Julian Edelman injury: Should star players play in preseason?

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Julian Edelman
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Julian Edelman /

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman suffered a season ending knee injury in a preseason game.  Should NFL teams even play their star players in games that don’t count?

Every year star NFL players like Julian Edelman are lost for the season after suffering an injury in a preseason game.  Then after the fact, the question always asked is should they have even been playing at all.

While it’s true that playing in preseason helps players prepare for the regular season, I’m not sure it’s worth risking your best players.  There’s a select group that you know will make the team regardless of what happens in preseason.

I used to think it didn’t matter whether star players played in the preseason.  Because even if a player is held out in the preseason, they could still get injured on the first play of the first regular season game.

Some will argue that if players don’t play in preseason, they will enter the regular season rusty and this increases their chances of being injured.  A valid argument.  But I think it’s more important that star players actually make it to the regular season.

Let the preseason be for players who need to prove they’re worthy of making the team.  Not the players who already have a spot secured.  Teams have plenty of players to use in the preseason. So it’s not an issue of depth any more.

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Can the New England Patriots win without Julian Edelman?  Sure they can.  However, their prospects of repeating as Super Bowl champs have taken a slight hit without him.  But while the Patriots have the depth to deal with a loss like this, most teams don’t.

And this is a PR issue for the NFL as well.  The NFL charges fans the same for preseason games as regular season and fans complain endlessly about this. So the NFL feels compelled to play the stars in the preseason at least a little to justify ticket prices.

But at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s worth the risk, especially for a winning team.  Let the players fighting for roster spots play the preseason games.  Hold the star players out to play in the games that actually mean something.