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Thursday, November 21, 2013
Cameron Wake: 'When am I defenseless?'

By James Walker

DAVIE, Fla. -- San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks' hit on New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees reopened an ongoing conversation on protecting quarterbacks.

Wake
The hit, by the standards of the rule book, was clean. Yet, Brooks was fined $17,500. That upset many current and former defensive players. Even retirees Ray Lewis and Tedy Bruschi offered to pay Brooks' fine.

I asked the Miami Dolphins' best pass-rusher -- Cameron Wake -- about the play and the fine to get his thoughts on the subject. Wake, who has sacked the quarterback 49.5 times since 2009, had a strong take on the NFL's possibly going too far to protect quarterbacks.
“Yes. I think if you look at the play, I didn't see any helmet-to-helmet [contact]. I'm not an expert on the rule book. But from looking at the rule book, you're not supposed to hit the quarterback with your helmet or lunge or torpedo. But I didn't see any of that happen on that play. And of course as a defensive person, they do overdo it when it comes to quarterbacks. They're playing football just like we are. I always think about it: When am I defenseless? I don't think I'm ever defenseless on the field. But you can't hit [quarterbacks] too low, you can't hit him too high, you can't hit him too hard, don't slam him too hard, don't touch his helmet, don't hit his arm. Play football."

Wake's train of thought is in line with that of many defensive players. The rules certainly favor protecting quarterbacks. Everyone else around the quarterback must adjust. In Brooks' case, even a clean hit according to the rule book could lead to a fine.

For more interesting takes on this subject, check out this week's "NFL Nation Says" post.