Coughlin benches players who don't keep their heads up

October, 18, 2010
10/18/10
7:23
PM ET
With the rash of concussions that broke out during Sunday’s games in the NFL, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said he can see “stronger measures” taken against players who deliver illegal hits on defenseless receivers.

“I know that one of the recommendations or the strongest one has been that since the money does not seem to be a deterrent, then it has to be more than that,” Coughlin said in his Monday press conference. “Always, it is quite frustrating, to be honest with you, if a player is forced to leave a game because of an illegal hit and the other player continues… that doesn’t really seem right. I’m sure there will be stronger measures taken.”

On Sunday, Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson and Atlanta’s Dunta Robinson were involved in a scary collision that knocked both players out of their game. Robinson, a defensive back, launched himself head first into Jackson, who was catching a pass across the middle. Jackson suffered a severe concussion and could be out indefinitely. During the Steelers game against the Browns, Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison knocked two Browns players out with crushing hits.

The NFL is reportedly considering taking harsher action against those who deliver illegal hits. The NFL has placed stronger emphasis on protecting defenseless players from hits to the head or neck area.

During the Giants’ season opening win over Carolina, tight end Kevin Boss was knocked out with a concussion when Carolina safety Sherrod Martin hit Boss in the back of the helmet as the tight end jumped to try and catch a high pass.

Boss left the game on a cart early in the first quarter and he missed the following week’s game at Indianapolis. Martin was fined $5,000 for the hit.

An upset Coughlin said after that Carolina game that Boss should have never been touched if Martin had been following the league rules to protect defenseless players. Martin didn’t even receive a flag in the game.

On Sunday against the Lions, Detroit linebacker Zack Follett was carted off the field after he suffered a neck injury when Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul went to block Follett and their helmets collided on a special teams play.

Coughlin was extremely relieved to hear that Follett was released from the hospital on Monday and was improving. Pierre-Paul, who could be fined even though the helmet-to-helmet hit was not intentional, is doing fine according to Coughlin.

“Both guys were trying to do their job,” Coughlin said. “It’s unfortunate. Sometimes the head does get in the wrong position. You stress it and you coach it.”

Coughlin said that his staff repeatedly instructs players to keep their heads up, especially on special teams. And if a player doesn’t do it, they can be demoted because of it.

“We may back them off for a week -– maybe they’re the second guy now –- but you do have to continue to coach and to tell them that a lot of these things happen when a guy gets hit on the side of the helmet or he ducks his head down rather than keeping his head where it should be,” Coughlin said.
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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