- Associated Press - Thursday, October 6, 2011

The NFL had no trouble getting back to football.

Getting back to good tackling, however, might take a little longer.

Lost in the eye-popping numbers put up by quarterbacks Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and running back Darren McFadden are the countless numbers of missed tackles that have turned seemingly innocuous plays into game changers.

They’re everywhere.

At the line of scrimmage (see: McFadden versus the Jets).

On kickoff returns (see: Green Bay’s Randall Cobb bulling through the Saints in the opener).

In the secondary (see: Wes Welker on a weekly basis).

What’s the deal?

Theories range from the NFL lockout to poor fundamentals to tougher rules on how and where players can be hit. Here’s another one: the collective bargaining agreement.

The practice guidelines outlined on page 143 of the CBA limit teams to 14 padded practices _ meaning, shoulder pads _ a week during the regular season, with 11 of those coming in the first 11 weeks and the final three spread out over the last six weeks.

The new rules were considered a victory for the players. Less hitting during the week means less chance at injury.

On that front, it appears to be working.

“It’s less wear and tear on your body,” Philadelphia defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “I mean, you can play the game a lot longer as far as not wearing out your body.”

The flip side of the equation is if you’re a defensive player, being fresh isn’t going to help if you can’t do your job.

And the job isn’t getting done, even for traditionally good defenses.

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