http://www.nola.com/saints/index.ssf/2017/12/drew_brees_among_saints_player.html

Drew Brees among Saints players to speak out on Thursday night games

ATLANTA – Numerous members of the New Orleans Saints made it clear they are not fans of playing on Thursday night football.

And it would be hard to fault the players after they watched rookie running back Alvin Kamara (concussion), linebacker A.J. Klein (groin), guard Senio Kelemete (concussion), defensive lineman David Onyemata (undisclosed), rookie defensive end Trey Hendrickson (ankle) and safety Kenny Vaccaro (groin) not finish the game because of injuries.

Tight end Josh Hill, running back Mark Ingram, wide receiver Michael Thomas and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. also missed some time after being checked out the medical staff.

Given all the injuries, it wasn’t surprising quarterback Drew Brees didn’t hold back when asked about playing after a short week of preparation.

“It’s 100 percent a product of playing on Thursday night,” Brees said. “You understand what guy’s bodies go through in a game, and then to turn around four days later and play a game?

“Look at the injury studies. They’re off the charts. Is this smart, as it pertains to guys’ health and safety? No, absolutely not.”

Players railing on Thursday night games isn’t new, but the voices around the league appear to grow louder after injuries, which are magnified because the game stands alone on national TV.

Left tackle Terron Armstead feels the NFL must take another look at the Thursday night matchups.

“From a player safety standpoint, that short rest, that short recovery from a Sunday NFL game is tough,” Armstead said. “It’s taxing on a body. That short turnaround, we have to check the analytics, those studies, those stats and see because we had quite a few guys go down today.”

Defensive tackle Tyeler Davison believes the NFL should also consider if the current format is smart.

Davison also didn’t mince words when asked what should be done about Thursday night games with player safety in mind.

“The people who decide whether or not we should do it are NFL owners who probably never played football at this level,” Davison said. “I feel like it’s hard for them to understand what you have to put your body through, and not only that but what the teams have to go through to get ready in that short amount of time.

“I feel like if they’re really interested in putting the best product on the field, then they should look at what they’re doing with these Thursday night games. On top of that, I just feel like it’s greedy.”

Punter Thomas Morstead, who serves as one of the Saints’ player representative for the NFLPA, points out the message from the NFL on player safety is “a little disingenuous” when it comes to the short week of preparation.

He also has a possible solution.

“To me, it’s very simple what they should do – they should remove a preseason game, have three preseason games,” Morstead said. “They should have an 18-week season, 16 games and every team should have a legitimate bye week and every team should have a half and half bye week.

“Half a bye week before a week of prep before a Thursday night game, and a half bye week at the end of the Thursday game, so when you play Sunday, you wouldn’t play for another 11 days.”

Meanwhile, the problem of Thursday night football games and the injuries won’t be going away anytime soon.

Brees, however, would like to see the discussions on how to improve player safety with the short week in mind continue during the offseason.

“I can sit here and tell you that no player likes putting himself at risk on four days’ rest to come and put their bodies through what they put them through in a game,” Brees said. “So you hope that it’s addressed, you hope that it’s talked about, and you hope that something is done about it.

“When you see guys go down, when you lose guys for what you think is unnecessary just because you put them at a much higher risk in such a quick turnaround, that gets you upset.”

There will be another opportunity for the players and the league to come together in the near future.

And Morstead believes the issue of Thursday night football games should be on the table when the NFL and NFLPA come together in 2021 to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement.

“Obviously, we have a new CBA coming up in 2021 and I think that’s something the players should push for,” Morstad said. “It would be great for all teams, for ownership to have an extra week of regular-season football.

“And you would have a better quality of game overall on Thursday nights because you’d always have both teams rested. I just think it’s a no-brainer win-win for players, for ownership, for the league.”