From Deflategate to Chip Kelly being called a racist, the NFL offseason has produced some oddball, off-field storylines.

But have no fear. Actual football is just a few weeks away.

“Every year is a new start for so many teams,” Super Bowl-winning coach and CBS NFL analyst Bill Cowher said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “You look at the young quarterbacks with (Marcus) Mariota and (Jameis) Winston. I think watching them kind of through the preseason (and) the fact that they’re going to meet in the first game of the season is pretty intriguing in itself. But even from last year, you look at guys like Derek Carr, you look at Teddy Bridgewater – these are two young quarterbacks. Our game is about the quarterback, right? We’re looking at the end of maybe where Peyton’s at and Tom might have a few more years left, but you got some very good young quarterbacks coming up. So to me, watching these guys develop and watching these guys evolve is always very intriguing.”

Unfortunately, some teams have already lost key players – including Jordy Nelson (torn ACL) and Maurkice Pouncey (broken ankle) – to preseason injuries. While it’s easy to rant and rave that the preseason should be done away with, those exhibition games remain valuable for coaches to simulate game speed and evaluate talent.

“Some of (the injuries), I think, (are) related to the fact that (we have) limited padded practices in training camp,” Cowher said. “They’re not used to using their lower legs and being around piles because we practice kind of more gently now than we have in the past. That’s part of the game, and you go to move on. Pittsburgh lost Pouncey. Jordy Nelson loses in Green Bay. But part of every championship run you have is the ability to overcome adversity and other players having to step up. I think both of these organizations are going to be just fine.”

Cowher also believes shoddy equipment might have something to do with the injuries we’ve seen.

“I don’t think the players pick the best shoes,” he said. “They pick the lightest shoes they want and sometimes they’re not the most supportive ones. I don’t know how much that plays into it.”

There’s also the questionable use of pads – or lack thereof – that has become commonplace in today’s game.

“I always find it funny because when you first start out with football, you’re wearing hip pads and you’re wearing shoulder pads and thigh pads and knee pads – and the faster the game comes and the higher the level, we start taking these pads off,” Cowher said, amused. “It just seems like that’s a contradiction to the way it should be. (Guys are) bigger, faster, stronger, and we just keep taking (pads) off. When we start out, we’re wearing every pad possible. You can’t get enough on. It’s just funny how we do it. But you know what? I just think it’s still part of the game. I think players are bigger, faster, stronger. I just think the equipment has to match that as well.”


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