It feels like the injury bug has bitten a little harder than normal during the first few days of camp.
I have gone back over my notebooks dating back to Bronco's first year as head coach, and best I can tell, more projected or potential starters have been affected by injuries through the first four days of this camp than the first four days of any other.
By the end of the day today, the following players were not on the field with their first-unit teammates:
OL Matt Reynolds (broken hand)
ILB Terrance Hooks (hamstring)
OLB Grant Nelson (shoulder separation)
CB Brandon Bradley (knee)
CB Robbie Buckner (hamstring--precautionary; participated in most of practice)
In addition, the following projected second-teamer was also out:
OL Houston Reynolds (quad strain)
Injured third-stringers or lower:
S Blake Morgan (hamstring)
ILB Dan Van Sweden (hip flexor)
Interesting to note that defensive players account for six of the eight injured players, and both offensive injuries are to the Reynolds boys on the offensive line. None of the "skill" players have been banged up at all, and even the most serious injury (M. Reynolds' broken hand) is to a player in a position to best deal with a cast on his hand.
I stated in my blog entry the night before camp began: injuries are always a part of camp, and some starter is going to go down. It remains to be seen which, if any of the above (mostly minor) injuries will linger into the regular season, but the number of players hurt seems notable considering contact has been limited and full pads have yet to be worn.
Of course, perception is not always mirrored by reality, and it would be interesting to see if head trainer Kevin Morris thinks the four days of this camp have been more painful than the first four of previous camps. My notebooks indicate that more key players have been affected, but the numbers might say the overall injury impact has been similar to years past.
In 2008, Austin Collie's pre-camp stress fracture (leg) was the most noteworthy injury. Matt Bauman's pre-camp scooter injury (foot) and Fui Vakapuna's lingering hamstring soreness were also stories, but they were all "pre-existing conditions," as it were, as opposed to injuries sustained in camp.
Through four days last year, the most notable in-camp injury was to OL Tom Sorensen's shoulder, and as I recall, it was something that had been bothering him for a while, so even that injury could be considered pre-camp in nature.
WR Bryce Mahuika's sore squads and NT Rick Wolfley's quad strain were the only other injuries of note through four days of last season's camp, according to my records.
I'm not sure which if any of this week's injuries suffered could be considered "collision injuries" (maybe Reynolds' hand and Nelson's shoulder, but I can't say with certainty), so I don't know if Bronco Mendenhall will be a little gun-shy when the pads come on tomorrow, or merely chalk up the current injuries to bad luck and carry on as planned originally.
I should note again that it could be none of the above injuries affects BYU's starting lineup on opening night, since injuries heal and BYU has a fine medical and training staff who will do everything in their power to facilitate speedy recoveries.
Either way, the number of key players currently on the sidelines underscores the need for depth at every position--especially with a team like Oklahoma only three weeks and three days away.
A scout from the Washington Redskins was at today's practice, as was former BYU TE/QB Brock Hansen, brother of OL Braden and LB Chase.