The NFL has made a concerted effort to better protect skill players on offense, but can the same be said for players on the other side of the ball?
Breer: Defenders cry foul over fines
NFL.com's Albert Breer spoke with several players who believe the league does not treat defenders equally, both in terms of fine severity and blocking rules. The knee injury suffered by Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing on a chop block and the suspension of Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed are perceived examples of a substantial imbalance at play.
NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson told Breer the league is making an ongoing effort to improve safety on both sides.
"We have constantly made sure to protect all players, and we've expanded some of the rules in response to what defensive coaches and players have told us," Anderson said. "We added protection on illegal crack-back blocks, the plays when the H-backs and receivers come back to the interior of the line; those defensive guys are protected as defenseless players."
Anderson added that, in light of Cushing's injury, "There's no question the competition committee is going to take a look at all the low blocks we've seen, including chop blocks, in the offseason. So our response would be that we've taken recent action, responded to some concerns and hope to continue to take significant steps to protect all players."
SI.com's Peter King reported Friday that the NFL will consider a full ban of all blocks below the waist. King doubted a complete abolishment was in the works, but he added the NFL was "solidly behind" an aggressive study by the competition committee.
Obviously, this could have far-reaching effects on the game from a strategic standpoint. If radical changes are made, the NFL might be a very different league in 2013.