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News & Notes: Players React to Crackdown On Hard Hits

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The NFL has announced a re-emphasis on rules against illegal hits and the league may impose harsher fines and possibly suspensions for infractions.

The renewed emphasis comes after a Sunday slate of games in which there were several helmet-to-helmet hits.

On Tuesday, the league handed out $175,000 in fines. Pittsburgh's James Harrison was fined $75,000 for hits on Cleveland's Mohamad Massaquoi and Joshua Cribbs, New England's Brandon Meriweather was fined $50,000 for a hit on Baltimore's Todd Heap and Atlanta's Dunta Robinson was fined $50,000 for a hit on Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson.

Jackson, Massquoi and Cribbs each suffered concussions. Heap did not.

In the Redskins locker room on Wednesday, several players expressed frustration with the NFL's crackdown, particularly the fines.

"Suspending guys and throwing out $50,000, $75,000 fines – that's ridiculous," cornerback Carlos Rogers said. "I don't know where the league is trying to go with this.

"Some guys, it wasn't even head to head, it was just a tough collision. That happens in football. We're playing football. It's not Pop Warner, it's not flag [football]. We're taught to tackle with our head up, make contact on the ball and try to get it out.

"Coming across the middle – that's a place where [defenders] don't want receivers coming across the middle and you want to leave a statement to let them know, 'Don't throw the ball across the middle.'

"Will guys be hesitant? I don't know. After playing 25-30 years of football, I don't know if guys can change right now. It's probably a lose-lose situation."

Added defensive end Phillip Daniels: "The league makes the rules and you have to abide by them, but I think it takes away from our game. All of our life, we're taught to play physical, to go out and hit people...Now we're trying to suspend guys trying to make those hits.

"I understand doing it for a guy that makes a blatant hit – maybe kicking him out of the game would be better. But to suspend him and make him lose a paycheck? That's sad. That's bad.

"Any decent coach in this league, even my high school coach, they always tell you to go out and put a hurt on people. They don't mean it as, 'Go out there and [injure] somebody.' That's just a figure of speech."

Head coach Mike Shanahan said the team shows film of legal and illegal hits in meetings with players before the season starts.

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Shanahan said he would not ask players to tone down their hits.

He said the line between what is a legal or illegal hit is an "ongoing process."

"They showed some of the hits and some are flagrant and others are, at least from my perspective, you can question them and say what is legal and not legal," he said. "At the end of the day, hopefully we'll get a little closer to being on the same page.

"We do what's in the best interest of the players and try to protect them as much as you can and still have a quality game at the same time."

Cornerback Phillip Buchanon was among players who said they would not change the way they play the game.

Buchanon has given and received his share of hard hits. Along with playing defense, he has also returned punts and kickoffs in his career.

"It's impossible to think about how you're going to hit a guy before you hit him going full speed," he said. "That's crazy...I'm just going to go out there and play. Whatever happens, happens. That's how you have to play the game. Sometimes plays look like they're more [violent] than they are, but it's just the speed of the game."


-- MCNABB AND HIS CONTRACT

Quarterback Donovan McNabb, scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, was asked on Wednesday about the possibility of a contract extension with the Redskins.

Replied McNabb: "I am confident it will happen and will happen soon. At this particular point, I am really not focused on it. I am focused on what we need to do here to go into Chicago and come back with a win."

McNabb has completed 58.1 percent of his passes for 1,561 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions. His 78.8 quarterback rating is ranked 24th in the league.


-- COOLEY LIMITED IN PRACTICE

Tight end Chris Cooley participated in drills but otherwise was held out of practice on Wednesday, Mike Shanahan said.

Cooley suffered a concussion in the Redskins' game against the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday.

"Unless there are any repercussions that come up in the next 12-24 hours, he'll practice full speed [on Thursday] and be ready to go," Shanahan said.


-- MCINTOSH BACK IN ACTION

Linebacker Rocky McIntosh was "full speed" in Wednesday's practice, a sign that he was fully recovered from the concussion he suffered in Week 5 vs. Green Bay.

McIntosh sat out the Colts game last Sunday and was replaced by H.B. Blades in the starting lineup.

In the locker room on Wednesday, McIntosh said he was "fine" and then referred all other questions on his status to Shanahan.

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