This is a difficult scenario to envision as a Packer fan. Two starters down with injury in a preseason game is a huge blow, especially if the initial diagnoses are confirmed. In a game that is only meaningful for those trying to make the bottom of the roster, this leaves a sour taste, but that isn’t what upset me during the game.
Those injuries hurt to see, especially as someone who has faced plenty of injuries in my time as an athlete. The worst part was that they could been somewhat avoided by any sort of decent field conditions. Any sort of non-contact injury is usually largely caused by a misstep on turf that isn’t at its top condition, and that is what happened to Jordy Nelson.
But he wasn’t the only one that got injured in this game in a possible turf related instance. Maurkice Pouncey was rolled up after his right cleat got caught in the turf and he now requires ankle surgery. We don’t know the complete story of TJ Lang’s concussion, at least I don’t, and maybe a caught cleat and a slip could’ve caused a blow to the head.
My point is, Pittsburgh needs to step up their game when it comes to turf. Numerous times over its history, the turf at Heinz Field has been criticized by players, coaches, and even former NFLPA President Gene Upshaw. And injuries have come aplenty from turf like this. And after a calamitous game like this in which three key players from both teams got seriously injured, it is time to admit that this turf is unsatisfactory and to replace it. Look at the examples of Pittsburgh’s woes.
Just last season, after complaints from opposing teams, the Steelers had to replace their sod twice to have it playable. They mentioned the game a few years ago where the field was effectively a swamp and a punt literally stuck into the ground. Dan Rooney is even on record admitting his surface is unsatisfactory and will need to be replaced.
Finally, there are ways that the NFL can step in and fix this situation before anyone else gets hurt. They need to mandate a turf for each stadium to use to keep consistency and safety. If player safety is the real concern, you need to regulate turf and any field surface. It’s far more important than deflating footballs or anything else they’re investigating.
I feel horrible for Jordy Nelson and TJ Lang and Maurkice Pouncey and wish them a quick and safe recovery. But the problem remains in Pittsburgh and more player will lose a season of their job if this turf remains. The Steelers should step in and make the change willingly, but teams like the Packers can help by pointing out numerous times on film where this occurred. Even Eddie Lacy almost went down after his touchdown. There is no choice but to change the turf in Pittsburgh, and the Packers should hopefully be the final victim of a horrible field.——————
Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.
Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.