Posted October 17, 2013

Chris Canty defends Matt Elam’s injury-inducing hit on Randall Cobb

AFC North, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, NFC North
(Doug Kapustin/MCT via Getty Images)

Chris Canty (left) said he was ‘disappointed’ in Aaron Rodgers, who called out Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam. (Doug Kapustin/MCT via Getty Images)

Aaron Rodgers wasted no time letting the Ravens’ Matt Elam know what he thought of Elam’s tackle on Randall Cobb Sunday. The Packers’ QB immediately got in the face of Baltimore’s rookie, right after Elam injured Cobb with a low hit.

Just as Cobb caught a pass from Rodgers and started to turn upfield, Elam came flying with a shot on Cobb’s right knee/leg. (You can watch the play in its entirety here.) There was no penalty on the play — nor should there have been one, as Elam’s hit was within the rules.

Still, Rodgers and the Packers were less than happy about it:

“I think a lot of us saw the hit on Dustin Keller,” Rodgers said after Green Bay’s 19-17 win, according to ESPNMilwaukee. “I just felt like [Elam] had enough time to make a hit in the legal hitting zone.”

This hit will keep Randall Cobb sidelined for several weeks. (FOX)

This hit will keep Randall Cobb sidelined for several weeks. (FOX)

As mentioned, Elam’s hit was perfectly legal despite Rodgers’ protestations, though it fell into that gray area that usually launches discussion on “clean” vs. “dirty” tackles. Rodgers specifically referenced “the hit on Dustin Keller,” which was a near-identical play in the preseason. There, Houston’s D.J. Swearinger took out Keller’s knee on a tackle, resulting in catastrophic injuries for the Miami tight end.

Like Rodgers did Sunday, Miami WR Brian Hartline chastised Swearinger for his tackle. And though the Houston rookie expressed remorse for the injuries caused, he explained away the hit by saying that, “In this league you’ve got to go low. If you go high, you’re going to get fined.”

Thursday on the NFL Network, Baltimore’s Chris Canty came to the defense of Elam, taking up a similar argument to the one Swearinger offered.

“Well I’m a little disappointed in Aaron Rodgers coming out and making those comments,” Canty told Andrew Siciliano. “I’m tired of hearing offensive guys talking about defensive guys hitting players in the knees. Offensive linemen cut defensive linemen all the time. So I really don’t get it.

“It’s a legal hit, it’s within the rules. And if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t like it, he should take it up with the NFL.”

The NFL has outlawed “peel back” blocks, such as the one that cost Brian Cushing most of last season with a knee injury. Those hits used to be allowed outside the tackle box. That, plus the “Tom Brady” rule that prevents pass-rushers from diving at a quarterback’s knees, are really the only provisions in place specifically designed to protect players against those horrific knee injuries. (The illegality of horse-collar tackles also came about because of a rash of leg injuries.)

The rules to protect both ballcarriers and pass catchers have continued to expand, though, with a fairly recent emphasis on helmet-to-helmet hits. And that brings us back to Swearinger’s point — and possibly Elam’s mindset as he approached Cobb — that defenders are limited in what they can do to stop receivers. Elam did have room to line up Cobb and appeared to have space to attempt a tackle near the midsection, but anything too high or too violent risks being flagged as a “defenseless receiver” call.

As a result, Elam went low.

It is hard to fault Rodgers or the Packers for being upset, given that the hit cost them one of their key players for several weeks. It is almost as difficult to pin too much blame on Elam, given that his tackle was a legal one.

38 comments
Paul Simon
Paul Simon

"No defensive player who has an unrestricted path to the quarterback may hit him flagrantly in the area of the knee(s) or below when approaching in any direction." It shouldn't be any different for any other player. Sure why not, its only taking out countless players out for the season with dirty hits like this. Marcus Lattimore  had a similar hit on his knee in college.

URSheep
URSheep

Really? Do any of you or have any of you played football, or even watched it closely lately? VERY FEW defenders tackle anymore, most of them HIT to take down a ball-carrier in the open field. It's taught from PeeWee on as much as the "proper way" to tackle. Aaron Rodgers is a whiny, over-rated crybaby, and stop being a bunch of goody-goodies about a game all about violent actions. If you bleeding-heart sissies REALLY want to stop injuries, TAKE OFF THE DOGGONE HELMET, nobody I know will aim for anyone's knee if that bullet isn't leading the charge.

beirutwedding
beirutwedding

Why is Chris Canty all of a sudden all over the place with something to say on everything? Shut up already. 

