Colts receiver Austin Collie was taken off the field on a stretcher Sunday after being knocked out in a collision with two Eagles defensive backs. The hit drew a 15-yard penalty and will undoubtedly be the subject of much scrutiny this week as the NFL continues to debate how to keep defenseless receivers safe.
Collie was reaching to catch a Peyton Manning pass when Eagles safety Quintin Mikell hit him with what looked like a hard but legal shot to the midsection. Eagles defensive back Kurt Coleman then collided with Collie, helmet-to-helmet.
It could be argued, however, that the Coleman-Collie collision was only helmet-to-helmet because Collie had already been redirected by Mikell: It wasn’t that Coleman was head-hunting; it was just that Collie’s head was pushed into the path of Coleman’s head. That’s why several Eagles players angrily protested the flag, all while Collie lay motionless on the field.
Coleman’s argument will be similar to the argument that Jets safety Eric Smith made when he was suspended for a helmet-to-helmet hit on then-Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin two years ago: Smith said that collision was only helmet-to-helmet because Boldin was pushed into his path, but the NFL didn’t accept that argument.
As Collie was stretchered off the field, he appeared to be conscious, and Manning spoke to him briefly. But Collie didn’t appear to be moving at all.
We’ll see this week whether Coleman is the first player suspended under the league’s increased emphasis on keeping defenseless receivers safe. More importantly, we hope to see an encouraging prognosis on Collie. There’s no word yet on his condition.
UPDATE: At halftime Colts coach Jim Caldwell told 1070 radio in Indianapolis that Collie suffered a concussion but will be OK.