Proposed rule aimed at aggressive runners, such as Vikings' Peterson

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 20, 2013 - 11:53 AM

Ball carriers might be penalized for lowering their head and plowing into would-be tacklers.

hide

Madieu Williams (41), DeAngelo Hall (23), and Rob Jackson (50), combine to bring down Vikings running back Adrian Peterson

Photo: Cliff Owen, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

– During his 2,097-yard MVP blitzkrieg last season, Vikings star Adrian Peterson ran with the unbridled tenacity for which he’s always been known, dishing out vicious shots as often as he absorbed them.

Peterson has excelled with that Pamplona bull style. But now, with the NFL in heated debate over a rule proposal that would penalize ball carriers for delivering contact with their heads, it’s worth wondering whether some of Peterson’s most impressive and physical runs could now occasionally result in penalties against the Vikings.

On Tuesday at the NFL’s annual meetings at the Arizona Biltmore, debate continued over a proposed rule that would require a 15-yard penalty to be assessed if any ball carrier, while outside the tackle box and more than 3 yards down field, “initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent.”

It’s a pitch that has been greeted by many coaches as well-intentioned from a safety standpoint but perhaps misguided if enforced too aggressively.

The Vikings have made it clear they are wary of the rule. Owner Zygi Wilf spoke up twice during debate Tuesday morning. Coach Leslie Frazier, while noting the admirable safety objective, also raised an eyebrow at how to reasonably make such a rule work.

“I think it makes it tough for the running backs,” Frazier said. “It’s such an instinctive motion to duck that head to try to protect yourself.

“So I don’t know what’s going to happen, whether this will pass or not. But I think it puts those backs in a vulnerable state if they can’t lower their pads. And the only way to lower your pads is to get your head down.”

For the rule change to be adopted, it will require three-quarter approval in a final vote that has been tabled until Wednesday. At present, however, vocal opposition has been evident.

Frazier said he thinks the rule’s intent to reduce head injuries could wind up having an adverse effect on player safety if ball carriers begin to run more upright without ability to protect themselves legally by ducking into collisions.

“When those defenders are coming at your legs, if you don’t protect yourself and you don’t get your pads down, now you run the risk of lower body injuries,” Frazier said.

Yet Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, who doubles as an active member of the competition committee, has made it clear that if the rule were adopted, officials would be instructed to look for a very specific infraction.

“We want to bring the shoulder back to the game,” Fisher said.

“We all know the helmet is a protective device. And it’s not designed to be used like it’s been used as of late.”

Dean Blandino, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, said part of the research that went into the rule proposal involved reviewing every play from Week 16 last season. In those 16 contests, Blandino said there were 34 instances of helmet-to-helmet contact between ball carriers and tacklers but only five that would have drawn penalties under the new rule.

“There is going to be helmet-to-helmet contact between a runner and a tackler,” Blandino said. “That is not what this rule is designed to take out.

“It is where one player lowers the head and delivers a blow with the crown, the top of the helmet, lines up a player and hits him when we feel he has options to do something else.”

Still, even with the competition committee and officials trying to zero in on “the obvious foul,” coaches worry the speed of the game and the fluctuating discretion of each officiating crew could create too much confusion from week to week, series to series.

As of Tuesday morning, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin didn’t know whether he’d advise the Steelers to check the “For” box on their ballot or the one marked “Against.”

“I’m interested in more discussion to be honest with you,” Tomlin said. “I think that’s the charge.

“I think it’s easy to say we want to eliminate those type of ugly plays from the game for obvious reasons. But at the same time I think the discussion lies in how we do that.”

Frazier wasn’t sure if Peterson was aware of the proposal but was certain he knew which way the MVP would lean.

“He would not be in favor,” Frazier said.

“Those guys have to be instinctive. They have to be allowed to do what they do.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Portland 6:00 PM
Cleveland
Sacramento 6:30 PM
Toronto
Boston 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Dallas 7:00 PM
Houston
Denver 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Atlanta
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
New York
Charlotte 7:30 PM
San Antonio
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
Utah
Washington 9:30 PM
Phoenix
Toronto 6:30 PM
New Jersey
Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Washington
Chicago 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Temple 6:00 PM
UCF
Winthrop 6:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Colgate
Northeastern 6:00 PM
Drexel
Wake Forest 6:00 PM
Florida State
Rhode Island 6:00 PM
Fordham
Delaware 6:00 PM
James Madison
South Carolina 6:00 PM
LSU
New Hampshire 6:00 PM
Maine
Seton Hall 6:00 PM
Marquette
Binghamton 6:00 PM
UMBC
American Univ 6:00 PM
Navy
Elon 6:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Wright State 6:00 PM
Oakland
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Penn State
Duquesne 6:00 PM
Richmond
SMU 6:00 PM
South Florida
Hartford 6:00 PM
Stony Brook
Albany 6:00 PM
Vermont
Hofstra 6:00 PM
William & Mary
UNC-Asheville 6:00 PM
Longwood
Radford 6:30 PM
Char Southern
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 6:30 PM
Notre Dame
Texas Tech 6:30 PM
Oklahoma
Oregon State 7:00 PM
Arizona State
Morehead State 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Drake 7:00 PM
Bradley
Lehigh 7:00 PM
Bucknell
Rice 7:00 PM
Houston
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Illinois State
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska Omaha 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
Northern Iowa 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Louisville 8:00 PM
Boston College
St Johns 8:00 PM
Creighton
East Carolina 8:00 PM
Memphis
Georgia Tech 8:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Miss State 8:00 PM
Ole Miss
Clemson 8:00 PM
NC State
Indiana 8:00 PM
Purdue
Kansas 8:00 PM
TCU
Oregon 9:00 PM
Arizona
Air Force 9:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 10:00 PM
Washington
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Akron 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
Memphis 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
East Carolina 6:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
Murray State 6:00 PM
Eastern Illinois
Kent State 6:00 PM
Central Michigan
UT Martin 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Eastern Michigan 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Lehigh
Indiana 6:00 PM
Michigan State
Colgate 6:00 PM
Lafayette
Fordham 6:00 PM
Davidson
Duquesne 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
George Mason 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Detroit 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Kansas State
West Virginia 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Denver 7:00 PM
South Dakota
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
Central Arkansas
Austin Peay 7:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Kansas 7:00 PM
Iowa State
Bowling Green 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Penn State 7:00 PM
Minnesota
San Jose St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Boise State 8:00 PM
Colorado State
Utah State 8:00 PM
Wyoming
San Diego State 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nevada 9:00 PM
UNLV
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close