Exterminating the Injury Bug

With the Cincinnati Bengals’ offseason conditioning program starting at the end of the month, Ross Tucker’s latest column is a timely read. Like Tucker, I’m surprised that there’s so little consensus on what techniques work best to inoculate players against injuries.

What amazes me is that after all the research that has been done, there still seems to be little to no consensus as to the best way to train professional football players. Seemingly every strength coach has his own beliefs. Some coaches are huge proponents of the explosion garnered from the Olympic lifts, like cleans, jerks and snatches. Others continue to believe the crux of the program should revolve around the power lifts, like bench press, squat and dead lift. Still others adhere strictly to the high intensity mindset and have their players mainly work out using joint-friendly Hammer Strength machines.

Injuries have plagued the Bengals for the last three seasons, and were completely out of control in 2008, when the team was the league’s most-banged-up squad. How much of that can be laid at the feet of Bengals strength and conditioning coaches Chip Morton and Ray Oliver is anyone’s guess — both were, after all, in Cincy in 2005, when the team was remarkably healthy — but the last three seasons certainly call for an evaluation of their program.

Assuming the program isn’t at fault, one thing that may help Cincinnati in 2009 is increased player participation. Many 2008 no-shows, including T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Rudi Johnson and Willie Anderson are gone, and Chad Johnson is expected to be participating, not protesting, this time around. Levi Jones was another non-participant last offseason. With trade rumors swirling around him, he may not appear.

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