Most coaches feel the need to play starters for at least some of the preseason. And any time those players enter a game, there’s an injury risk.
The only way to keep your team totally healthy through the preseason is to not play any starters at all — and even then, injuries can happen in practice. But it’s tough to lose key players in a meaningless game, as the Detroit Lions can attest to.
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In the first quarter of Friday night’s preseason game against the Buffalo Bills, linebacker Jarrad Davis was helped off and then carted to the locker room. Then in the second quarter, center Frank Ragnow went down and had to be helped off. He was carted off too.
The Lions lost a key starter on each side of the ball with a little more than two weeks to go before the season opener. That’s rough.
Jarrad Davis, Frank Ragnow are recent first-round picks
Davis was the Lions’ first-round pick in 2017. Ragnow was the team’s first-round pick in 2018.
Davis had a solid season last year, with 100 tackles and six sacks. On Friday night, a teammate rolled up his right foot on a run play. Davis couldn’t put any pressure on his leg as he was helped off, and it seemed like an injury that could be serious.
Ragnow started 16 games at guard as a rookie for the Lions last season, and his move to center was a big one for Detroit’s offense. He also couldn’t put any pressure on his injured leg as he was helped off.
Wild thing about tonight's injuries, no Lions player played more offensive snaps than Ragnow or defensive snaps than Davis in 2018. Doesn't matter who you are, how durable you are, you're always one hit away from something going wrong in the NFL.
— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) August 24, 2019
The Lions received a bit of good news on Friday that neither player is expected to hit the IR, which would have been devastating considering how vital they are to the team. NFL Networks’ Ian Rapoport reported that Davis, who underwent an MRI, was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, while Ragnow just had a minor ankle sprain.
“They will be healing day-by-day. We’re still evaluating where they'll be at,” head coach Matt Patricia said during a conference, via NFL.com. “I would say any time you have something like this we don’t try to put a time table on it cause it just puts an unnecessary target on the situation. It’s not necessary.”
Preseason injuries pile up
The Lions weren’t the only team to take a hit on Friday night. Top Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White went down with a leg injury too, though he walked to the bench under his own power. The Bills will hope that’s nothing serious.
There haven’t been too many major injuries this preseason. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had a scare on Thursday night and although it appears it isn’t serious, it’s not how Newton wanted to enter this season.
The preseason is a bit of a necessary evil. Some coaches are deciding they’re betting off if their key players sit for most or all of it. The Lions might be wishing they had scaled back after a rough third preseason game.
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