Texans DE Smith officially suspended for opener

The SportsXchange

Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith was officially suspended for the team's final two preseason games and the regular-season opener for using the helmet of an opponent as a weapon.

Smith was given the ban based on his history and apparent intent. However, he said he will appeal the ruling and told the Houston Chronicle the he considered the suspension harsh because he "pulled back" when swinging the headgear.

During a play in the preseason game against the Dolphins, Smith ripped the helmet off Miami guard Richie Incognito, then swung at Incognito. The swing missed its target. The suspension costs Smith $352,944 in lost wages.

"I didn't swing (the helmet) at him," Smith said, according to the Chronicle. "I was restrained. I caught myself. I did it out of frustration, but I brought the helmet back slow to my body so I wouldn't hit him. I think the suspension is a little harsh because I restrained myself.

"I will appeal. Anybody would in this situation. I want to state my case. I've never had anything like this before. I'm surprised it included a regular-season game."

Smith and Incognito have clashed previously. Smith received a $21,000 fine for kicking Incognito in last year's opening game, but the penalty was reduced to $11,000 after Smith successfully argued he was retaliating after Incognito twisted his ankle.

The suspension was imposed by NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks, with Smith's actions deemed "a flagrant violation of NFL safety rules."

Rule 12, Section 2, Article 16 of the NFL Rule Book states: "A player may not use a helmet that is no longer worn by anyone as a weapon to strike, swing at, or throw at an opponent."

Smith will miss preseason games against New Orleans and Dallas and the regular-season opener against the San Diego Chargers before being reinstated to the team on Sept. 10.

Smith doesn't receive great notoriety as a 3-4 defensive end opposite All-Pro J.J. Watt, but he had the best season of his career in 2012. He played the run extremely well and had a career-high seven sacks. In the playoff loss to the Patriots, he hit Tom Brady three times, but the ball had already come out.
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