There’s plenty of uncertainty regarding the new helmet rules. For Washington safety D.J. Swearinger, one thing definitely is certain: Head injuries will be traded for leg injuries.
“They want us to, I guess, hit with our shoulder,” Swearinger said, via ESPN.com. “I guess not hit a guy when he ducks. So I guess we just gotta aim for the knees. That’s the only way I know how. If you don’t want me to hit you, then I guess it’s the only way, the only way.”
But the new helmet rules have nothing to do with hitting a guy in the head; they prohibit hitting a guy with the helmet, specifically when lowering the helmet and initiating contact. So while Swearinger is right when he says the league wants players to hit with the shoulder, the hit with the shoulder doesn’t have to go low, except when a receiver is still defenseless.
The broader problem is that the officials still don’t seem to know what is and isn’t a violation of either of the two new helmet rules. Which makes it even harder for the players to know what they can and can’t do.