Ravens coach John Harbaugh maintains he wasn't reacting to running back Kenneth Dixon or tight end Benjamin Watson going down with injuries in the team's 30-9 victory over the Detroit Lions on Saturday night. And he also wasn't reacting to Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo breaking a bone in his back in a preseason game Thursday against the Seattle Seahawks.
For some time now, it has been evident to Harbaugh that the league and the NFL Players Association needs to make some changes to the preseason. He voiced his feelings following Saturday night's victory.
"I know the league and the Players Association is working very hard and trying to figure out ideas to work out the preseason," Harbaugh said. "These are big, fast, strong men running around out there. It's not 25 years ago. ... It's not the 70s anymore. These guys playing in these games - it's tough - and they're not meaningful games. They are important to get better, and they improve us. But we football coaches can find ways to get our guys ready and get our players evaluated without the kind of risk that a game necessarily entails."
League-wide this preseason, more and more coaches are being cautious about holding out their veterans. Harbaugh, who watched Watson go down with a season-ending Achilles tendon tear on the first play from scrimmage, certainly understands why.
"I'm really hopeful that the union and the league can get together and do something that's good for everybody, especially what's good for the players and for the fans," he said. "Maybe it's more games that are meaningful. Bigger rosters are something I think would really help. If you go more games, fewer preseason games, and bigger rosters, that's good for everybody. To me, that's something that they can put their heads together and work out. It would be a positive."
Asked how many preseason games he'd like to see, Harbaugh said, "If I had my choice, I'd go none. That might be an extreme point, but we could run scrimmages, or we could run practices against other teams and figure it out. We'd all be in the same boat. That's for people higher up than me to decide."
Ravens rush linebacker Terrell Suggs, who returned to the field Saturday after sitting out the first two preseason games as he recovers from last season's Achilles injury, didn't entirely disagree with Harbaugh. He did, however, point out the importance of the preseason.
"Anytime you line up on a football field and risk getting hurt, it's out there," Suggs said. "Truth be told, we need some of these games, just maybe not four; maybe three, maybe two. But we do need some of them. But other than that, people getting hurt, it's very unfortunate. But we know it's part of the game."