On Wednesday the CFL and the CFL Players Association announced a decision to eliminate full-contact padded practices during the season and to extend its schedule to 21 weeks to help reduce the risk of injury.
The change is effective immediately. Teams were previously allowed to hold a total of 17 padded practices following training camp.
The move doesn’t sit too well with Edmonton Eskimos head coach Jason Maas who said the change may have an effect on the preparedness of his team with the physicality of the game.
“You ask any football player and most O-lineman and and D-lineman they like to put the pads on to hit, to practice hitting, to practice hits and run hits, and to practice run techniques,” Maas said.
“I imagine it’s going to change some of the things we do and how we work on football related activities during practice. So it’s definitely going to affect us.”
Offensive lineman Justin Sorensen said while he’s happy his body won’t be quite as taxed during a practice week, he feels there is value to having some contact during the week.
“Obviously it’s going to take away the majority of the hitting right because if you’re just in helmets you can’t go live full contact,” Sorensen said. “It will take a lot of wear and tear off the body, but it may decrease your preparation a little bit.”
It’s the second major change during the season under the watch of new CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie. Earlier in the season he scaled back the video review system to just one challenge per team per game. Maas said having these decisions made mid-season without discussion from all parties is troubling.
“It’s a couple or few people getting together to decide something and it gets changed from my knowledge, I don’t know everything,” Maas said. “Just to be told you’re a football coach and it’s no longer up to you whether you have a padded practice.”
LISTEN: Jason Maas shares his concerns with the CFL eliminating padded practices
In the NFL, clubs can have 11 padded practices over the first 11 weeks of the season, a maximum of one per week. After that, clubs can have three more padded practices for a total of 14 on the year.
Starting next year, the CFL regular season will be extended one week to 21, giving players more rest time between games.
Sorensen said the biggest impact will be to his pocket book.
“Three bye weeks so that means one more week without a pay cheque.”
As a result, each CFL team will have three bye weeks instead of two.
– With files from The Canadian Press
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