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Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Updated: September 19, 12:32 PM ET
Net passing yards at high thru Week 2

By Rob Demovsky
ESPN.com

NFL teams have thrown the ball at a record rate this season, and defensive players around the league don't seem to like it.

According to data released by the league, there have been 16,355 net passing yards this season. That's the most through the first two weeks of an NFL season and the most for any two-week span in a single season in league history.

ESPN.com's NFL Nation reporters polled players around the league on Wednesday, asking whether the NFL has made it nearly impossible to defend the pass.

"I wouldn't say it's impossible, but it's tougher, definitely tougher," said Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, a 13-year veteran. "It's the way the league is now. We play in an offensive league, so they're going to protect offensive players. I don't really care for it. But that's how it is."

Rule changes designed to protect players from injuries have had an impact on how defenses play, several players said.

"The way the rules are set up, it definitely caters to a pass friendly-type offense," Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "I guess they took a survey and fans want to see touchdowns and fans want to see a lot of scores. The defense is kind of out there for show. We're going to continue to compete and play football. Even with all of those things stacked against us, you still got to be successful."

In Week 2 alone, three quarterbacks -- Aaron Rodgers of the Packers, Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers and Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles -- threw for at least 400 yards without an interception.

"Back in the day when my dad was playing, they clotheslined quarterbacks," New York Jets tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. said. "It was like real football. Now it's kind of protect the quarterback and don't hit him too hard."

While six quarterbacks have had 400-yard passing games  this season, some players attribute the passing yardage to the new-breed receivers as much as the quarterbacks.

"It's hard, especially with the rule changes and especially with the kind of athletic receivers coming out (of college)," Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor, an 11-year veteran, said. "You've got a lot more basketball-type bodied receivers who can run, who can jump. They don't have to run precise routes. You can just throw it in an area and understand they're going to come down with it. That's what makes it harder."

Information from ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley, Scott Brown and Rich Cimini was used in this report.