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Rodney Harrison: New practice rules extend careers

Looking back, it feels as though Rodney Harrison played forever, but he believes his career could have been longer in today's NFL.

The NBC Sports analyst actually played 15 seasons, but points to the new collective bargaining agreement, which limits offseason contact and shrinks practice windows.

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"They've cut down on a lot of these hits in minicamps, training camps and padded practices and all the physical contact during the season," Harrison told NESN.com on Tuesday. "If I were playing right now in this era, I could probably play 20 years because we wouldn't have all of those physical contact practices.

"I think there comes a point in time where you have to understand. We're different than basketball, we're different than baseball. We hit every single day and your body needs a break, your head needs a break. So I think they're making steps in the right direction."

Last summer's panic was laughable. Many feared the lockout would lead to a rash of injuries -- not to mention younger players missing out on important teaching. Maybe so, but the Arizona Cardinals are still having painful flashbacks of Cam Newton scattering their defense in Week 1. Andy Dalton -- after looking abysmal in preseason affairs -- calmly guided the Cincinnati Bengals to the playoffs. Along with these big names, plenty of younger players figured it out.

This is our first look at a typical offseason under the new CBA, and you don't hear players crying to the media about a lack of contact. There will be plenty of time for that when it matters most.

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