Add New York Jets tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. to the list of players who disapprove of the hit from Houston Texans safety D.J. Swearinger that shredded the knee of Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller.
Winslow, like Dolphins’ receiver Brian Hartline, isn’t buying Swearinger’s reasoning for hitting Keller so low in the first place. Swearinger claims he went low while attempting to tackle Keller because of the league’s focus on eliminating blows to the head forced him to alter his angle of attack.
According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Winslow believes that defenseless players should also be protected from exceptionally low hits as well as blows to head.
“It’s just the way he was hit . . . he’s defenseless,” Winslow said. “I’ve been thinking about that [type of] hit for years. The guy’s defenseless . . . and the [defender] is knifing in at his knees. That’s not cool. That hit should be illegal. . . . You shouldn’t be knifing in at a guy’s knees when they’re not able to protect themselves.”
While Swearinger may have went lower than necessary when trying to tackle Keller, the concern from defenders about where exactly they’re able to contact offensive players is real. If defenders are being told by the league that they have to be the ones to adjust to avoid helmet-to-helmet blows, those players are inherently going to lower their strike point against offensive players.
The injury to Keller was a brutal blow that no player wants to see. There is validity to the thought from Winslow that players diving at the knees of defenseless players is an issue the league should also take a look at in the name of player safety. However, at some point defenders have to be able to make their attempts to stop offensive players as well. It’s a tough balancing act the league may have to look at more closely.