Byron2
Byron2

CHEAP SHOT by a puszsy punk th*g young player like DJ Swearinger who DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO TACKLE like a real player. LOOK at that photo....he could have hit Cobb int he waist or chest easily, if he's a real athlete..... but instead he lowers his face/eyes into the ground and goes way low, not even seeing his target.
I hope some of these guys like him and Delmas BREAK THEIR NECKS soon because Goodell isn't doing anything about this soon...until lawsuits come in.

DennyCrane
DennyCrane

It was a legal hit but a dirty, cheap shot play. And that's what the Ravens are known for: targeting other players and trying to injure them and get them out of the game. The D now has plenty of protection from the NFL: no chop blocks, no peel back blocks, plenty of rules to protect them. Anyone watching that play knows Elam specifically targeted Cobb's knees. Elam had plenty of time to target Cobb's thighs, waist etc. but instead he chose to strike the knee cap.

Time for the O to start doing that on the Raven's D. Then you'd hear Suggs and the rest of the while like little girls.

x72
x72

Lots of injuries so far for the pack, hopefully Fraudgers is next. Would be nice to see them haul ol' concussion boy out on a cart.

GeorgeBest7
GeorgeBest7

Get over yourself A A Ron.  Hope Cobb is OK.

BY
BY

Legal hit, and a cheap one. Don't know Matt Elam at all but this is definitely a cheap hit and anyone who has ever played the game knows that. If someone blocked Elam like that he'd think much differently.

TrevorRasmussen
TrevorRasmussen

Completely legal hit. The same kind of hit that defenders complain about almost WEEKLY...so how about if we just stop complaining about people complaining. It was a legal hit and still a sucky hit. Rodgers was complaining about his teammate getting hurt just like defenders have been ALL year. If anything he should be glad to have such a visible player joining in the chorus of NFL players complaining about low hits.

Fred24
Fred24

I would make tackles legal from the thighs to upper shoulder area, BUT would balance it with making the officials to do enforced the tackling rules and enforce them with ~consistency~  restrain and intelligence. If a player leaps in the air, then the 'middle in the body' rule no longer applies. Officiating all over the place IS what is seriously wrong with the NFL, in such a time as teams so close to each other, it is influencing winners and losers way, way too often.

FightingTard
FightingTard

In Australia they have been tackling between the neck and knee for 150years and there game doesn't seem to suffer for it. 

Maybe the NFL could take something from there game to prevent injuries like this from happening

Kramer George
Kramer George

It was a clean hit. And A-Rod was right to defend his WR. End of story.

johngaltwho
johngaltwho

Aaron Rodgers is game planning for Cleveland. He made a comment in the heat of the game 4 days ago and then moved on. Wouldnt it be nice if the journalists were capable of equal professionalism.

MichaelC
MichaelC

Much ado about nothing. In every game, there are similar "low" tackles but no one cares if injury is avoided. Unfortunately, Cobb got injured on the play but that's the NFL - players can get hurt on any play. Did Elam know he was going to hit Cobb at that SPECIFIC angle or that at moment of impact, Cobb's leg was going to be straight rather than bent? He just flew in for a tackle - one he No. Things happen too quickly on the field. It's just an unfortunate play but it could have happened to anyone.

Fritz1218
Fritz1218

Oh for Heavens sake give it a break. Aaron also said he heard the other side(defensive). The following is from ESPN the day of the game.==The patriotic-sounding Rodgers began his comments to ESPNWisconsin.com by saying, “Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, that’s what’s great about the first amendment, the United States of America and the Constitution.” As he began to explain his own opinion, however, he admitted that Ravens safety James Ihedigbo made a good point about how hard it is for defensive players to tackle without getting flagged under current NFL rules'.

