What seems to be happening is the players aren’t in the same condition they were prior to the CBA. More OTAs and minicamps meant players physically were in better condition. This was an upgrade over the early days of the NFL when training camp was where players came to actually train and get in shape for football season.
Players are in better physical condition overall today, but they aren’t in what many call “football shape” until through a good month or so of hard work. Now, with the reduction in practice time and actual contact, the players’ bodies don’t develop that football callus, that hard outer shell that keeps them from being hurt by normal contact.
Since they don’t face much contact in practice (and friendly contact is MUCH different from game contact), they simply aren’t prepared for the pounding they will take in a game. Injuries result. The one thing that fewer practices was supposed to help seems to have absolutely backfired.
As well, the overall product suffers. Too often, teams hold out key players for the bulk of the preseason and then start slowly in the regular season due to the combinations of injuries and lack of continuity. The Saints sold it to the fans as thus: they value the controlled practice time they had with teams as much as an actual preseason game.