DC on fake injuries: 'We don't do that'
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Coach Marc Trestman and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker on Wednesday denied that the Bears fake injuries to slow high-powered offenses after revelations made this week by former linebacker Brian Urlacher, who said Chicago used the practice when he was with the team.
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Urlacher said that during his 13 seasons with the franchise, the Bears employed the strategy, which is a common practice but one that goes unspoken around the NFL and college football.
NFL clubs, meanwhile, were reminded in a memo Thursday of a rule that "faking injuries" can result in severe disciplinary action and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. The memo also reinforced a rule prohibiting a defense from trying to disrupt offensive cadence-and-snap operations.
"We have instructed all officials to be on the alert for violations of this rule. Further, if it is determined by video review or other means available to the League office that defensive players are engaging in such practices, such players and their coaches may be subject to disciplinary action," said the memo, sent by Dean Blandino in his first year as the NFL's vice president of officiating.
The memo also advised teams that "violators of this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action for conduct detrimental to the game which could include fines of coaches, players, and clubs, suspensions or forfeiture of draft choices."
Feigning injuries is not restricted to defensive players as teams prepare to face no-huddle, up-tempo offenses. Last season, receiver Emmanuel Sanders was fined $15,000 for feigning injury and his team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, was fined $35,000.
SportsNation: Faking injuries?
Brian Urlacher said that the Bears faked injuries back when he was playing. Is this a legitimate tactic? Vote!
Trestman and Tucker are in their first seasons with the Bears and didn't coach Urlacher, who retired after last season. Trestman, who was hired by the Bears in January after five seasons coaching the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League, said he hasn't been with a team that has faked injuries to slow offenses.
"I can't say that. I haven't been a part of that environment," he said. "Part of it is just doing things within the framework of the rules of the league. I really haven't had any experience in that area before or been a part of an NFL team where I heard of that happening."
According to Urlacher, who is now an analyst for Fox Sports 1, the Bears would name a "designated dive guy" who would act hurt when a member of the staff gave the signal to do so from the sideline. The former linebacker said a Bears coach would simulate the diving motion a swimmer makes with his arms.
Urlacher said the players weren't coached on how to fake injuries but that the practice was a part of the team's game plan.
"We definitely, yeah, we know that," said safety Major Wright, who played alongside Urlacher for three seasons (2010-12). "At times, you can know that the offense is definitely fast-paced and everything, [so] you know, something [has] to happen."
Was Wright ever the designated dive player?
"No," he said. "I'm never going down. I'm always up. I'm always prepared and ready."
Tucker, who had been an assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars since 2009 before joining Trestman's staff, denied knowledge of Urlacher's assertions.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Tucker said. "Like I said, we don't do that. That thought hasn't even crossed my mind."
ESPN Senior NFL Insider Chris Mortensen contributed to this report.