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  1. #1
    Prophet Guest

    2004 took a toll on players' bodies

    Last update: August 16, 2005 at 11:31 PM
    2004 took a toll on players' bodies
    Mark Craig, Star Tribune
    August 17, 2005 CRAIG0817

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    Mike Rosenthal still can't believe it happened. Ditto for Ken Irvin.

    But, like many NFL players, they were reminded -- painfully so -- that injuries lurk around every X and O.

    "People always told me when it's time for your Achilles to go, it goes," said Irvin, a Vikings free safety. "They were right."

    Irvin was warming up at the Metrodome before last year's regular season opener against Dallas. He cut this way. His Achilles' tendon snapped that way.

    Poof. The Vikings' nickelback was gone before the first coin toss.

    "I'm a religious man," Irvin said. "It's tough, but I believe something good will come from this."

    Irvin, 33, was among the first of many NFL players to be toppled by injuries last season. Although the league does not keep records for injuries in a season, 2004 was alarming in volume and name recognition.

    "I would say last year drew more attention to the problem," NFL referee Bernie Kukar said while explaining the league's new rules earlier this month in Mankato.

    Seven of the 13 new rules were designed with player safety in mind. Some were adopted to protect players away from the action, while others are supposed to reduce re-kicks on punts -- "Where 22 guys are running full blast, all over the place, like a kamikaze squad," Kukar said.

    None of the rules would have helped Rosenthal in Philadelphia on the night of Sept. 20, 2004. The Vikings' starting right tackle was preparing himself for a bull rush when ...

    "I put my [right] foot back to brace for the collision, and it just crumpled," he said. "It was just a freak thing."

    He was put on injured reserve on Sept. 23. So was Vikings tight end Jim Kleinsasser (knee).

    Poof. Two of the key components in the Vikings' outside running game were gone by Week 3.

    "It was weird," Rosenthal said. "Yeah, you're still on the team, but you don't feel like you're part of the team because you aren't there for your teammates on Sunday."

    After he was hurt, Rosenthal talked to Dan Campbell, a friend who plays tight end for the Dallas Cowboys.

    "A week later, he [Campbell] breaks his foot doing the same thing," Rosenthal said. "On 'Monday Night Football,' just like me."

    The pain was spread around the league.

    The defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers placed 14 players on injured reserve and missed the playoffs after a 1-7 start. Running back Stephen Davis (knee) played only two games. Receiver Steve Smith (leg) played one.

    The Chicago Bears, who were 5-11 last year, lost quarterback Rex Grossman (knee) for the season in Week 3 at the Metrodome and were winless in seven games without their top two defenders, linebacker Brian Urlacher (hamstring) and safety Mike Brown (Achilles). Now Grossman is out again for three to four months after breaking his ankle in a preseason opener last week.

    Kansas City Chiefs running back Priest Holmes is coming back from a knee injury that cost him the last eight games last season. Washington Redskins left tackle Jon Jansen ruptured his Achilles' tendon last preseason, ending a streak of 82 consecutive games played. And Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor's streak of 46 consecutive starts ended because of a knee injury late last season.

    "I just think guys are getting faster and stronger, and their pads are getting smaller," said Vikings strength and conditioning coach Kurtis Shultz. "Who knows? Maybe last year was a freak year. But if it keeps happening, I think you're going to see some changes being made."

    Players who are injured seriously must prepare themselves for long days of tedious rehabilitation with no game days and none of the usual interaction with teammates or fans. Panthers defensive tackle Kris Jenkins recently told reporters that he developed a drinking problem while rehabbing last year.

    "It's a long road," said Rosenthal, who is back in the starting lineup. "I was on crutches for about three months. After I got my cast off, I had to teach myself how to walk again. My leg felt like a foreign substance hanging there."

    Rosenthal's rehab started slowly with basic exercises.

    "I'd throw marbles on the floor, curl my toes around them and put them in a dish. Or I'd curl my toes in sand for what seemed like forever."

    Rosenthal, 28, said he feels fine now, but knows there could be some long-lasting effects from the injury.

    "I still have to do my exercises and ice it down. But that's something I'll have to do for the rest of my life."

    Mark Craig is at [email protected]

  2. #2
    VKG4LFE's Avatar
    VKG4LFE is offline Jersey Retired Tetris Champion, Monkey GO Happy 4 Champion
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    Re: 2004 took a toll on players' bodies

    I'm just glad to have Jimmy and Rosy back for this year, hopefully they stay healthy!! (knock on wood)

    I get the most pissed off looks from people with my VKG 4 LFE Wisconsin license plate, and I LOVE IT!!

  3. #3
    litlharsh's Avatar
    litlharsh is offline Coordinator
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    Re: 2004 took a toll on players' bodies

    Well Irvin got injured again ops:

  4. #4
    VKG4LFE's Avatar
    VKG4LFE is offline Jersey Retired Tetris Champion, Monkey GO Happy 4 Champion
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    Re: 2004 took a toll on players' bodies

    Ba bye Irvin!

    I get the most pissed off looks from people with my VKG 4 LFE Wisconsin license plate, and I LOVE IT!!

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