I don't think ya gotta rehash closed subjects just to print crap.


warechauncey
warechauncey

It was a bad hit whatever the rules or what anyone says. The rules make for lower hits but that hit like the one on Keller isnt in that realm. I dont think he made the decision to injure Cobb. He did go low because of the targeting rules but he made that hit because he wants to be a big hit guy. If you dont see what you hit, that happens. Its a legal, bad hit. 

TerrapinStation87
TerrapinStation87

“It’s a legal hit, it’s within the rules. And if Aaron Rodgers doesn’t like it, he should take it up with the NFL.”

"Nuff said.

beekay31
beekay31

The video clearly shows Elam in position to make a form tackle at the waist.  Instead, you see him size up Cobb, realizing he is in the air, and ultimately making the conscious decision to unnecessarily take him out at the knees.  I wonder how well he'd react to WRs consciously dive blocking his knees on every running play.  Weak sauce.

beirutwedding
beirutwedding

@Byron2 I don't know, man. I watched legal hits get penalized just this last weekend, where dudes led with their shoulders, hit the ballcarrier underneath the shoulders and got flagged anyway. Right now it's a tough row to hoe for these defenders and I don't know that you can succeed trying to be nice to offensive players. They won't return the favor. 

beekay31
beekay31

@x72 Driving a cart is about as high as you can aspire in life.

beekay31
beekay31

@Richard--Ramirez I remember your name because all you do is cry about Rodgers on here.  Sounds more like you're describing yourself.

Adolfis
Adolfis

@Kramer George  So, why should he defend his WR if it was a clean hit? Your statement does not make sense.

Yes it was a clean hit. Yes the hit is a direct result of the current rules. Does "Discount Double check" have a right to defend the WR? Not really.

Fred24
Fred24

@johngaltwho You hope sports writers to use any restrain? They feed on this type of drama.

Adolfis
Adolfis

@johngaltwho  But that would not create money for S.I. by the numerous times people click on this story. With each time this page is opened it creates a little more revenue by the ad space on this web page.

TerrapinStation87
TerrapinStation87

@warechauncey No one stated it wasn't a bad rule. That doesn't change the fact that it is a legal hit, and one without intention to injure. Rodger's gripes should then be aimed at the NFL, not at a rookie defenseman going at full speed. Understand?

redmch91
redmch91

@warechauncey The fact is the NFL has turned into a pass happy league that has handicapped defenses years ago with the increased focus on pass interference.  Now with the lawsuit and the focus on head-to-head hits (delivered by the defense...It still seems fine for a RB to "truck" a defender by lowering his helmet into their chest) defenses have no way to deter the pass across the middle.  In the old days, (like 3 years ago..) Elam would have probably launched himself at full speed high to dislodge the ball and probably knock Cobb out.  Simply can't do that anymore..so how else can the defense intimidate?  knees.  

TiredOfCliches
TiredOfCliches

@beekay31 Whatever, homer.  It was a bang bang play.  If you're so good at reading defensive players' minds, you should get a job as an offensive coordinator someplace.

beekay31
beekay31

@TiredOfCliches @beekay31 I was a defensive player, D-back in fact  Should I read my own mind?  For anyone with a set of eyes, you can easily see Elam make the choice to go low, which was entirely unnecessary.  It wasn't even close to bang bang.  Elam had already picked his line of pursuit & broke on the ball and was well within position to tackle him at the waist, not dive at Cobb's knees and turn his own back (to protect himself, of course).  His little maneuver was textbook for taking anyone out at the knees.  But sit there and try to tell me how to play.

beekay31
beekay31

@Navycross @BillPeterson @Adolfis @Kramer George In the early 2000's, Mike Sherman got in Warren Sapp's face because he blindsided Chad Clifton and decleated him, causing a hip injury that required surgery and knocked him out for the year on a play in which a defensive TD was a split second from being scored 40 yards up the field.  The hit was entirely withing the rules.

But was it necessary?  Of course, not, the play was over and Clifton had no chance of even entering the play, whether a whistle was blown or not.  Was it dirty?  Absolutely.

Navycross
Navycross

@BillPeterson @Adolfis @Kramer George Last I checked, if its within the rules its clean. Period. End of story. You cant have a hit that is both legal and dirty. Its an oxymoron. If you don't like the rule that is one thing but playing within the rules is what constitutes fair play.