Playing All 60 Minutes… in Preseason?

No one should be surprised that New England Coach Bill Belichick is once again on the hot seat. But this time it isn’t about a cheating scandal or a heartless trade (aka, Randy Moss to the the Minnesota Vikings). Now the NFL is wondering why Coach Belichick unnecessarily played one of his best players in a preseason match up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Danny Woodhead, who emerged as a tiny superstar in last year’s Patriot roster, was taken off the field on August 18 after a harsh and sound-riddled helmet-first clash in the open field.

When asked about his choice to play Woodhead at a time in the game when they were already winning, the coach said, “When we go into any game, all players are told to be ready to play the entire 60 minutes. That’s what a game is. We don’t stop playing. We don’t stop coaching. Everybody’s ready to play the whole time from beginning to end. That’s every player and every coach. That’s part of the game. That’s how we approach them all.”

Would we expect anything less? The argument over whether to play full throttle in the preseason is a little like the debate over whether to play starters at the end of a season when a team has already locked in the top seed of the playoffs. Will the rest make them weaker? Maybe. But a potential injury could hobble a team drastically. If Woodhead doesn’t come back soon, Patriot fans may feel the loss in more ways than one.

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