off the scruff that has now turned into something you would see on someone in northern Wisconsin in January.

But when you're hurt in camp, you aren't part of the routine. You become just another guy who can't practice, and the coaching staff doesn't have time to wait around for you – or your injury that they probably already doubt – to get back on the field.

You become close friends with the training room staff, and although they're some of the best guys in the league, they don't make the decisions when it comes to game plans in the fall or whether you should make the final roster.

I know because I was in that situation. In my last season as a pro, I became great friends with Bud Carpenter and his staff with the Buffalo Bills really quick. Unfortunately, I was in the training room for the majority of camp.

And because of that, there was no way I was going to see the field for a long time.

Who is the training room already swallowing up?

How about Tarvaris Jackson in Minnesota and Chris Wells(notes) in Arizona?

Both guys went down over the weekend, and although Jackson will be back soon, he has already fallen behind in the quarterback competition with Sage Rosenfels.

Instead of trying to impress the coaching staff, working on his blitz reads and getting his body into proper playing shape, he's watching – and John David Booty(notes) is now in his place.

Sure, it's a great opportunity for Booty, who looked to be the odd man out with the Brett Favre(notes) drama this summer, but for the time being, he's now the backup quarterback as far as the Vikings are concerned.

Is he better than Jackson? Who knows, and who really cares, because he's on the field and Jackson isn't. That's the bottom line when it comes to training camp. Yes, Jackson will still have a shot to compete, but he is already at a disadvantage.

We don't know how the MCL sprain will affect Jackson, or if he'll rush back knowing what's at stake, but he wasn't on the field Sunday, and that day is lost – only to be run and owned by Rosenfels. All eyes were on him, while Jackson watched.

In 'Zona, "Beanie" Wells, who needs to practice against NFL talent, went down in his first practice. And Wells isn't a fifth-round running back trying to make the roster; he's a first-round pick who's being counted on to carry the football a lot in 2009.

But he's on the shelf. And nothing rubs vets the wrong way like a high-priced rookie in a T-shirt and shorts during two-a-days, especially one who was supposed to compete with Tim Hightower(notes) for crucial carries in the regular season.

Those are just two, but they're two who are being counted on to compete. Sure, it's part of the game, but it isn't surprising that the top players in the regular season are the ones who stay healthy in August.

Follow Bowen on Twitter: @MattBowen41

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