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Sunday, November 7, 2010
Collie hit was clean, say two Colts' DBs

By Paul Kuharsky

PHILADELPHIA -- Hours after their fallen teammate was diagnosed with a concussion and was moving around OK, a couple of Colts defensive backs said they were sympathetic to the Eagles defensive backs who combined on the hit that landed him there.

Austin Collie
Colts wide receiver Austin Collie, center, is hit by Eagles safeties Quintin Mikell, left, and Kurt Coleman. Mikell was called for unnecessary roughness on a defenseless receiver.
Watch the replay enough and it becomes clear to me: Quintin Mikell put a shoulder into Collie, which pin-balled him sideways into a helmet-to-helmet hit from Kurt Coleman that seemed simply unavoidable. But Mikell was called for unnecessary roughness on a defenseless receiver.

“No, it didn’t look like intent,” said Aaron Francisco, who has started at free safety for Indianapolis since both Bob Sanders and Melvin Bullitt got hurt. “When a player gets hit by two guys, not really simultaneously but one after another, it’s kind of hard as a defensive back to keep your head out of the way. That guy is getting hit towards you, you don’t know where his head is going to be or whatever.

They have so many rules out there, it’s tough to be a hitter nowadays, you know what I mean?"

Said cornerback Jacob Lacey: “It was a football play, it looked like a clean hit. You don’t wish that on anybody, or want anybody to be hurt or anything like that. But it looked like a clean hit. The first guy kind of gave him that momentum to swing into the other guy.”

After Collie was down on his back for an extended period of time, he was secured to a backboard that was wheeled off the field. Peyton Manning ran over to tell him everyone was praying for him.

“You hate to see that,” Manning said. “Coach [Jim] Caldwell told us early it was a concussion, which you don’t like to hear but it’s certainly better news that what everybody feared at that point.”

I interpreted replays as showing that Collie made a catch and had started to run with possession, which he lost when he was hit. But he was ruled defenseless and the pass was called incomplete.

Referee Carl Cheffers and back judge Todd Prukop told a pool reporter that the call should have been against Coleman, not Mikell but otherwise stood by the interpretation on the field. I suspect their bosses will feel differently with the benefit of video.

What the officials said in the pool report served to further complicate, rather than clarify, what unfolded.

Cheffers was asked about the definition of a defenseless receiver.

“Well, if he’s completing the catch, his second foot is not down yet or it’s just down, we still give the defenseless receiver protection,” Cheffers said. “So, if it is a bang-bang type play, with his second foot coming down, he still gets protection on that play. The fact of the matter is, is that the ball was incomplete.

“So, he has protection throughout that entire process on that play because we don’t even have a completion -- at no time did he has possession and become a runner to where he would have transitioned out of being a defenseless receiver.”

Prukop further complicated things with this answer to what was the cause for the penalty call against Coleman: “So, he makes contact with the shoulder to the back of the helmet of the receiver.” Which is what Mikell did, not Coleman.

Colts coach Caldwell said he thought there was “no question” that the proper call was made and that he was optimistic about Collie’s recovery. He just returned from thumb surgery suffered Oct. 17 at Washington that kept him out of last week’s win over Houston.

“I think he’ll recover quickly,” Caldwell said. “He’ll do OK.”