NFL’s bad wheel: Hamstrings leave star players in quicksand

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Barkley leads a growing list of players falling victim to the NFL‘s hamstring epidemic. He’s one of nearly 10 Giants to suffer a strain or a tweak or whatever arbitrary euphemism head coaches like to use for the injury.

It has just three grades — simple pull, partial tear and complete tear — yet all of them are nearly impossible to tough out.

Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon finally showed up for the preseason, then found his way back out thanks to the pesky muscle. The New England Patriots cut two of their receivers, Jordan Matthews and Kenny Britt, at least partially because of the injury.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

A 2011 study for the U.S. National Library of Medicine conducted by several doctors, including Steelers team physician Dr. Jim Bradley, cited an average of 176 hamstring injuries per NFL season over a 10-year period. Players missed an average of 2.6 games, with defensive backs and wide receivers — think speed guys — making up nearly half of the injury total.5

ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell says the NFL medical community has intensely studied the injury that has no clear-cut blueprint. There are certain trends, she says. Rookies transitioning from a shorter college season and unique pre-draft schedule might be susceptible. The injury lurks in the preseason as veterans come off summer breaks and readapt to an NFL practice.

But not all cases are the same, she adds, and even a minor flare-up can worsen if a player pushes too early. Teams have copious data but can’t prevent these.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“Everybody’s aware this is a problem, and nobody out there has a magic formula,” Bell said. “Once it happens, the whole goal is not to have a setback. The No. 1 risk factor for a hamstring injury is a previous hamstring injury.”

That might not stop a head coach from giving a hamstrung player the stink eye after too long of an absence. They covet availability.

“You go into the year with high hopes and then you’re just sort of benched for a few weeks even though your body feels fine for the most part,” said Steelers cornerback Artie Burns, who struggled with hamstring issues his rookie year. “It’s all about not triggering it again and making it worse.”

Hamstrings have always been an issue in NFL locker rooms, but perhaps players are simply held out more often now. A player at 75 percent health might be more of a deterrent to today’s caliber of NFL team than a few decades ago, Bell pointed out.