New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle has lived the flip side of the NFL's rule protecting defenseless receivers. Rolle sustained a head injury last week while trying to avoid a collision with Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who became defenseless when a pass glanced off his hand.
Rolle broke on the ball and was in position to hit Bryant with a shoulder to the chest.
"I was coming to do damage," Rolle told USA Today.
Rolle, however, shifted at the last second and clipped teammate Corey Webster. That caused his head to smash into the turf.
"I definitely put myself in danger because it's a split second where you have to make that decision," said Rolle, who returned to practice Thursday. "It's not like I could make that decision on the ground because I was already airborne. So me twisting, turning and trying to get out of the way definitely put myself in harm's way.
"I wasn't worried about (a fine), I was just worried about not giving them extra yards. But there's no way around that. Does it suck for a defensive player? Yeah, it sucks. It definitely does suck. You can't play a game the way you've been brought up how to play the game. We're not trying to hurt anyone, but was I trying to detach him from the ball? Absolutely. Had he caught the ball, absolutely. I was there, I had perfect time. I just couldn't follow through with it."
How often does that happen in a single game? How often do defensive players hold back and give up plays because of these rules? It leads you to wonder if there will there be more cases of injuries like Rolle's.
"When you're talking about hitting a guy that's defenseless, if you're a safety and you have great angles and great timing on the ball, every receiver is going to be defenseless," Rolle said. "You definitely don't want to give them any other opportunities, and I'm definitely not trying to hurt myself. I don't know."
Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.