The quest to learn more about the relationship between injuries and the NFL takes some interesting twists. A reader e-mailed asking whether some teams are just more physical than others. After seeing the Texans come out of Sunday's game with almost their entire roster on the injury report, I can understand why some people might think that, but is there any evidence? Using the injury database built by Pro Football Prospectus that covers the last 10 years, the answer is ... maybe. Injuries do tend to come in bunches, but teams themselves don't appear to have any discernible, consistent effect. One AFC exec I spoke to about it pointed to Denver; he suggested their zone-blocking scheme should show a pattern. While Denver does seem to cause slightly more injuries than other teams over the 10-year period, it's not so apparent that the Broncos are actually the cause. One would expect to see knee injuries, but instead it's mostly muscular problems. I think there's something here, but thus far I haven't found the pattern yet. There's nothing provable, aside from the realization that there's likely a tipping point at which medical staffs become overwhelmed and injury prevention breaks down. If you have ideas, be sure to drop me an e-mail or stop by my Friday chat.
Lots of injuries this week, so let's get to it:
The bye week couldn't come at a better time for Steve McNair. He had his head and neck injured in a violent, strangely constructed QB sandwich between two Panthers. McNair's head was hit and at the same time forced down (chin towards chest, or hyperflexion). Ending up with both a concussion and a sore neck -- and an abrasion where the face mask hit his neck -- McNair looked groggy and unstable walking off the field. He was holding his nose, leading one trainer I know to tell me that he'd been hit so hard that his sinuses drained. If John Madden can say "slobberknocker," can I say "snotknocker"? Concussions are always interesting and tough to hold to any timetable, but the bye week gives McNair a chance to get back before the next game. Watch for him to be back at practice when the Ravens come back to gauge any limitations.