NFL likely to crack down on illegal hits

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 2:34 PM ET

BRISTOL, Conn. -- The National Football League is apparently ready to begin suspending players for illegal hits.

ESPN has reported that the league could announce this week that suspensions will begin to take the place of fines for such actions.

There were a number of players hurt because of hard hits on Sunday alone, as Cleveland wide receivers Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massquoi were both diagnosed with concussions after each were hit by Steelers linebacker James Harrison, while both Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson and Philadelphia receiver DeSean Jackson were involved in a violent collision that left both with concussions.

Lions linebacker Zack Follett had to be carted off the field on a kick return after a helmet-to-helmet hit with the New York Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul, Washington tight end Chris Cooley suffered a concussion against Indianapolis and Baltimore's Todd Heap left the contest briefly after a helmet-to-helmet hit from New England's Brandon Meriweather.

According to an NFL official, the league plans to adhere more strictly to its rules against flagrant hits, especially of the helmet-to-helmet variety and particularly in the wake of the recent barrage of concussions.

In an ESPN Radio interview on Tuesday morning, NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said the league's focus will be on defenseless players.

"We get the [response] all the time that, 'What's a defender to do?' Well, we, in these situations, have to say the defender has to adjust his target area," Anderson said. "The player has to wrap up. He has to do the things more fundamentally that we used to do -- when we used to tackle back in the day. We would like them to do more of that. But with the seriousness of the head and neck trauma and concussions generally, we've got a responsibility to just make sure that players understand and adapt."

Anderson said the enforcement of the rules, and the potential suspensions that may go along with it, will help protect the safety of the players.


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