Not that anyone really expected Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak to blast his own player for a dirty hit, but Kubiak said rookie safety D.J. Swearinger was just making a football play and unfortunately it ended up with Dustin Keller suffering a horrible injury.
Keller, the Miami Dolphins' tight end, suffered a torn ACL, MCL and PCL on Swearinger's hit in Miami's preseason game against Houston last week, had a dislocated knee and there have been reports that doctors fear nerve damage. His recovery time is long, and there can't be a guarantee he'll play again.
Swearinger said he went low because NFL defenders are told repeatedly not to go high on tackles, or risk a fine for a head shot. Swearinger has a history with helmet-to-helmet hits as well. He was suspended for a game last year for one, when he was at South Carolina.
Kubiak echoed that sentiment that his player couldn't go high to make the hit.
“It’s just unfortunate," Kubiak said, according to the Houston Chronicle. "Any time a player gets hurt it’s very unfortunate. So you feel bad for the player, whether that guy’s on your team or he’s playing against you. Those things happen. All the targets are from the shoulders down in football now. D.J. was playing an out route and reacted to an in route and just making a tackle and reacting, and unfortunately getting caught in a horrible situation.”
Jets tight end Kellen Winslow went to Twitter and argued that hits like the one Swearinger put on Keller are more dangerous than high hits, and defenseless receivers need to receive the same protection for low hits as high hits.
Here's my point. Concussion=missed time pass test your back, Lower Leg injury like DK's last night=done for season.
— Kellen Winslow Jr. (@KellenWinslowJr) August 18, 2013
The NFL does protect its quarterbacks against low hits that can result in bad leg injuries. The NFL also outlawed horse-collar tackles, which are dangerous to offensive players.
So was Swearinger's hit dirty? Is it worse than the helmet-to-helmet hits that we've seen result in massive fines?