February 20, 2013
The NFL's Competition Committee is asking for players' input as it considers revising the rules about low blocks.
Falcons President and NFL Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network that Packers defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, Texans defensive end Antonio Smith and retired former Falcons and Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney have spoken to the Competition Committee this week to give their thoughts on rules that should be changed.
"Today we went through a lot of low block rules — what our rules are, how they compare to college, how we might change them," McKay said. "We meet with the Players Association on Wednesday afternoon. That gives us a couple days to get some ideas together and we present them to them and get their feedback. . . . Players, especially defensive players, understand low blocks real well, and they do a good job of explaining where they're at risk."
That all three of the players who addressed the Competition Committee were defensive linemen strongly suggests that the committee heard an earful about the dangers of offensive linemen going after their opponents' knees. Defensive players have grown increasingly outspoken about what seems to be an imbalance in the NFL's safety measures, with defenders getting fined and flagged for hits on quarterbacks and defenseless receivers far more often than offensive players get fined and flagged for cheap shots on defensive players.
The importance of protecting the knees of defensive players became a particularly hot topic when Texans linebacker Brian Cushing was lost for the season with a torn ACL suffered on a play when Jets guard Matt Slauson took him out at the knee. McKay noted that the Slauson block was already against the rules as an illegal peel-back block, but he suggested that the league might broaden the rules about when such blocks are banned. That's a change that would be welcomed by most defensive players.