Teams wary of players pushing safety limits during lockout

Chad Ochocinco's brief encounter with a bull over the weekend was amusing, stupid, brave or bone-headed depending on which side of tolerance you are on when it comes to the Bengals wide receiver. That debate is what it is, depending on if you're even willing to spend much time concerning yourself with what Chad does.

The bigger issue is that with players being locked out and not beholden to their contracts -- teams can void them if a player like Ochocinco got hurt trying to tame a Brahma -- teams are worried about a surge in downtime spells of "adventure?"

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Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski is boxing, which isn't the best way to stay out of harm's way. Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards has taken up the sweet science too, even though he's on the verge of possibly cashing in once free agency returns.

Players also are going through unsupervised seven-on-seven workouts, where a turned ankle or broken hand is a possibility.

Which leads us to how some teams view things.

"Most players today know that their body is their business," an AFC general manager said. "To some degree, it's like letting your kids use the car … you must trust that they'll use good judgment."

In other words, some guys are going to go buck wild and do what they want to do. The guys who want to skydive are probably going to skydive. A lot of players train and participate in some level of mixed martial arts. Players know the risks.

An NFC GM listed cliff diving, snow skiing, riding a motorcycle without a helmet and, ahem, bull-riding as reckless. Ben Roethlisberger and Kellen Winslow hurt themselves riding motorcycles, so they fit under that category.


One of the more underrated, disruptive and toughest players I've even covered, defensive tackle Rod Coleman, shredded his quadriceps in a jet-ski accident, all but ending his career. Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington and Broncos tackle Ryan Clady blew out their knees playing pick-up basketball. Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith broke his arm playing flag football.

The NFC GM didn't consider those activities reckless. He also said he's not overly concerned about the seven-on-seven workouts players are doing because they won't be "true" seven-on-sevens teams run in practice. I can personally say that the seven-on-seven drills I watched the Falcons go through were a shell of the ones I've seen during OTAs and training camps.

"Accidents can happen anytime but we ask and expect our players to be cautious," the NFC GM said. "We're not asking them to live in a bubble but we sure expect them not to go out and drag-race during the offseason."

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.

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