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NFL: Goodell stresses continued focus on safety

The SportsXchange

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is maintaining his stance that repeat violators who deliver hits to the head should be suspended and pushing for the competition committee to review rules changes on blocks below the knees.

Despite criticism from the players, Goodell will continue to monitor blows to the head and said the league may step up enforcement in the future. He believes suspensions are an effective punishment that impacts offenders.

"We have to take these hits out of the game that we think have a higher risk of causing injuries," Goodell said Friday during his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference in New Orleans. "And the focus was on defenseless players. I think we're going to have to continue to see discipline escalate, particularly on repeat offenders. It's not just the defenseless player being protected, it's the person doing the striking."

When he left the podium, Goodell also said in an interview with NFL Network that the league intends to study the possibility of playoff expansion. At the 2012 fall owner's meetings, the concept of adding two wild-card teams in each conference -- pushing the number of playoff participants to 16 of the total 32 teams in the league and affording first-round postseason bye weeks to the top three seeds in the AFC and NFC -- gained traction.

Goodell's focus on safety includes the possibility of eliminating some low blocks, adding neurosurgeons to game-day medical staffs to monitor concussion symptoms and improving field conditions.

---A day after a report indicated that Arian Foster was considering having a procedure within the next month to correct an irregular heartbeat, the Houston Texans running back says he has decided against surgery.

Foster has dealt with an irregular heartbeat since age 12. However, it had never been an issue during a game until late in the season against Minnesota when the three-time Pro Bowl selection was forced to go to the sideline in the third quarter.

"Nothing is life threatening," Foster told the Dan Patrick Show on Friday. "I'm OK. It's a very minor situation."

---The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Dave Wannstedt as their special teams coordinator, according to ESPN, citing a league source.

Wannstedt was the Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator for the past two seasons.

Prior to that, Wannstedt was the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh coach for six years. He also ran the Panthers' special teams.

Wannstedt is 82-87 over his NFL heading coaching career with the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins.
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