NFL probes rise in preseason concussions

NEW YORK (AP) The NFL plans to talk to teams about how practices are conducted following a 73 percent increase in concussions during preseason workouts in 2017.

Executive vice president Jeff Miller said Friday that data from the league’s annual preliminary report on injuries will be discussed with coaches and general managers to try to understand how preseason practice concussions jumped to a five-year high of 45 from 26 in 2016.

The overall number of concussions sustained in practice, including the regular season, jumped to 56 from 32 a year earlier.

“This is an important aspect of the work we’ll be doing between now and the (February) combine and not just with medical experts, but obviously how practices are run at the club level is something that’s going to involve the coaches and general managers and others who are on site,” Miller said.

“One of our obligations is to share this data … take a look at the different drills that they’re running, potentially, and inform them of where we see the highest level of injuries on particular drills across the league.”

Part of the reason for the NFL’s concern is the sharp increase coming after two straight years of declines. And in the preseason, there were almost as many injuries in practice (45) as there were in games (46), according to data gathered by IQVIA, a company hired by the NFL.

“We also have looked into that in terms of when in the preseason it is occurring and even to the level of what types of drills may be involved in producing that,” said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer. “I think that’s an obvious point of emphasis for us is to take that data and go back to the clubs on an individual basis.”

Sills said the league was disappointed about the overall increase in concussions to 281, also a five-year high for practices and games during the preseason and regular season. That number was 243 for the 2016 season – a significant drop from 275 in 2015.

The effort to reduce the total number will include the focus on the preseason injuries, conversations with the competition committee and work on protective equipment, Sills said.

“We take this as a challenge because we’re not going to be satisfied until we drive that number much lower,” Sills said.

The league said most of the concussions sustained by quarterbacks have come from the backs of helmets hitting the turf, so that will be one of the focal points for trying to improve equipment.

Sills said the league was encouraged by an increase in the percentage of evaluations of concussions that are reported by players. Of the 483 evaluations, 26 percent were self-reported during the 2017 season compared to 19 percent the previous year.

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