The “football men” in the NFL will explain how they cannot tell if a player can play the game without seeing him play the game. Nor can they...

nflpointless1The “football men” in the NFL will explain how they cannot tell if a player can play the game without seeing him play the game. Nor can they tell how much wood a woodchuck can chuck without seeing him chuck the wood, but that’s for another day and another blog.

There’s something to what the “football men” say, at least regarding younger players. But for veterans, the NFL preseason is a career-killer. They risk their bodies for a small stipend (their real salaries kick in with the real season) and by playing in games that don’t count they risk everything.

St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is the latest high-profile victim. Working his way back from a tear of his left knee ligaments that put him out for the last nine games of 2013, Bradford suffered another tear in the same surgically-repaired knee on Saturday night. Now he’s out for the season.

The Rams play in the tough NFC West. They were already fourth-best of the four teams in the division. And now they try to move ahead without the player who was the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft (and who received from them a $24 million signing bonus before he had taken a single snap).

The final preseason games are Thursday night. Most teams won’t play their starters at all. So the guys who do take the field? As they say in Hollywood, “They Were Expendable.”

Also over the weekend:

SEE THE BIRDIES: Hunter Mahan birdied the final three holes at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey, to win The Barclays and snap an 0-for-46 run on the PGA Tour. Mahan may have played his way onto the Ryder Cup team and will now also be playing in the Tour Championship. He’s the only player to qualify for the FedEx Cup every year since its inception in 2007.

ELSEWHERE: The New York Jets named Geno Smith their starting quarterback over Michael Vick. Not a stunner. … The U.S. Open tennis championship begins on Monday. Rafael Nadal will be missing from the men’s field with a wrist injury. … Coco Crisp scored the go-ahead run on Joe Smith’s wild pitch with two outs in the eighth inning and the Oakland Athletics beat the Angels 2-1 on Saturday night to move into a first-place tie with Los Angeles atop the AL West. Any item with Coco Crisp in it is fun and so is this pennant race. … The Washington Nationals, who have won nine of their last 10 games, hold an eight-game lead in the NL East.

Today’s question: Do you watch the early rounds of the U.S. Open, just the later rounds, or none of it at all? Answers in the comment box, please.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman .

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