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Monday, September 30, 2013
Looking closely at hit that hurt Jake Locker

By Paul Kuharsky


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The NFL reviews a slew of plays from each weekend, and Adam Schefter reports they will review the hits by Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples on the play where Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker injured his right hip.

My colleague who covers the Jets, Rich Cimini, spoke to Wilkerson after the game, and Wilkerson said an official told him his hit was legal.

There was no flag. But the league office deciding a game official didn’t call something right hardly qualifies as a rarity anymore.

I think Wilkerson’s hit was OK. He gets one step after the ball is released, and my reading of the play is that he used that one step. Maybe it was a step and a half, and maybe that draws a fine.

But as I review the play, it seems clear that Locker was hurt because he wound up in an awkward position and something freak happened, not because Wilkerson did something nefarious.

I've rewatched the play multiple times on NFL Rewind this morning.

As Locker let go and followed through, his body opened to the left sideline, and that’s where Wilkerson was coming from. He hit him with his helmet in the right shoulder.

Locker kind of bounced off it, and spun around where he faced the left sideline and then wound up with his back to the line of scrimmage. His right foot was planted, perhaps with the foot pointed a bit to his left, and his left leg was bent and up in the air.

That’s when Couples put his right shoulder into Locker’s left shoulder -- the most unnecessary piece of the play and the one that should, in my opinion, earn a fine.

That hit prompted Locker’s lower right leg to fold awkwardly, with his foot still planted wide of his body, and his knee going to the ground under him. He went to both knees, still facing backward, then his body opened up and as he started to roll over from his stomach onto his left side, he grabbed at the hip before he got to his back.

The medical staff was on the field very quickly, teammates circled around Locker worried, some praying, some looking up to see the replay and try to understand what happened. Ryan Fitzpatrick immediately began tossing a ball on the sideline.

There is no predicting league discipline.

In my eyes, Coples' hit was the most unnecessary part of the play and came well after the ball was released. He should be in line for a fine.

I don’t know that Wilkerson really did anything wrong.