Meriweather: 'I wasn't trying to be dirty'

October, 20, 2013
10/20/13
8:30
PM ET

LANDOVER, Md. -- Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather insisted that he had changed the way he tackles. He’s trying to go lower. He’s trying not to lead with his helmet. Yet Meriweather still managed two more personal fouls, which means he’ll once again be fined for the way he hits.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said he hopes Meriweather doesn’t get suspended for those hits.

“I know it’s not intentional,” Shanahan said.

Meriweather
Regardless, they will be costly. And they’re also confusing to Meriweather. He was flagged 15 yards for a personal foul for a helment-to-helmet shot at the end of a 28-yard pass to receiver Alshon Jeffery.

“One ref said it was good and one ref said it was bad,” Meriweather said. “It’ll be just like that with the NFL. One person will look at it in slow motion and will say he could have did this, he could have did that. One person will be like, ‘Look, man, going full speed you don’t have time to think about that.’ It all depends on who’s watching.”

There was little doubt about the second hit was Meriweather was called for a personal foul on a hit after receiver Brandon Marshall dropped the ball in the end zone. It was not a bang-bang play.

“I feel every hit I took was a legal hit,” Meriweather said. “I wasn’t trying to be dirty. I wasn’t trying to hurt nobody. I didn’t lead with, lunge with my head. I used my shoulders like they told me to do.”

The officials saw it differently.

“I don’t think the first one was head to head,” Redskins corner DeAngelo Hall said. “I don’t know what he can do in that situation. I didn’t see the second one but [secondary coach Raheem Morris] said, yeah that’s probably one.”

Meriweather was fined $42,000 for two hits in a Week 2 loss at Green Bay.

“I understand big hits,” Marshall said. “That’s a part of our game, but when you have a guy that does it week in and week out, that’s when it becomes a problem.”

Meriweather was fined $50,000 for a hit in 2010 and accrued $45,000 in fines a year later.

“If you watch my first five years compared to the way I played the last three or four games, everyone in the league will tell you I have changed the way I hit,” Meriweather said. “I’m not lunging into people. I’m actually squaring them up. I’m trying to tackle the way I’ve been coached.

“Am I being targeted? I don’t want to say that. I would hope not.”

Meriweather said he’s not sure what the right way is to hit a ball carrier.

“No matter what I do I feel I’ll be in the wrong,” he said. “If I hit you in the shoulder and slipped up, they still say it’s head to head. If I hit them too low, I think somebody just got flagged for hitting somebody too low. It all depends on who’s watching. I don’t think we can be right.

“I think they’re trying to be safe and I think the only way to be safe is to do what they’re doing. But at the same time this is tackle football. A job of a safety is to instill fear and you can’t do that with pulling up.”

But the fines hurt his wallet and the penalties hurt the team.

"It's one of those things where you want them to be aggressive," Shanahan said. "But get lower -- mainly just talking from the team's standpoint and not even talking about the possible injury or things that go with it. We have to eliminate those 15-yard penalties."


John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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