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Larry Fitzgerald says players will adjust to pads rule

In an effort to police the proper use of mandatory knee and thigh pads this season, the NFL, which fines players for wearing low socks, will make sure players know the league isn't messing around.

"The more important deterrent, quite frankly, is that player will be removed from the game, and no player wants to miss time on game day," NFL vice president of football operations Merton Hanks told USA Today's Tom Pelissero on Wednesday. "Can you imagine having a player that you've designed a play for not in the game because he's chosen not to adhere to the padding options that every other player has to adhere to?"

Being removed from the game doesn't mean ejection. Rather, the player will be taken off the field until he is equipped with the proper gear, similar to if he ran on the field without a helmet or shoulder pads.

The NFL approved the rule in 2012, but it allowed players to choose whether or not to wear them last season.

Some players, especially wide receivers and defensive backs, initially scoffed at the idea of being forced to wear the pads. Denver Broncos cornerback Quentin Jammer called the rule "dumb" last year, and San Diego Chargers linebacker Jarret Johnson defined it as a "PR stunt."

However, not everyone has a problem with the rule.

"I didn't always wear them," Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald told Pelissero. "But I would take thigh contusions or hip pointers or knee bruises, and I just started wearing them to protect those injuries. This is all about adjustments. They change the rule, we find the way to adjust and continue to go on."

The rule is another example of the NFL trying to make the game safer any way it can. Even if some players hate the pads, they'll hate missing plays even more.

Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.

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