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Ryan Clark more upset by penalties than fines

After illegal hits resulted in a total of $55,000 in fines over a two-week span last season, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark was highly critical of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

"I don't know if he had some type of high school dreams or Pop Warner dreams of being an NFL football player, but he's made himself the NFL," Clark said last year via Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "He is the most popular -- or infamous -- commissioner in sports right now, you know?"

Clark has vowed to tone down his comments this season and, during a Wednesday morning appearance on "NFL AM", discussed how the players have to adjust to the new safety rules.

"Well, it's definitely affected my paycheck directly", Clark said Wednesday of the new rules. "When you think about it, you still have to play. You have to go out and play as hard as you possibly can, make the tackles you can make. Growing up, you were taught (that) if you can't get the ball out, if you can't intercept it, you try to dislodge it with a hit. I think you still try to do that, but you just have to do it a little differently.

"You can't go for the guy's head, you can't go for his neck, you have to try to adjust your aiming point, which is hard sometimes, because if the offensive player does crouch, or does lower his shoulder, it's still upon the defensive player (to avoid helmet-to-helmet contact). But you still have to play. You have to play this game fast."

Clark earned $58,824 per week in base salary last season, so the $55,000 in fines means he played one game for free. Clark wasn't as upset about that lost income as he was the 45 yards in unnecessary roughness penalties he gave Steelers opponents in 2011.

"I think more than the fines -- my wife is more upset about the fines -- but I get more upset about the penalties," said Clark. "When you give a team 15 more yards and another opportunity at a first down in this league, you know it's tough to stop 'em with the talent that they have out there. So we're trying to adjust our game. We're trying to figure out ways to still by physical, still be intimidating down the middle, but not cost our team penalties and not have to argue with our wives about our paychecks."

Follow Brian McIntyre on Twitter @brian_mcintyre.

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