The NFL announced earlier this week that in light of the punishing helmet-to-helmet hits from this past weekend - including the one that will sideline DeSean Jackson this Sunday against Tennessee - players could now receive suspensions along with ejections and fines for illegal hits.
Strong safety Quintin Mikell said that the league is doing everything it can to remove the one advantage the defense has over offensive players.
"As a defensive player, the only advantage we have is to be able to inflict pain, hit people or put that fear in people. Now, there is no fear because they know that you can't really get touched anymore," Mikell said. "It's becoming harder as a defensive player to do your job effectively."
The veteran All-Pro safety jokingly said that maybe "we should just go out there and play 7-on-7 and let the receivers run around and catch the ball and just grab the flag."
Mikell said that he doesn't want to see players, like his teammate, get hurt. He also believes that the hit by Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson that injured Jackson was "a clean hit." The NFL disagreed and fined Robinson $50,000. The concern for Mikell is that a split-second decision that isn't intended to be malicious could result in being suspended.
"It's difficult at times because everything happens in such a split-second. One second a receiver is running, the next second he's up in the air jumping for a ball. Everything we're doing is reactive. That split-second could be the difference of getting kicked out for next week or fined," Mikell said. "You're not really intending to do it, but if you're running with a guy and he jumps up to catch the ball and you're just a split-second late you might be hitting him in the helmet instead of the shoulder pads."
Mikell also wants to see offensive players get policed as much as the defensive players do. Mikell pointed out that defensive players are liable to get injured on plays like chop blocks, but rule changes only seem to come about when offensive players are hurt.
"What about the safety of defensive players?" Mikell asked rhetorically.
Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who was fined $75,000 for one of this past weekend's illegal hits, has reportedly considered retirement because of the rules change. Mikell said that it won't change the way he plays.
"I'm not going to worry about that. I'm going to go out there and play the game. I think everybody in here is going to go out there and play the game like it's supposed to be played," Mikell said. "None of us lead with our helmet. That's just stupid. That's a great way to get yourself injured."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 2:49 p.m., October 20